Social security contributions for workers coming to the UK from the EEA or Switzerland from 1 January 2021

Guide

Last updated 1 November 2021

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 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 work in. 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:

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

This will usually be the UK, if that is where the work is being done.

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

Paying social security contributions in the EU whilst working in the UK

The UK has social security agreements with the EU.

You’ll continue to only pay social security contributions in the EU if you have the relevant certificate or document from the social security institution in that country. You, or your employer, should apply for a certificate or document if you’re:

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

The relevant certificate or document is not a work permit. You’ll need to check the UK’s immigration rules if you’re not lawfully resident in the UK.

Paying social security contributions in Switzerland whilst working in the UK

The UK has social security agreements with Switzerland.

You’ll continue to pay social security contributions only in Switzerland if you have been issued with the relevant certificate as evidence from the social security institution in Switzerland. You or your employer should apply for a certificate from the social security institution if you are:

  • coming from Switzerland to work temporarily in the UK for up to 2 years
  • working in Switzerland and the UK
  • a civil servant working for the Swiss Government
  • working on board a vessel at sea, with Swiss flag
  • working as a flight or cabin crew member, where your home base is in Switzerland

Working in the UK

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 Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland, 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, Norway or Switzerland before 1 January 2021
  • family member of a UK national who has a right to reside in Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland under one of the agreements and you’re residing in Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland
  • person with dual nationality, one of which is the UK and one of which is Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland
  • national of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland, who works in the UK and 1 or more countries of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland before 1 January 2021 and continue to do so, and you work mainly in Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland
  • family member of a national of, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland who has status under the EU Settlement Scheme, and you are residing in the UK

If you’re covered by one of these agreements, you’ll continue paying social security contributions only in Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland if the social security institution you have come from 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:

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

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 also 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 your social security institution for a certificate to show evidence that you are liable to pay social security contributions only in that country if you’re coming to work in the UK from:

Coming to work in the UK from Norway

You should apply to the relevant social security institution in Norway, for a certificate or document to continue paying social security contributions there, if you’re working temporarily in the UK for up to 3 years. You should apply for a certificate or document before you come to work temporarily in the UK but must apply within the first 4 months of coming to work here. This means you’ll not have to pay National Insurance contributions in the UK for that duration of work.

Coming to work in the UK from Iceland

You should apply to the relevant social security institution in Iceland, for a certificate or document to continue paying social security contributions there, if you’re employed and a non-UK and non-EEA national working temporarily in the UK 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 National Insurance contributions in the UK for that duration of work.

When you’ll pay social security contributions in the UK

If you are coming here to work and you are not eligible for a certificate or document from the social security institution you’re coming from, you’ll need to pay National Insurance contributions in the UK.

However, if you’re only coming to work temporarily in the UK and you’re not covered by a social security agreement, you will not need to pay National Insurance contributions for the first 52 weeks of your employment in the UK, if:

  • you normally work outside the UK for a foreign employer
  • you’re sent to work in the UK for a time by that foreign employer
  • when in the UK you continue to work for that employer
  • 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

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

How to apply for a certificate or document

If you’re resident in the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland and work in that country, contact the social security institution in the country you reside in to find out if you can apply for a certificate as evidence to show that you are liable to pay social security there.

If you do not work in your country of residence but think you’re eligible for a certificate from the HMRC, follow the table to see how to apply:

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 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 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 happened

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.