The United States has established bilateral social security agreements, often called ‘Totalization agreements’, with 24 countries. The agreements eliminate dual social security coverage and taxes for multinational companies and expatriate workers. Employees remain in their home country social security programs and do not have to pay in the host country. The primary goal of the agreements is to eliminate dual social security coverage and taxation and maintain coverage for the employee in their home country, where they will have the most benefit when they become eligible to collect a benefit. The agreements are good for up to 5 years and can generally be extended, pending approval by the host country.
The U.S. social security program covers expatriate workers, both coming to the U.S. to work and those leaving the U.S. to work, without regard to how long the employee will be working in or out of the U.S.
Employees who are exempt from foreign social security taxes under an agreement must obtain a certificate of coverage from the U.S. Social Security Administration. Certificates can be applied for by fax, mail or online through the SSA website. In most cases, employers will file on their employees behalf.
When a certificate is received certifying U.S. coverage, a copy of the certificate should be retained in the employer’s files and a copy should be made available in the host country to certify coverage in the U.S. program and exemption from the host country program.
Currently, the U.S. has agreements with the following countries:
- Czech Republic
- Korea (South)
- United Kingdom
For additional information, visit www.ssa.gov/international.
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