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  • Bilateral social security agreement with the United States of America

    If you send an Australian employee to work temporarily in the United States, you must continue to pay superannuation guarantee contributions in Australia for them.

    Apply online for a certificate of coverage before you send the employee.

    We'll issue a certificate to you on the basis that you'll continue to make super guarantee contributions in Australia for the employee.

    You or your employee can then show the certificate to the United States authorities to be exempted from super payments in the United States.

    The certificate covers a period of up to five years.

    When you receive the certificate, keep a copy for your records and give the original to your employee to take with them to the United States.

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    About the agreement

    Our bilateral social security agreement with the United States applies when double super coverage occurs – that is, when you or your employee would otherwise have to make super guarantee contributions (or equivalent) in both countries for the same work by your employee. It applies to Australian super guarantee law and the relevant United States social security laws.

    The agreement started on 1 October 2002.

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    Effect for different types of employees

    Employees working temporarily overseas

    If you send your employee to work in the United States for a period not exceeding five years – for your business or a related entity – and double super coverage occurs, only the super laws of your home country will apply. This means super contributions (or equivalent) are required only under the law of the country that your employee is most likely to retire in.

    This rule also applies if the Australian employee was initially sent to a country other than the United States and is then sent from that country to the United States.

    Example

    Martha is sent by her Australian employer to work in Singapore for six months and is then sent from Singapore to the United States to work for a year. Martha will still be covered by Australia's super guarantee legislation as well as the United States laws while working in the United States – therefore double super coverage occurs.

    As double super coverage occurs, the agreement takes effect and exempts Martha and her employer from making social security contributions under United States law. Martha's employer will continue to make super guarantee contributions as required in Australia.

    End of example

    Government employees working overseas

    If a government employee is sent to work temporarily in the United States and double super coverage occurs, only the super laws of Australia will apply.

    The secondment period for government employees working in the United States is not subject to the five-year limit.

    Self-employed people

    The agreement doesn't apply to self-employed Australian residents working in the United States. They're not subject to super guarantee law in Australia so double super coverage doesn't occur.

    Work on ships and aircraft

    If double super coverage occurs for a person working on a ship or aircraft in international traffic, the law of the country in which the person is a resident will apply.

    Diplomats

    The agreement doesn't affect the treatment of diplomats and consulate officials under the relevant Vienna Conventions on diplomatic and consular relations.

    Extension beyond five years

    Generally, a certificate of coverage will cover Australian employees for up to five years employment in the United States. If you need coverage for longer than five years, you'll need to write to us explaining the reasons for the extension.

    Approval to extend a certificate of coverage is determined on a case-by-case basis. We can grant an extension only with the mutual agreement of the relevant agency in the United States, and only in certain circumstances.

    An extension may be granted when:

    • an individual who was scheduled to replace the worker is unable to do so because of death, serious illness or resignation
    • the worker must remain in the country of secondment due to an unexpected personal situation. This includes medical reasons (self, spouse, children) or if the worker's children are required to stay to complete the school year
    • the worker has been under one country's social security system throughout his or her career and is planning to retire in the immediate future
    • the extension is for a short period
    • the worker returned to the country of origin for a short period during the period of secondment for unexpected personal reasons – this includes medical reasons (self, spouse, children)
    • the extension for work purposes would be in the national interest of either country
    • cessation will cause undue hardship to the employer or employee
    • there has been a reorganisation of a company and the worker maintains an important role in the reorganisation
    • the worker has special skills or background, and the employer makes a strong case for needing the worker to complete a special assignment or project that will be concluded within one to four years after the five-year secondment period.

    An extension may also be granted in other special circumstances.

    You will need to provide a supporting document giving reasons for the extension and include:

    • employer's name, ABN and contact details
    • employee's name
    • certificate number

    You should attach the supporting document when you apply online for an extension to a previously submitted request.

    We recommend you search for the employee name under the 'View previous request' tab in the business or tax agent portal.

    You will need to edit this application and attach the supporting document.

    This will generate a new certificate of coverage reference number.

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      Last modified: 20 Aug 2018QC 16552