Pension fund ABP follows ITEM recommendation

Pensioners who emigrate within the EU and wish to continue to receive their Dutch pension must periodically submit a life certificate to various paying institutions. This is to prevent the pension from being paid out unduly after death. In practice, this means that a pensioner, with or without reduced mobility, has to travel several times a year at his own expense to the competent authorities to present the correct documents.

Expertise centre ITEM has made efforts to remove these unnecessary administrative burdens and restriction of the free movement of persons by finding solutions. Pension fund ABP recently announced that an app is expected at the end of this year, which will make remote identification possible.

Background: administrative burden and restriction of the free movement of persons
Within the European single market, it is possible to retire in another Member State. European rules guarantee the cross-border payment of pensions, as a result of which a pensioner continues to receive his or her Dutch pension after emigrating abroad. However, the life certificate does come into play: in the Netherlands, death is automatically passed on to pension institutions, but this is often not the case if the pensioner is abroad. To prevent wrongful payment of a pension, pensioners receiving their pension abroad should periodically submit life certificates. PhD candidate Sander Kramer argued earlier in his blog that this can be seen as an obstacle to European rights of free movement.

ITEM proposal: streamlining and digitisation
According to ITEM, the surrender of life certificates can - and should - be regulated more adequately, with as few obstacles as possible for mobile persons. To this end, recommendations have been made to the Pension Federation, which have been adopted in a recommendation from the Pension Federation to its members. Pension institutions are urged to harmonise the time of submission with the policy of the Sociale Verzekeringsbank (SVB; for the AOW) and to think about digitising and automating, making life certificates unnecessary. In an earlier news item the full recommendation of ITEM can be read.

Practical implementation: app from ABP
Pension fund ABP recently announced an app for proof of being alive. This app allows retired ABP participants who receive benefits from ABP abroad to forward their life certificate. Authentication then takes place via the proof of identity and a QR code, which is sent by e-mail or post. The app is expected to become available towards the end of this year.

Expertise centre ITEM welcomes this digital innovation, which is in line with the recommendations made earlier. "Obstacles to cross-border mobility do not only lie within national legislation itself but also arise from administrative obligations such as those mentioned below. This is a significant step in favour of the right for mobile persons to move freely and without hindrance within the European internal market", says PhD student Sander Kramer. However, challenges also remain, such as the further roll-out of the Registry for Non-Residents (RNI) within pension institutions.

With the arrival of the app, at least those pensioners with an ABP pension have been relieved of administrative burdens. ITEM encourages other pension institutions and the SVB to follow this example.


The Institute for Transnational and Euregional cross border cooperation and Mobility / ITEM operates at the convergence of research, counselling, knowledge exchange, and training activities in the domain of cross-border mobility and cooperation.

Also read