If you receive benefits
Some benefits (eg state pension) can be paid no matter how long you are away, while the conditions for others are more complex. The rules vary depending on the country you go to. You may benefit from the European Union (EU) social security rules, if you go to a European Economic Area (EEA) country, or from a reciprocal agreement (which includes similar rules). However, if you are not covered by EU rules or a reciprocal agreement, the general rules on payment of the benefits abroad apply. There are also rules treating you as being in Great Britain (GB) for the purposes of certain benefits if you (or a family member you live with) are a member of the forces serving abroad, a crown servant posted overseas (or your partner is) or fall within certain categories of airmen, mariners and continental-shelf workers.
This page covers general rules and indicates benefits payable in EEA countries. EU rules and reciprocal agreements are too varied to cover here, so if you plan to go abroad get specialist advice. Contact the International Pension Centre (bottom of page) for information about receiving state pension abroad; for other benefits, contact the office that pays them. In each case, they will need to know the purpose, destination and intended length of your visit.
Temporary Absence - For many benefits, one condition for payment while abroad is that your absence is temporary. For child benefit and tax credits this means the absence is unlikely to be exceed 52 weeks. For other benefits, the term is not defined in law and in deciding whether your absence is temporary, the DWP should consider all the circumstances, including your intentions and the purpose and length of your absence. If the decision maker decides your absence is not temporary, you have a right to appeal.
Incapacity and maternity benefits -
General rules - If you are temporarily absent from GB, you can continue to be paid incapacity benefit (IB), severe disablement allowance (SDA) or maternity allowance (MA) for the first 26 weeks of the absence if Jobcentre Plus has agreed. There is no right to appeal if they refuse; your only recourse is a judicial review. You are not subject to the 26-week limit and do not require Jobcentre Plus agreement if you are receiving disability living allowance or attendance allowance (see 8 below for when these can be paid beyond 26 weeks). However, in all cases you must satisfy one of the following conditions:
a) at the time you go abroad you have been continuously incapable of work for at least six months and remain continuously incapable while abroad; or
b) you have gone abroad 'for the specific reason of being treated' for an illness or disability that began before you left. The treatment does not need to be the only reason for going abroad. However , going abroad to convalesce or for the change of air, even on your doctor's advice, is not enough. 'Being treated' must involve some activity by another person. It does not matter whether the treatment is available in the UK or not. In some cases the claimants did not receive any treatment, but they did go abroad specifically to try and get it.
EU - You may be able to get short term IB or MA if you get agreement from Jobcentre Plus before you go to another EEA country to live or for medical treatment. Long-term IB and SDA can continue to be paid in another EEA country.
Employment and support allowance (ESA)
You continue to be entitled to ESA during a temporary absence from GB if you are receiving NHS treatment outside GB. Otherwise, if you continue to satisfy the other conditions of entitlement and the absense is unlikely to exceed 52 weeks, your benefit continues for 4 weeks, or 26 weeks if you are abroad solely for medical treatment or to accompany a dependent child for their treatment. In each case, the treatment must be by an appropriately qualified person for a condition that began before you go abroad. If you are being treated, the condition must be directly related to your limited capability for work.
Partner abroad - If you are the income-related ESA claimant and you stay in GB, you will get benefit for your partner for the first 4 weeks. If they meet the medical treatment conditions above, you will get benefit for them for 26 weeks if either you stay in GB or you both meet those conditions. After this, benefit will be reduced. However, your partner's income and capital will affect your entitlement unless either you do not intend to resume living together or the absence is likely to exceed 52 weeks.
EU - Contributory ESA can continue to be paid in another EEA country.
You can receive statutory sick/maternity/paternity/adoption pay while abroad, unless your employer is not required to pay Class 1 national insurance contributions for you - eg because they are not present or resident, and do not have a place of business, in the UK.
Income support (IS)
If you are entitled immediately before you leave, you can continue receiving IS during temporary absence abroad if:
- you are receiving NHS treatment outside GB; or
- the absence is unlikely to exceed 52 weeks and you continue to satisfy the other entitlement conditions and satisfy the 4 or 8 week rule below.
