Recently, a social security agreement has come into force between Belgium and Brazil. This has important consequences for expatriates, who are assigned between these countries.
- Payment of contributions
The treaty determines in which country social security contributions are to be paid by employees and by self-employed workers.
The base principle is the payment of the contributions in the country, where the professional activities are carried out.
There are various special rules and/or exceptions to this base principle. It is noted that the new treaty deviates in several ways from other bilateral social security treaties, so that one carefully has to look at the applicable rules:
- Employees can temporarily be assigned by their employer to work in the other state under continued application of their home country social security regime. This is only possible for a period of up to 24 months. This period can be extended with maximum 36 additional months (total assignment duration is therefore limited to 5 years maximum). The assignment rules not only cover a direct assignment from one of the treaty countries to the other country. It is possible that the employee was first assigned to a third country and subsequently is assigned to Belgium or Brazil. In such case, continuation of the home social security system is also possible.
- Self-employed persons can also work in the other state under continued home country social security coverage for a maximum period of 60 months (24+36 months).
- Employees, who work on board of a ship, that sails in international waters under the flag of Belgium or of Brazil, are subject to the social security regime of the country where they reside.
- Individuals, who are part of the flying crew of an airline company that is established in Belgium or in Brazil, are subject to the social security regime of the country where the company is located. In case, however, the company has a permanent representation on the territory of the other country (than the one in which the company is located), the legislation of that other country is applicable.
There is also a special rule for persons, who simultaneously have a self-employed activity in Belgium and an employee activity in Brazil. In such case, the activity in Brazil is treated as an employment activity in Belgium. By consequence all activities will be subject to the Belgian social security system.
2. Social security benefits
The treaty now enables the ‘exportation’ of social security benefits, such as pensions from one treaty country to the other. This offers the advantage to persons, who work during a number of years in the other treaty country under the local social security regime, to keep their benefits, even if at some point in time they move back to their initial home country.