In general, an employee pays social security contributions to the country they are working in. However, employees from an EEA country working in another EEA country may continue paying social security contributions in their home country and will be exempt from paying contributions in the other countries where either:
- the work abroad is not expected to be for more than 24 months; or
- they normally work in 2 or more EEA countries (multi-state workers)
The EEA includes all countries in the European Union (EU) and Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein. Switzerland is not an EEA member but an agreement between Switzerland and the EU means that the same rules also apply there.
Workers can prove that they pay social security contributions in another EEA country and cannot be required to pay social security contributions in the country where they are working by presenting a Form A1 to the competent authorities. The employer can obtain a Form A1 from the home country social security authorities which will keep the employee with the ambit of their home country social security and will absolve both the employer and employee from making any social security contributions in the host country for the period covered by the certificate.
The requirement to have a Form A1 when working in the EEA (formerly known as E1) has been in place for many years, even in the case of short business trips to another country. Legislation and case law do currently not provide for a minimum time or differentiation between short-term business travel and fixed-term transfers with a longer duration. In general, employers try to comply with existing legislation. However, some employers send their employees on short business trips without the A1 and, if authorities in the host Member State require presentation of a Form A1, apply for a certificate retroactively.
However, the authorities in a number of EEA countries have increased their scrutiny over the past weeks and months following the introduction of increased controls on posted workers. France and Austria in particular have tightened up the relevant regulations and increased controls in the past months. In Germany, the Federal Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs previously considered it appropriate to refrain from applying for the A1 in advance in cases where international meetings were planned at short notice or for a planned duration of up to one week, with the option to apply retrospectively for the A1. A corresponding bulletin had been provided to the employers` associations. However, due to the increased scrutiny in France and Austria the Federal Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs has taken the bulletin off their website. While we believe that in substance not every crossing of the border to a Member State qualifies as working in that Member State, the current administrative practice of many EEA countries makes it advisable that employers apply for the A1 even in cases of very short transfers.
There are specific forms for employees who “normally work” in several Member States. This is the case, if they regularly work in another Member State for at least one day per month or for at least five days per quarter. The respective period to be viewed is the upcoming next 12 months, to the best of the employer’s and employee’s knowledge. If the work situation for the next 12 months is not certain, the past 12 months may be used.
If a Form A1 is not obtained from the home country authorities or the period covered by the Form A1 lapses, social security contributions will potentially be payable in both the home country and the host country and there can be significant fines. If an employee travels and gets caught without such certificate, he would be sent home by the authorities and a fine of could be imposed upon the employer (up to approx. EUR 10,000 per violation in some countries). It may also be necessary to repay social security contributions if authorities take the view that the employee should have been subject to the social security system of the other EU member state.
How to obtain an A1-form?
An employer can obtain a Form A1 for its employees who work abroad by applying to the relevant social security authority (see list below).
An A1 form can only be issued for those EEA countries in which the employee is “normally working”. A general form for all EEA countries Member States cannot be issued. Thus, it may be necessary to apply for an A1 for each individual business trip to a different EEA country. An A1 form will always be limited in time. If it is to be extended, a new application has to be filed.
||A1 form issued by:
||Employee's health insurance institution
||National Social Security Office
||National Revenue Agency
||Croatian Pension Insurance Institute (HZMO)
||Ministry of Labor, Welfare and Social Insurance
||Czech Social Security Administration
||Social Insurance Board
||Finnish Center for Pensions
||Caisse Primaire d'Assurance Maladie
||GKV-Spitzenverband - Deutsche Verbindungsstelle Krankenversicheung Ausland, (DVKA) in case of multi-state workers and employee`s health insurance provider in case of Form A1
||IKA -ETAM Social Insurance Institute
Department for International Affairs and Entitlement Registry
||International Postings, Client Eligibility Services, Department of Social Protection
||INPS - Istituto Nazionale Previdenza Sociale
||State Social Insurance Agency (VSAA)
||State Social Insurance Fund Board, Foreign Benefits Office
||Centre commun de la sécurité sociale
||Department of Social Security International Relations Unit
||SVB International Secondment
||Social Insurance Institution / Zakład Ubezpieczeń Społecznych
||District Centre of the Institute of Social Security
||National House for Public Pension (NHPP) Directorate International Relations
||Social Insurance Agency
||Health Insurance Institute of Slovenia (HIIS)
||Tesorería General de la Seguridad Social
||Social Insurance Agency / Försäkringskassan
||International caseworker National Insurance Contributions and Employers Office HM Revenue and Customs
||Tryggingastofnun ríkisins (TR) / Social Insurance Administration
||NAV Social Insurance and Contributions
||OASI compensation fund / AHV-Ausgleichskasse / Caisse de compensation AVS / Cassa di compensazione AVS