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15.2.2023 Tiina Ahonen

There’s no need to apply for an A1 certificate separately for each business trip abroad. Instead, it’s possible to apply for an A1 certificate that is valid for two years. One certificate is thus enough to secure the social security of an employee who often goes abroad on business trips.

Applying for the A1 certificate is regulated by the EU Regulation on social security. The Regulation doesn’t state for how short periods of work abroad the certificate is required. It assumes, however, that if the employee has no certificate, the work must be insured in the country of work. The A1 certificate shows that the person it has been issued to belongs to the social security of Finland (the sending country) while working abroad. It also tells the country of work that all statutory social security contributions for the employee are to be paid to Finland. In other words, the country of work cannot charge any of them. 

The EU Regulation hasn’t been amended, but at the end of 2022, the Finnish Centre for Pensions specified its instructions based on the regulation as the A1 certificate may also be required for shorter business trips. The A1 certificate doesn’t replace the European health insurance card or travel insurance.

One A1 certificate covers many business trips 

If the employee travels often, the employer should apply for an A1 certificate that is valid for two years at a time, or even for three years for civil servants. There’s no need to apply for an A1 certificate for each separate business and official trip. Instead, the employer can apply for one A1 certificate that covers all periods of work abroad and EU Member States during its period of validity.  

When applying for the certificate, the employer doesn’t need to know which customer’s machine the employee is going to fix or in which hotel the seminar is arranged. It’s enough to list to which EU countries the employee is most likely going to travel on their business trips and how the working hours are distributed between the countries. If the business trip goes to an EU Member State which wasn’t known at the time of applying for the certificate, or if the employee won’t go to a certain country stated on the certificate, the certificate doesn’t need to be updated. Nor is it necessary to report if the work in some country turns out to take up much more or less time than first estimated, providing the employee does the main part of their working hours in Finland. 

It’s better to apply for the certificate before the first business trip, but it’s also possible to apply for it in retrospect. These specified instructions don’t apply to business trips already made unless the country of work requests a certificate or the employee’s benefit case in Finland requires that the matter is investigated. 

A1 certificate may be needed also on short business trips 

Working abroad has become more common and complex. Previously, employees were posted abroad to work for a year or two , but now many go on short business trips or to do remote work from abroad. It’s difficult to draw a line: the certificate may be needed for just one day of work abroad or for a longer period of posting. 

The praxis varies by country and by field of business. For example, on construction sites, it’s often necessary to present the certificate already at the gate when entering the site. At meetings, seminars and official journeys, it’s less common for anyone to ask for the certificate. However, the EU regulations don’t differentiate between different types of work or groups of workers. The employee may have an accident or fall ill also on a conference trip. 

The Finnish Centre for Pensions doesn’t supervise applications for the A1 certificate, and whether the country of work requires the A1 certificate varies. However, lacking the certificate may have consequences abroad, such as sanctions, which the employer can inquire about only from the country of work.  

A1 certificate from the Finnish Centre for Pensions in just a few hours 

The A1 certificate can be applied for from the eServices of the Finnish Centre for Pensions.  The certificate is free of charge. If the application can be processed automatically, it can be issued in just a few hours on weekdays.  If the application requires more information from foreign authorities or the applicant, the processing will take longer. 

The worker can go on their business trip even if the certificate hasn’t been granted in time for the business trip. Should the country of work request the certificate in such a case, a certificate of pendency can be downloaded. It shows that the employer has applied for an A1 certificate and that everything is under control. 

Read more:

FAQs on Working Abroad

Apply for an A1 certificate

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Finnish Centre for Pensions – Central body of and expert on statutory earnings-related pensions