About social security

International social security agreements

ISSA Database on international social security agreements

The International Social Security Association (ISSA) is in the process of establishing a database on international social security agreements. A first stage will include information on existing social security agreements, including the contracting countries, date of entry into force, posted workers’ period of coverage, self-employed workers’ period of coverage, types of social security branches that are covered, as well as further references and links. In a second phase, the database will include operational information.

The importance of international agreements

International social security agreements can be bilateral agreements concluded by two countries in order to coordinate their specific regulations, or multilateral agreements allowing several countries to coordinate parts of their social security regulations.

Such agreements establish a legal framework to coordinate social security schemes between countries. They provide the legal context to protect migrant workers’ rights, and close gaps in social security coverage. The agreements ensure that periods of employment in other signatory countries are taken into account in granting the right to social benefits for migrant workers, dependant on the completion of a qualifying period.

With increased international mobility in recent decades, a growing number of countries have been developing such agreements. Nevertheless, more work is needed on the implementation of effective mechanisms to protect the social rights of migrant workers.

Effective implementation of these agreements depends on concrete operational mechanisms, in particular for data exchanges between participating countries. In order to respond to a growing number of international agreements on social security and an increasing number of covered migrant workers, there is a need to improve the efficiency and scalability of implementation. The ISSA’s upcoming database will provide crucial information on the existence and implementation of international social security agreements.