What if I am a posted worker from the EU, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Switzerland?

Updated on 12 February 2018

If you come from the EU, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Switzerland, you may not have to pay National Insurance contributions (NIC). The rules in this section only apply if you were employed in another country but were then sent to the UK to do your present job working for the same employer (as long as you are not replacing another worker). They can also be self-employed.

We explain further below.

For more information, go to HM Revenue and Customs’ (HMRC) guidance, RDR1, chapter 11. You can find this on the GOV.UK website.

Do I have to pay NIC (National Insurance contributions) in the UK?

Generally, people who are posted to the UK for less than 24 months can remain in their home country social security scheme. If this applies to you, you do not have to pay NIC in the UK.

For longer assignments, as an exception, an agreement can generally be reached between the home and UK authorities for a posted worker to stay in their home country scheme for a longer period, typically up to five years.

Similar rules apply if you are self-employed and come to work temporarily in the UK.

If you fall under these rules you may not need to get a National Insurance number and will instead be allocated a different type of reference, which looks like this 54 M4 46 90, and will be used to identify you in the system.

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What do I do if I want to continue to pay social security in my previous country of residence?

In cases where this might apply, you should ask your employer to obtain a certificate A1 (previously E101) from the social security authorities of the country where you want to continue to pay social security contributions, (the application form will need to be completed by your employer, but based on your circumstances). The A1 (previously E101) certifies that you remain liable to contribute to the social security scheme only in the country which issued it and for the period of time mentioned in it.

If you are normally self-employed abroad and coming to work temporarily in the UK, you can find out which body can issue the A1/E101 document by contacting your home–country liaison office for posted workers. To get the form, you have to prove that the activities you intend to pursue abroad are "similar" to those you pursued in your home country. See the EU guide on posting rules for more information.

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Am I eligible for UK social security benefits?

If you do not have to pay NIC because you continue to pay into your home country scheme under the European agreement (the A1 or E101 procedure), you will not necessarily lose entitlement to social security benefits in the UK.

The European agreement contains detailed rules for different types of benefit and you should contact the Department for Work and Pensions in the first instance to determine whether you will receive benefits from the UK or from your home country.

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What happens if I am hired in the UK?

If you are hired in the UK, these European rules will not apply and you will have to pay NIC, which could count towards benefits payable by the UK. Even if you do not claim any benefits in the UK, or are here for just a short time this NIC is not typically reclaimable when you leave.

The NIC is not strictly transferable to another country's scheme either; however, it may help to determine whether or not you are entitled to state benefits in your home country. This is called the ‘aggregation principle’ and essentially allows you to ‘top up' your overseas contributions with UK social security contributions where necessary, in order to meet the overseas requirements. You can find out more about social security benefits within the EEA on the EU website .

If a record of UK contributions is needed by the authorities in the other country to decide a claim they will contact HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) on your behalf to obtain details of the UK NIC record.

In some cases, the foreign authority may ask you to get:

  • a statement to assist sickness benefit claims (formerly known as an E104);
  • a Portable document U1 to assist unemployment benefit claims (formerly known as an E301); or
  • a full statement of National Insurance (formerly known as an E205).

If so, you should contact HMRC. You may need to complete and return form CA 3916 enclosing copies of your last payslip and any form P60s from your employer showing your total pay, tax and NIC deductions issued at the end of a tax year. You can find the form and guidance on the GOV.UK website.

The benefit claim in the other country will be decided using that country’s own rules: it will not be decided under UK rules. The fact that the UK issues a statement of contributions paid in the UK does not automatically entitle you to benefits in the other country.

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