Before you pack your bags and fly abroad to work and settle there, make sure to pay heed to your Employee’s Provident Fund (EPF) account. While working in India, if you are contributing to EPF, then you are eligible to withdraw the amount and close the account.
As per the EPF Act, if a subscriber wants to claim the final EPF settlement amount, he should be 58 years old and take retirement from his job. Worth mentioning here is that if you are relocating or settling abroad then you are eligible to withdraw the complete amount.
Apart from getting EPF withdrawal form from your employer, you can download it from the EPFO portal. If your Universal Account Number (UAN) is linked to your Aadhar then you can use the Aadhar-based withdrawal form. Otherwise, you can apply for the withdrawal through UAN’s portal. Here all you need to do is to mention the reason for withdrawal and submit it along with required documents.
One important point to keep in mind is that if your EPF account doesn’t receive any contribution for three consecutive years then the account will be considered at inoperative.
However, if you are going to a foreign country for a short duration, then it does not make any sense to close your EPF account. Secondly, when you work in a foreign country for a short duration, you might be required to contribute to their social security scheme. But it may not be beneficial for you to contribute to their social security scheme as you can not reap its benefit during your short stay. In this case, you need to obtain Certificate of Coverage (COC) from the EPFO.
According to EPFO website for international workers “the Government of India (GoI) through its initiative for the benefit of both the employers and employees has entered into agreement with several countries to ensure that the employees of the home country do not remit contribution in that country, get the benefit of totalisation period for deciding the eligibility for pension, may get the pension in the country where they choose to live, and the employers are saved from making double social security contributions for the same set of employees. The EPFO has been authorized to issue the Certificate of Coverage (COC) to the employees posted to the countries having signed Agreement with the GoI.”
The GoI has social security agreements with several countries like Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, France, Denmark, Canada, Japan, Austria among others. For the online generation of COC, one can visit the International Workers Portal given on EPFO website.