What is an A1 Form and how to apply? Everything you need to know
What is an A1 form?
An 'A1 form' is a colloquial term given to a certificate issued by HMRC that certifies the recipient pays UK National Insurance (NICs).
Who needs an A1 form?
UK employees traveling to the EU for work, on behalf of their employer, particularly if they are providing a service under a contract or commercial agreement.
If you're a service provider (providing a service to a client in the EU) you will need one, as you may also need a work permit or visa.
What is the purpose of the A1 form?
Within European Social Security Legislation, the default position has always been that an employee from one member state pays local social security when working in a foreign member state unless they can prove they pay social security in their country of residence, up to a period of 24 months.
A1 forms prove payment of social security payments; therefore, applying for an A1 form avoids the liability of paying local social security while working abroad.
Do I need an A1 form for every trip?
Yes, for every trip, per EU member state, for each employee.
Why has the need for an A1 Form become more significant recently?
When we were a member of the EU, the obligation to have an A1 form if working in a different member state to your home state always applied to the UK. Compliance and enforcement were simply very low. Having left the EU, the rule has been carried over into the Trade Agreement between the UK and the EU and still applies. As we are now third-country nationals, the requirement to have an A1 form is even more important when applying for Visas and work permits.
What steps must a UK employer take before applying for an A1 form?
Before a UK employee can apply for an A1 form, their UK employer must "sign up" with HMRC using form CA3821. This notifies HMRC that as a company, they will be sending their employees to the EU and embeds them into the notification system. To aid in navigating these processes and understanding new business travel regulations, you might find our Guide to Business Travel and Sending Workers to the EU helpful.
Where can I get an A1 form?
The national insurance page on the gov.uk site provides A1 application forms. HMRC will issue the approved A1 form.
How do I apply for an A1 form?
After an employer submits a CA3821 (refer to "What steps must a UK employer take before applying for an A1 form?"), the employer will receive a confirmation email.
Afterwards, their employees are then in a position to apply for A1 forms. An A1 form is applied per employee per trip, per country; it is not an opportunity to name every possible country that you foresee you may travel to. For more complex scenarios, our Right to Work Matrix offers detailed guidance.
Is it possible to apply for a 'multi-state' or EU-wide A1 form?
No, there is no such thing as a 'multi-state' form or EU-wide form. It is only valid per trip, per country and for the dates entered on the form, up to a period of 24 months.
What information is required for each individual A1 form application?
Each individual who travels to the EU will require their own A1 form and will need to state the length of time they intend to visit the Member State, including precise dates of travel. For a more comprehensive understanding of these requirements, our Guide to Business Travel and Sending Workers to the EU could be a useful resource.
What do I do if I don't receive my A1 form in time for travel?
You will not always receive your CA3822 certificate back in time before travel. As long as you submit your notification and capture proof of your submission, this will suffice.
If applying for a Visa or a work permit, you will require your physical CA3822 certificate as part of the application. HMRC can take up to 10 weeks to issue the certificates; these should be applied for as far advance as possible when obtaining a Visa or work permit.
For further insights on handling such scenarios and ensuring compliance with immigration requirements, our Right to Work Matrix can serve as a valuable reference.
Are there any exceptions to the requirement for an A1 form?
If you are travelling as a business visitor within the Schengen Visa Wavier Rules, such as travelling for business meetings, conferences, meeting clients or customers and colleagues, you will not require an A1 form as you are not 'working'. Working is undefined within EU law; however, EU member states see 'work' as any activity that would require a work permit.
No EU member state has authority to deny entry if an individual does not have an A1 form on them; it is not an immigration document. It does not permit entry or work and the applicable rule is social security legislation within the UK/EU TCA as opposed to individual EU member states' immigration rules.
For a more detailed overview of such exceptions and requirements for each EU country, our Guide to Business Travel and Sending Workers to the EU is available to explore.