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.
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.
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 below for when these can be paid beyond 26 weeks). However, in all cases you must satisfy one of the following conditions:
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.
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.
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.
If you are entitled immediately before you leave, you can continue receiving IS during temporary absence abroad if:
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.
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.
If you are entitled immediately before you leave, you can continue receiving jobseeker's allowance (JSA) during a temporary absence abroad if:
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.
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.
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
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)
The rules are the same as for AA/DLA(care component) (see 8 above).
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:
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:
Guardian's allowance can be paid abroad for the same period as child benefit.
You may be paid benefit for a child resident in another EEA country.
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.
Are payable for the first six months of a temporary absence abroad, or longer if the DWP agrees.
You can be paid any industrial injuries benefit (including those above) without time limit in another EEA country.
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.
If you are living in an EEA country, you will get annual benefit increases as if you were in the UK.
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:
EU - If you are in the UK, child tax credit can be paid for family members living in another EEA country.
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).
The Pension Service 11
Mail Handling Site A
Telephone: +44 (0)191 218 7777
Textphone: +44 (0)191 218 7280
Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm
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