Last checked: 02/07/2020

Social security systems in the EU

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.

There are big differences in the way different EU countries have organised benefits, healthcare and other social security services.

Each EU country has its own laws determining:

EU rules only determine which country's social security covers you when 2 or more countries are involved.

As a rule, you're covered by the legislation of just 1 country at a time and only pay contributions in that country; you should be treated the same as nationals of that country.

Benefit systems in your host country may be very different from what you are used to at home. Misunderstandings could have serious consequences — so make sure you check which benefits you're entitled to in your host country.

Sample story

Each country has its own rules for awarding benefits

Line from Denmark was living and working in Cyprus when she lost her job and applied for unemployment benefit there.

She was disappointed when she found out she would only be paid for 156 days. In Denmark, the benefit would have run up to 4 years. She never suspected the difference would be so big.

Useful forms

To be able to move from one country's benefits system to another, you may need to submit forms that certify your benefits situation when you arrive.

Find out about standard social security forms.


EU legislation

Need more information on rules in a specific country?

Need support from assistance services?

Get in touch with specialised assistance services

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