National Insurance when inside the European Economic Area

If you go to work in other European Economic Area (EEA) countries special rules may apply to you to keep you subject to UK National Insurance contributions and exempt from foreign contributions.

EEA nationals: going to work in another EEA country or Switzerland for a period not expected to exceed 24 months

There are special rules for workers who go to another EEA country or Switzerland to work there for a maximum of 24 months. 

Under these rules a person who is normally self-employed in the UK, who pursues a similar activity in another Member State continues to be subject to UK contributions legislation only, for up to 24 months, providing the work abroad is not expected to last more than 24 months at the outset.

Certain other conditions have to be met. The main ones are that the person has to:

  • habitually carry out substantial activities in the UK
  • pursue the self-employed activity in the UK (generally for at least two months) before going abroad
  • maintain the means in the UK to carry out the self-employment when they return

Examples of maintaining the means to carry on the self-employment could be retaining the use of office space or the infrastructure needed to pursue activity on return such as paying social security contributions and taxes, having a VAT number and registration with the chamber of commerce or professional bodies. This is only intended to serve as a guide, given that different types of work and professions will produce different indicators.

HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) is also likely to ask you for details of contracts and work carried on in the UK and those contracts carried on abroad to consider whether you habitually carry on substantial activities in the UK. If less than 25 per cent of turnover or contracts are carried on in the UK, then HMRC would not usually consider that substantial.

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