Guidance

National Insurance for workers from the UK working in the EEA or Switzerland

Check which country's social security contributions you must pay if you're a worker from the UK working in the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland.

If you normally work in the UK or the EU and your work location has changed temporarily because of coronavirus (COVID-19) travel restrictions, HMRC can consider your individual circumstances to decide if you should pay National Insurance contributions in the UK.

If you need proof that you have to pay UK National Insurance contributions, you should apply for a certificate or document and include details of the COVID-19 restrictions.

If you’re an employee or self-employed, where you pay social security contributions will depend on your circumstances and the country you are going to work in. If you’re an employer, your liability to pay social security contributions will follow the liability of your employees.

If you go to work in:

  • the EU, you’ll only have to pay into one country’s social security scheme at a time
  • Iceland, Norway or Switzerland, you may only have to pay into one country’s social security scheme at a time

This will usually be in the country where the work is being done.

In the UK, social security contributions are called National Insurance contributions.

Working in the EU and when you’ll continue to pay UK National Insurance contributions

You’ll continue to pay National Insurance contributions only in the UK if HMRC has issued you with the relevant certificate as evidence that this is the case.

You, or your employer, should apply for a certificate if you’re:

  • going to work temporarily in the EU for up to 2 years
  • worker working in the UK and one or more EU countries
  • a civil servant working for the UK government
  • working onboard a vessel at sea, with a UK flag
  • working as a flight or cabin crew member, where your home base is in the UK

The relevant certificate is not a work permit. You’ll need to check the immigration rules of the country you’re working in if you’re not lawfully resident there.

Working in Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland

If you’re covered by the EEA-EFTA Separation Agreement or the Swiss Citizens Rights Agreement

You’ll be covered by the EEA-EFTA Separation Agreement or Swiss Citizens’ Rights Agreement if you’re a:

  • national of the UK who was resident or started working in Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland before 1 January 2021 and have been working there since
  • national of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland, who was resident or started working in the UK before 1 January 2021, including if you have EU Settlement Scheme status
  • family member of a national of, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland who has EU Settlement Scheme status, and you’re residing in the UK
  • person with dual nationality, one of which is the UK and either Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland
  • national of the UK, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland working in UK and one or more countries of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland before 1 January 2021 and continue to do so and you work mainly in the UK

If you’re covered by one of these agreements, you’ll continue paying National Insurance contributions only in the UK if HMRC has issued you with the relevant certificate as evidence that this is the case. You, or your employer, should apply for a certificate if you’re:

  • going to work temporarily in Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland for up to 2 years
  • working in the UK and one or more countries of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland
  • a civil servant working for the UK government
  • working onboard a vessel at sea, with a UK flag
  • working as a flight or cabin crew member, where the home base is in the UK

The relevant certificate is not a work permit. You’ll need to check the immigration rules of the country you’re working in if you’re not lawfully resident there.

If you’re not covered by the EEA-EFTA Separation Agreement or the Swiss Citizens’ Rights Agreement

The UK has social security agreements with Iceland, Norway and Switzerland which are sometimes called reciprocal agreements.

If you’re not covered by covered by the EEA-EFTA Separation Agreement or the Swiss Citizens’ Rights Agreement, you may be covered by a social security agreement. If so, you may still be able to apply to HMRC for a certificate to show evidence that you are liable to pay social security contributions only in the UK if you’re going to work temporarily in the following countries:

Going to work in Norway from the UK

You should apply to HMRC for a certificate as evidence that you’re liable to pay social security contributions only in the UK, if you’re working temporarily in Norway for up to 3 years. You should apply for a certificate before you go to work temporarily in Norway but must apply within the first 4 months of going to work there. This means you’ll not have to pay social security contributions in Norway for that duration of work.

Going to work in Switzerland from the UK

You should apply to HMRC for a certificate as evidence that you’re liable to pay social security contributions only in the UK if you’re either working:

  • temporarily as an employee in Switzerland for up to 2 years
  • temporarily as a self-employed person in Switzerland for up to 1 year
  • in the UK and Switzerland, if you carry out a substantial activity in the UK

This means you’ll not have to pay social security contributions in Switzerland for that duration of work.

Going to work in Iceland from the UK

You should apply to HMRC for a certificate as evidence that you’re liable to social security contributions only in the UK if you’re employed and a non-UK and non-EEA national working temporarily in Iceland for up to 1 year. This can be extended by a further year, but you must get agreement from HMRC before the end of the first year. This means you’ll not have to pay social security contributions in Iceland for that duration of work.

When you’ll pay social security contributions in the country you’re going to work in

If you’re going to work abroad and you’re not eligible for a certificate from HMRC, as evidence that you are liable to pay social security contributions only in the UK, you’ll need to continue paying UK National Insurance contributions for the first 52 weeks, if you meet the following 4 conditions:

  • you’re going to work abroad temporarily
  • your employer has a place of business in the UK
  • you were living in the UK immediately before starting work abroad
  • you’re ordinarily resident in the UK

HMRC consider you’re ordinarily resident in a country if you:

  • normally live there, apart from temporary or occasional absences
  • have a settled and regular mode of life there

For more information about when you must pay Class 1 National Insurance contributions and ordinarily resident read leaflet NI38.

If the conditions above apply, you may also have to pay contributions in the country you’re working in.

If the conditions above do not apply, you may need to pay contributions in the country you are working in. You’ll not be liable to pay contributions in the UK during this period, but you may be able to pay voluntary contributions.

How to apply for a relevant certificate from HMRC

If you think you’re eligible for a certificate as evidence that you’re liable to pay social security contributions only in the UK when working in the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland, follow the table to see how to apply.

Your circumstances Form to complete
Your employer sends you to work temporarily in the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland. Form CA3822
You’re normally self-employed in the UK and you’re going to temporarily carry out some activities in the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland. Form CA3837
You’re working in 2 or more of the UK, EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland. Form CA8421
You’re flight or cabin crew with a home base in the UK. Form CA8421
You’re a UK civil servant or other government worker Form CA3822
You’re a UK resident who works on a vessel at sea with a UK flag or an EU, Norwegian, Icelandic or Swiss flag but you’re paid by someone based in the UK. Form CA3822

If HMRC advises that you must pay UK National Insurance contributions, we’ll issue a certificate as evidence that you’re liable to pay social security contributions in the UK so that you do not have to pay them in the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland.

If your situation changes

You need to check if a change in your situation stops the existing social security rules from applying to you, send a letter to HMRC, telling them:

  • what your circumstances were
  • what has changed, for example, if your work, employment or self-employment ends earlier than expected, or you change employer
  • when the changes happen

You should send your letter to:

PT Operations North East England
HM Revenue and Customs
BX9 1AN

You do not need to include a street name or PO box in the address.

HMRC will let you know if they need any more information.

Published 26 December 2020
Last updated 30 July 2021 + show all updates
  1. Guidance updated to reflect the agreement between the UK and Switzerland on how to apply the UK-Switzerland 1968 Social Security Convention.

  2. Information call out added about what to do if you normally work in the UK or the EU and your work location has changed temporarily because of COVID-19 related travel restrictions.

  3. This page has been updated to reflect the new rules for working in the EU, as all member states have expressed their wish to opt in to apply the detached worker provision.

  4. Countries who have agreed to apply the ‘detached worker’ rules have been added.

  5. First published.