California Unemployment Application
To reach a customer service live person, dial 1-800-300-5616 for English, 1-800-326-8937 for Spanish, 1-866-303-0706 for Mandarin, and 1-800-547-3506 for Cantonese. This line answers your questions about Filing Claims, getting information and any general inquiries. Deaf and hard of hearing callers to contact CA unemployment office by using 1-800-815-9387, the TTY toll-free number.
How to apply for California unemployment insurance
Unemployment benefits in California help individuals who have lost their jobs or have had their work hours reduced. The Employment Development Department (EDD) is the agency that runs the program. The process for obtaining UI benefits involves filing a claim, certifying eligibility, and maintaining regular contact with the EDD. The state of California provides a range of resources and services to assist those who are seeking unemployment benefits, including UI Online, a web portal that allows you to manage your claim online.
The best way to apply for UI benefits is online, but you can also apply by phone, fax, or mail.
You can file your California unemployment claim with UI Online during the times listed below:
Monday 4 a.m. – 10 p.m.
Tuesday – Friday 2 a.m. – 10 p.m.
Saturday 2 a.m. – 8 p.m. Sunday 5 a.m. – 8:30 p.m.
Apply by Phone
Phone representatives are available at the following toll-free numbers, Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. to 12 noon (Pacific Time).
- English: 1-800-300-5616
- Cantonese: 1-800-547-3506
- Vietnamese: 1-800-547-2058
- Spanish: 1-800-326-8937
- Mandarin: 1-866-303-0706
- TTY 1-800-815-9387
Apply by Mail
Once you complete your form, mail it to:
PO Box 989738
West Sacramento, CA 95798-9738
NOTE: Extra postage is required.
Apply by Fax
Fax your application to 1-866-215-9159
Information needed to apply
To get ready for a job application, it’s important to be organized. Here’s what you’ll need to have before you apply for UI benefits:
- Your previous employer’s name, address, phone number, and your supervisor’s name. If you worked for yourself, just list yourself as the employer.
- The date you stopped working there and why.
- How much money you earned in your last week of work. If you’re self-employed, you’ll need to know how much you made after taxes.
- A list of all the jobs you’ve had in the past 18 months, including the employer’s name and address, how long you worked there, how much money you earned, how many hours you worked per week, your hourly pay rate, and why you left.
- If you used to work for the federal government, you’ll need a special form called Standard Form 8.
- If you’re a former military member, you’ll need a copy of your DD 214 Member 4 form.
After you apply
After submitting your application for unemployment benefits, it will take about 10 days to process your claim. You will then receive Unemployment Insurance claim materials by mail. If you don’t receive these materials within 10 days of submitting your application, call one of the California unemployment phone numbers.
You can receive benefit payments for up to 26 weeks for regular UI. Currently, there are no extended benefits such as Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) or Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA benefits).
EDD will confirm your application and the benefit payment amount you will receive each week, known as your weekly benefit amount (WBA). You will be contacted by both email and postal mail. You should receive this confirmation within two weeks by mail, and it will include your WBA based on our wage records. You can also use the California unemployment benefit calculator to estimate your benefit payment.
You may also receive an email confirming that you have been automatically registered in UI Online, which will allow you to access information about your claim and certify for continued benefits online. However, if you are not automatically registered, we will mail you a notice with your EDD Customer Account Number. You can use this number to complete the registration process and gain full UI Online access.
If EDD needs more information to complete your claim, someone may reach out to you by phone or mail.
Certify your claim every two weeks
Certify your claim using the UI Online portal once you’re registered. You can also certify by phone or by mail.
You must update the EDD every two weeks with your unemployment status and basic eligibility information. Be sure to provide honest, accurate information to avoid problems with California unemployment fraud. You will be asked questions such as whether you are physically able to work, available for work, ready and willing to accept suitable work immediately, and whether you have refused suitable work or earned any wages. Learn more about California unemployment work search requirements.
The quickest way to certify is on UI Online, but you can also do this by phone or mail.
What is UI Online?
Manage your unemployment claim online using UI Online. The tool can be accessed from both your desktop and mobile device.
Before you can use UI Online, you must first create a Benefit Programs Online account. This gives you access to a variety of California benefits and services.
To set up your UI Online account, you need to access Benefit Programs Online and enter some basic information. Make sure you are logged in, then select UI Online and provide the following details:
- Your first and last name
- Your date of birth
- Your Social Security number
- Your EDD Customer Account Number
If you’re a new customer and have filed a claim, your EDD Customer Account Number will be mailed to you within 10 days. If you’ve lost your number, you can call (800) 300-5616 from Monday to Friday between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. (Pacific Time).
There are several advantages to having a UI Online account. You can manage your UI claim in the following ways:
- File a new claim or reopen a previous one
- Certify for benefits and report work and wages
- Monitor your eligibility requirements and resolve any related issues
- Get the latest information on your claim and payment status
- Update your contact information, including your address and phone number
- Verify your identity to ensure the security of your account
- Receive notifications, including reminders to certify for benefits
- View your in-person and phone appointments with EDD representatives
- Reschedule a phone interview if necessary
- Access and manage your tax information from the past five years
- Check your UI Online inbox regularly for important messages from EDD
- Ask EDD any questions you may have about your claim or benefits
Verifying your identity with ID.me
To protect your information and prevent unemployment fraud, the state of California uses ID.me to verify the identity of all UI claimants.
As you file a new claim, you will be directed to the ID.me website where you need to take a personal photo (selfie) and upload an ID photo to confirm your identity.
In case EED requires further details to verify your identity, you will have to participate in a video call with ID.me and submit either:
- Two primary documents
- One primary and two secondary documents.
Examples of acceptable ID.me primary documents include:
- Passport or passport card (US or foreign)
- Transportation Security Administration (TSA) ID Card
- US Permanent Resident Card (I-551)
- Federal or state ID
- Certificate of Naturalization (Form N-550 or N-570)
- Veteran health ID card
- Driver’s license (US or foreign)
Examples of acceptable ID.me secondary documents include:
- US birth certificate
- Social security card
- US citizen ID card (Form I-197)
- US voter registration card
- US health insurance card
- School Photo ID
- Tribal-issued photo ID card
Common errors when uploading verification documents
To pass video chat verification, individuals must follow the provided instructions and upload the required documents. Carefully follow the instructions as it is easy to make an error that results in a rejection. Avoid common errors such as:
- Uploading the same ID card (e.g., driver’s license) as both a federal and state ID, which will result in a failed inspection. A separate document must be uploaded for each category.
- Uploading a damaged or illegible secondary document.
- Uploading an expired or illegible primary document
- Submitting an image that is not an accepted document type
- Submitting a photocopy, scan, or screenshot of a document instead of a photo of the original document.
- Failing to upload the front and back images of a document when required.
After your video call with ID.me, complete your online application for unemployment. Go to UI Online and log in. Once you’re logged in, UI Online will take you to the ID.me login page. Log in there so that ID.me can share your information with EDD. Then select “Allow” and finish filling out your unemployment application.
If you can’t prove who you are using ID.me when you apply online, you will have to apply by calling, faxing, or mailing in your California unemployment claim.
What if my unemployment application is denied?
If you apply for California unemployment insurance benefits and your claim is denied, you have the right to file an appeal. You have 30 days from the notice of your denial to request a hearing with an administrative law judge.