Step by step, our guide will lead you to all the important information you might need for your international work.

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The Guide

Temporary work/ posting


Working temporarily in another European country/ principle of (self-)posting

An individual may work in another country on a temporary basis, for example, as part of a posting. The principle of a posting is always the same, irrespective of the European or non-European country in which the temporary activity takes place. Only the requirements to be met, the social security aspects affected and the maximum possible duration of the posting differ.

A posting is always characterized by the following principles:

The work abroad is

  • temporary, for a limited period specified in advance,
  • irregular,
  • based on gainful activity in the country of residence and
  • performed by employees sent abroad on the instructions of their employer and with a continuing entitlement to remuneration under labour laws in the posting country.


If these conditions are met, the legal provisions of the posting country generally continue to apply.

The provisions on posting under the relevant EC regulations do not provide for any exceptions for short-term postings. This means that even a one-day (self-)posting is considered a posting with all the associated consequences.

Since the regulations on posting are uniform EC-wide regulations, the framework conditions also apply to postings from other EU/EEA countries or from Switzerland to Germany. Due to the Trade and Cooperation Agreement between the EU and the United Kingdom, which has been in force since 1 January 2021, the same is true for (self-)postings from the United Kingdom to Germany.

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Posting to another European country as an employed artist

Where an individual takes up temporary employment in another EU/EEA country, Switzerland or the United Kingdom, the legal provisions of the previous country of employment continue to apply if the following conditions are met:

The activity (employment)

  • is carried out for an employer that usually operates in the posting country,
  • is performed on behalf of this employer in another country,
  • does not exceed the maximum posting period of 24 months,
  • is not performed in the context of replacing a person who has previously carried out the work in the other country as part of a posting.
  • The posted person must have been covered by social security in the posting country for at least one month prior to the posting.


Artists employed by an employer in Germany who work temporarily (maximum of 24 months) for this employer in another EU/EEA country, in Switzerland or in the United Kingdom and who continue to receive a salary from this employer will still be covered by the German social security system during their stay abroad.
They need an A1 certificate (see below) as proof of insurance coverage in Germany.
 

What is meant by an employer normally carries out its activities in the posting country?

An employer normally carries out its activities in the posting country if it achieves at least 25% of its total turnover in the posting country. If this figure is lower, the responsible social security institution (usually the health insurance fund) must check whether there are any other additional criteria that could be taken into account to fulfil this requirement (details are provided under Point 3 in the Practical Guide of the Administrative Commission).

A Polish musician is under contract with a Polish agency in Poland that hires out musicians worldwide. The company does not achieve any significant turnover in Poland. The musician is to complete a two-day assignment at a concert in Germany.

Consequence: In the absence of a special exemption agreement, the musician is subject to the German legal provisions when she is posted in Germany, since the agency does not engage in any significant business activity as defined in the aforementioned regulation as an employer in the posting country (Poland). Just like a German agency, the Polish agency must therefore pay contributions to the German social security system and register the musician for all social security branches subject to social security contributions.

In order to do this, the Polish agency would have to apply to the Bundesagentur für Arbeit (Federal Employment Agency) (only available in German) for a company number under which the contributions are to be paid to the musician's chosen health insurance fund, if it does not already have one. The musician chooses her own statutory health insurance fund vis-a-vis the Polish agency.
Foreign employers can find information on the Arbeitgeberportal Sozialversicherung (Social Security Employer Portal) (only available in German).

One way of avoiding this time-consuming procedure is to check whether a special exemption agreement can be applied for. If such an agreement is applied for in good time and is actually concluded, the musician remains insured in Poland during her stay in Germany. She can then produce the A1 form (see below) (which is issued in Poland by the Polish social insurance body ZUS) as proof of coverage.


What is meant by on behalf of an employer?

As a rule, employed artists are working on behalf of the employer in the posting country if the employer continues to determine the type, place, time and manner of the artist's work to a substantial degree and the artist's entitlement to remuneration under labour law remains solely with respect to the posting employer.
If the employment relationship in the posting country is temporarily suspended, this requirement is not fulfilled. In this case, it may be advisable to apply for a special exemption agreement.

In the case of a posting within Europe, however, costs can be passed on. This means that the employer in the posting country may be able charge the personnel costs for an artist to a partner organisation if the work benefits the latter.

