Germany has concluded social security agreements with a number of countries. A list of these countries can be found here: Übersicht bilaterale Abkommen (overview of bilateral agreements).
Most of these agreements are posting agreements only. They regulate which law is applicable and the relevant requirements, but not, for example, who is responsible for paying benefits in the event of illness. For these countries, we therefore strongly recommended taking out a private international health insurance policy prior to your assignment abroad, which will also cover return transport, among other things.
Note: Only the agreements concluded with the former Yugoslavia (still applicable to Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro and Serbia), Northern Macedonia, Turkey and Tunisia provide for limited sickness benefits in emergencies in accordance with the legislation of the country of residence.
In contrast to EC law, bilateral agreements only cover individual areas of insurance (e.g. health insurance, unemployment insurance, etc.). The regulations of the agreement aimed at preventing double insurance apply to these areas only, meaning that double insurance can only be avoided in the areas covered.
The conditions under which German law continues to apply in the areas of social security covered by the agreement during a posting also vary from agreement to agreement. It would exceed the scope of this website to list the details.
If you are undertaking a temporary assignment in a non-European country, it is important that you check the details in the respective country-specific brochure of the GKV-Spitzenverbandes, Deutsche Verbindungsstelle Krankenversicherung Ausland, DVKA (Central Federal Association of Statutory Health Insurance Funds) in advance. The information sheets (in German) can also be selected from the drop-down menu on this webpage.
A video journalist is visiting Turkey for six weeks from 1 October of this year to shoot footage for a film project on behalf of his employer, a German production company, which will also continue to pay his salary during this time.
The video journalist's assignment in Turkey qualifies as a posting under the German-Turkish social security agreement. Therefore, the German legal provisions continue to apply exclusively to the video journalist in the areas of social security covered by this agreement – health, pension, unemployment and accident insurance and child benefit. Double insurance is prevented in these areas and he remains insured in Germany. See also 'Certificate as proof' below.
However, the agreement does not cover long-term care insurance; with regard to long-term care insurance, Turkey is considered a non-agreement foreign country (see also Postings to non-agreement foreign countries).
Under the German regulations, the German legal provisions continue to apply with regard to long-term care insurance. The journalist remains covered by long-term care insurance in Germany during his assignment abroad. If long-term care insurance were to be introduced in Turkey, the regulations there would apply if the competent authority in Turkey so decided. This could then possibly result in double insurance in this area.
Therefore, it is not possible to issue proof of the continued and binding applicability of the German legal provisions vis-a-vis Turkey with regard to long-term care insurance coverage.
Although the regulations in the agreements are geared towards individuals in employment, they usually also apply to self-employed individuals due to the corresponding equality provisions they contain.
Information can be found in the DVKA fact sheets (in German), which can be selected from the drop-down menu on this webpage.
Activities in several countries
The bilateral agreements usually do not include regulations for persons who ordinarily work in several countries.
A musician who commutes regularly between Istanbul and Hamburg because she is employed by orchestras in both places may find herself subject to double insurance.
Information is available from the DVKA.
Postings to Germany from agreement countries
The regulations apply in the same way to reciprocal cases in which artists from a non-European country are gainfully employed in Germany as part of a posting.
Artists' social security contributions
The decision as to which law applies to an artist is not tied to an exemption from the obligation to pay artists' social security contributions in accordance with the Artists' Social Insurance Act (KSVG). The contributions payable under the KSVG are not considered a social security contribution from a legal standpoint, but rather constitute an assessment for self-employed artists who receive fees for services or works provided in Germany. They are payable whenever an artist is considered a self-employed artist under German law, regardless if they are considered an employee or self-employed in their home country.
Since the liability for contributions increases costs for clients, they should have the KSK check in good time whether they have to pay artists' social security contributions (KSA).
In Germany, the respective collection office is responsible for checking whether a temporary assignment in an agreement country qualifies as a posting. As a rule, this collection office is the employee's own health insurance fund; in exceptional cases, however, the German Pension Insurance Association (Deutsche Rentenversicherung Bund) will review the posting. The DVKA is not responsible in this case.
If the assignment qualifies as a posting in accordance with the relevant agreement, the health insurance fund/pension insurance fund issues a certificate for the areas covered by the agreement. This certificate bears the country code with the addition of the figure 1 or 101, e.g. the designation D/USA 101 for the U.S. This indicates that only the legal regulations of the sending country continue to apply in the areas the certificate covers. Double insurance is prevented in these areas.
A self-employed opera singer who usually performs and lives in Germany, is invited to perform in the USA over a period of three days.
The opera singer's health insurance fund checks whether this assignment qualifies as a posting under the German-American agreement. If so, it issues a D/USA 101 certificate of coverage for the pension insurance covered by the agreement. This enables the artist to prove that only the German legal provisions apply in this area.
For the other areas of social security, the USA is considered a non-agreement foreign country. The information in the Posting to non-agreement countries section applies.
If the health insurance fund determines that German legal provisions continue to apply in the other areas as well and that social security coverage in Germany should therefore continue during the stay abroad, it cannot be ensured that a social security obligation does not also arise in the USA (double insurance). This decision rests with the competent authorities in the USA.
If insurance is required in the USA, competent local representatives (e.g. tax advisors) can check whether there is a legal obligation to obtain coverage and pay contributions for any areas of local social security.
Posting from an agreement country to Germany
The same regulations apply to the reverse situation, i.e. where an individual is posted from an agreement country to Germany. If the assignment qualifies as a posting, the competent authority in the relevant country issues a certificate with the reciprocal designation, e.g. USA/D 101.
Artists engaging in activities in agreement countries may prefer to fall under the jurisdiction of a country other than that provided for under the agreement for the areas of social security covered by this agreement. In this case, an exemption agreement can be requested. The individual countries themselves must determine the framework conditions under which they are willing to conclude an agreement.
Information on the framework conditions in individual countries can be found in the country-specific DVKA brochures (in German), which can be selected from the drop-down menu on this webpage.
In Germany, the DVKA is responsible for exemption agreements with regard to assignments in agreement countries. Employers submit applications to the DVKA on behalf of their employees. Self-employed artists may also apply for an exemption agreement but must submit their own applications.
A ballet dancer employed at a German theatre is being sent to Tunisia to work at a theatre for two years.
The German-Tunisian social security agreement provides for a maximum posting duration of 12 months. Since this duration will be exceeded from the outset, Tunisian social security legislation will apply to the ballet dancer in all areas of social security from the beginning of his employment there, and his employer in Germany will have to deregister him in all areas of social security.
If the artist's employer submits an application for an exemption agreement to the DVKA in good time and both the DVKA and the Tunisian authorities agree, the artist will remain covered in Germany for all areas of social security covered by the agreement. As the agreement between both countries covers health, pension and accident insurance; such an agreement could have legal implications for these areas.
The Tunisian employer would then have to pay contributions to the German social security system. Foreign employers can find information on the Arbeitgeberportal Sozialversicherung (Social Security Employer Portal); please note, however, that this information is only available in German.
The regulations explained in the section on non-agreement foreign countries apply to the areas of long-term care and unemployment insurance, which are not covered by the agreement. Should the competent body in Germany determine that, under these regulations, German legal provisions continue to apply in the areas of long-term care and unemployment insurance, it cannot be ensured that a social security obligation does not also arise in Tunisia (double insurance). This must be decided by the Tunisian authorities. If insurance is required in Tunisia, competent local representatives (e.g. tax advisors) can check whether there is a legal obligation to obtain coverage and pay contributions for any areas of local social security.
Contact the DVKA: website