Working in several countries

European law stipulates that a person can only be covered by the social security legislationof onecountry. European Regulation 883/2004, which regulates coordination, sets out various rules as to which country is responsible.

It regularly happens that someone works in several EU countries. Someone lives in Belgium, works for a German employer also at home (home office) and visits Belgian clients. Or one is an international truck driver for a haulage company in Germany.

If you work in more than one country, you will find assignment rules in the EU regulation that determine which social legislation must be applied. It is important whether you are self-employed, an employee or a civil servant. In addition, it is also important whether you also work in Belgium (your country of residence).

European regulations

In principle, you are covered by social securityin the country where you work.

If you only work in Germany, it is not difficult: You then fall under German social legislation and pay social security premiums there. But what if you work in several countries?

The decisive factor is where the work is actually carried out. This is especially important if you work for your German employer from home (home office) or if you visit customers in your country of residence or if you also drive in Belgium for a German haulage company.

  • If you also work for your German employer in Belgium (your country of residence) and if this accounts for 25% or more of your total working time and/or pay, then you are covered by Belgian social security. This also applies to home work. If this is less than 25%, you are covered by German social security.
  • Even if you work for several employers in several countries (including Belgium), the time and/or salary you (earn) in Belgium is decisive in determining which legislation must be applied. If you work 25% or more in Belgium, the Belgian social security legislation applies.
  • If you work for an employer based in Belgium in several countries, including Belgium, you will always be covered by Belgian social security legislation.
  • If you work in several EU countries but not in Belgium, then in principle the social security legislation of the country where the employeris based applies.
  • If you work for different employersin several countries but not in Belgium, Belgian social security legislation applies.

Caution: If you work for a Belgian and a German employer, this means that one of these employers must pay the social security premiums in the other country.

Civil servants

There are exceptions for civil servants. For civil servants, the social security of the member state where the civil servant has an employment relationship is valid. Someone who works in more than one country and works as a civil servant in one of these countries is covered by social security in the country where they work as a civil servant. If someone works as a civil servant in Germany and in Belgium, it must be assessed according to the 25% rule which social legislation is valid.

Combination of employee and self-employed person

If you work as an employeein one country and as a self-employed personin the other, you are always covered by the social security legislation of the country where you work as an employee. If you do not work as an employee but as a self-employed person in several countries, please contact a GrenzInfoPunkt for advice.

International truck drivers

No exception is made for international truck drivers.Here, too, the 25% rule applies.

Work on board a seagoing vessel

Special rules apply towork carried out on board an ocean-going vessel. In general, work performed on board a seagoing vessel is considered to be work performed in the member state whose flag the seagoing vessel is sailing. This means that the flag under which the seagoing vessel sails is decisive. However, the situation is different if the wage is paid by a company based in another Member State. Then the legislation of the Member State of this registered office is valid. It is therefore important that you must always obtain additional information in advance in order to clarify your situation clearly. For crew memberson Rhine vessels, a separate regulation applies again, namely the Convention on Social Security for Rhine Boatmen. Always contact a border info point for advice if in doubt.

In situations involving international transport (by road or not), it is always important to get an overview of all the relevant facts.Applying for an A1 is an important part of getting certainty in the overall situation.

Co-incidence with unemployment benefit

The European Regulation clearly regulates which social security legislation applies when someone works in another country. Unfortunately, the rules are not clear when working in another country in combination with a (partial) unemployment benefit. Most EU countries apply the rule that the social security legislation of the country paying the unemployment benefit applies in this case. This means that the employer must pay social security contributions in the country where the benefit comes from.

In these situations, ask the regional unemployment services for more information.

A1 declaration

It is advisable to request an A1 declaration from the health insurance company or the RSZ/ONSS/LSS if you work in several countries. The A1 declaration determines which social security legislation applies to you. Employers are advised to keep it with their payroll administration. You must be able to prove that you are covered by social security yourself. It is therefore best to carry a copy with you at all times. This declaration is also necessary in order to avoid having to pay contributions twice. If you work in several Member States at the same time, you must apply for the A1 declaration in the employee’s country of residence.

Because there are always cases of doubt and people may be caught sitting on the fence, it is possible for two EU countries to agree to deviate from the rules. For more information, please contact your health insurance fund in Germany and in Belgium at the .

Income tax

There are different rules for income tax. To assess where you have to pay tax, the double taxation agreements between the different EU countries are a deciding factor. If it is only a question of the situation between Belgium and Germany, the double taxation agreement between Belgium and Germany applies. This regulates in broad terms that income from work is taxed in the country where the work is performed.Someone who works in two countries therefore pays income tax in two countries; this is also called a salary split.

Working in more than 2 countries (including international drivers)

Do you work in more than two countries, including your country of residence, and have an employer in another country? Then the rule is that you pay tax in the country where your employer is based for the days you work in that country and in the country of residence for the other days. There is an exception for employees who work more than 183 days in a third country. In these cases, always contact a GrenzInfoPunkt or the for advice.