Further to the new French social security decree, rumours have circulated that voluntary UK NI Contributions will exempt mariners from the new regulations.
ENIM officials have agreed that where the EU social security regulations or the provisions of a bi-lateral agreement place a contribution liability outside France that takes away any contribution liability in France. That there is a liability outside France is usually evidenced via the issue of an A1 certificate or some other certificate of coverage.
It has been suggested in a number of places that UK domiciled mariners could escape the French liability if they were to pay a voluntary Class 2 contribution in the UK. This would cost them £2.80 a week.
Whilst many UK individuals would be able to pay this voluntary contribution, Article 14.2 of EC Social Security Regulations 883/2004 states that a voluntary contribution can be paid in addition to a mandatory contribution but cannot replace it.
The voluntary contribution can be paid in the UK and so provide a retirement pension in both countries. However, the idea that a UK national can opt to pay voluntary UK, rather than mandatory French contributions is false.
HMRC have repeatedly stated that they will not issue A1 certificates where the contributions being paid to the UK are on a voluntary basis. That being the case it will not be possible to provide to ENIM the proof that contributions are being paid elsewhere. It should also be noted that the Class 2 contribution is abolished from the end of the current tax year. There will then be the possibility of paying a voluntary Class 3 contribution costing around £15 a week. Again, however, an A1 certificate would not be issued.
We would strongly encourage crew, employers and owners to seek professional advice if they are concerned about the effect of these new regulations.