A journalist employed by a German publishing house is posted abroad to research a TV report on behalf of the German publishing house from 1 October to 31 December of this year. During this period, the publishing house continues to pay 100% of his salary and determines the topic the journalist is to research during his assignment abroad.

Consequence: As the journalist is temporarily working abroad on behalf of his employer, this situation fulfils the requirements for a posting. He needs an A1 certificate (see below) as proof of existing insurance coverage in Germany.

A choir director employed by a German concert hall is posted to a subsidiary in Seville from 1 February of this year to 31 January of the year after next to work on a musical production. The choir director is posted to Seville on behalf of the German concert hall and the concert hall continues to pay her salary but charges 100% of her salary costs to the subsidiary in Seville at the end of each year since the economic value of her work during this period benefits the subsidiary.

Consequence: Passing on the salary costs has no effect on the posting; the requirements for a posting are met. The choir director needs an A1 certificate (see below) as proof of existing insurance coverage in Germany.

Note: The provisions on postings under the relevant EC regulations do not provide for any exceptions for short-term postings. This means that even a one-day posting is considered a posting with all the associated consequences.
 

From other EU/EEA countries, Switzerland or the United Kingdom to Germany

Since the regulations on posting are uniform EC-wide regulations, the framework conditions also apply to postings from other EU/EEA countries or from Switzerland to Germany. Due to the Trade and Cooperation Agreement between the EU and the United Kingdom, which has been in force since 1 January 2021, the same is true for postings from the United Kingdom.

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Posting to another European country as a self-employed artist

If an individual takes up temporary self-employment in another EU/EEA country, Switzerland or the United Kingdom, the legal provisions of the previous country of self-employment continue to apply where the following conditions are met:

The self-employed individual

  • has been engaged in significant business activity in the previous country of self-employment for at least two months and is appropriately insured because of this work,
  • will temporarily engage in a similar activity in the other country,
  • does not expect to work in the other country for more than 24 months, and
  • meets certain requirements for the activity at home at all times (in the previous country of self-employment) so that the activity can be resumed upon the person's return (e.g. maintenance of work space/studio/music room for music instruction, payment of taxes, proof of a business license and VAT ID, membership of a professional association).


These requirements are also used, for example, to assess whether a self-employed individual is engaged in "significant business activity" in the country of residence. Such assessments are performed on a case-by-case basis. See Point 9 in the Practical Guide of the Administrative Commission for more information.

A self-employed musician teaches violin in Germany. On 1 February of this year, she receives an assignment to perform at an open-air festival in Copenhagen from 5-30 June. She continues to rent her teaching rooms in Germany during this time so that she can continue teaching immediately upon her return. She is covered by a statutory health insurance fund in Germany.

Consequence: The musician can post herself to Copenhagen as a self-employed artist and will remain subject to German legislation. During this time, she will continue to be insured in Germany. 

The statutory health insurance fund – which also provides health care benefits in the event of illness (benefits during stays in other European countries) – issues an A1 certificate (see below) at the musician's request as proof that she continues to be subject to the German legal provisions. The musician submits a copy of the A1 form to the client as proof. The client adds the certificate to their records in order to prove, in the event of an audit, that no contributions were payable for the musician in Denmark.
 

Consequences for the artists' social security fund

If an artist is a member of the artists' social security fund (Künstlersozialkasse/KSK), they must inform the KSK about the stay abroad. The foreign income must be included in the income estimate submitted to the KSK.
There may also be consequences for the social insurance coverage according to the Artists' Social Insurance Act (KSVG).
Information provided by the KSK on Secondary Activities (only available in German) and information on Stays Abroad – Consequences for Social Security Coverage (only available in German).
 

What does similar activity mean?

In order to determine whether an artist will perform a "similar" activity in another Member State to that performed in the posting country, the nature of the work actually performed must be taken into account. In general, self-employment in the same industry is considered a similar activity.

A violinist working as a musician in Germany, for example, can also post herself to perform on another musical instrument. However, she cannot simply post herself to another country to work as a graphic designer.

If the musician works as a graphic designer and this does not fall into her usual area of activity in Germany, it would be necessary to determine whether this is a normal activity in several countries for an individual with residence in Germany.

