Register and Apply for Unemployment Insurance

Once you're eligible, your next step is to register and apply for unemployment.

Create an Account

It’s an important step to register for an online account with us. You can use our online services to report the information required for your unemployment claim.

Learn more about how to set up your UI OnlineSM account (PDF).

Get Your Information in Order

A little preparation goes a long way!

Identity Documents

We launched, a safe and easy way to verify your identity in UI Online. When you file a new claim, you will be redirected to the site where you will take a selfie (personal photo) and upload a photo of your ID to verify your identity.

For more information, review Top Nine Reasons Your Document May Get Rejected (PDF).

If we need additional information to verify your identity, you will need to join a video call with and provide either:

  • Two primary documents
  • One primary and two secondary documents primary documents include:

  • Driver license (US or foreign)
  • Passport or passport card (US or foreign)
  • US Permanent Resident Card (I-551)
  • Employment Authorization Card (I-766) issued by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services
  • Certificate of Naturalization (Form N-550 or N-570)
  • Federal or state ID
  • Veteran health ID card
  • Transportation Security Administration (TSA) ID Card
  • Department of Homeland Security trusted traveler cards (Global Entry, NEXUS, SENTRI)
  • National ID card (only if you live outside of the US)
  • Homeland Security Presidential Directive 12 (HSPD-12) Personal Identity Verification card secondary documents include:

  • US health insurance card
  • Social security card
  • US birth certificate
  • School documents (ID with photograph, school record, report card)
  • US voter registration card
  • US citizen ID card (Form I-197)
  • Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty (DD214)
  • National Guard Report of Separation and Record of Service (NGB Form 22)
  • Foreign birth document
    • Certificate of Birth Abroad (FS-545)
    • Certification of Report of Birth (DS-1350)
    • Consular Report of Birth Abroad (FS-240)
  • Border crossing card
  • Native American tribal document
  • Tribal-issued photo ID card
  • Canadian Indian and Northern Affairs card
  • US Coast Guard merchant mariner card

If you are unable to verify your identity through when applying online, you will need to file a claim by phone, fax, or mail.

For help with the verification process, you can:

Prepare to Apply

Timing is important. Waiting to apply can delay your benefits.

File for unemployment in the first week that you lose your job or have your hours reduced. Your claim begins the Sunday of the week you applied for unemployment. You can request to backdate your claim date to the week you became unemployed due to COVID-19.

If you filed for unemployment within the last 52 weeks and have not exhausted your benefits, you must reopen your claim to restart your benefits.

Benefit Year Ending Date

Your benefit year end date is 12 months after you filed your claim.

You can find your benefit year end date by logging in to UI OnlineSM and viewing your Claim Summary. Your benefit year end date is 12 months after the start of your Benefit Year.

You can also refer to your Notice of Unemployment Insurance Award (DE 429Z) for your claim ending date.

Important: If your benefit year has expired, you must apply for a new claim, even if you are on an extension. We will send you a notice telling you to apply for a new claim if you are still certifying for benefits. If you have an existing Pandemic Unemployment Assistance claim, you do not need to submit a new application.

COVID-19 Temporary Exceptions

Due to the impact of COVID-19, we made the following temporary exceptions for all unemployment claims until further notice:

  • Waiting Period – The 7-day waiting period is waived for claims beginning on or after January 19, 2020. After you submit your first two-week continued certification, you will be paid for the first week of your claim.
  • Work Search – You are not required to look for work each week to be eligible for benefits.

Access COVID-19 Resources

Apply Now

UI Online is the best way to file your claim. File online during the times listed below:

When you can file a claim with UI Online
Days of the Week Available Time
Sunday 5 a.m. – 8:30 p.m.
Monday 4 a.m. – 10 p.m.
Tuesday – Friday 2 a.m. – 10 p.m.
Saturday 2 a.m. – 8 p.m.

Note: To file a claim online, you must be at least 18 years old. If you are underage, you can file your claim by phone, fax, or mail.

Call us to file a claim at the following toll-free numbers, seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. (Pacific time) except on state holidays.

  • English and Spanish 1-800-300-5616
  • Cantonese 1-800-547-3506
  • Mandarin 1-866-303-0706
  • Vietnamese 1-800-547-2058
  • TTY 1-800-815-9387

General Unemployment Questions or Technical Help with UI Online

If you have general questions or need help with account registration, password resets, your EDD Account Number, or how to use UI Online, contact us at 1-800-300-5616 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. (Pacific time), seven days a week, except state holidays.

Unemployment Insurance Application

Use the paper Unemployment Insurance Application. Select one of the following that best describes your employment. If you have been affected by a disaster, complete the disaster section of the UI application.


Fax your application to the number listed on the form. You can contact your local America’s Job Center of California for help with faxing your paper application.

Tip: The fastest way to apply is through UI Online.


Mail your application to the address on the form and allow extra time for processing. You can contact your local America’s Job Center of CaliforniaSM for help with mailing your paper application.

Next Steps

There are important steps you must take so that your unemployment benefit payments are not delayed or denied. After you file, you will receive important documents from us within two weeks of filing for unemployment.

This moves you into the next stage to Certify for Benefits.

Certify and Manage


Let us know you are still eligible to receive unemployment.


UI Online is the fastest and most convenient way to file or reopen an unemployment insurance claim, certify for benefits, and get up-to-date claim and payment information.

Last Revised: 07/01/2020

Meet Your Eligibility Requirements

You must meet all eligibility requirements when filing for unemployment and certifying for benefits. View our list of requirements to file a claim.

Save Time. Apply Online.

Apply for unemployment or Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefits, reopen an existing claim, and manage a claim – all online with Benefit Programs Online.

For Federal Employees

Complete and submit this application (PDF) to file for unemployment.

You must also submit the Standard Form 8, Notice to Federal Employees about Unemployment Insurance.

For Ex-Service Members

Complete and submit this application (PDF) to file for unemployment.

You must provide your DD 214 Member 4 copy.

For Employers

Get information on layoff alternatives, preventing fraud, and more.

Additional Resources