The employment of foreign workers in Switzerland has become a common practice, not only in recent years. Particularly in the age of remote work and global business activities, Swiss companies are no longer confronted only with traditional expatriates or locally employed foreign workers, but also with employees who work mainly abroad and spend only a few days per month or quarter in Switzerland.

For these employees, too, compliance with Swiss social security regulations is crucial. In the following article, we address the necessity of the A1 or CoC forms and show you possible solutions if you are unable to obtain them or can only obtain them with significant delays.

A1 and Certificate of Coverage: Why are they important?

The "A1" (for international employment within the EU or Switzerland) and its counterpart, the "Certificates of Coverage" (for other cross-border social security agreements), are important documents for proof of social security coverage. In simple terms, these documents confirm in which country the employee is covered by social security and in which country the employee is exempt from social security.

For international employee postings to and from abroad, it has, therefore, long become common practice to obtain the relevant documents, even for occasional days of work abroad, to document the social insurance status.

This is particularly important as international issues, and the existence of relevant documents (A1 or CoC) are checked during AHV revisions.

Challenges in obtaining A1 and CoC

For employees who work for their Swiss employer in Switzerland and temporarily work abroad, the A1 or CoC can be obtained via the platform "ALPS" (Application Legislation Platform Switzerland).

In practice, however, problems repeatedly arise in obtaining these documents for internationally working employees. This is particularly the case if the A1 or CoC has to be obtained for (individual) Swiss working days abroad.

Here are 2 examples:


  • The Group CFO is employed in the USA. He travels to Switzerland monthly and attends meetings at the Swiss headquarters for approx. 3-5 days.
  • For the Swiss working days, not only a work permit must be obtained, and the withholding taxes must be settled, but also the Certificate of Coverage must be available for the verification of the social security status.
  • The processing time for the issuance of the Certificate of Coverage in the U.S. is approximately 4-8 months. After that, the document is sent exclusively by mail within the USA. However, experience has shown that a considerable number of the CoCs do not even make it to the recipient.
  • This means that the Swiss organization can only present the CoC for the days of the foreign Group CFO's assignment at a late stage or not at all.


  • An employee of a Swiss company works almost exclusively in a foreign, Polish home office. For occasional days, the employee comes to Switzerland every quarter.
  • Here, too, not only a work permit must be available for the Swiss working days and the withholding taxes must be paid, but also the A1 must be available for the confirmation of the social security status.
  • However, the Polish authority will examine the issuance of the A1 very carefully and refuse it if the Swiss employer cannot show "substantial economic activities" in Poland.
  • Thus, the Swiss organization cannot present an A1 for the employee's days of work in the Polish home office.

A proactive approach

A1 and CoC tend to be audited and queried as a standard procedure in the context of AHV revisions. Simply not being able to present a certificate of coverage or A1 is therefore not a solution. Rather, in the cases described above, the responsible AHV compensation office should be approached proactively, and the problem should be described before an audit even takes place.

Usually, this approach allows satisfactory solutions to be worked out for the employer and the AHV compensation office so that it is not necessary to wait for the complaint to be made during an audit, where experience has shown that it is more difficult to find consensual and pragmatic solutions.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.