Following the announcement on 9 March regarding upcoming changes to French Social Security Laws, Marine Accounts has received numerous questions from concerned seafarers about how these changes will affect them. Here's a quick reference guide based on 12 of the most frequently asked questions.
1. When does this law come into effect?
The changes will apply as of 1 July 2017.
2. What actions should EU citizens take?
We advise that you determine in which country you are tax resident and whether you spend over 181 days in French waters and French ports. If you are paying social security within your country of residence then you will be exempt from the changes to French social security charges.
3. How will this affect Monaco?
As long as you are tax resident in Monaco you will not be required to pay French Social Security.
4. Will days spent in Monaco count?
No, France and Monaco are treated as separate countries for social security purposes.
5. Who is criminally liable if the required contributions are not paid?
The employer would be criminally liable if required French Social Security contributions are not paid.
6. How does this effect non-EU resident crew?
Where the yacht spends more than 181 days in French waters, providing they are paying contributions to a country that has a bi-lateral agreement with France, they will be exempt from paying social security in France.
7. If I am paying contributions in another EU State but am also a resident in France, where do I receive the benefits of these contributions?
You will receive your benefits in the country where you are contributing. For example, if you pay class 2 contributions to the UK you will gain the associated benefits in the UK.
8. If I am a French resident paying UK National Insurance, can I continue to do so under the new law?
If you are paying UK National Insurance you are exempt from paying French Social Security.
9. What do I have to provide to France to prove I pay contributions to another country?
This has yet to be confirmed but we anticipate a receipt of some sort from that country will be required.
10. Will France accept SEA’s in English or will they need to be translated?
Under maritime law all SEAs (Seafarer Employment Agreements) for crew working on yachts on an international voyage must be in English.
11. Once the Decree comes into effect will previous years be investigated?
This has yet to be confirmed but, since the Decree's application date is 1 January 2017, we hope it will be applied from then.
12. Who do we submit contributions to?
This is yet to be confirmed.
For further advice regarding your personal circumstances please contact a member of the Marine Accounts team.
Any advice in this publication is not intended or written by Marine Accounts to be used by a client or entity for the purpose of (i) avoiding penalties that may be imposed on any taxpayer or (ii) promoting, marketing or recommending to another party matters herein.
All answers provided have been verified by John Cook of Lesia Group, a specialist in employment law, to ensure accuracy.