Switzerland: ALPS: International social security compliance in Switzerland has just gone digital
At the beginning of this year, the Swiss social security administration digitised its social security application processes. The applicable legislation platform of Switzerland (ALPS) has replaced paper applications to establish the appropriate social security treatment of cross-border mobile employees. The introduction of ALPS is part of a project throughout the EU and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) to share information centrally – the electronic exchange of social security information (EESSI). The electronic exchange of data is stipulated in EU regulations and is mandatory for all member states as of July 1 2019.
When is ALPS applicable?
The applicable legislation platform is used for applications to either the federal authorities or the cantonal social security offices for employees and self-employed individuals in respect of:
Postings within the EU/EFTA, treaty countries and non-treaty countries (including short- and long-term postings, the extension of postings and voluntary continuation of mandatory Swiss social security contributions);
Working in two or more EU/EFTA member states; and
Insurance coverage for accompanying family members.
Paper applications generally are no longer accepted, although exceptions may be granted by the authorities on a case-by-case basis.
What does ALPS do?
Social security certificates (A1, CoC, etc.) can be applied for online via ALPS and downloaded. There are no direct individual email communications. Employers need to provide a central contact email address to receive all notifications.
If the authorities require further information or documents to process an application, a notification email will be sent to the employer's central email address.
Employers have online real-time access to all applications handled though ALPS and can monitor the status of each application.
What does this mean for employers?
The applicable legislation platform provides several advantages for employers, including:
A common online application form and process relevant for all 26 cantons;
Faster processing times, enabling global mobility functions to react more quickly to new situations and postings;
Real-time access to the status of pending applications; and
Enhanced security of confidential employee data.
The platform is an important step in improved filing efficiency. Applications that once took weeks, now only take a few days to be handled by the authorities.
The applicable legislation platform is a fairly user-friendly, efficient and transparent technology solution which is compatible with EU/EFTA legal requirements. Managing applications has become simpler. It is expected that the arrival of ALPS will mean that the authorities are less tolerant of non-compliant cases. Employers should consider training mobility professionals or designating representatives to manage their ALPS account.
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