Working from Home Abroad: Here's How it Works

Gina Schumacher

Working from home has become a popular trend in recent years. But that doesn't always have to be just in your home country: because the opportunity to work from anywhere in the world has inspired a wide range of employees to set up their home office in exotic or simply more pleasant environments.

But what does it look like legally if you move your home office abroad, and what must be considered? In this article, we will look in detail at the topic of working from home abroad and highlight all important aspects such as social security, tax law, data protection and more.

Working from home in other EU countries: What needs to be considered?

Eine Frau arbeitet am Strand und macht Homeoffice im Ausland.

More and more people want to escape the grey everyday working life in their own country and envy digital nomads and the like, who can always move their jobs to where they like it best.

But does that also work if you have a permanent job in your home ? The good news is: If you are employed full-time and want to work in another EU country from time to time or even permanently, that is not impossible in principle. However, there are a few important things to consider.

Probably the biggest hurdle is getting your employer's approval — unfortunately it won't work without it, even if you work 100% remotely. First, you should make sure that your employer agrees to working from home from abroad and that your employment contract allows it. From an employment law perspective, mobile working from abroad can cause some problems that most employers do not want to deal with, which is why many applications are rejected.

Many employers are hesitant about remote work abroad due to concerns about inadequate monitoring of their remote workers. However, if your boss approves — wonderful! It is then advisable to record this agreement and any restrictions in writing in advance to avoid misunderstandings. You should also consider the following aspects:

A1 certificate when working from home abroad

If you work partly in another country in the EU due to home office regulations, this has an effect on the applicable legislation. According to social security regulations, the law of the state in which you are employed normally applies.

However, if you work temporarily in another EU member state, the law of your home country should continue to apply to your work from home abroad. To prove this, you need the so-called A1 certificate. This certificate confirms that you continue to have social insurance in your country, even if you work abroad temporarily.

The A1 certificate is particularly important to avoid having to pay twice into social security. In order to obtain the A1 certificate, your employer must submit a corresponding application. Note, however, that it can take some time to issue the A1 certificate, so ask your boss to apply in good time.

Working from home abroad: Social security

In principle, your social security obligation in your home country will remain in place as long as you work for an employer from your country and continue to live there. Your employer is still required to pay your social security contributions — so nothing will change for you with regard to your health, pension and unemployment insurance if you only occasionally work in another EU country.

However, if you want to move your home office abroad for a longer period of time, there may also be further insurance obligations in the destination country, depending on the country and individual situation. Here, it is worthwhile to review the national regulations.

Working from home abroad: Tax law

Working from home abroad naturally also raises many questions with regard to tax law. In principle, you are still subject to income tax if you work for an employer of your home country and your place of residence or habitual residence is still in your home country. Just as with social security contributions, your employer is also obliged to pay income tax in your home country if you only occasionally work from home in another EU country.

However, if you regularly work abroad on a mobile basis, you may also be subject to tax in the respective country. This is usually relevant if your assignment abroad exceeds a period of 183 days. Then you should find out whether there is a so-called double taxation agreement between your home country and the destination country.

If this is the case and if you work abroad for less than six months, the destination country normally has no tax rights, as your tax domicile remains in your home country.

Working from home abroad: Data protection

Data protection is also an important aspect when it comes to working from home abroad. As an employee, you are still required to comply to your employer's privacy policy — regardless of where you work.

Data processing must also be carried out in accordance with the standards of the GDPR when working from home abroad. However, the GDPR is uniform across Europe, which is why you don't have to comply with any additional regulations when working remotely in other EU countries.

Mobile working abroad: Accident insurance

In the event of an emergency, all your company insurance policies are valid throughout the EU — not only your health insurance, but also your employer's accident insurance. If you have an accident at work in another EU country and would like to claim insurance benefits for it, the A1 certificate is essential.

Because this is the only way you can confirm that you are also entitled to carry out your work abroad. Of course, just as in the case of an accident at work in your home country, you must prove that the accident happened in connection with your professional activity.

Working from home in non-EU countries: Are there any differences?

Working from home in Thailand, Bali or Australia — that sounds paradisiacal and tempting, but it's not as easy as it sounds. It's not just the time difference that makes work from home complicated for your employer, but also the many special legal features. Because while you are relatively free to determine your job in the EU as long as you have the A1 certificate, it is different in countries outside our continent. Here, too, you should first check with your employer whether they agree to your remote work.

As a next step, you should find out about the applicable laws in the destination country. In all likelihood, in addition to your visa, you will also need a work permit — and this is anything but easy to obtain in most countries. It is important to understand that working from home in a non-EU country without a work permit or an appropriate business visa is illegal and can have far-reaching consequences.

However, there are exceptions to this as well: If your company has a local subsidiary, an intra-group assignment can be used, which makes it much easier to approve a work permit.

Working from home abroad secretly: A good idea?

Eine junge Frau macht Home Office im Ausland und sitzt mit ihrem Laptop am Strand.

As you can see, working legally from home in non-EU countries is not exactly easy. In addition, many employers refuse to allow their employees to work remotely from abroad. For this reason, many employees are toying with the idea of simply secretly moving their home office abroad. Sure, especially if you're working 100% remotely, the idea of working from the beach for a few weeks is very tempting — regardless of whether your employer approves or not. But is it worth it?

If your secret work-from-home-office is discovered from abroad, this can have serious consequences. If you work from abroad without permission, this is considered a violation of the rules and can lead to annoying measures such as warnings or even dismissal. Whether your workout is worth the risk is up for debate. There is no doubt that working from home abroad puts a strain on your relationship with the employer and, in the worst case, can also damage your professional reputation. Other employers may have doubts when checking your references if they learn of an incident involving a secret WFH office.

To avoid such problems, we recommend that you communicate openly with the employer. If your boss is vehemently opposed to working from home abroad, you can also try to negotiate a sabbatical so that you can still take a longer vacation abroad.

Is it possible to work from home permanently abroad?

If your employer approves, nothing stands in the way of working from home abroad permanently — but this is also accompanied by fundamental changes to your tax liability and social security.

With regard to taxes for working from home abroad, there is a clear guideline: the 183-day rule already mentioned. So if you spend more than six months a year outside of your home country, your tax residence changes. Then you have to tax your income in your destination country — and if your country does not have a double taxation agreement with this country, there will be additional income taxes in your home country.

Permanent work working from home abroad also has an impact on social security. However, these depend on the respective country — so find out what regulations apply in your destination country.

Can you work from home abroad as a working student?

Are you studying abroad and still want to work from home for your employer back at home? In principle, there are similar regulations for working students as for normal employees working from home abroad. However, secondment involves a lot of effort for your employer, which is why most companies do not agree to a home office abroad for working students.


Working from home abroad sounds like a dream for many. Mobile working abroad offers many opportunities, but also presents some challenges. Mobile working abroad requires thorough research and understanding of legal, tax and insurance aspects.

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Markus Merkle
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