Applying for Employment Insurance benefits

Do you have a question about the EI program? The frequently asked questions might help!

Who can apply for EI benefits?

You can apply for EI benefits if you have paid into the EI account and you are unemployed.

  • You can receive regular benefits if you lost your job through no fault of your own, for example, due to shortage of work, seasonal or mass lay-offs. To find out about the requirements for regular benefits.
  • You can also receive maternity, parental and/or sickness benefits if pregnant, caring for a newborn or adopted child or sick. To find out about the requirements for maternity and parental, and sickness benefits.
  • You can receive fishing benefits if you are a person engaged in fishing. To find out about the requirements for fishing benefits.
  • You can receive compassionate care benefits if you have to be away from work temporarily to provide care or support to a family member who is gravely ill with a significant risk of death. To find out about the requirements for compassionate care benefits.

What you should know if you work for a relative

Even if your employer is related to you, you may still qualify for EI coverage, see the publication If you Work for an Employer Who is Related to You.

Maybe your old EI claim just needs to be reactivated

If you started a new EI claim within the last 52 weeks and there are still weeks payable on that claim, we will automatically reactivate (renew) your existing claim.

Do not start the application if you prefer to start a new claim. Instead, please contact us by calling 1 800 206-7218. Your decision to start a new claim is final and cannot be reversed. 

It is important to consider:

  • If your claim is reactivated and you work after the start of that claim, you may be able to establish a new claim when your existing claim runs out.
  • In order to establish a new claim you must have enough insurable hours and meet the qualifying conditions for a new claim.
  • If a new claim is established instead of reactivating your existing claim, the remaining weeks payable on the existing claim will be lost.
  • Additionally, a two-week unpaid waiting period must be served on a new claim before you are entitled to receive payment.

How, where and when to apply

To apply for EI benefits, you must submit an application for EI online. This can be done at home, at a public internet access site (public library for example), at a friend’s or at your Service Canada Centre. To access the application for EI Benefits go to Applying for Employment Insurance benefits online.

If you are applying for any type of benefits, other than maternity or parental, be sure to apply as soon as you stop working even if you don’t have your Records of Employment. Delaying in filing your claim for benefits beyond 4 weeks after your last day of work may cause loss of benefits.

If you are applying for compassionate care or sickness benefits, you should apply as soon as you stop working.

If you are applying for maternity or parental benefits, please refer to the section titled “Maternity and Parental Benefits:  How, Where and When to Apply”.

What information/documents are needed to apply?

  • your Social Insurance Number (SIN). If your SIN begins with a 9, you need to supply proof of your immigration status and work permit.
  • your mother’s maiden name;
  • your mailing and residential addresses, including the postal codes;
  • your complete bank information, as shown on your cheque or bank statement, or a voided personalized blank cheque from your current account. This will ensure that your payment of benefits will be made directly to your bank account with Direct deposit;
  • the names, addresses, dates of employment, and reason for separation for all your employers for the last 52 weeks;
  • your detailed version of facts if you quit or were dismissed from any job in the last 52 weeks; and
  • the dates (Sunday to Saturday) and earnings for each of your highest paid weeks of insurable earnings in the last 52 weeks or since the start of your last EI claim, whichever is the shorter period. This information will be used, along with your Record(s) of Employment, to calculate your weekly EI benefit rate.

You may also have to provide the following details if you are reactivating an existing claim:

  • the salary amount before deductions you received for the last week you worked (from Sunday to your last day of work), including tips and commissions; and
  • any other amounts you received or will receive (for example, vacation pay, severance pay, pension payments, pay in lieu of notice, and other money).

You may also need to gather the following related information, depending on your situation:

  • If you are applying for parental benefits, you will be asked to provide the SIN of the other parent.
  • If you are applying for sickness benefits, you will be required to obtain a medical certificate.
  • If you are applying for compassionate care benefits, you will need to provide a medical certificate and information about the gravely ill family member, such as first and last name, date of birth, and residential address.

Records of Employment (ROEs)

The ROE is the form that your employer must complete when you stop working and experience an interruption of earnings. Your employer must issue it even if you do not intend to claim EI benefits. On your ROE, you will find information about your employment history.

Missing ROEs can delay the processing of your claim.

