Social Security » Social insurance beyond the EU

Social insurance beyond the EU

Generally, if a German artist or creative works temporarely outside of the EU or an artist or creative from outside of Europe works temporarely in Germany, then one must check whether a social security agreement exists between Germany and the respective country. The agreement defines which laws apply and which branches of the social insurance are covered by it. Social security agreements have been concluded in order to avoid overlaps or double insurance in both countries.  

If there is no social security agreement, the legislation of both countries must be examined. An artist or creative, who is employed for a year in a country and no agreement exists, is subject to the social security legislation of the host country, while the obligation to contribute to the German social insurance may remain in effect. Double insurance is thus not ruled out. The same applies analogously to an artist or creative from outside of Europe, who works in Germany for a year (or longer). 

From Germany to a country outside of Europe

Postings (and self-postings) to countries outside the EU, the EEA, and Switzerland are only possible if a bilateral social security agreement exists and provides for such measures. If it does, the posted German worker may still be subject to the German social insurance system and will thus continue to make the same contributions to the German carrier and be entitled to claim benefits through it. He/She does not become subject to social insurance abroad. Germany has entered into bilateral agreements with about 50 countries (including the EU und EEA countries) that differ greatly. The agreements do not always cover all branches of social insurance (health, accident, unemployment, long-term care, pension) but instead pertain only to certain areas of it (cf. list of contract states). And sometimes no comparable compulsory insurances exist in the other country. 

The prerequisite (in accordance with § 4 SGB IV “Ausstrahlung” - German regulation according to which a person must remain insured in Germany even when on assignment in a foreign country) for the continuation of the compulsory German insurance is that the stay is limited in advance by contract that it is limited by the nature of the activity, or that the activity itself is limited (e.g., projects, productions, or research work).

What does this mean for artists and creatives insured in Germany?  

A freelance video artist insured in Germany visits Indonesia for one year to produce documentaries and film shots for an Indonesia-based festival organizer. He/She receives a service contract. Does his/her compulsory coverage through the Artists’ Social Security Fund remain in force? 

The video artist contacts the Artists’ Social Security Fund and must prove the temporary nature of his/her stay abroad (evidenced by the service contract in this case). The decision about the continuation of the compulsory insurance is made according to German legislation, i.e. based on the Artists’ Social Security Act. In addition, he/she should contact the responsible authorities abroad to inquire which local contributions he/she is subject to. He/she may be liable to compulsory contributions in both countries because Indonesia is one of the so-called non-contracting countries, i.e. has no social security agreement with Germany.

Likewise, the artist should contact his/her health insurance to request information about health insurance and long-term care coverage during his stay abroad (see International health insurance).

Variation: The video artist moves for an indefinite period and relocates his/her main place of residence and work to Indonesia.  

If the stay abroad is not limited to a certain time, the Artists’ Social Security Fund terminates the compulsory insurance in line with the Artists’ Social Security Act. The artist is then subject only to Indonesian social security law. If the artist returns to Germany later and continues his artistic career, he/she must re-register with the Artists’ Social Security Fund in order to verify his/her obligation to contribute to it.

A German dancer and dance teacher teaches in Skopje, Macedonia, for two years as part of a dance academy partnership. The posting German academy, which bears the costs, concludes a contract with him/her for the duration of the stay.

Germany has a social security agreement with Macedonia that comprises all insurances covered by German social insurance law. Due to the contractually limited posting, the dancer remains subject to compulsory insurance in line with the Artists’ Social Security Act. According to the agreement, he/she does not have to pay social security contributions in Macedonia. 

A freelance Armenian designer visits Germany for five months for research purposes.

Germany and Armenia have no social security agreement, i.e. both the German and Armenian legislation must be examined. For Germany, § 5 SGB IV regarding the so-called “Einstrahlung” (German regulation according to which an employee temporarily assigned to work in Germany from abroad is not subject to pension insurance in Germany) applies. The Armenian designer is thus not subject to German social insurance. During his/her temporary stay, the Armenian legislation remains applicable. In his/her case, it is also important to note that he/she must have a valid German residence permit (see Visa and residence) and health insurance coverage (see International health insurance).

Info block

The following table provides an overview of the scope of application in those countries with which Germany has concluded social security agreements.

The National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Funds provides fact sheets on individual countries (in German language). 

Contact addresses for liaison agencies in contractual countries as well as for the individual insurance branches in Germany, can be found here.

The appropriate contacts and information centers in Germany are the Artists’ Social Security Fund and the National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Funds. In other countries, please contact the respective social insurance carrier – which is listed in the relevant fact sheets.

The E-series forms for citizens of third countries who live in the EU can be downloaded here.

Legal basis: The Fourth Book of the Social Code (SGB IV) is applicable to stays outside the EU§ 4 SGB IV for “Ausstrahlung” and § 5 SGB IV for “Einstrahlung.”


Health insurance is mandatory during a stay in Germany (cf. Health insurance coverage for extended stays abroad).

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