Social Security » The Artists’ Social Security Fund

The Artists’ Social Security Fund

The Artists’ Social Security Fund: social insurance coverage for self-employed artists and publicists in Germany

On January 1, 1983, the German Artists’ Social Security Fund (KSV) was established, giving freelance artists, publicists and journalists access to the social security systems by ensuring that, like traditional employees, they only have to pay approximately half of the social security contributions out of their own pockets (see Social Insurance in Germany). 
In the style of the funding principle of statutory social insurance, about half of the contributions to the Artists’ Social Security Fund come from the artists; the artist’s share corresponds to the employee’s share in the statutory social insurance. The so called user’s share (30%) corresponds to the employer’s share; a federal subsidy covers other 20% of the contribution. This subsidy reflects the fact that some of the artists, publicists, and journalists promote themselves and that there is thus no contribution by private end users. Within the KSV the users (organizations or business that use artistic or publicist services) and the German federation take the place of employers in their obligation to make contributions.  

The Artists’ Social Security Fund is itself not a health or pension insurance. As insurance brokers, the statutory pension insurance and the statutory health insurance (to which the long-term care insurance is linked) enforce the pension and health insurances, i.e. the Artists’ Social Security Fund serves as a kind of intermediary and forwards the contributions to the respective carrier through which the artist or publicist is insured. The Artists’ Social Security Fund does not include unemployment or accident insurance. If desired, this coverage would have to be obtained either privately or through professional organizations.  

General information about the Artists’ Social Security Fund can be found here, and a quick overview here.

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Who can get coverage?

The German Artists’ Social Security Fund (KSV) gives freelance artists, publicists and journalists access to the social security system. An artists within the meaning of the Artists‘ Social Security Act is who performes or teaches music, performing arts or visual arts. Designers or design teachers are also included. A publicist within the meaning of the Act is considered to be anyone who works as a writer/author, journalist or any other kind of publicist or teaches these subjects.

A greater definition is not given by the Artists‘ Social Security Act. However, the ‚Künstlerkatalog‘ provided offers orientation and an overview of artistic and publicistic practices, covered by the Act – it e.g. includes solo entertainers, photojournalists, games designers, editors, music teachers, make-up artists, voice-over artists … to name only a few. According to its own statements the ‚Künstlerkatalog‘ can not be considered as completed; for some practices detailed descriptions are necessary to examine individual cases. The ‚Künstlerkatalog‘ is available online here (in German).

Due to favorable health insurance premiums, insurance under the Artists’ Social Security Act (KSVG) is particularly attractive. Acceptance in the Artists' Social Security Fund requires that the artistic or journalistic activity is carried out commercially and not just temporarily. Each year, the artists and publicists estimate their projected earnings for the following year. The health, pension, and long-term care insurance premiums are then calculated on the basis of these estimates. The required minimum income is 3900 euros per annum (since 2004).
According to the Artists’ Social Security Act, career entrants enjoy special protection within the first three years of their career. Even if they do not achieve the required minimum income, they are covered by statutory pension, health, and long-term care insurance. The insurance time can be interrupted by childrearing periods, military or alternative civilian service or by temporary employment. These will not count against the start-up period. The contributions of career entrants with incomes below the minimum working salary are calculated according to the minimum premiums that are adjusted every year. Other groups are allowed to fall short of the minimum income twice within six years.  

Can a freelance Scottish painter who moves to Germany for a period of several months obtain insurance through the Artists’ Social Security Fund? 

Artists or publicists who work in Germany only temporarily are not insured by the Artists’ Social Security Fund. The Artists’ Social Security Fund checks this when the application is submitted. 
In addition, the Scottish painter’s temporary freelance stay in Germany is considered a (self-)posting in accordance with the system of coordination of social security in Europe (see Posting to Germany). If the responsible social security carrier in Scotland has decided that the social security law of the posting state, i.e. the British one, applies, the artist may not register with a German social insurance carrier.

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The “user's contribution”/ social security contribution

Important information for event organizers

Who are the users and what contributions are they liable to?

As so-called “users,” companies that regularly use works or services of self-employed artists or publicists are obliged to register with the Artists’ Social Security Fund and pay the “user’s contribution” of the social security premiums for artists and publicists (§ 24 KSVG, under subparagraph (I) you will also find a list of liable "users" - in German). 
From 2015 a minimum cession amount is relevant: companies that use works or services only occasionally, have to pay contributions, once they pay more than 450 euros a year for fees.

This means that any theater operator in Germany paying a (foreign) artist performing in Germany must pay a contribution based on this remuneration. Similarly, contributions must be paid by companies who pay artists or publicists for images, texts, etc. The catalog Duty on payments for artistic/journalistic work/services offers on overview.
In 2017 the contribution rate was 4.8%, since 2018, the rate is 4.2%. Also in 2022 it amounts to 4.2%.

Territory of application of the Artists’ Social Security Fund 

A Danish ballet organizes a tour through Germany. No dancers from Germany are involved. Is the Danish organizer liable to contributions to the Artists’ Social Security Fund? 

Contributions to the Artists’ Social Security Fund are levied in the Federal Republic of Germany.  

Since during the tour, performances take place in the territory of the Federal Republic of Germany, social security contribution is applicable. Organizers from abroad are not liable to contributions in general; but if a contractual relationship exists between German organizers and foreign companies, the contributions usually have to be paid by the German organizers.
In the opposite case, if a German-based theatre company performs in Denmark, the German organizer is not liable to contributions. 

The obligation to contributions extends to all remunerations paid for artistic and publicistic jobs in Germany, even if the artist or publicist is not subject to compulsory insurance according to the Artists’ Social Security Act (§ 25 Abs. 1 Satz 1 KSVG). This means that the user’s contribution is payable even when foreign artists are contracted, providing that the client or a cooperation partner is registered within the territory of application of the Artists’ Social Security Fund. 

Information on the obligation of organizers to contribute can be found here.

Click here to download Artists’ Social Security Fund information sheets for companies and users.

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