Insuring entrepreneurial activities abroad

Entrepreneurial activities that are carried out abroad are also insured. When you move your entrepreneurial activities abroad, you will generally then be covered by the social security scheme of the country to which you are moving and you will pay your social insurance contributions to that country. Your contribution amounts and benefits are determined in accordance with the regulations of the country in question. Your entrepreneurial activities will be insured in accordance with that country’s regulations and your pension will accrue in accordance with their legislation. The insuring process is affected by the specific country in question and the duration of the work. It doesn’t matter what nationality you are, what your home domicile is or to which country you are paying taxes.

One exception to this rule is temporary work abroad. In this case, and under certain conditions, you can remain within the sphere of Finland’s social security scheme and continue to pay your YEL contributions to Finland.

Temporary work in an EU/EEA country, Switzerland or a country with which Finland has a social security agreement

If you work as a self-employed worker for a maximum of two years in another EU/EEA country, Switzerland or a country with which Finland has a social security agreement, you may, on certain conditions, remain within the sphere of the Finnish social security scheme and your YEL insurance policy will remain valid throughout your time abroad. You are considered a posted self-employed worker if:

  • You normally carry out your entrepreneurial activities within Finland
  • Your entrepreneurial activities abroad correspond to those you carry out in Finland and you will retain the conditions for your activities within Finland so that you can continue those activities upon returning to Finland
  • You carried out entrepreneurial activities in Finland prior to going abroad (and your YEL insurance policy was valid for at least four months before going abroad).

Well before you leave for another country, you should contact the Finnish Centre for Pensions to request an A1 certificate for posted workers. This certificate is proof that you are covered by the Finnish social security scheme and you do not need to pay social insurance contributions to any insurance providers in the country to which you are posted. As a posted self-employed worker, your YEL contributions are determined by the extent of your entrepreneurial activities abroad and your own work input in the same way as if you were working in Finland. When you temporarily move your entrepreneurial activities abroad, you also need to inform your own pension provider. If your family members will be joining you abroad, they should contact Kela in order to request a similar certificate.

Bilateral social security agreements do not necessarily have the same content as the EU Regulation on the coordination of social security systems and there are differences between the agreements of different countries. All agreements cover pensions, but the agreements with Canada and the USA do not cover statutory accident insurance or the majority of Kela’s benefits. The agreement with China concerns insuring policies.

Finland has concluded social security agreements with Australia, Chile, South Korea, India, Israel, China, Canada, Quebec and the United States.

Longer postings

The EU Regulation on the coordination of social security systems as well as the social security agreements Finland has signed with different countries define the length of a work period abroad that is considered temporary.

If your entrepreneurial activities continue abroad for more than two years, you can apply for a three-year exemption in order to remain within the sphere of the Finnish social security scheme. The exemption must, however, be accepted by the other country. The exemption is applied for using the same method as for the A1 certificate. If you are conducting entrepreneurial activities abroad for more than five years, the responsibility for pension security and other forms of social security will be transferred to the receiving country. The insurance is then managed in accordance with the practices of the country in question.

Employees who are permanently working abroad are generally insured within the country in which they are working.

Work outside of the EU/EEA countries and countries with which Finland has a social security agreement

When entrepreneurial activities are conducted in countries that are not EU/EEA countries or countries with which Finland has a social security agreement, the activities are generally insured in accordance with the laws of both Finland and the receiving country, without any time limitations. Since no agreement exists, the receiving country may also collect insurance contributions from you as a self-employed person. If the assignment takes place in a non-agreement country (such as Russia), the Finnish Centre for Pensions does not issue a certificate for coverage under the Finnish social security scheme.

Your YEL insurance policy can remain valid and you can retain coverage within the Finnish social scheme only if

  • Your work abroad lasts less than one year
  • Your intention is to return to Finland at the end
  • You are considered to be residing in Finland, despite the period spent working abroad.

Please contact us before you go abroad and let us know that you are moving to work in a non-agreement country. Your YEL insurance policy should be terminated already from the date you go abroad if you know that your work will continue for more than one year.

Further information about claiming your pension from abroad (link to pensions).

Foreign self-employed workers in Finland

The basic principle is that any entrepreneurial activities done in Finland are insured in Finland. A foreign self-employed worker is insured in Finland by YEL insurance in the same way as Finnish self-employed workers. In order for entrepreneurial activities to be eligible for insurance in Finland, the self-employed worker must reside and conduct business in Finland. A self-employed worker is considered to be residing in Finland if they have a permanent residence in Finland and they are primarily living here. The pension provider will make the final decision as to whether a self-employed worker is considered to be residing in Finland.

A self-employed worker who arrives in Finland from an EU/EEA country, Switzerland or a country with which Finland has a social security agreement is insured in Finland, unless they have an A1 certificate from their country of origin. If the self-employed worker has an A1 certificate or works in several different countries, they cannot be insured in Finland.

Employment pension is paid from Finland to foreign self-employed workers in any country. Pension insurance contributions are not returned once a self-employed worker leaves Finland, but are paid back during retirement in the form of pension. In order to receive a pension, the individual must have paid YEL insurance contributions.