Anyone who legally resides in the country can receive social security benefits. Rights to benefits in Estonia are in essence based on the contributions paid into the system. If you have not paid contributions (because you did not work here), or have only a very minimal record, the benefits you can receive will reflect that.
With other EU Member States, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Switzerland, arrangements exist that make sure that work in another country is also taken into account in Estonia, through a system of social security coordination. You can enjoy the benefits of that system if you are a citizen of one of these countries.
Specifically for unemployment insurance benefits (for which Töötukassa is the competent institution), the rules for having periods of employment in one of these countries taken into account in Estonia are as follows:
- To qualify for an unemployment insurance benefit, you must have worked for 12 months during the past 36 months. Months worked in one of the listed countries are taken into account for this assessment.
- A benefit is paid as a daily sum for a certain amount of days. This number of days is calculated on the basis of how long you have been employed in the past. The months worked in one of the listed countries are also taken into account.
- The amount of the benefit per day is calculated on the basis of your previous wages. Wages earned in other countries than Estonia are also taken into account, there is one exception to this rule though: when you had your last employment in Estonia (and before that within 12 months you worked abroad) then, your wages in the previous country are not being taken into account. Then the benefit will be calculated according to your last salaries which you earned here in Estonia. However, the Estonian upper limit of the unemployment benefits is always taken into account, when the benefit is granted.
To prove the periods of employment in other countries, you need aform U1. This form is handed to you by the authorities of the countries in which you have worked before. You are advised to obtain these forms before you move to Estonia. Please contact the institution that deals with unemployment benefits in the countries you have worked, to have a form made for you.
Töötukassa can also ask the forms from the competent authority of the states concerned, but then you must tell us exactly where you have worked and when. Also, obtaining the correct information may take a lot of time (during which you will not receive a benefit).
Note that unemployment insurance benefits are rewarded to you by the authorities of the country in which you were last employed or by the state of residence. It means that yiu have to choose, if you would like to apply the benefit from the country where you last worked in or from your state of residence.
There are some exceptions regarding applying unemployment benefit:
- if you were a frontier worker: someone who still resides in Estonia, works in another country (e.g. Latvia) and returns to Estonia at least once a week – in these cases a frontier worker should apply for unemployment benefit from the state of residence;
- if you are not a permanent resident of Estonia and you have no relations with Estonia or you have lived in abroad for a long time and you have lost your relations with Estonia, then you should apply for benefit from your actual state of residence. But if you had your last employment in Estonia, then you can also apply the benefit here.
If you feel these rules may be applicable to you when you apply for the unemployment insurance benefit, please make sure to give us correct and complete information. Take some time to list your previous employment during the past ten years, and take along documents and certificates that may help us to assess your claim. The more information you can give us, the easier it is for us to reach a swift decision concerning your benefits.