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Social security in Europe

The social security system is there to provide people in need with care and assistance. Each country has its own system, but there are common rules in place to protect your rights when moving within Europe.

The UN’s Universal Declaration on Human Rights says that societies should help individuals to develop and take full advantage of the opportunities available where they live. That is what social security is all about.

Often, it is achieved through social insurance – pensions for retired people, financial support for the unemployed, family benefits and support people with disabilities. Social security also refers to public services, such as healthcare, childcare or social services.

However, it doesn’t work the same everywhere, so you should be aware of how these rights work in your country.

 

 

The European Union has set up common rules on social security for all EU countries, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland in the fields of:

 

How does it work when you move around in the EU?

  1. You only pay social insurance contributions in one country at a time – the country where you are living or working.
  2. You have the same rights and obligations as the nationals of the country where you are covered.
  3. When you claim a social benefit, your previous periods of insurance, work or residence in other countries are taken into account if necessary.
  4. If you are entitled to a cash benefit from a country, you should usually be able to get it even if you are living in a different country.

When you move from one EU country to another, the social security authorities in your country must transfer your information to the authorities in the country where you live. You can find a list of national authorities in the Electronic Exchange of Social Security Information Institution Directory.

 

Need help?

  • Ask your question via Europe Direct
  • Use SOLVIT to work out problems with the help of a national administration