4-Week rule - You can be paid IS for the first four weeks if:
- you are in Northern Ireland; or
- you and your partner are both abroad and a disability premium, severe disability premium or any pensioner premium is applicable for the partner of the claimant; or
- you have been continuously incapable of work during the 365 days before the day you leave GB, or 196 days if you are terminally ill or entitled to disability living allowance highest rate care component (two or more periods of incapacity are treated as continuous if the break between them is not more than 56 days each time); or
- you are incapable of work and your absence is 'for the sole purpose of receiving treatment from an appropriately qualified person for the incapacity by reason of which' you are eligible for IS; or
- you fall within one of the groups that can claim IS other than if you have been incapable of work for 28 weeks, or are appealing against an incapacity for work decision, or are a 'person subject to immigration control' covered by either of the last two groups that can get means-tested benefits, or are in school or full-time non-advanced education, or are involved in a trade dispute.
8-week rule - You can get IS for the first eight weeks abroad if you are taking your dependent child abroad for medical treatment by an appropriately qualified person.
Partner abroad - If you are the IS claimant and you stay in GB, your IS will include benefit for your partner for the first four weeks (or eight weeks if they meet the conditions of the eight week rule above). After this, benefit will be reduced. However, your partner's income and capital will affect your IS entitlement unless you do not intend to resume living together or the absence is likely to exceed 52 weeks.
You continue to be entitled to pension credit during a temporary absence from GB if you are receiving NHS treatment outside GB. Otherwise, as long as you continue to satisfy the other conditions of entitlement and the absence is unlikely to exceed 52 weeks, it continues for 13 weeks.
Partner abroad - If one of these circumstances applies to your partner, your pension credit will include benefit from them for the relevant period of their temporary absence. After this, they cease to be treated as your partner and your benefit will be reduced.
EU - Seek specialist advice to argue that pension credit can be paid in another EEA country.
General Rules - If you are entitled immediately before you leave, you can continue receiving jobseeker's allowance (JSA) during a temporary absence abroad if:
- you are receiving NHS treatment outside GB; or
- the absence is unlikely to exceed 52 weeks and you satisfy one of the rules below
a) You can be paid for the first four weeks if you are in Northern Ireland and continue to satisfy the conditions of entitlement while there, or you are abroad with your partner and a disability premium, severe disability premium or pensioner premium is payable in respect of your partner and you are the claimant. You can also be paid up to four weeks if you are under 25 and receive a government training allowance but are not receiving training (although certain training courses are excluded).
b) You can be paid for the first eight weeks if you are taking your dependent child abroad for medical treatment by an appropriately qualified person.
c) If you go abroad for a job interview and are away for more than seven consecutive days, you can be paid for your days abroad if you give notice (written if required) to Jobcentre Plus and on your return you satisfy the employment officer that you attended the interview.
Partner abroad - the rules for income-based JSA are similar to income support (see 5 above). However, if you are claiming as a joint-claim couple and on the date you make your claim your partner is abroad, you will only be paid for them for the first four weeks if they are in Northern Ireland (and the absence is unlikely to exceed 52 weeks) or they are in receipt of a training allowance (as above) or for up to seven days if they are attending a job interview. Otherwise you will be paid as a single person.
EU - For contribution-based JSA, if you go to an EEA country to look for work, have been registered with the Jobcentre Plus for (normally) four weeks and satisfy the conditions of entitlement up to the date you leave the UK, you can usually get benefit in the EEA country for up to three months. You must register as unemployed in the country where you are seeking worK within seven days and comply with their procedures. For income-based JSA, seek advice to argue the same rules should apply.
8) Attendance allowance (AA) and disability living allowance (DLA)
General rules - AA and DLA will be paid for the first 26 weeks of a temporary absence abroad. You can only be paid for longer if the absence is temporary and for the specific purpose of being treated for an illness or disability that began before you left GB, and the DWP agrees to pay you for longer.
EU - If your entitlement to AA or DLA began before 1.6.92 you can be paid without time limit in another EEA country if you (or a family member) have been employed or self-employed in the UK and continue to satisfy all the entitlement conditions other than the residence and presence conditions. You can make a renewal claim while you are abroad, but should avoid a break in entitlement between the end of an award and the renewal claim.
