Administrative instructions for shipowners

Social security law determines that the general social security regime for workers shall not apply to seafarers in merchant shipping. As a result of maritime traditions and peculiarities, and the specific working conditions inherent to the profession of seafarer, this special category of workers falls under a separate social security regime.


In principle, only seafarers who are employed on a ship sailing under the Belgian flag are subject to the Belgian social security system. There are a few exceptions to this principle.

International treaties

Under certain conditions, seafarers who are seconded to a ship sailing under a different flag can remain subject to the Belgian social security status.

According to the Belgium-Luxembourg Agreement of 25 March 1991 seafarers maintain their Belgian social security status if they are employed on a ship sailing under the Luxembourg flag.

National legislation

A seafarer who is employed on board of a sea ship sailing under a non-EU flag through a Belgian shipowner remains subject to the Belgian social security system.

Social security contributions

The social security contributions corresponding to the employment of seafarers falling under this special regime must be paid to the NSSO. The NSSO is responsible for their collection and redistribution.

You can find more information about this in the administrative instructions for shipowners (in French).

Documents Files
Application for transfer to a foreign flag Download

Online service

Apply for a secondment via Working abroad (in French).