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Bilateral social security agreements

Australia has entered into bilateral social security agreements with some countries to prevent double payment of super.

Last updated 25 May 2021

Eligibility

Employees are only eligible to apply for a certificate of coverage if they accept an Australian employer's offer to work temporarily overseas. The nominated country must have a bilateral social security agreement with Australia.

You are not eligible if:

  • you're an employee and you take a new job opportunity overseas
  • you're self-employed.

About the agreements

Bilateral social security agreements deal with the issue of 'double super coverage'. This occurs when an employer sends an employee to work temporarily overseas and is required to pay super (or equivalent) in both countries.

These agreements allow employers to apply for a certificate of coverage. The certificate exempts the employer from paying super (or equivalent) in the other country.

With a certificate of coverage, the employee is covered by a bilateral social security agreement. The super guarantee (SG) contributions are only required under the law of the country that your employee is most likely to retire in.

For each country there is a specific:

  • start date for the bilateral agreement
  • maximum period for a certificate of coverage.

These are set out in Countries with an agreement.

Example: sending an Australian employee to work temporarily overseas

Misha's Australian employer sends her to work in Austria for 2 years. While working in Austria, Misha is covered by Australia's super guarantee (SG) legislation and the Austrian laws. Therefore, double super coverage occurs.

Misha's employer can apply for a certificate of coverage. This will exempt Misha and her employer from making super contributions under the Austrian law.

Micha's employer must continue to make SG contributions in Australia.

End of example

Effect for different types of employees

Bilateral agreements only apply to employee SG contributions made on or after the start date of the relevant agreement.

Generally, for:

  • self-employed people – are not subject to SG in Australia and there is no double liability for superannuation
  • diplomats and consular officials – the agreements apply, however the provisions of the Vienna Conventions on Diplomatic or Consular relations are not affected
  • workers on a ship or aircraft in international traffic – the laws of the worker's resident country apply (except Japan)
  • government workers – there is no maximum period for a certificate of coverage.

There are exceptions to these rules, which are explained in Countries with an agreement.

Countries with an agreement

The following countries have a bilateral social security agreement with Australia. These agreements all work in the way explained above. In addition, a few have special rules, which are noted below.

Country

Agreement start date

Maximum period for certificate of coverage

Austria

1 December 2012

5 years

Belgium

1 July 2005

5 years

Chile

1 July 2004

4 years

Croatia (check special rules)

1 July 2004

4 years

Czech Republic

1 July 2011

5 years

Finland

1 July 2009

5 years

Germany (check special rules)

1 October 2008

4 or 5 years

Greece (check special rules)

1 October 2008

4 years

Hungary

1 October 2012

4 years

India

1 January 2016

5 years

Ireland

1 January 2006

4 years

Japan

1 January 2009

5 years

Korea

1 October 2008

5 years

Latvia

1 January 2013

4 years

Netherlands

1 April 2003

5 years

Norway (check special rules)

1 January 2007

3 years

Portugal

1 October 2002

4 years

Republic of Estonia

1 January 2018

4 years

Republic of Poland

1 October 2010

5 years

Slovak Republic

1 January 2012

4 years

Switzerland

1 January 2008

5 years

United States of America

1 October 2002

5 years

Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia

1 April 2011

4 years

For more information on the agreements, visit the Department of Social ServicesExternal Link.

Croatia

If double super coverage occurs for a person working on a ship or aircraft in international traffic, you should apply in writing to us for a certificate of coverage.

Send your written request to:

Superannuation Bilateral Agreements
Australian Taxation Office
GPO Box 9977
ADELAIDE  SA  5001
AUSTRALIA

Germany

The German agreement operates differently to most of the agreements Australia has with other countries.

When you apply for a certificate of coverage, you must indicate the relevant article of the agreement that applies to the employment situation.

Article 5 applies where the:

  • employee remains employed by the same employer
  • period of working in Germany is up to 4 years
  • employee is a resident of Australia.

Example: detachment cases (Article 5)

Franz-Peter's Australian employer, XYZ Bank Limited sends him to work in Germany for 2 years.

While in Germany, Franz-Peter remains directly employed by XYZ Bank Limited. Franz-Peter is covered by Australia's SG legislation and the German laws.

As double super coverage occurs, Article 5 of the supplementary agreement will take effect. It will exempt Franz-Peter and his employer from making contributions under the German law.

XYZ Bank Limited will continue to make contributions as required under SG legislation in Australia.

When applying for a certificate of coverage, XYZ Bank Limited must indicate that Article 5 is applicable to Franz-Peter's circumstances.

End of example

Article 8 applies where the:

  • employee is employed temporarily by an associated employer
  • period of secondment is up to 5 years
  • application for a certificate of coverage is made within 6 months of starting employment in Germany.

Example: secondment cases (Article 8)

Kristina's Australian employer, JKL Pharmaceuticals Limited sends her to work in Germany for 2 years.

While in Germany, Kristina is employed by JKL Medical Research AG, a subsidiary of JKL Pharmaceuticals Limited. Kristina is covered by Australia's SG legislation and the German laws.

As double super coverage occurs and Kristina is employed by an associated employer, Article 8 of the supplementary agreement will take effect. It exempts Kristina and her employer from making contributions under German law.

JKL Pharmaceuticals Limited will continue to make contributions as required under super guarantee legislation in Australia.

When applying for a certificate of coverage, JKL Pharmaceuticals Limited must indicate that Article 8 of the supplementary agreement is applicable to Kristina's circumstances.

End of example

Greece

The agreement applies to:

  • Australian employees – those who are seconded (up to 4 years) by their Australian employer to work in Greece for a related entity
  • Greek self-employed – those who are deemed to be self-employed by the Greek authorities but employed in Australia by an Australian employer. They may be eligible for a certificate of coverage provided their Australian employer continues to pay super contributions for them in Australia.

The employment in Australia can be completely unrelated to a person's 'self-employed' status in Greece.

Norway

Before your employee starts work in Norway, you must send a copy of the certificate of coverage to:

NAV Control
Postboks 6600
Etterstad 0607 Oslo
Norway

QC65742