Canada's international social security agreements
This article provides information on social security agreements between Canada and other countries. It describes the conditions that an employment outside Canada has to meet to be pensionable under the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) when there is a social security agreement. It also explains how to apply for a certificate of coverage.
For this article, a detachment occurs when an employee is temporarily assigned, posted, or seconded to another country for a specific period of time. A worker is not considered detached if they have been permanently transferred or appointed to a position in another country.
The certificate of coverage is proof that an employer, employee, or self-employed worker is subject to Canadian legislation and will therefore not have to contribute to the social security system of the host country with which Canada has an agreement.
The host country is a country other than Canada to which the employee has been detached or in which the self-employed worker provides services.
Social security agreements
In 1977, the Canadian government began entering into international agreements concerning social security, and today it has entered into more than 50 such agreements. You can view the agreements at Search the Treaty List (Global Affairs Canada).
Social security agreements for Canada refer to the Old Age Security Act and the CPP.
These agreements are bilateral treaties under international law, which coordinate the social security legislation of the two countries. The two main objectives of those agreements are:
- Eliminate cases where workers might have to contribute to the social security system of two countries for the same work and to make sure their coverage under the CPP will not be interrupted.
- Co-ordinate the pension programs of two countries in which a person has lived or worked. If a person has lived or worked in another country, they may be eligible for social security benefits, either from that country or from Canada. For more information on social security agreements and benefits paid, please contact Service Canada.
Employment in a country that has signed a social security agreement with Canada
If there is a social security agreement between Canada and the country in which the worker is performing services, that agreement determines whether the employment is pensionable under the CPP. Unless it is excluded under subsection 6(2) of the CPP, an employment is considered pensionable if one of the following conditions is met:
- The employer operates in Canada.
- The employer undertakes to pay both the employee's and the employer's contributions, and to file the required information slip (T4).
What are the requirements of the agreement?
In general, the requirements are as follows:
- The worker's employment is subject to the CPP before the detachment.
- The worker is required by their employer to work in a foreign country.
- The period of detachment is temporary and does not exceed the maximum period of detachment as specified in the respective agreement. Information about the maximum period of initial detachment for each country can be found in the table Countries that have an agreement with Canada on the web page What is the purpose of international social security agreements?
Most of the agreements specify that a self-employed worker who provides services in one or both countries will be subject to the legislation of only their country of residence. In that situation, a self-employed worker has to apply for a certificate of coverage to make sure they do not have to make double contributions.
Certificate of coverage
An employer and its detached employee or a self-employed worker can take advantage of these agreements with a certificate of coverage from the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). For information on who can apply and how, go to Certificate of coverage.
For more information
For more information, see International Social Security Agreements and the Canada Pension Plan.
If you have questions, call 1-877-598-2408 (for calls from within Canada and the United States) or 613-670-7439 (for calls from other countries). The CRA accepts collect calls.
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