International coordination

The EU law embodied in the agreement on the freedom of movement of persons coordinates the different national social insurance systems. In particular, answers are given to the questions as to the national insurance system with which a person is insured and how benefits of an individual are to be determined when insured periods are spent in more than one country.

Which insurance applies to an individual?

Persons in active employment are generally covered by the social insurance system of one particular country.

Persons who are only in active employment in one country are covered by the insurance system of the country in which they are employed. Their place of residence and the domicile of the employer is irrelevant.

( Switzerland) A person who works only in Switzerland is governed by Swiss law and holds compulsory occupational benefits insurance under that law.

Persons who work simultaneously in more than one country are generally governed by the insurance system of the country in which they live. If they do not live in any of the countries in which they work, they are covered by the insurance system of the country in which they pursue their main activity or in which the employer has his head office (there are exceptions for self-employed persons).

( Switzerland) A person who lives in Switzerland and works in both, Switzerland and abroad is also covered by Swiss law for the part of the work done abroad. Consequently, the person may be covered by the compulsory occupational insurance under the Swiss scheme in spite of occupation abroad. This insurance may either be arranged with the employer’s insurance scheme in Switzerland or with the Substitute Occupational Benefit Institution.

How is the insurance benefit determined?

For the coordination of benefit claims in relation to different insurance systems, EU law lays down a number of different basic rules. These include the principle of equal treatment of persons, equal treatment of regions (the benefits are provided for individuals), maintenance of the benefit claims or facilitation of the acquisition of claims (totalisation of the insurance periods).

When determining the entitlement to benefits of the occupational benefit scheme (and also those under AHV) no allowance has to be made for foreign claims or insurance periods.

Standardised forms are available for the international exchange of information to determine entitlement to benefits. You will find a list of these forms on the Internet site of the Federal Office for Social Insurance at International, Forms, CH-EU/EFTA.