The GKV-Spitzenverband, Deutsche Verbindungsstelle Krankenversicherung – Ausland, DVKA (Central Federal Association of Statutory Health Insurance Funds) is responsible for examining this matter.
Contact the DVKA: website (only available in German)

If the musician is also a graphic designer, but graphic design is not her main activity, i.e. both have been declared to the KSK as activities carried out in Germany, she can apply to the health insurance fund for a posting, indicating that she is active in both areas in Germany. In case of doubt, the health insurance fund and the KSK must then contact each other to make a joint decision.
 

From other EU/EEA countries, Switzerland or the United Kingdom to Germany

Since the regulations on posting are uniform EC-wide regulations, the framework conditions also apply to postings from other EU/EEA countries or from Switzerland to Germany. Due to the Trade and Cooperation Agreement between the EU and the United Kingdom, which has been in force since 1 January 2021, the same is true for (self-)postings from the United Kingdom to Germany.
 

Note: The provisions on postings under the relevant EC regulations do not provide for any exceptions for short-term postings. This means that even a one-day posting is considered a posting with all the associated consequences.

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A1 certificate as proof – posting

The type of employment undertaken during the foreign assignment is decisive in determining whether it qualifies as a posting under EC law.

In Germany, this is reviewed by

  • the statutory health insurance fund with which an artist is insured or, in the case of self-employed artists, the supporting statutory health insurance fund. This applies regardless of whether the health insurance coverage is compulsory or voluntary or whether the artist is covered through a family policy.
  • If an artist does not have statutory health insurance coverage, the statutory pension insurance institution responsible for them (DRV Bund, DRV Knappschaft-Bahn-See or the responsible regional DRV institution) (only available in German) will carry out the review. The Deutsche Rentenversicherung provides a detailed FAQ on the A1 form here the Knappschaft informs here, both sources in German only.


The A1 certificate must be applied for from the statutory health insurance fund or the responsible pension insurance institution: for employed individuals, the employer submits the application, while self-employed artists apply for the certificate themselves (see information under "Application" below).

If the review of the application concludes that the German legal provisions (continue to) apply, the responsible health insurance fund/pension insurance institution will issue a "Certificate of applicable law" (A1 certificate) at the request of the employer or the self-employed individual. This certificate serves as proof for the responsible authorities in Germany and in the country in which the work is carried out that the person is subject to German legislation exclusively. This applies to all areas of social security.

The A1 certificate is binding for all administrations, courts, and parties involved as long as it has not been declared invalid or revoked by the issuing body. If the information in the application does not reflect (or no longer reflects) the actual circumstances, the responsible institution is obliged to revoke/withdraw the certificate, causing the law of the other country to become applicable retroactively.
The institution responsible for issuing the A1 certificate must therefore be notified promptly of any changes in the circumstances of the individual concerned. The institution will then check whether the changes have any effect on the applicable law. This is the only way to ensure legal certainty.

Information for companies, orchestras, collectives, etc.
Companies, orchestras and collectives that tour within Europe with permanently employed artists must ensure that an A1 certificate is applied for and submitted to the foreign organiser for each individual artist.

Information for self-employed artists
Self-employed artists who are engaged for a guest performance, concert or project abroad by a company, orchestra or collective based in Germany must apply for the A1 certificate themselves.

Information for third-country nationals in Germany
For artists in Germany who do not have European citizenship, different regulations apply if they wish to work temporarily in the countries of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Denmark or Switzerland. The European regulations on social security do not apply to them; bilateral agreements between Germany and the country may apply. The DVKA can provide information.
For this reason, attempts by self-employed artists to submit applications for an A1 via the electronic system (see below) are rejected.
 

Application

Applications for A1 certificates for employees must be submitted electronically by the employer to the respective responsible institution (statutory health insurance fund, pension insurance institution) for postings to other EU/EEA countries, Switzerland or the United Kingdom (including Northern Ireland). The DVKA provides instructions for this process here (only available in German).
Self-employed individuals also must submit applications for A1 certificates to the insurance carrier (statutory health insurance fund, pension insurance institutions) electronically for temporary activities within the EU, the EEA, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

Applications are sent to the health insurance fund or the responsible social insurance institution via the SV-Meldeportal. (The SV-Meldeportal was activated in October 2023 and must be used from 1 July 2024 at the latest. The sv.net portal will be shut down as of 30 June 2024.)

