International agreements on the transfer of earned social benefits

EEA Agreement

Norway is not a member of the EU, but the EEA Agreement guarantees Norwegian citizens many of the same rights as those of other EEA member states. The EEA Agreement covers all citizens of EEA countries, as well as quota refugees and stateless persons (aliens without citizenship) who reside in an EEA member state.

The EEA Agreement guarantees the following rights:

  • The transfer of accumulated social security and work periods earned in other EEA member states and credited to the EEA member state in which you are applying for unemployment benefit.
  • Job-seeking in another EEA country for a period of three months with the right to unemployment benefit.
  • Job-seeking in another EEA country for a period of three months with the right to rehabilitation benefit while awaiting work.
  • Payment of unemployment benefit to persons who live in one EEA country and work in another (cross-border workers).
  • If their Norwegian employers go into bankruptcy, cross-border employees can get unemployment benefit as advance payment while they await payment from the Wage Guarantee Scheme.

Countries that are covered by the EEA Agreement

The EEA Agreement applies to Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Great Britain, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lichtenstein, Lithuania, Luxemburg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, and Sweden.

The agreement also covers the following protectorates and overseas territories: the Azores, the Balearics (Mallorca and Ibiza), the Canary Islands, Ceuta, French Guyana, Gibraltar, Guadeloupe, the Hebrides, Madeira, Martinique, Melilla and Réunion.

Svalbard, the Faroe Islands and Greenland are not covered by the EEA Agreement. 

Switzerland has signed an agreement with the EU that guarantees fewer rights than those afforded by the EEA Agreement.

Nordic convention on social security

The Nordic countries have entered into a separate agreement that gives everyone who has earned social security rights in one country, regardless of citizenship, the right to transfer such rights from one Nordic country to another. This agreement also covers the UN’s quota refugees and stateless persons (aliens without citizenship) who reside in a Nordic country.

The Nordic convention also grants special rights for the resumption of social benefits and the transfer of earned rights when changing residence from one Nordic country to another. Under certain conditions, unemployment rights earned in one Nordic country can be redeemed in another Nordic country without first satisfying any employment demands. The condition is that the applicant has earned the right to – or has received – unemployment benefit in the Nordic country in which an attempt is made to redeem such rights, during the course of the five years immediately prior to the application.

Countries that are covered by the Nordic convention on social security

Denmark, Finland, the Faroe Islands, Greenland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Svalbard and Åland are all covered by the Nordic convention.