Which country's social security system are you covered by?

Billede af flyttebil der bliver aflæsset.
Photographer
Yadid Levy
It is important to know in which country you are covered by social insurance, as this affects many of your rights and obligations. You should always pay attention to your social insurance when you move to or start working in another Nordic country.

Being ‘covered by social insurance’ in a country means that there are rules that apply to you in such areas as:

  • Unemployment insurance
  • Pension
  • Sickness benefit
  • Child allowance
  • Health services
  • Parental benefit
  • Occupational illness compensation

It is important that you know where you are socially insured, because this can have consequences for where you must be insured against unemployment, where you are entitled to child benefit, and much more.

There are many situations in which you need to pay special attention to where you are socially insured, for example if you move to another country, if you work in a country other than the one in which you live, or if you work for an employer in another country.

In the country where you are socially insured, you and your employer will also usually have to pay social security contributions. However, the way in which this is done varies greatly between the Nordic countries. If you work in two countries, this may mean that the employer in one country is obliged to pay social security contributions to the other country.

Rules for where you are socially insured apply in all EU and EEA countries as well as in Switzerland, the Faroe Islands and Greenland. 

This article does not cover all situations. It is therefore important that you contact the social security authorities in the countries in which you live, work, study, carry on business or receive public benefits, in order to ensure that you are properly insured.  

Where are you covered by social insurance?

As a general rule, you are covered by social insurance in the country in which you work. If you are unemployed, you are usually covered by social insurance in the country in which you live. However, there are many situations to which you need to pay special attention – in particular if you start a new job in another country, or if you move to another country, or if your life situation changes.

Below, you will find information about social security in a number of different situations. The list is not exhaustive, and there may often be special circumstances that apply in your particular situation. You should therefore always contact the relevant authorities for specific information.

What does “place of work” mean?

In the following, “place of work” and “work” refer to the country in which you actually perform your work.

What does “live” mean?

The social security authorities consider you to be living in the country where you have your habitual residence. In this connection, it is not just your officially registered address that is taken into account, but also your housing situation, where your family lives, and so on.

If you live and work in the same country

If you live and work in the same country, you are socially insured in that country, unless you are posted abroad and have applied to the social security authority in another country to remain socially insured there.  

If you live in one country and work in another

If you live in one country and exclusively work in another country, you are socially insured in the country where you work, unless you are posted abroad and have applied to the social security authority to remain socially insured in the country where you live.  

If you work in two countries

If you work in two countries and live in one of them, you are socially insured in the country where you live, if at least 25% of your work is there. If you work less than 25% in the country where you live, the domicile of your employer or employers determines where you are socially insured.   

If you work from home for a foreign employer

If you work for a foreign employer, but work at least 25% from home in the country where you live, you will, as a general rule, be socially insured in the country where you live.

Please note that during the Covid-19 epidemic, the Nordic authorities strongly encouraged many workplaces to allow their employees to work from home. If you are working in a Nordic country other than the one in which you live, special rules may apply regarding which country's social security system you are covered by.

If you have any doubts about where you are covered by social security, you should contact the social security authorities in the country in which you live.   

If you are a freelancer, temp or cultural worker

If you are employed by a temporary employment agency or work across borders, either for the same employer or for different employers, it is important that you contact the social security authorities in the country in which you live so that you can find out which country’s rules apply to you.

If you work in aviation (flight crew)

If you work exclusively as a pilot or cabin crew member in passenger or cargo aircraft, you are generally socially insured in the country where you have your home base.  

If you work on board a ship

If you are an employee or self-employed and work on board a ship, you are usually socially insured in the country of the flag the ship is flying.  

However, if you are an employee and receive a salary from an employer in the same country as the one you live in, you will as a general rule be socially insured in the country in which you live. 

Self-employed persons

If you are self-employed, you are generally covered by social insurance in the country where you live, if you carry out more than 25% of your business there. 

If you do business in several countries but you carry out less than 25% of your business in the country where you live, you are covered by social insurance in the country where you primarily do business.    

Students

If you are a student, you will as a general rule be socially insured in the country where you live, but in some cases you will be socially insured in the country that provides your student grant. You should contact the social security authorities to clarify this.  

If you live in one Nordic country and receive a retirement or early retirement pension from another

If you receive an old-age or early retirement pension exclusively from another Nordic country, you are covered by the social security system of the country in which you live.

If you live in one country and receive other work-based benefits from another

If you receive, for example, unemployment benefit or parental benefit from a country other than the one in which you live, you will, as a general rule, be socially insured in the country that pays the benefit. You should contact the social security authorities to clarify this.

Families

If a couple are socially insured in two different countries, and either have or are expecting children, special rules apply to child allowance and parental benefit.

If you are in any doubt about what applies in your situation, you should contact the social security authorities in the countries in which you live and work.   

Who should you contact if you have questions?

Further information

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