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If your felloship is over, but your Ph.D. is not, you can ask for unemployment benefit in Belgium. Your are not required to be Belgian for this. It is enough that you worked XXX days in the last years in Belgium. Another important requirement is that you payed the relative taxes within your fellowship, and this is usually the case. Probably you did not notice it because it was done directly by ULB.

There are several entities involved in the unemployment benefit. The first, and probably the most important for you is the ONEM. They are the ones who actually have the money. You will seldom deal with them though.

The people that will pay you will be either a trade union (CSC, FGTB or CGSLB) or the public agency, the CAPAC. The advantage of a trade union is that usually the inscription process is faster, but you will probably have to pay a fee each month. The CAPAC is free of charges, but waiting in their offices can be really painful. In the following, I will refer for simplicity only to the CAPAC.

Then, there is the ORBEM. This is just an organisation that searches for jobs for you. You MUST inscribe to it to obtain the unemployment benefit. It is not clear if you have to inscribe within the 8 days after your last pay or after your inscription to the CAPAC. I suggest to do it immediately, and then inscribe to the CAPAC or to the unions. The inscription can be done on their web site.

Finally, we have your Commune. You have to go there twice a month (3rd and 26th of each month) and stamp a card you will be given by CAPAC.

IMPORTANT: go as soon as possible to the CAPAC, also if you do not have all the documents yet. The first "stamp" day is the 3rd. If you go later, you will have to use one or more of your "holydays", and you can use only 24 days each year!

Here is the checklist of what you should do:

  • Contact the Human Resource Office of ULB, "Service Paiements des Personnels Enseignant et Scientifique". They will fill for you the "Certificat de Chomage", a.k.a. C4.
  • Inscribe to the ORBEM.
  • Go to the CAPAC (or to a trade union) with the C4, the proof of inscription to the ORBEM, you bank account number and your Belgian card. (NOTE: if you really go to the CAPAC, try to be there earlier of their opening hour. There are usually many people, and the waiting time is measured in hours. If you arrive too late, chances are that you will not conclude anything.)
  • go twice a month to the unemployment office of your commune.

Addresses, opening times, and telephone numbers can be found on the web sites of the organisations.