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UK Rules for Claiming Benefits Abroad

The Benefits Office has strict rules on going abroad while on benefits. But, you might be able to continue claiming benefits abroad even if you live or travel overseas.

The country, and the length of time you spend overseas, both determine how much you can claim. Check which countries have social security arrangements with the United Kingdom.

CLAIM BENEFITS ABROAD: Time spent overseas, or a move to abroad, does not always mean you stop getting your benefits.

Some welfare claimants choose to travel abroad or move to live overseas.

Claiming benefits in Europe and some non EEA countries could still be an option.

Informing the Benefits Office and HMRC

You need to inform several different government offices about your plans.

They will need to know that you want to carry on claiming benefits after living abroad. Be sure to contact the local Jobcentre Plus or whichever office pays your benefit. They would also need to know your return date if your move overseas is only a temporary one.

Note: HM Revenue and Customs also need to know if you are leaving the United Kingdom to live overseas. But, there is no need to inform HMRC if your reason for leaving Great Britain is for a holiday or a business trip.

Claiming Benefit Payments from Abroad

You may still claim certain benefits even if you are heading to (or are already living in) a European Economic Area (EEA) country. There are other countries outside of the EEA which also have a special social security agreement with the United Kingdom.

Often, you can qualify for certain UK-based benefits. You might also get other benefits – provided by the specific country you are traveling to. Some individuals can also claim the State Pension if retiring abroad as well.

Unless you are claiming Winter Fuel Payments, you will need your statement of National Insurance that you paid in the United Kingdom to get your benefits.

Note: The EU Settlement Scheme for EU citizens and their families allows successful applicants to remain in the UK after leaving the EU (‘Brexit’).

Winter Fuel Payments

You can make a claim for the Winter Fuel Payment even while you are living overseas if:

  • You meet the eligibility criteria and conditions for the payments.
  • Live in one of the qualifying European Economic Area (EEA) countries (including Switzerland).
    • Note: You cannot claim it in Cyprus, France, Gibraltar, Greece, Malta, Portugal, or Spain.

There is no requirement to have claimed it in the United Kingdom before you leave. But, you must have some ‘genuine link with the UK social security system’ to make a claim (e.g. you once lived or worked in the UK).

Caution: Benefit Fraud

Be aware that you would be committing benefit fraud if:

  • You fail to inform the office that pays your benefit you are going abroad (even a short visit).
  • You are deliberately dishonest in claiming benefits fraudulently (e.g. continue claiming a pension or benefit of a person who died overseas).
  • You deliberately fail to report a change in your personal or family circumstances while abroad (e.g. buying a property, claiming a pension or benefit from another country, or working).
Overseas Benefit Payment Dates

As a rule, the benefit that you claim determines the actual payment dates. What if your payment is due in the same week as a bank holiday in America? Because a US company processes most payments, it could arrive a few days late. This is especially so if you are claiming benefits while abroad.

Countries You Can Claim Benefits Abroad

Countries in the European Economic Area (EEA)

This is a list of countries which have benefits arrangements with the United Kingdom.

Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden.

Note: Even though Switzerland is not a member of the EEA, it is treated as an EEA country for certain benefits.

Countries with UK Benefits Arrangements

These countries have social security agreements with the United Kingdom. It is possible that you can claim certain benefits in these countries. But, it depends on a few external factors and the particular country involved.

Barbados, Bermuda, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Canada, Channel Islands, Macedonia, Israel, Jamaica, Kosovo, Mauritius, Montenegro, New Zealand, the Philippines, Serbia, Turkey, USA.


Benefits for Carers and Disabled People

Check your eligibility to claim certain benefits abroad for carers and people with disabilities. The section explains how carers can claim benefits and allowances overseas.

Bereavement Benefits Overseas

You continue getting bereavement benefit abroad if you were getting it when you moved overseas. In these cases, it does not matter which country you move to.

Illness and Injury Benefits Abroad

Check the eligibility criteria to claim illness and injury benefits abroad. Find out the process for claiming Statutory Sick Pay and Employment Support Allowance overseas.

Jobseeker’s Allowance Abroad

You need to be of working age, unemployed, and ‘actively’ seeking for work. But, meeting this criteria means you could get contribution-based JSA abroad if all these apply to you.

Maternity and Childcare Benefits

Check the eligibility criteria to claim certain maternity and childcare benefits abroad. The section explains how to get Statutory Maternity Pay and Maternity Allowance overseas.

Telephone Call Charges

CALL CHARGES: Check the rates for making a telephone call from a landline or mobile to popular numbers like 0800, 0808, 0845, 0870, 03 and others.

Going Abroad and Claiming Benefits from the United Kingdom