Working abroad? Now get EPFO certificate of coverage online to escape social security contribution


Image result for epfo logoThe Employees' Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) has launched an online facility to apply for a certificate of coverage (CoC) required by an Indian employee going to work overseas to claim exemption from the host country's social security. 



An employee, who is an Indian resident, going abroad for work on a temporary basis would normally not be able to claim benefits of contributions to the host country's social security system. This may either be because he does not contribute to the host country's social security system. This may either be because he does not contribute to that system for the minimum period needed in order to qualify for the benefit or does not meet other conditions prescribed in the country's social security law. 

The other conditions could be specific rules like (a) benefit available only in case of specific contingencies like medical needs or any accident or (b) continued presence in the host country to claim pension benefit. 

The new process is fully electronic eliminating the need to submit the application in hard copy with the regional provident fund offices. 

The new process requires: (a) Employee to file the application online first and then upload the signed copy of the application and passport. 
(b) Employer to approve the employee filed application and then upload the employer verified copy of the application. 

The status of the application can be tracked online and the CoC, once issued, can be downloaded from the online portal. 

What is a CoC? 
Employees who are going on an assignment to a country with which India has an operational Social Security Agreement are exempted from contributing towards social security schemes in the other country (host country) if a CoC has been obtained from the EPFO. This exemption benefit avoids dual contribution of social security in India and the other country leading to cost savings both for the employer and the employee. However, to obtain such a CoC in India, Indian provident fund contributions should continue for the employee during the period of assignment. 

Currently, India has operational Social Security Agreements with the following 18 countries: Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, Denmark, Luxembourg, France, South Korea, Netherlands, Hungary, Sweden, Finland, Czech Republic, Norway, Austria, Canada, Australia, Japan, and Portugal. 

Employees or employers who intend to claim exemption from contributing towards social security schemes of the above mentioned countries should apply for CoC as per the new online process. 

Many Indian employees going to work overseas have benefited hugely from the Social Security Agreements entered by India with various countries. 

Steps under the new online process 

EPFO has issued a user manual detailing the steps to be followed by the employee and the employer to apply for a CoC as per the new online process. Here is the step by step process for applying for a CoC. 

Visit the international workers portal on the EPFO website: https://iwu.epfindia.gov.in/iwu/