Business Travel Show Europe Kick Off, 23 February,
Global Travel Risk Summit Europe, April 2023,
3rd Annual Sustainable Business Travel Summit
"This is a really ridiculous process in preparation of
a business trip," said Christoph Carnier, president of German business travel
association VDR. He was referring to the application process for obtaining from
the EU a portable document A1 certificate. That document proves a traveler is
subject to the social security rules of his or her home country and hence does
not have to pay social security to a country he or she is working in
temporarily. "This is really an additional workload, and I think nobody
has considered this," he added.
The A1 requirement, which has been in effect in EU member
states since 2010, targets workers traveling from one EU member state, Iceland,
Norway, Liechtenstein or Switzerland and "posted" in another of those
countries on a temporary basis, whether for contracted services, working for one's
own company in a different country or hired out through a temporary agency. In
2017, 2.8 million such postings took place in the EU, having increased 83
percent since 2010, according to the European Commission.
In recent years, France, Austria and Switzerland, in
particular, have stepped up their A1 enforcement efforts, according to Carnier.
According to VDR's website, "Some countries, such as France, have also
been calling for a posting notice for factory visits, the delivery of goods or
stand support at trade fairs since 2016." Since France enforced penalties in
2017, A1 applications have spiked in Belgium, according to Sophie Maes, an HR
and employment attorney at Belgian law firm Claeys and Engels.
In its 2019 Business Travel Report, VDR advised its travel
manager members to obtain A1 certificates for their travelers' business trips
but also has been appealing to German and EU policymakers to abolish the
Does A1 Apply to Typical Business Travelers?
Of the EU posted workers in 2017, 47 percent of those
workers were in the construction sector, 27 percent in services, 26 percent in
industrial and 1 percent in agriculture, according to the European Commission. The EU released practical
guidance on Sept. 25 clarifying that temporary workers who do not provide
services on their trips do not fall under the definition of posted workers. "This
is the case, for example, of workers on business trips (when no service is
provided), attending conferences, meetings, fairs, following training etc.,"
the guidance notes.
It reiterates, though, that business travelers performing
any kind of service are subject to the requirement. "For every crossborder
work-related activity (including 'business trips') the employer, or any
self-employed person concerned, is under the obligation to notify the competent
(home) Member State, whenever possible in advance, and obtain a portable
Yet, nearly half of EU business travelers are unaware of the
A1 certificate. In an AirPlus International survey of 707 business travelers in
nine EU member states, 44 percent said they hadn't heard about the A1
That's what all the big corporates in Europe are doing: They take the risk in paying the fine because the [A1 application] process is ridiculous."
Without an A1, a traveler could be denied access to a work
site, be required to stop working and/or be fined. France, Austria and Luxembourg
fine those who are required to have A1 certificates but don't carry them, while
Belgium, Italy, the Netherlands and many others don't, according to Maes. In
France, the fine for not carrying an A1 is 3,300 euros, and in Austria and
Luxembourg, it can reach 10,000 euros, she said. Among travelers aware of the
A1 requirement, AirPlus found only 48 percent always carry an A1 certificate
when traveling within the EU and 43 percent sometimes do.
Maes advises project workers to get A1 certificates,
particularly workers in construction and other sectors where social security
fraud is high.
For every applicable trip, a traveler needs an A1 form. Travelers
or their employers have to apply to their country's social security institution.
Here's a list
of A1 providers. Most have online applications. The lead time depends on
the country. In Romania, for example, it can take up to six months, Maes said. Application
questions typically revolve around personal information like name and
residential address, date of birth, nationality, employer and job title and
trip information like destination, length of stay and previous trips to the destination
country. The responsibility for obtaining an A1 certificate typically falls on
HR or the travel manager: AirPlus found two-thirds of business travelers rely
on a central department like HR or a travel management department to apply for
the A1 on their behalf.
Risk the Fine?
Companies whose workers travel extensively within the EU could
flow personal data and trip data to government sites to streamline the process,
though that's a nightmare for many travel managers. "HR is asking us how
we can in real time tell the government we are coming into the country that day
so that they know," a travel manager at BTN's Business Travel Trends &
Forecasts Boston conference said about managing the company's Europe-based
travelers. Another travel manager at the event said, "You need to send to
the government your last salary statements, plus other documentation. In travel,
we don't want to deal with salary statements." The travel manager said
existing third-party solutions to streamline the application process are
expensive to procure and pose liability risks.
Many companies risk the fine instead. A travel
manager whose company does so said, "That's what all the big corporates in
Europe are doing: They take the risk in paying the fine because the
[application] process is ridiculous." To that person's knowledge, no big
company has been hit with a huge fine. A consultant at the event said all the person's European clients send travelers without the certificate and
risk the fine.