What is the A1 certificate and what do you need it for?
Business travelers and employees need an A1 certificate for stays abroad within the EU and Switzerland. Most of the applications can be submitted digitally. Find out more about the A1 Certificate below.
If it cannot be proven that there is compulsory social insurance in the country of assignment, employees are generally subject to the legal provisions applicable abroad. For example, employers must then pay additional social security contributions.
- What is the A1 certificate?
- For which business trips do employees need an A1 certificate?
- For which countries do you need the A1 certificate?
- For which assignments do I need an A1 certificate?
- How long is the A1 certificate valid and for how long can it be issued?
- Who applies for the A1 certificate and for whom?
- A1 application: which social security agency is responsible for my employee?
- A1 certificate when traveling through transit countries
What is the A1 certificate?
The A1 certificate is a document that proves that you pay social security contributions in your home country (EU member state of residence) and are therefore not subject to compulsory insurance for the duration of work assignments in other EU countries. It was introduced in 2010 to avoid social and wage dumping and has replaced the E101 certificate.
With the implementation of the Enforcement Directive in July 2016, extensive reporting requirements were introduced in most EU countries and with the introduction of the reporting requirements, the controls for the A1 certificate were also tightened.
For which business trips do employees need an A1 certificate?
Employees need the A1 certificate on all business trips within the EU, the EEA and Switzerland. The duration and type of cross-border assignment are irrelevant.
► In terms of social security law, the following applies: As soon as an employee works outside their home country, they can use the A1 certificate to prove that their national law continues to apply to them and therefore they do not have to pay any social security contributions while working in another EU country (or in the EEA and Switzerland). The duration and type of a cross-border assignment are irrelevant.
For example truck drivers in transit also need an A1 certificate. Because driving time is a job. That is why the principle applies here that employees must be able to prove during controls abroad that the social security law of the sending country continues to apply.
For which countries do you need the A1 certificate?
The A1 certificate is required for postings to a member state of the European Union (EU), a signatory to the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland.
The A1 certificate always relates to a specific country.
A1 certificate for several countries
If an employee is regularly employed in several EU countries, it must be checked whether it is a normal activity in several member states. In the case of normal activity in several Member States, different criteria apply than when assessing a posting. For example, it is crucial in which country the main part of the work is carried out. In these cases, the A1 certificate must be requested from the German Liaison Office for Health Insurance Abroad (DVKA).
Postings to countries of agreement
For postings to countries with which Germany has concluded a social security agreement, the German legal provisions may still apply. For this there is country-specific questionnaires at the DVKA and extensive information on the respective country.
For which assignments do I need an A1 certificate?
- Classic services such as commissioning, assembly, and maintenance of a machine or system
- Short-term and short-term business trips such as visits to customers, participation in training courses, visits to trade fairs, etc.
How long is the A1 certificate valid and for how long can it be issued?
The A1 certificate is generally valid for the duration of the assignment abroad, up to a maximum of 24 months.
Postings to the same country over and over again
Even if employees repeatedly work in the same country for a limited period of time, a new A1 application must be submitted for the respective period.
Can the A1 certificate be extended for 24 months?
If the work abroad lasts longer than 24 months, the German legal provisions may still apply under certain circumstances. For this purpose, a so-called exception agreement can be agreed with the relevant competent authority abroad.
On the German side, this is the National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Funds with the German Liaison Office for Health Insurance Abroad (DVKA). On the DVKA website you can find Information on electronic applications for the respective country of use.
What will happen if an employee travels without obtaining an A1 certificate?
• It can result into a fine being imposed on the company or the company’s customer abroad for missing an A1 Certificate
• Most EU authorities are also increasingly using the A1 Certificate as documentation for work permits for business travelers. Not having one may result in employees being denied access to the country and workplace abroad.
Who applies for the A1 certificate and for whom?
Employers apply for the A1 certificate for their employees. Since January 1, 2021, this also applies to civil servants and other employees.
For employees, the A1 application is made by the employer. The electronic application process is mandatory for this.
Officials and assimilated persons
Since January 1, 2021, employers have also applied electronically for the A1 certificate for civil servants and persons equivalent to civil servants. This can be done using payroll software or the application sv.net.
The self-employed apply for the A1 certificate for themselves.
A1 application: which social security agency is responsible for my employee?
The A1 application must be submitted to the employee’s responsible social security agency. Which one this is depends on whether your employee is legally insured or not.
The social security agency to which you send the application for the A1 certificate depends on the insurance of your employee:
Employee is legally insured: health insurance
The application goes electronically to the statutory health insurance with which the employee is insured. This applies regardless of whether you have compulsory insurance, voluntary insurance or family insurance. Starting 2021, this also apply to civil servants and employees with equal status.
Employee or managing director is privately insured: pension insurance company
If your employee has private health insurance rather than statutory health insurance, the application goes to the statutory pension insurance provider: the DRV Bund, the DRV Knappschaft Bahn-See or the responsible regional DRV agency.
Even privately insured managing directors (self-employed) must prove by means of an A1 certificate in other EU countries that they are socially insured under German law. In this case, too, the Deutsche Rentenversicherung issues the A1 certificate.
Further information can be found at the German Pension Insurance (DRV).
Employee is insured through a professional pension scheme: ABV
If there is no statutory health insurance and an exemption from compulsory pension insurance due to membership in a professional pension institution, the application is sent to the Arbeitsgemeinschaft Berufsständischer pensioneinrichtungen eV (ABV). For example, this can affect lawyers and doctors.
A1 certificate when traveling through transit countries
According to the German pension insurance, an A1 certificate is only necessary when traveling through transit countries if an activity is carried out in the transit country.
► If a mechanic who works in Germany takes an order or a temporary job in Italy and drives from Munich via Austria to his destination in Milan, he does not need an A1 certificate for Austria because he does not work there.
► A truck driver who drives from Germany to Italy via Austria to deliver goods there, on the other hand, carries out his job (the transport of goods) during the transit through Austria. He, therefore, needs the A1 certificate not only for Italy but also for Austria.