  • If your employer issues ROEs in paper format, you must request copies of all ROEs issued to you during the last 52 weeks and provide them to Service Canada as soon as possible after you submit your EI application. Paper ROEs are generally filled out by hand and have serial numbers that start with A, E, K, L or Z. You must either mail us the original copies of your paper ROEs or drop them off in person at a Service Canada Centre. The mailing address will be provided to you on the Information and Confirmation page once you submit your online application for EI benefits.
  • If your employer submits ROEelectronically to Service Canada, they are not required to print you a copy; however, they may give you one as a courtesy. If this is the case, the serial number of your ROE will start with W or S. Electronic ROEs are directly sent to Service Canada, therefore, you do not need to provide copies to Service Canada. You can view copies of your electronic ROEs by visiting My Service Canada Account.

If you are having difficulty obtaining your ROE (s) from your employer(s), we can help. Contact us at 1-800-206-7218. One of our agents will advise you how the ROE can be obtained or what is needed to calculate your claim.


Before applying for EI benefits, you should confirm with your employer whether or not your ROE will be issued electronically to Service Canada.

Receiving social assistance while waiting for your EI benefits

If you receive financial assistance or advances from a Social Services, you may have to reimburse that money out of your EI benefits. To know more, review section on EI and Persons receiving social assistance.

Who can take care of an EI claim on your behalf?

If you are unable to manage your own affairs due to health problems, a person other than an Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) employee may be appointed to act on your behalf. In that case, the form Appointment of Representative must be completed and returned with your EI application.

If you are eligible for EI, ESDC will authorize the payment of benefits to the representative acting on your behalf.

EI benefits on behalf of a deceased person

When a person dies, benefits payable to that person up to and including the day of the death may be paid to the legal representative, or to a person authorized by the Act to inherit property of the deceased person. To know more, review section on EI and benefits on behalf of a deceased person.

A 2-week waiting period to serve

You must serve a 2-week unpaid waiting period before your EI benefits begin to be paid. Generally, this period is the first 2 weeks of your claim. This is like a deductible for any kind of insurance. On the other hand, if you reopen a claim for benefits in which you have already served a 2-week waiting period, you do not serve another 2-week waiting period.

Earnings, for example, vacation pay, severance pay, made or allocated during the 2-week waiting period will be deducted in the first 3 weeks for which benefit is otherwise payable following the waiting period.

In order to receive your EI payments

Shortly after applying for EI, you will receive a Benefit statement in the mail indicating your Access code. Keep in mind that this does not mean that a decision has been made yet on your claim.

Your Benefit statement will provide the information you need to complete your reports with our Internet reporting service or our Telephone reporting service. If you cannot complete your reports by Internet or by telephone, you will need to complete and mail them to us. To find out how to complete your report by mail, just follow these step-by-step instructions.

If you had an EI claim within the last month, you will not receive a new Access Code in the mail. You can use the same Access Code that you previously used to complete your bi-weekly reports and access your EI claim information.

Getting information about your EI claim

My Service Canada Account allows you to view and update your EI information in one place using a secure website. With My Service Canada Account, you can:

  • confirm any decision made about your EI application
  • see details on your payments and deductions
  • sign up for direct deposit
  • view and update your personal information, including your mailing address, telephone number, and banking information for direct deposit
  • view and print your EI tax information slips
  • view all Records of Employment that your employers have submitted electronically in the last two years

Before you register, you must have your four-digit EI access code (printed in the shaded area at the bottom of your benefit statement). You can then register for My Service Canada Account. It will take about 10 minutes to complete the registration process. 

Your Access Code

Your Access code is the 4 digit number printed in the shaded area of your Benefit Statement. Your Access code is your electronic signature and is needed, along with your SIN, when you make telephone enquiries about your claim and when you file your reports using the Internet reporting service or the Telephone reporting service. 

The Access code identifies you and ensures that your privacy is protected. Don't let others have it because they could get information or take action on your claim without you knowing it. You would be held responsible for this. Keep your Access code in a safe place and for extra security keep it stored separately from your SIN.

If you have been issued a temporary Access Code, you will need to change it to a new confidential Access Code. You may also choose to change your existing Access Code for security reasons. To do this, call our telephone information service at 1 800 206-7218, choose Option 1 and follow the instructions for changing your Access Code.

If you lose your Access code, call our telephone information service at 1 800 206-7218 from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm and press "0" to speak to a representative. You can also go to your Service Canada Centre. In both cases, questions will be asked to verify your identity and a new Access code number will be reissued.

Work Sharing

Did you know that work sharing assists employers and employees facing lay-offs due to a decline in production? With the work sharing agreement, available work is redistributed through a voluntary reduction in hours worked by all employees within one or more work units. This enables the employer to retain a full work force on a reduced work week, rather than laying off part of his or her work force. Employees are able to remain on the job and maintain skills and working habits and avoid uncertainties and hardship associated with total unemployment. To find out about the EI Work Sharing program. 

Start your EI application