FAQs - Social security cover abroad
Affected by Brexit?
The rules and conditions presented on this page still apply in the UK and to UK citizens in the EU.
If you have acquired any social security rights (such as the right to healthcare, unemployment benefits, pensions) before 31 December 2020, the UK Withdrawal Agreement sets out the general rules for the protection of these rights. Read more about your rights.
If you have problems enforcing your rights, contact our assistance services.
I work in France and my employer has sent me to work temporarily in Holland. Which country provides my social security cover?
If you are posted to work in another EU country, you'll remain covered by the laws of the country where you usually work for up to 2 years.
Before leaving, your employer should apply for an A1 document for you, to certify that you're covered by the French system.
This solution is designed to avoid frequent changes in your social security situation when you work abroad for short periods.
I am self-employed and intend to work abroad for a few months, maybe for more than a year. Can I do that and remain in my home country social security system?
YES — if you want to work in another EU country for a few months, the best option is to "post" yourself abroad. By doing this, you can work abroad but remain in the system of the country where you usually work — for a maximum of 2 years.
Before leaving you should apply for an A1 document, to certify that you're covered by your home system.
You may even be able to remain in your home system for longer than 2 years, if you request an exemption to cover the specific period of your posting.
I work across the border. Where should I pay health insurance contributions for my dependants?
There are 2 possibilities:
If your children's other parent works in your home country, she or he must pay health insurance contributions for your dependants there.
If your children's other parent does not work or works in the same country as you, you must pay health insurance contributions for your dependants in the country where you work. You should request an S1 form (former E 106 form) from the health insurance authority of the country where you work. Once it is issued, submit it to the health insurance authority of your home country.
I have been offered a job across the border. Can I keep my social security in my home country?
As a general principle, you will become insured in the country where you will work. This country will be thus responsible for you social security coverage. You can only be subject the social security legislation of one country at a time; you will therefore cease to be insured in your home country. As a rule, your new country of work will become responsible for your benefits. You will not however lose the rights you have built in time in your home country, for example your pension rights.
As a cross-border commuter, where do I get healthcare?
As a cross-border commuter, you are normally insured in the country where you work and so are entitled to healthcare there. To register in the health system in the country where you live, you will need an S1 form (former E 106 form) from the health insurance authority in the country where you work.
This form entitles you and your dependents to register for health insurance in the country where you live. You will therefore have 2 health insurance cards: one for each country. You can then get medical treatment in your home country as if you were insured there.
Are my dependant family members also entitled to medical treatment on both sides of the border?
YES — if you live and work in Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, France, Greece, Germany, Latvia, Luxembourg, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia or Slovenia.
NO — if you live or work in Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Spain, Sweden, the Netherlands, or the United Kingdom. Your dependants cannot have 2 health insurance cards. They can only get treatment in the country where you work if:
- treatment becomes necessary on medical grounds during their stay in that country, taking into account the nature of the treatment and the expected length of the stay
- there is an agreement between the countries/authorities concerned
- prior authorisation has been given using form S2 (former E 112 form) issued by the relevant authority in the country where you live.
You should first register in the country where you work and get an S1 form (former E 106 form) from your health insurance authority. This form entitles you and your dependents to register for health insurance in the country where you live. You will therefore have 2 health insurance cards: one for each country.
I have worked most of my life as a cross-border commuter and have just retired. Can I still go to the doctor in the country where I was previously employed?
If you last worked as a cross-border commuter:
- you can continue to receive any long-term treatment that began in the country where you used to work. This possibility also exists for your dependants if their treatment began in Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Latvia, Luxembourg, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia or Slovenia (as of 1 May 2014, this will also be possible for treatment begun in Estonia, Hungary, Italy, Lithuania, the Netherlands and Spain).
- if you worked at least 2 years as a cross-border commuter during the 5 years before retirement, you are entitled to healthcare both in your country of residence and in the country where you used to work. In principle, this is also applicable to your dependants. This possibility however only exists if the country where you now live and your former country of employment are both in this group of countries: Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Luxemburg, Portugal and Spain.
If you want a health insurance card both in your country of residence and in the country where you used to work, you should register with a S3 form in the country where you used to work.
If you do not receive any pension from your country of residence, you must request an S1 form from the authorities of the country which pays your pension (if more than one country is involved, the country where you have worked the longest). The S1 form will allow you to register with the healthcare authority of your place of residence. You will also be entitled to healthcare in the country that pays your pension if it is in this group: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Poland, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden.
I live in France and I lost my job in Spain. Where am I insured?
For cross-border commuters, the country of residence is always responsible for the payment of unemployment benefits. In any case, you will be insured in the country that pays your benefits.
In which country will I be insured if the rules covering my situation change with the new regulations after 1 May 2010?
If, as a result of the new EU social security coordination regulations, you are subject to the legislation of a different country than under the old rules, the previous legislation will apply as long as your situation remains unchanged, but for a maximum of 10 years. You may request to be treated under the new regulations if you wish.
As a cross-border commuter, where should I apply for unemployment benefit if I lose my job?
If you lose your job, you should apply for benefit in the country where you live.
Your entitlement and the amount of benefit will be assessed according to the rules in your home country, taking account of your working periods abroad.
To prove your working periods abroad, get an U1 form from the national employment service of the country where you work and submit it in the country where you live.
If you are looking for work in the country where you lost your job, you can register with the employment services of the country where you used to work — but you will have to comply with checking procedures and obligations in both countries. However, as the benefits are always paid by your country of residence, the obligations and job-seeking activities there have priority. Another option is to request the transfer of your benefits to the country where you previously worked, if you feel you have more chances of finding a job there.
What exactly is a cross-border commuter?
The definition of a cross-border commuter (also called cross-border or frontier worker) differs depending on whether you are talking about social security rights or taxes. You can be considered as a cross-border commuter for social security purposes but as a resident for tax purposes.
For social security purposes — you are a cross-border commuter if you work in one country and live in another, and return home daily or at least once a week.
For tax purposes — this depends on the terms of the bilateral tax agreement between the countries where you live and where you work.
Most tax agreements don't deal specifically with these types of workers, although some do have a category of "frontier worker", a person who lives and works in a border area, (e.g. within 10, 20 or 30 km of the border, depending on the agreement).
To find out what taxes you will have to pay and in which country/countries, contact the European employment cross-border partnership in your region.