New Delhi: Subscribers of retirement fund body Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) heading for foreign postings can now apply online for certificate of coverage (CoC) to avoid deductions for social security cover abroad.

The EPFO has done away with the manual application for the CoC by its subscribers who have been posted abroad by their employers, a senior EPFO official said. The online facility for applying for CoC was started earlier this month as part of the government’s Digital India initiative, the official said.

The CoC is required for all those employees going abroad for assignments or posting done by their employers. It helps EPFO subscribers to avoid deductions from their pay on account of mandatory social cover provided to workers under the legal framework of the country where they are posted.

The EPFO had issued 20,022 CoCs to its subscribers during 2016-17. At present, India has social security agreement with 18 countries—Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, Denmark, Luxembourg, France, South Korea, Sweden, the Czech Republic, Austria, Finland, Japan, Canada, Australia, Norway, Singapore and Hungary.

The social security agreement provides for detachment, totalisation and portability. Under the detachment clause, the employees of one country deputed by their employers to other country for short-term assignments are exempted from social security contributions up to a period of 60 months.

The international workers of these countries posted in India are not required to make mandatory contribution towards social security schemes run by the EPFO in India. Employees from these countries need to produce the CoC stating that they are covered under such social schemes in their country and get exemption from contribution to EPFO schemes.

Similar privilege is enjoyed by Indian employees posted in these 18 countries with whom it has signed social security agreements. However, there are a large number of countries with whom India has not inked any social security agreements. Therefore, workers from these countries are required to subscribe to EPFO schemes and sometime they make such mandatory contributions in their country as well.