As a general rule, Dutch residents are compulsorily insured under national insurance legislation. Dutch national insurance legislation includes the following Acts: AOW (old-age pension benefits), Anw (surviving dependants’ benefits), AWBZ (exceptional medical expenses insurance), and AKW (child benefits). Those employed by Dutch employers are also insured under employee insurance legislation. This includes the following Acts: WW (unemployment benefits), ZW (sick pay benefits), Zvw (healthcare insurance), and WIA (long-term disability benefits). In addition, certain provisions regarding sick pay benefits are codified in civil law (the corresponding Act is abbreviated as WULBZ).

Cross-border employment

The social security position of employees and self-employed persons who work on a cross-border basis in the territory of the European Union (EU) or the European Economic Area (EEA, encompassing Norway, Iceland, and Liechtenstein) is governed by European Regulation no. EEC 1408/71 (“the Regulation”). The purpose of this Regulation is twofold: ensuring that no one has double insurance for social security purposes, and guaranteeing that no one goes uninsured. The Regulation contains definitions, states who and what is covered, and provides allocation rules to be used in establishing which country’s social security system applies. The Regulation is merely intended to coordinate national legislation; it does not contain any substantive provisions on insurance coverage.

Persons covered by the Regulation

The Regulation applies to the following persons and their family members: 

  • Persons working in paid employment
  • Self-employed persons
  • Seafarers
  • Civil servants
  • Members of the armed forces
  • Retired persons

These persons are covered by the Regulation if they are citizens of an EU or EEA Member State, and live and work in the territory of these Member States. With effect from June 1, 2003, however, the list of persons covered has been extended. Since that date, persons who are residents of countries that are not Member States (i.e., irrespective of their nationality) have also been covered by the Regulation, provided that their presence in a Member State’s territory is legal. This extension does not apply to Denmark, Switzerland, and the EEA.

Insurances covered by the Regulation

The Regulation applies to all legislation concerning the following branches of social security: 

  • Sick pay and maternity benefits
  • Invalidity benefits
  • Old-age pension benefits
  • Surviving dependants’ benefits
  • Benefits with respect to accidents at work and occupational disease
  • Death benefits
  • Unemployment benefits
  • Family benefits

The Regulation’s relevance to the Dutch social security system is that it applies both to national insurance and employee insurance. In addition, it applies to the new Healthcare Insurance Act.

Which legislation applies?

The main rule that applies to employees and self-employed persons is that they are subject to the social security legislation of the country in which they work. Civil servants and members of the armed forces are subject to the social security legislation of the country to which the service employing them is subject, and, in principle, retired persons are subject to the legislation of the country in which they reside. The Regulation provides special allocation rules governing situations in which individuals work in more than one Member State. In addition, it provides special rules governing the temporary secondment to another country (posting).

As of May 1, 2010, Regulation no. EC 883/2004 superseded Regulation EEC 1408/71. The new regulation left many of the old provisions unaltered. Prompted in part by three decades of case law, however, some of the new provisions are more detailed or specific than the provisions they supersede.