Guidance

Social security contributions for workers coming to the UK from the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland 

Check if you should pay National Insurance in the UK or social security contributions in the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland. 

If you come to work in the UK from:

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

You will usually pay social security contributions in the country you are working in.

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

If you’re an employer, your liability to pay social security contributions will follow the liability of the employee concerned.

If you come to work in the UK from an EU country or Switzerland

The UK has social security agreements with the EU and Switzerland.

You only need to pay social security contributions in one EU country or Switzerland if you have the relevant certificate.

The certificate can be used as evidence that you do not need to pay National Insurance in the UK.

The relevant certificate is not a work permit. You’ll need to check the UK immigration rules.

You, or your employer, should apply for a certificate if any of the following apply, you’re:

  • coming to work temporarily in the UK for up to 2 years from an EU country or Switzerland
  • working in Switzerland and the UK at the same time
  • working in one or more EU countries and the UK at the same time
  • a civil servant working for an EU or Swiss government
  • working on board a vessel at sea, with an EU or Swiss flag
  • working as a flight or cabin crew member, where your home base is in an EU country, or Switzerland

If you come to work in the UK from Iceland, Liechtenstein or Norway

Check if you’re covered by the EEA-EFTA Separation Agreement

You’re covered by the EEA-EFTA Separation Agreement if you’re a:

  • national of Iceland, Liechtenstein or Norway, who was resident or started working in the UK before 1 January 2021, and have been working here since
  • national of the UK, who was resident or started working in Iceland, Liechtenstein or Norway before 1 January 2021
  • family member of a:
    • UK national who has a right to reside in Iceland, Liechtenstein or Norway, and you’re residing in Iceland, Liechtenstein or Norway
    • national of Iceland, Liechtenstein or Norway who has status under the EU Settlement Scheme, and you’re residing in the UK
  • UK national and a national of Iceland, Liechtenstein or Norway, who was resident or started working in the UK before 1 January 2021
  • national of Iceland, Liechtenstein or Norway, if all of the following apply:
    • you work in the UK and 1 or more countries of Iceland, Liechtenstein or Norway before 1 January 2021
    • you’re continuing to work in the UK and one or more of these countries
    • you mainly work in Iceland, Liechtenstein or Norway

If you’re covered by the EEA-EFTA Separation Agreement

You only need to pay social security contributions in Iceland, Liechtenstein or Norway if you have the relevant certificate.

You, or your employer, should apply for a certificate if any of the following apply, you’re:

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

If you’re not covered by the EEA-EFTA Separation Agreement

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

If you’re not covered by the EEA-EFTA Separation Agreement, you may still be covered by one of these social security agreements.

If you are, you can still apply for a certificate to use as evidence that that you only need to pay social security contributions in Iceland or Norway.

When the social security agreement with Norway applies

You, or your employer, should apply to the Norwegian social security authority for a certificate if you’re:

  • working temporarily in the UK for up to 3 years
  • working on the continental shelf area of Norway, if you live in the UK, and your employer has a place of business in the UK
  • a civil servant working for the Norwegian government
  • working onboard a vessel at sea, with a Norwegian flag
  • a member of the travelling personnel of organisations concerned with the transport of goods or passengers by road or air
  • working in an embassy, consular post, or diplomatic mission — or working for someone who does

You, or your employer, should send the application before you start to work in the UK.

When the social security agreement with Iceland applies

You, or your employer, should apply for a certificate if you’re not a national of the UK, EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Norway and you are either:

  • working temporarily in the UK for up to 1 year (The certificate can be extended by a year, but you must get agreement from the social security institution in Iceland before the end of the first year)
  • a civil servant
  • employed in the private service of a UK civil servant

If you are not covered by a social security agreement

If you’re not covered by a social security agreement and so not eligible for a certificate from a social security institution, you will need to pay National Insurance in the UK.

You will not need to pay National Insurance in the UK for the first 52 weeks of working in the UK, if you meet all of the following conditions:

  • you normally work outside the UK for a non-UK employer
  • you’re sent to work in the UK temporarily by a non-UK employer
  • you continue to work for a non-UK employer whilst in the UK (even if the employer has a place of business in the UK)
  • you’re not 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

You can find more information about paying National Insurance in the UK as an ordinary resident.

If the conditions do not apply

You will need to pay National Insurance in the UK from when you start work in the UK.

You must check with the social security institution in the country you’re working in, whether you also need to pay social security contributions in that country.

Apply for a certificate

You, or your employer, will need to apply for a certificate from the social security institution where you live. You can use this certificate as evidence that you do not need to pay National Insurance in the UK.

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.

You should include details of any COVID-19 restrictions when applying for a certificate.

The relevant certificate is not a work permit. You’ll need to check the UK immigration rules.

Your circumstances Form to complete
You’re working in 2 or more of the UK, EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland. Form CA8421
You’re a resident of, and work in, the EEA or Switzerland. You should contact your country’s social security institution to apply for a certificate.
You’re flight or cabin crew with a home base in the UK. Form CA8421
You work 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
You’re a UK civil servant or other government worker. Form CA3822

If your situation changes

If you have applied for a certificate from HMRC and a change in your situation stops the existing social security rules from applying to you, you must write to HMRC at the following address:

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

You should include the following in your letter:

  • what your circumstances were before the changes
  • what has changed, for example:
    • your work, employment or self-employment has ended earlier than expected
    • you change employer
  • when the changes happened or are due to happen
Published 26 December 2020
Last updated 1 November 2021 + show all updates
  1. Guidance updated to reflect the agreement between the UK and Switzerland on how to apply the UK-Switzerland Social Security Convention.

  2. Guidance updated to reflect the agreement between the UK and Switzerland on how to apply the UK-Switzerland 1968 Social Security Convention.

  3. 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.

  4. This page has been updated to reflect that all EU member states have expressed their wish to opt in to apply the detached worker provision. This means that individuals coming to work temporarily in the UK (and their employers) should apply for a certificate or document from the social security organisation in the EU member state they are coming from.

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

  6. First published.