YEL in work abroad

The country you work and reside in is decisive in terms of your YEL insurance and all your social security benefits. As a self-employed person, you are generally covered by the social security system of the country in which you work. If you pursue self-employed activities in another country, you also as a rule switch to that country’s social security system and pay its statutory social security contributions.

Self-employed person abroad

If you leave Finland to work as self-employed in another country, for instance if you are teleworking, you also usually switch to that country’s social security system and pay its statutory social security contributions.

If you work abroad only temporarily, your YEL insurance may be valid with some limitations if you belong to Finland’s social security system. YEL insurance also applies to you if you pursue self-employed activities simultaneously in Finland and in one or more than one EU/EEA country and you have received a decision from the Finnish Centre for Pensions stating that you are covered by Finland’s social security system.

Self-employed activities in Finland, but residence abroad

If you pursue self-employed activities in EU/EEA countries and Switzerland, you belong to the social security system of only one country at a time. You pay statutory contributions to only one country. In most cases, you are subject to the social security of the country in which you work. If you work only in Finland, you are insured according to YEL even if you don’t live here.

Apply for a health insurance card (a Kela card) on Kela’s website

You cannot be covered by YEL insurance if you live outside the EU/EEA, even if you work only in Finland.

Examples

Pipsa Painter lives in Haparanda, Sweden, but carries out all the work related to her business in nearby Tornio, Finland. Pipsa is covered by Finnish social security and receives pension cover and, for example, the right to social benefits based on her YEL insurance.

Conrad Consultant lives in Russia, but is self-employed in Finland. He is not covered by YEL insurance because he does not meet the conditions for living in Finland as stipulated in the law.

Temporary self-employed activities abroad

If you leave Finland temporarily to work as self-employed, you may in some cases be covered by YEL. How long you can keep your YEL insurance valid depends on the country you are going to and the length of time you will be there. You may be considered a posted self-employed person if you engaged in self-employed activities covered by YEL in Finland for at least four months prior to working temporarily abroad.

If you leave Finland temporarily to work in an EU/EEA country or Switzerland, you may, subject to a special exemption, be covered by Finnish social security for a maximum of five years. In this case, all statutory contributions are paid only to Finland. You must apply for a decision on your social security, i.e. an A1 Certificate, from the Finnish Centre for Pensions.

Apply for an A1 Certificate through the Finnish Centre for Pensions’ website

If you leave Finland to work for yourself in the United States for no more than one year, you can obtain the FI/USA 1A Certificate upon application, in which case you will pay pension insurance contributions only to Finland.

Apply for the FI/USA 1A Certificate through the Finnish Centre for Pensions’ website

Likewise, if you leave Finland to work in Chile or Israel for no more than one year, the Finnish Centre for Pensions may grant you an exemption that allows you to remain within the Finnish social security system. Based on this exemption, you will pay pension insurance contributions only to Finland. Your other social security benefits will be determined according to the local legislation. Be sure to also inform Kela if you live or work abroad, even for brief periods.

You can be covered by Finnish social security as a posted self-employed person for a period of five years in South Korea, India and China based on social security agreements with these countries. According to the agreement with India, a special exemption may be granted after the five-year period, according to which you will be covered by Finnish social security for an additional three years. Under certain conditions, a special exemption can also be applied for and granted under the agreements with South Korea and China after the five-year posting period.

If you temporarily leave Finland for any other country (including the social security agreement countries of Australia and Canada, and the province of Quebec), you can keep your YEL insurance valid while you are working abroad if you will be returning to Finland within one year from the date when your posting abroad began. In this case, however, you may be obligated to take out pension insurance for your self-employed activities also under the local legislation. In addition, Kela will issue a separate decision on your residence-based social security.

Some considerations

If you leave Finland to work in a country for which it is possible to obtain a certificate for a posted self-employed person, but you do not apply for or are not granted the certificate, your YEL insurance ends on your last working day in Finland. If you work in another country for more than one year, your YEL insurance ends on your last working day in Finland. In these situations, please contact our customer service.

Simultaneous self-employed activities in Finland and another country

In the EU and EEA or in Switzerland, you are covered by the social security of the country in which you live if a substantial part of your activities takes place there. A substantial part is considered to be 25 per cent of your working hours, income, net sales or services, among other things. If the criteria for this substantial part of your activities are not met, you will be insured in the country in which your company’s centre of interest is situated.

If you pursue self-employed activities in more than one EU/EEA country, you will need a decision (A1) on which country’s social security applies to you. If the Finnish Centre for Pensions grants you an A1 Certificate, you are covered by Finnish social security and your pension cover accrues on all self-employed activities taking place in the EU area based on YEL insurance. You can apply for the A1 Certificate through the Finnish Centre for Pensions’ website.

If you work as a self-employed person in both the USA and Finland, but you live in Finland, you must insure all your self-employed activities according to YEL. You must apply for the FI/USA 1A Certificate from the Finnish Centre for Pensions. Based on the Certificate, you will pay pension insurance contributions only to Finland.

If, in addition to Finland, you pursue self-employed activities in Canada or Quebec and you live in Finland, according to YEL you can only insure the self-employed activities that you carry out in Finland. You can apply for a FI/CAN Certificate from the Finnish Centre for Pensions.

If you pursue the same self-employed activities in both India and Finland and you live in Finland, you must insure all your self-employed activities according to YEL. You must apply for a certificate to remain covered by Finnish social security from the Finnish Centre for Pensions. Your other social security benefits will be determined according to the local legislation.

For other countries, you must take out YEL insurance only for the self-employed activities that you pursue in Finland if you live in Finland.

Do you need additional information?

Our experts on international work are at your service at 010 192 091.

Additional information is also available at:

  • Finnish Centre for Pensions, phone 029 411 2110
  • Kela's Centre for International Affairs, phone 020 634 0200

Help with using our services

Take care of your YEL matters online

In our online service, you can, for instance

  • change your YEL income
  • view your past and future YEL contribution
  • request an extended term of payment for an invoice

Sign in to the service using your personal banking codes.

Take care of your matters online