Busy but unemployed—is that an option?

Theoretically, it is possible to register as a jobseeker or unemployed while working on your PhD. However, you must then be fully available to the labour market. So if you are doing an “external” PhD (i.e. you are not employed by any university) and have minimal time obligations, meaning you could take up gainful employment at any time, doing a PhD does not automatically prevent you per se from registering with the job centre and receiving benefits. However, in view of the limited benefit periods and stricter regulations in Germany when it comes to Unemployment Benefit 2 (known as Hartz IV), rather than Unemployment Benefit 1, this “financing option” should only be used to bridge gaps.