EUR-Lex Access to European Union law

Back to EUR-Lex homepage

This document is an excerpt from the EUR-Lex website

Social security schemes and free movement of persons: Basic Regulation

This Regulation coordinates national social security legislation in order to protect the social security rights of persons moving within the European Union.


Regulation (EEC) No 1408/71 of the Council of 14 June 1971 on the application of social security schemes to employed persons and their families moving within the Community [See amending acts].


This Regulation is accompanied by implementing Regulation (EEC) No 574/72, which covers the practical implementation (competent national authorities, administrative formalities, etc.).

Persons covered

The Regulation applies to workers (employed and self-employed) who are nationals of a Member State or third country, or stateless persons/refugees residing in the territory of a Member State to whom the legislation of one or several Member States applies, and to the members of their families and their survivors. It also applies to survivors of these workers irrespective of the nationality of the latter, provided the survivors are Community nationals, and to civil servants and persons treated as such in accordance with the legislation applicable.

The Regulation also applies to persons who are studying or undergoing vocational training and to the members of their families.

Equality of treatment

Persons residing in the territory of a Member State to whom the Regulation applies are subject to the same obligations and enjoy the same benefits under the legislation of a Member State as the nationals of that State.

Matters covered

The Regulation applies to all legislation relating to the social security branches concerning sickness and maternity benefits, invalidity benefits, old age benefits, survivors’ benefits, benefits in respect of accidents at work and occupational diseases, unemployment benefits, family benefits and death grants. It applies to general and special contributory and non-contributory social security schemes and to schemes concerning the liability of an employer or shipowner. It does not apply to medical or social assistance or to benefit schemes for war victims.

Waiving of residence clauses

Invalidity, old age or survivors' cash benefits, pensions for accidents at work or occupational diseases and death grants under the legislation of one or more Member States may not be subject to any reduction, modification, suspension, withdrawal or confiscation by reason of the fact that the recipient resides in the territory of another Member State.

Provisions concerning reduction, suspension or withdrawal of benefit provided for in the legislation of a Member State in the case of overlapping with other social security benefits or other income may be invoked, even if the right to such benefits was acquired under the legislation of another Member State or such income arises in the territory of another Member State. However, this provision does not apply when the person concerned receives benefits of the same kind in respect of invalidity, old age, death (pensions) or occupational disease that are awarded by the institutions of two or more Member States, in conformity with the relevant Community provisions.

Determination of the legislation applicable

A worker is subject to the legislation of only one Member State.

General rules:

  • a person employed in the territory of a Member State is subject to the legislation of that State;
  • a person employed on board a vessel flying the flag of a Member State is subject to the legislation of that State;
  • civil servants are subject to the legislation of the Member State to which the administration employing them is subject;
  • a worker called up or recalled for service in the armed forces or for civilian service of a Member State retains the status of worker and is subject to the legislation of that State;
  • retired persons are subject to the laws of the Member State in which they reside.

Special rules and exceptions are provided for.

Special provisions applying to the different categories of benefits

In respect of invalidity, old age and death benefits (pensions), the interested parties enjoy, in principle, all the benefits acquired in the different Member States.

Within certain limits and subject to strict conditions, a wholly unemployed worker to whom the provisions of the legislation of a Member State for obtaining benefits apply and who moves to another Member State in search of employment retains the right to these benefits.

Employed persons subject to the legislation of a Member State are entitled to family benefits for the members of their families residing in the territory of another Member State provided for in the legislation of the first State, as if they resided on the territory of that State.

As regards sickness and maternity benefits, the Regulation makes it possible for European citizens to obtain health care while residing in a Member State other than that in which they are registered. However, this is possible only under certain conditions and in accordance with specific procedures. European citizens may obtain health care when they are staying abroad or if they choose to receive treatment in another Member State.

Administrative Commission on Social Security for Migrant Workers

The Administrative Commission on Social Security for Migrant Workers (known as the Administrative Commission or CA.SS.TM) is made up of a government representative of each Member State.

Its duties are to deal with all administrative questions and questions of interpretation arising from this Regulation and to foster and develop cooperation between Member States in social security matters by modernising procedures for information exchange.

In connection with the latter function, the Administrative Commission has introduced the European Health Insurance Card.

Advisory Committee on Social Security for Migrant Workers

The Advisory Committee is made up of representatives of governments, trade unions and employers’ organisations. It prepares opinions and proposals with a view to possible revision of the regulations and sends them to the Administrative Commission.



Entry into force - Date of expiry

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Regulation (EEC) No 1408/71



L 149 of 05.07.1971

Successive amendments and corrections to Regulation (EEC) No 1408/71 have been incorporated in the basic text. This consolidated version is for reference purposes only.



Regulation (EC) No 883/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 29 April 2004 on the coordination of social security systems [Official Journal L 166 of 30.04.2004]. The European Parliament and the Council have adopted this Regulation in order to simplify and clarify the Community rules on the coordination of Member States’ social security systems. It constitutes the new reference for such coordination and very much simplifies the lives of Community citizens, who can more easily exercise their right to free movement within the EU. Finally, it consolidates the cooperation obligations of administrations in the field of social security. It repeals Regulation (EEC) No 1408/71 from the date on which its implementing regulation comes into force (scheduled for the end of 2009). In addition, Regulation (EC) No 592/2008 of the Parliament and of the Council of 17 June 2008, on the implementation of these measures, amends the annexes to Regulation (EEC) No 1408/71 so as to take account of changes in national legislation.

However, Regulation (EEC) No 1408/71 remains in force and its legal effects remain valid for the purposes of the following acts:

Regulation (EC) No 883/2004 also makes the electronic exchange of data between Member States’ institutions compulsory from the date on which the new implementing regulation comes into force. The secretariat of the Technical Commission (provided for by Regulation (EC) No 1290/97 of 27 June 1997, amending Regulation (EEC) No 1408/71 prepares electronic exchanges on the basis of a common European architecture using the XML (eXtended markup language) standard.

See also

For further information please refer to the online guide [PDF] "Your social security rights when moving within the European Union - Update 2004".

Last updated: 09.09.2008