A1 certification for business travel: What is it and who needs to apply?

The internationally recognized A1 certification essentially verifies you pay social security contributions in a specific EU country.

Julie O'Shea

Written by Julie O'Shea Published on 16.10.2023 17:21:00 (updated on 16.10.2023) Reading time: 4 minutes

Are you certain your social security benefits are protected during business trips? If you – like many – are unaware of A1 certification, then it’s time to learn how this EU regulation could impact any upcoming travel plans.      

The internationally recognized A1 certification essentially verifies you pay social security contributions in a specific EU country and ensures you will be covered if you have any injuries or emergencies during international business travel within the EU, the EEA or Switzerland.    

Technically on the books since 2010, enforcement is just now getting more serious, with governments increasingly imposing controls and penalties for A1 non-compliance. Spot checks can happen at any point during a business trip – while registering at a hotel, attending a conference or even during a flight layover. 

How does it work?

To better understand the requirements and implications related to A1 certification, we spoke to Dana Pick, founder and managing director of ReloCare, one of the leading immigration and relocation companies in the Czech market, as well as experts in A1 administration.   

"If your A1 paperwork is not in order, state authorities have the right to take away your social rights and benefits, including unemployment, pension, sick leave, maternity leave, and health insurance. With a valid A1 form, your health and social security coverage is transferred during international business trips," she explained.

This means the moment you cross the Czech border for a business trip – even for just a one-hour meeting in, say, Dresden – you will need to have a valid A1 form in your possession.

If you are caught without the proper paperwork, you won’t be allowed to continue with your trip until things are sorted out. It might be sufficient for some countries to have you apply for your A1 form on the spot, while others will insist on seeing a valid A1 certificate in your hands before allowing you to continue on your trip. 

ReloCare can help make sure your company is in compliance, and you can travel without worrying about the loss of your social and medical benefits. The company, which also specializes in business visas, immigration, and relocation, has unveiled an A1 tracking app to reassure you that your A1 application covers each day of your business trip. 

Let’s say, for example, you broke your leg while on a business trip in Vienna and needed to be out of the office for six weeks. If you weren’t A1 certified at the time of the accident, you wouldn’t be eligible for sickness compensation from the Czech state upon your return home. 

Czech social security won’t cover injuries that happened outside the country, and Austria won’t have to pick up any medical costs incurred during the trip either without a valid A1 form. Even if you secured private travel insurance prior to the trip, it won’t help you out of this jam.  

Employers are responsible for filling the forms

Before you start panicking, here’s the thing – you are not responsible for making sure you are A1 certified before a business trip; your employer is. (Freelancers are responsible for securing their own A1 certification.) That said, many companies are reluctant to acknowledge A1 requirements due to bureaucratic complexities. 

Employers as well as hosting companies who fail to secure employees’ A1 forms could face fines of up to EUR 10,000 per business traveler. Austria, Poland, Belgium, and France are reportedly cracking down the hardest on those found not to be in compliance. 

“On top of big fines, companies also open themselves up to potential lawsuits from the employees they are putting at risk, which in turn can lead to long-term harm to their reputation and branding,” said Pick.

Professional solutions help with compliance

Securing a valid A1 certificate is free, but time-consuming and takes 30 days to process, so keep that in mind before scheduling your next trip. It is possible to apply for multiple countries on one application. You can also use the same A1 form for up to one year as long as there is a system in place to track travel days, and you do not go over the allotted days in each country.

ReloCare's user-friendly app allows you to easily manage your A1 status from your phone. It serves as a tracking tool and real-time A1 status notification system, ensuring that you remain covered during every second of business travel, whether that be a few hours, a few days, or a few months. 

The app does not, however, fill in the A1 form itself. That must be done online through a social security website by your employer.

“In a world where employers are constantly competing for talent and investing in their branding, losing credibility for not complying with EU law because of complicated administration is a bad business decision,” said Pick.  

This article was written in cooperation with ReloCare. Read more about our partner content policies here.

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