If you AA or DLA entitlement began on or after 1.6.92 you may be paid AA or DLA care component in another EEA country in certain circumstances, including if you (or a family member) last worked, or paid national insurance, in the UK or if you are in receipt of state pension, industrial injuries disablement benefit, bereavement benefit, incapacity benefit or contributory employment and support allowance. For details, write to:
Exportability Co-ordinator, Room C216, PDCS, Warbreck House, Warbreck Hill Road, Blackpool FY2 0YE
9) Carer's allowance
General rules - This will be paid for the first four weeks of a temporary absence abroad if you go without the person you are caring for. If you go abroad temporarily specifically to care for that person, you will receive carer's allowance for as long as they continue to receive attendance allowance (AA) or disability living allowance (DLA)
EU - The rules are the same as for AA/DLA(care component) (see 8 above).
10) Child Benefit
If you are ordinarily resident in the UK and temporarily absent (see 1 above) from the UK you continue to be entitled to child benefit for the first eight weeks, or for the first 12 weeks if the absence is in connection with:
- your treatment for a disability or illness; or
- the treatment (for disability or illness), or death, of your partner, or the sibling, parent, (great) grandparent, child (including a child you are responsible for), (great) grandchild of you or your partner.
Under these rules, if a woman gives birth while absent from the UK the baby will be treated as being in the UK for up to 12 weeks from the start of the mother's absence.
Child benefit can be paid for the first 12 weeks of your child's temporary absence abroad. It may be paid for longer if your child goes abroad:
- for the specific reason of being treated for an illness or disability that began before they left the UK; or
- solely in order to receive full-time education in another EEA country (or Switzerland) or on an educational exchange or visit.
Guardian's allowance can be paid abroad for the same period as child benefit.
EU - You may be paid benefit for a child resident in another EEA country.
11) Industrial Injuries disablement benefit
A basic disablement pension and retirement allowance are both payable while you are abroad. However, there are time limits for other industrial injuries benefits.
Reduced earnings allowance (REA) - is payable for the first three months of a temporary absence abroad if you were entitled before you left and your absence is not connected with work, or for longer if the DWP agrees. If you lose REA for one day, you may lose it for good.
Constant attendance allowance and exceptionally severe disablement allowance - are payable for the first six months of a temporary absence abroad, or longer if the DWP agrees.
EU - You can be paid any industrial injuries benefit (including those above) without time limit in another EEA country.
12) Retirement, widows' and bereavement benefits
These are payable no matter how long you are away. If you intend to go for longer than six months, inform Jocentre Plus so arrangements can be made for paying your benefit abroad. If you are living permanently in a country outside the EEA you can only receive annual up-rating increases if that country has a reciprocal agreement with the UK covering the payment of annual increases or you are covered by a co-operation and association agreement.
You will be disqualified from a bereavement payment if you are abroad at the time of your spouse/civil partner's death unless they were in GB when they died, or you returned within four weeks of their death, or their national insurance contribution record satisfies the contribution condition of a widowed parent's allowance or bereavement allowance.
EU - If you are living in an EEA country, you will get annual benefit increases as if you were in the UK.
13) Tax credits
If you are ordinarily resident in, but temporarily absent (see 1 above) from, the UK you are treated as present and can therefore either claim or continue to be entitled to tax credits for the first eight weeks, or for the first 12 weeks if the absence is in connection with:
- your treatment for a disability; or
- the treatment (for a disability), or death, of your partner, or the sibling, parent, (great) grandparent, child (including a child you are responsible for), (great) grandchild of you or your partner.
EU - If you are in the UK, child tax credit can be paid for family members living in another EEA country.
State Retirement Pension
Receiving your State Pension when moving abroad:
If you are moving permanently, you will only get yearly increases in your pension if you are in a European Economic Area (EEA) country. You’ll get yearly increases in your pension if you move to a country that has a special agreement with the UK. This special agreement must allow for the annual increase of the UK State Pension. If you spend six months or more each year in the UK, you'll be entitled to your State Pension - with yearly increases - paid in full.
If you are moving to another EEA country or anywhere else in the world you will need to inform the UK Pensions Service. Let the UK Pensions Service know that you are moving abroad and give them your new address (contact details are below).
International Pension Centre (IPC)
Newcastle upon Tyne,
(0191 218 7777; textphone 0191 218 7280; fax 0191 218 7021)
email contact page : https://secureonline.dwp.gov.uk/tps-directgov/en/contact-tps/ipc.asp
If you live in Northern Ireland contact Overseas Branch, Social Security Agency,
Commonwealth House, Castle Street, Belfast BT11 DX.