Guidance

Benefits and pensions for UK nationals in the EEA or Switzerland

This guidance explains the rights of UK nationals in the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland to benefits and pensions from 1 February 2020.

The UK has left the EU. The Withdrawal Agreement sets out the terms of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU and provides for a transition period lasting until 31 December 2020. This is a time-limited period before changes take place.

This page tells you how to prepare and will be updated if anything changes.

Read about the transition period.

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There will be no changes before 1 January 2021 to the rules on claiming UK benefits and State Pension in the EEA or Switzerland as a result of the UK leaving the EU.

UK State Pension and benefits

You will need to tell the government office that deals with your benefits or your UK State Pension if you are moving or retiring abroad.

You can continue to receive your UK State Pension if you live in the EEA or Switzerland and you can still claim your UK State Pension from these countries.

Living in the EEA or Switzerland by 31 December 2020

If you are a UK national living in an EEA state or Switzerland by 31 December 2020 you are covered by the Withdrawal Agreement.

You will get your UK State Pension uprated every year for as long as you continue to live there. This will happen even if you start claiming your pension on or after 1 January 2021, as long as you meet the qualifying conditions.

If you are working in the EEA or Switzerland, you will be able to count future social security contributions towards meeting the qualifying conditions for your UK State Pension.

You will continue to receive any UK benefits you already receive in the EEA or Switzerland for as long as you continue to live there, and continue to meet all other eligibility requirements.

You may also be able make new claims for certain UK benefits from 1 January 2021, if you meet all the other eligibility requirements. Read:

Check which benefits you can claim while abroad and how to claim them, using an online checker.

Moving to an EEA state or Switzerland from 1 January 2021

If you are not covered by the Withdrawal Agreement and you move to live in an EEA state or Switzerland on or after 1 January 2021, your right to receive some UK benefits will change. Some benefits may only be paid for a time-limited period in these countries in future.

The changes to these rules will depend on the outcome of negotiations with the EU. If you are considering moving to the EU on or after 1 January, please continue to check this page for future updates.

Pensions

The government is seeking to maintain arrangements with the EU in some areas however the rules depend on the outcome of negotiations and may change. This includes:

  • counting future social security contributions in the EEA and Switzerland towards meeting UK State Pension qualifying conditions
  • getting your UK State Pension uprated every year in the EEA and Switzerland

Regardless of the outcome of negotiations, you’ll continue to be able to claim or receive your UK State Pension in the EEA or Switzerland, as long as you meet the qualifying conditions

If you have made social security contributions in an EEA state or Switzerland by 31 December 2020 you can still use these to help you qualify for a UK State Pension if you do not meet the minimum qualifying period.

Benefits

The Government is seeking to agree new rules with the EU to resemble the rules we have with non-EU countries. The rules depend on negotiations and may change. This includes but is not limited to:

  • stopping the payment of Child Benefit for those not covered by the Withdrawal Agreement

  • changing to rules governing the payment of other benefits abroad for example disability benefits, for those not covered by the Withdrawal Agreement

You will still be able to receive disability benefits abroad for a time-limited period, for example while undergoing planned medical treatment, as long as you meet the qualifying conditions.

You’ll also be able to receive Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit in the EEA or Switzerland, as long as you meet the qualifying conditions.

Under current rules, social security contributions made in an EEA state or Switzerland can be used to help you qualify for some UK benefits, for example New Style Jobseeker’s Allowance and New Style Employment and Support Allowance.

For more information, contact the International Pensions Centre.

Moving to Ireland from 1 January 2021

You’ll continue to get your UK State Pension uprated if you move to Ireland and you are a UK or Irish national.

You’ll be able to claim and continue to receive UK benefits in Ireland if you are a UK or Irish national, as long as you continue to meet the eligibility requirements.

Pensions and benefits paid by an EEA state or Switzerland

Living in an EEA state or Switzerland by 31 December 2020

If you are paid a pension or benefit by an EEA state or Switzerland, check with the organisation that pays you to find out what you will need to do to continue receiving any benefits or pension after 31 December 2020. You can find out more by checking the country specific guidance for UK nationals.

Moving to an EEA state or Switzerland from 1 January 2021

If you move to an EEA state or Switzerland from 1 January 2021 and you are not covered by the Withdrawal Agreement, your entitlement to a pension or benefits from that country will depend on the outcome of negotiations with the EU.

Annuities and personal pensions from a UK pension provider

Your pension provider should have made plans to make sure you can still get payments from your annuity or personal pension following the UK leaving the EU.

Your pension provider should contact you if they need to make changes to your annuity or pension or the way you are paid. The Financial Conduct Authority has published information on what pension providers need to do because the UK has left the EU.

If you have any questions, contact your pension provider.

UK workplace pensions

UK law allows for workplace pensions to be paid overseas. The government does not expect this to change because the UK has left the EU.

If you have any questions, contact your pension provider.

If your workplace pension is paid into a UK bank account, your bank should contact you if they need to change the way you receive your pension because the UK has left the EU.

Published 24 January 2020
Last updated 13 July 2020 + show all updates
  1. Updated the 'Moving to an EEA state or Switzerland from 1 January 2021' section.

  2. First published.