About the administrative instructions

NSSO social security law determines that the general social security regime for workers shall not apply to seafarers in merchant shipping. The specific employment conditions inherent to the profession of seafarers and the maritime traditions and peculiarities mean there must be a specific social security system for employees who work on board sea-going vessels that are connected to a shipowner in the merchant sector by means of a maritime employment contract.

Who does this concern?

The social security for the merchant shipping sector is regulated by the legislative order of 7 February 1945 regarding the social security of seafarers in the merchant sector.

In light of the trend to use a flag of convenience from Luxembourg, in 1991 the field of application was expanded pursuant to EEC Directive 1408/71 to cover seafarers that are employed on ships from Luxembourg and registered in the Pool of merchant shipping. The legislator has even provided the option to subject crew members to Belgian social security in the case of employment under a foreign flag by means of mediation by a Belgian ship owner.

Under the Royal Decree of 18 February 1997 concerning measures for dismantling the Regie voor Maritiem Transport, the seafaring employees working for a company operating in the maritime transport sector from and to an EU Member State were brought under the merchant shipping social security regime. Later, seafarers from the sea-going tug boat sector (2004) and the dredging sector (2014) were also brought under Belgian social security for merchant seafarers.

The social security for other maritime sectors (fishery) falls outside the scope of these instructions. As mentioned above, the Belgium social security system not only applies to Belgian ships. The full field of application is set out in the first chapter.

Returns and the payment of contributions

The various contributions owed by shipowners and the seafarers themselves, deducted from the wages paid to the employee by the shipowner, are defined in legislation and decrees. They are united within a summary. The legally set reductions and/or exceptions within the limits set by the EC guidelines regarding government support for the maritime sectors, are discussed.

The shipowner must report the start and end of every employment period (i.e. the start and end of each trip) to the NSSO in the online service Dimona (in French). The NSSO's administrative instructions set out what must be entered in Dimona (in French).

The shipowner indicates wage and working time details, social contributions and the applicable social contribution reductions in the online service DmfA (in French). The NSSO's administrative instructions set out what must be entered in DmfA (in French).

The return and payment terms are those which apply to the relevant NSSO system. The shipowner may be subject to penalties if it fails to fulfil its obligations. In certain cases, late payment interest and contribution surcharges may be cancelled (in French).

In order to request inclusion of seafarers registered in the pool of seafarers and employed under a foreign flag (= non-EU, Norway, Liechtenstein, Iceland and Switzerland or another country with which Belgium has concluded a social security treaty), you must use the Application for subjection under foreign flag.