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Know your EU Social Security Rights and Obligations

1 March 2022

Within the EU, Seafarers, like other EU Nationals are entitled to social protection. Those crew (who are EU nationals) working on board vessels flying the flag of an EU country, by virtue of Article 11.4 of EU Regulation 883/2004, shall be subject to be insured in the Flag State. The only exception for crew to be insured in the Member State where the employer has their business/registered office, is if he/she has their residency in the same Member State. 

It is important to know that, although there are various private schemes offered to yachts that, along with insurance policies, claim to provide private alternatives to a state social security scheme, none of these private solutions are approved by country bodies, such as ENIM in France. There are also significant legal consequences, both civil and criminal for yachts not complying with social security obligations.


In July 2017, France introduced a social security decree, following mandatory obligations under the MLC, requiring all seafarers resident in France, or those who spend more than 181 days in France, to pay into their social security system. The aim of these regulations is to ensure seafarers resident in France are afforded protection (whether the yacht is a pleasure or commercial vessel). 

During the 2021 Cannes Yachting Festival, PYA Partner, Breaking The Mould Accounting, heard from local lawyers that there are still yacht owners regularly being prosecuted for hidden employment, despite the legislation being in place for 5 years.

If you would like to find out more about social security protection in France, contact ENIM.


With exception to the above ruling, yacht crew working on vessels registered in Malta have the benefit of registering their social security in another EU member state scheme, allowing greater flexibility to those who reside elsewhere and still receive the same social protection.

More information

Learn more about EU Crew Employment Services, plus specific advice for social security in Malta, by contacting our partner, Alasdair Milroy, at Breaking the Mould Accounting.

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