Remote work and work abroad
A person doing remote work abroad is not automatically covered by Finnish social security. It is possible to apply for an A1 certificate from Finland for a person working remotely in an EU Member State. The A1 certificate attests that the worker is covered by Finnish social security. For example, based on the A1 certificate granted by the Finnish Centre for Pensions, the worker is also issued a European Health Insurance Card.
If the certificate is not applied for or cannot be granted, the worker is covered by the social security of the country in which the work is done. The employer is also to pay the statutory social insurance contributions for the worker to that country.
The employer applies for the A1 certificate for its employee. Self-employed persons apply for the A1 certificate on their own.
Having the A1 certificate means that remote work done abroad is insured in the same way as any other work done abroad. In other words, the same rules for coverage under Finnish social security apply to a person working remotely from abroad as to a posted worker:
- The work abroad must be temporary (cannot last for more than two years).
- The work abroad must be done for a Finnish employer.
- The worker is covered by Finnish social security immediately before going abroad to work.
On this page, we have collected frequently asked questions about doing remote work abroad.
For more information on social benefits, please contact Kela.
Frequently asked questions about remote work abroad
Question: Is it always necessary to apply for an A1 certificate, even if the employer does not actually post the worker abroad but the worker goes abroad to work on their own initiative?
Answer: Yes. Alternatively, the employer must insure the worker in the country in which the work is done. Whether the worker is posted or working abroad on their own initiative does not matter when it comes to getting an A1 certificate. If the work is done abroad and the employer agrees to that (it is the employer who decides whether a worker can go abroad to work or not), the employer must apply for the A1 certificate and pay the statutory social security contributions for the worker to Finland.
Question: I work for a Swedish university but do all my work remotely from my home in Finland. Which country’s social security am I covered by? Do I need to apply for an A1 certificate?
Answer: If you work for the university in the capacity of a civil servant (check with your employer if you are unsure), you are covered by Swedish social security (under the EU Regulations on social security), even if you do all your work remotely from Finland. Your employer must apply for an A1 certificate from Sweden to attest that you are covered by Swedish social security. In that case, your pension accrues in Sweden and you get your social security benefits from Sweden. If you have other work besides your work as a civil servant, for example in Finland, your social security situation may be different. In that case, please contact the Finnish Centre for Pensions.
Question: How does working remotely from abroad differ from a work trip or from posting a worker abroad?
Answer: In practice, from the point of view of social security, there is no difference. Remote work, work trip, assignment, posting – the social security rules are the same for all. What matters is in which country the work is physically carried out. All work done abroad falls under the same rules as far as social security is concerned.
Question: Does all remote work abroad require an A1 certificate? For example, does a period of remote work of 2-4 weeks in connection with a holiday require an A1 certificate?
Answer: There are no legal regulations about a lower time limit for applying for or getting an A1 certificate. In other words, it is necessary to apply for an A1 certificate from the Finnish Centre for Pensions even for a short (2-4 week) period of remote work from abroad. The A1 certificate can be applied for and granted in retrospect for a short period of work abroad if it was not applied for earlier and a need for it arises later.
Question: I work for a German employer, but I work remotely full time from my home in Finland. Which country’s social security am I covered by? Do I need to apply for an A1 certificate?
Answer: If you do all your work remotely from Finland, you are covered by Finnish social security (under the EU regulations on social security). That means that your German employer must insure you in Finland based on your work. You will earn pension in Finland and will be paid all social security benefits from Finland. As a rule, you don’t need an A1 certificate for the work you do in Finland, but if your employer needs the certificate to attest that you are covered by Finnish social security, you can apply for it with your employer from the Finnish Centre for Pensions.
Your employer can find additional information on the statutory social insurance contributions of Finland. The instructions are available in several different languages. https://www.etk.fi/en/work-and-pensions-abroad/insurance-while-working-abroad/social-insurance-contributions-in-finland/
Question: The employee does not want to pay social insurance contributions to Finland while working remotely from abroad – what should we do? Can a Finnish employer pay the worker’s wage but not the social insurance contributions?
Answer: The employee cannot decide on whether to pay or not to pay statutory social insurance contributions. The employer must withhold the contributions from the worker’s wage as required by law. If the worker does remote work abroad and has applied for and been granted an A1 certificate, the worker is covered by Finnish social security and the employer withholds the social insurance contributions in the same manner as if the worker was working in Finland. If no A1 certificate has been applied for, the worker is covered by the social security of the country in which the work is done. In that case, the employer must withhold the statutory social insurance contributions under the laws of the country in which the work is done and pay them to that country.
Question: To whom must the A1 certificate be presented abroad? And in which connection?
Answer: The A1 certificate must be presented always when needed. The A1 certificate granted to the worker attests that the worker is covered by Finnish social security legislation while working abroad. The country in which the work is done cannot require that statutory social insurance contributions be paid to the country of work. Based on the certificate, the worker also receives their social security benefits from Finland and earns their pension to Finland and not the country in which they work. If the A1 certificate is not applied for or cannot be granted, the social security contributions are to be paid to the country in which the work is done.
The need to present the A1 certificate depends largely on the country in which the work is done, the place of work and the type of work one does. A supervisory authority or, for example, the employer whose place of work the worker will work at may request to see the A1 certificate. If the worker has an accident or falls ill, it may be necessary to present the certificate when seeking treatment or when sorting out to which country the insurance contributions are to be paid.
Question: The worker has a holiday home in Spain and does remote work from there for four months. After that, the worker returns to Finland for a couple of months and then goes back to work from Spain for another four months. Does the worker need separate A1 certificates for both periods of remote work from abroad?
Answer: If the person alternates working in Finland and Spain on a regular basis within one year, the employer can apply for an A1 certificate for work done in several countries. In that case, the person’s country of residence is established. When the criteria are met, a person working (remotely) in several countries on a regular basis can be issued an A1 certificate for one or two years at a time. The certificate covers all work done in EU Member States during that period.
If it is not known from the start that the work will be carried out in Spain over more than one period, it is also possible to apply for separate A1 certificates for both periods of remote work in Spain.
Question: What if the remote work abroad is not done regularly? For example, if a person does remote work abroad a couple of times a year, for a few days or weeks at a time? Should the A1 certificate be applied for also in such cases, or can the matter be handled in some other way?
Answer: If it is known that the work abroad will be regular and occur more than once per year (even if sporadically), and it is unsure for how long each time, the employer can apply for an A1 certificate under the status of employee working in several countries. The certificate can be issued for two years at a time, for example. The same certificate will then cover all work done in EU countries during that period. In that case, there is no need to apply for a certificate for each period of remote work abroad.
Question: What if the employee has worked remotely from abroad without notifying the employer, but the employer finds out about this later?
Answer: The A1 certificate can be applied for in retrospect. If no social security contributions have been paid to the country of work and the employer has not received any benefits from the country of work, the A1 certificate can often be granted in retrospect for a period of work abroad that has already begun or even ended.
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