New social security treaty with Turkey

Written by Pascale Moreau 24 September 2018


As from 1 September 2018, the new bilateral social security treaty between Belgium and Turkey has entered into force. This new treaty replaces the previous 1966 treaty and updates its provisions to reflect both the changes in the contracting states’ social security legislation and the changed nature of international employment since 1966.

Out with the old, in with the new

In the Belgian Official Gazette of 13 September 2018, the Act of 9 December 2015 holding the agreement with the social security treaty concluded between Belgium and Turkey has been published.

This new treaty replaces the previous social security treaty between Belgium and Turkey – concluded in 1966 – and provides for coordination provisions, aimed at safeguarding the social security entitlements of individuals who have been subject to the Belgian and/or Turkisch social security scheme(s) during their career or who transfer from one social security scheme to the other.

Application field

Contrary to the 1966 treaty – which was only applicable to individuals with the Belgian or Turkish nationality, stateless persons or refugees – the new treaty is applicable to all individuals to whom the Belgium and/or Turkish legislation has been applicable, irrespective of nationality.

The new treaty contains specific provisions regarding the below social security benefits and starts from the general principle of assimilation of periods of insurance with respect to these benefits: in order to determine the entitlement to and duration of a specific social security benefit, periods of insurance in both contracting states are taken into account, as long as they do not overlap.

  • Illness, health and motherhood;
  • Industrial accidents and occupational illness;
  • Old age – and survivor’s pension;
  • Invalidity;
  • Child benefits.

Coordination rules – applicable legislation

With respect to which social security scheme is applicable, both the 1966 treaty and the new treaty set forth the work-state principle as a general rule; an individual is subject to the social security scheme of the country in which he performs his professional activities.

The new treaty provides for an exception in this respect in the form of posting, whereby – if certain conditions are met – an employee who works in one contracting state can be assigned by his employer to work in the other contracting state whilst remaining subject to the home country social security scheme for a maximum period of 24 months, with the possibility of an extension with another 36 months. Note that the treaty does not provide for the possibility of posting for self-employed individuals.

Moreover, the new treaty contains an exception to the work-state principle for individuals who simultaneously perform professional activities in both Belgium and Turkey. Contrary to the possibility of posting – which was also included in the 1966 treaty – the latter treaty did not provide for any coordination rules in the event of simultaneous professional activities. As such, if an individual worked in both Belgium and Turkey in the past, he would have been subject to both the Belgian social security scheme – for the activities in Belgium – and the Turkisch social security scheme – for the activities in Turkey.

The new treaty incorporates provisions to avoid such double subjection in most cases. Indeed, the new treaty states that – in case of simultaneous employee activities in both contracting states – the individual will only be subject to the social security scheme of the contracting state where he resides for the totality of his employee activities in both countries. The same coordination rule applies for simultaneous self-employed activities in both countries.

Entry into force

The new social security treaty between Belgium and Turkey enters into force as from 1 September 2018.