Important: An ELSTER organisation certificate is required to use the portal and you must register in the SV-Meldeportal. You can find instructions here. The registration process usually takes several days.

Self-employed persons do not need an ELSTER certificate to register with the SV-Meldeportal; registration is also possible via the BundID account. You can find out how to do this in this explanatory video.
The BundID account is a centralised account for private individuals to identify themselves for online applications. Such an account can be set up using a user name and password or an online ID card, an ELSTER private certificate or a European ID. Information from the Federal Ministry of the Interior on the BundID account can be found here.

The health insurance funds and pension insurance providers have three working days to process the application. If all conditions are met, you will receive the A1 certificate via the mailbox in the SV-Meldeportal.

The portal is free of charge for self-employed persons who only use it for the A1 application procedure. Employers pay a fee (there are special conditions during the start-up phase!). At the moment it is only available in German.

Link to the SV-Meldeportal (in German).
Techniker Krankenkasse: Guideline SV-Meldeportal (in German).

If you are undertaking last-minute activities abroad, it can sometimes be difficult to obtain the A1 certificate before the start of your trip. Although the German Federal Ministry of Labour previously held the view that it is sufficient in such cases to submit the certificate at a later stage, this is no longer the case.

This is not related primarily to the EC regulations on social security (these only stipulate that the certificate should be issued in advance whenever possible), but rather pertains to the Posted Workers Directive, which was adopted to regulate labour law issues in the case of postings. While the EC regulations are directly applicable in every Member State, the Posted Workers Directive only provides a legal framework, the individual elaboration of which is the responsibility of the Member States. As part of the Posted Workers Directive, some Member States have set high fines that apply if employees or self-employed individuals crossing the border to work in the respective Member State cannot prove that they have social security coverage there or that the legal provisions of another state apply to them. As proof, they require that an A1 certificate be presented or at least that evidence be submitted that such a certificate has already been applied for.

In response, Germany has been offering the option to apply for the A1 certificate electronically in certain cases as part of the electronic application and certification procedure pursuant to Section 106 of the German Social Code Book IV as of 2020. In the future, the procedure will be extended to cater for situations that are not yet covered, e.g. self-employed individuals working in several countries simultaneously who have to submit an application themselves. The advantage of this procedure is that a confirmation can be sent by the health insurance fund or the pension insurance institution upon successful submission of the electronic application. This confirmation is sufficient to avoid the sometimes considerable fines imposed by individual Member States when crossing the border in the event of a check.
Since the possibility that other Member States will implement fines in the future cannot be ruled out, it is strongly advisable to at least apply for the A1 certificate in advance of working in another Member State.
 

National reporting obligations

In many EU member states, national reporting obligations must be observed in addition to submitting the A1 certificate. As the implementation of the European Posted Workers Directive varies from one EU country to another, different regulations and reporting procedures must be observed depending on the country. There are also various exceptions that should be checked. For example, the obligation to register is waived in some countries if the duration of the posting is less than a certain number of days within a defined period. Furthermore, freelance artistic activities do not need to be reported in some countries, for example.
In general, it is important to check the local requirements carefully as violations may result in fines.

An overview of national contact points in various European countries can be found here: Information from the Rheinhessen Chamber of Crafts (only available in German).

Information for Germany can be found through the customs authority, which is the competent authority in Germany (registrations for postings at zoll.de).
 

A1 certificate and artists' social security contributions

If artists insured in other European countries are employed or self-employed in Germany and have an A1 certificate from their responsible institution, they are only subject to the social security legislation of their home country and are not subject to social security coverage in Germany in any area.

However, this does not mean that they are exempt from the obligation to pay artists' social security contributions in accordance with the Artists' Social Insurance Act (KSVG). In legal terms, the contributions payable pursuant to the KSVG are not a social security contribution, but a levy for self-employed artists. It is payable whenever an artist is considered a self-employed artist under German law, regardless of whether he or she is considered an employee or self-employed in his or her home country.

Since the liability for contributions for self-employed artists in Germany increases the costs for clients, they should check in good time with the KSK whether artists' social security contributions are payable if this has not already been done.

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Check lists

Temporary work in
Germany and France pdf

Checklist Health insurance
abroad pdf