International Consultancy Services

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Persons Covered
Payments Covered
Extra Benefits


The Department of Social Protection, under the business name of Social Welfare Services (SWS) Ireland, provides consultancy support to international clients in all areas of social security. Experienced civil servants are available to clients to assist them with the development of their social security systems and schemes.

Expertise is provided in the following areas:

  • Policy advice to Ministers and Government;
  • Extensive experience in the public sector, particularly in the area of administration of social protection;
  • Senior management knowledge of modern social protection systems in the EU Member States;
  • Previous and current responsibility for meeting EU Policy and delivery requirements;
  • Working experience on reform project in PHARE countries. (The EU Phare Programme, aims by the provision of grant funding, to help the countries of Central and Eastern Europe rejoin the mainstream of European development through economic transformation and strengthening of democracy.
Social Welfare Services Ireland is involved in the following:
  • securing direct contracts with the EU Commission and World Bank;
  • seeking small sub-contracts from main contractors.
  • securing study visits to Ireland;

SWS-Ireland is selling the skills and experience of civil servants. Since 1994, the business has developed to a stage where annual turnover is now in the region of 1m. Any excess income is returned to the Exchequer. The initiative has contributed to the economy through the foreign income earned from contracts and the money spent by foreign visitors here. To date, SWS Ireland has worked in the following countries: Georgia, Hungary, Albania, Bosnia, Slovakia, Lithuania, Kyrgystan, Poland, Czech Republic, and Latvia.

The Department's consultancy initiative is also congruent with the Government's Strategic Management Initiative which aims to develop an entrepreneurial approach within the Civil Service.



The policy of the Department of Social Protection regarding the negotiation of bilateral social security agreements with countries other than EU Member States has been to concentrate on those countries which have a significant number of Irish emigrants.

There are Bilateral social security agreements in place with the following countries:

  • Austria (Information Leaflet SW 79)
  • Canada (Information Leaflet SW 84)
  • Australia (Information Leaflet SW 87)
  • the United States (Information Leaflet SW 91)
  • New Zealand (Information Leaflet SW 95) and
  • Quebec (Information Leaflet SW 96)

An Agreement has also been negotiated between the Department of Social Protection and the Swiss Confederation. This Agreement was signed on 15 December 1997 and will come into operation at the end of 1998. A similar Convention has also been negotiated with the U.K. (in respect of persons resident in the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man who are not covered by EEC Regulations). The Revised Convention on Social Security with the U.K. will be signed in early 1998.


The main purpose of the bilateral agreements on social security is to protect the pension rights of persons who have worked in Ireland and the other country and paid social insurance contributions in Ireland and have reckonable periods in the other country. Reckonable periods in the other country can consist of periods of insurance or residence depending on the social security system in that country. The Agreements protect pension rights by allowing reckonable periods in the other country to be taken into account in determining entitlement to certain payments in Ireland and the other country where there would be no entitlement if national legislation only applied.

In addition to protecting pension entitlements, the Agreements generally contain provisions to determine the correct legislation applicable in situations where double liability for social insurance contributions might exist e.g. workers who are sent on temporary assignments from Ireland to a country with which we have a bilateral agreement and visa versa. The provisions ensure that such persons are subject to the legislation of a single country.

Ireland has bilateral Agreements with Austria and the United Kingdom who are also members of the EU. The bilateral agreements between Ireland and these countries continue to apply where-

  1. the person is not covered by the personal scope of the EC Regulations e.g. non-nationals of the EEA (other than those who have the official status of refugee or stateless person who are residing permanently in the EEA or their survivors or dependants).
  2. the provisions of the agreement provide greater assistance to a claimant than EC Social Security Regulations Nos. 1408/71 and 574/72 and the right to use the bilateral agreement was acquired before the EC provisions applied to Ireland (1/4/73) or the other country. The EC provisions apply to the UK from 1/4/73 and to Austria from 1/1/94.
Persons Covered

The Agreements covers migrant workers who have worked in Ireland and in a country with which Ireland has a bilateral agreement. Persons who have paid social insurance contributions in Ireland and have reckonable periods of social insurance or residence as the case may be in the relevant country can have these combined in certain circumstances in order to qualify for certain benefits/pensions. Benefits from the Agreements also extend to dependants and survivors. Whether a period in another country is reckonable will depend on the social security system of that other country.

Payments Covered

In general, the Agreements cover people who are, or who have been, subject to the social security laws of both countries and who have paid social security contributions in both countries. The Agreements cover the following Irish long-term payments:

  • Old Age Contributory Pension
  • Retirement Pension
  • Invalidity Pension
  • Widows/Widowers Contributory Pension
  • Orphans Contributory Pension
  • Death Grant (not applicable to bilateral Agreement between Ireland and Austria and Ireland and New Zealand).

The U.K. Agreement is an exception in this case, also providing cover in respect of the following short term benefits:

  • disability benefit
  • maternity benefit
  • unemployment benefit
  • occupational injuries benefit.
Extra Benefits

Recipients of Irish and/or social security pensions from any of these countries who are living in Ireland may qualify for the extra benefits available under the Irish Social Security system, subject to satisfying the qualifying conditions. The extra benefits are:

  • Free Travel
  • Free Electricity/Natural Gas Allowance
  • Free Telephone Rental Allowance
  • Fuel Allowance
  • Free TV Licence

Last modified:04/06/2010

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