Canada Pension Plan and Employment Insurance Explained

Canada's international social security agreements

Introduction

This document 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.    

The legislative references in the social security agreements for Canada are to the Old Age Security Act and the Canada Pension Plan

Explanations

For this document, 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 he or she has 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.

For this document, a convention has the same meaning as an agreement.

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. To view the agreements, go to International Social Security Agreements (Employment and Social Development Canada).

These agreements are bilateral treaties under international law, which coordinate the social security legislation of the two countries and have two main objectives: 

  1. Eliminate cases where workers might have to contribute to the social security system of two countries for the same work as well as to make sure their coverage under the Canada Pension Plan will not be interrupted.
  2. 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, he or she 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 Canada Pension Plan. Unless it is excluded under subsection 6(2) of the Canada Pension Plan, 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 Canada Pension Plan before the detachment.
  • The worker is required by his or her 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 of countries that have an agreement with Canada at What is the purpose of international social security agreements?

Self-employed worker

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 his or her country of residence. In that situation, a self-employed worker has to apply for a certificate of coverage to make sure he or she does 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 or conventions by sending an application for a certificate of coverage to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). The international social security agreement forms are on the CRA Web site.

You can request a certificate of coverage to confirm that your employment is subject to coverage under the Canada Pension Plan. Please fax one copy of your request to 613-954-3398 or send it to:

Canada Revenue Agency
CPP/EI Rulings Division
Social Security Unit
Tower A
320 Queen Street
Ottawa ON K1A 0L5 

For more information

1-877-598-2408 (for calls from within Canada and the United States)

613-948-4708 (for calls from other countries – we accept collect calls)

International Social Security Agreements and the Canada Pension Plan

Legislative references

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