How to stay safe in Macedonia while living and working there and what UK benefits you're entitled to.
In order to enter Macedonia you must hold a valid travel document (e.g. a British passport). You should ensure that your passport is valid for at least three months after you enter Macedonia. British passport holders do not need a visa for visits up to 90 days. Please visit the travel advice for Macedonia for more information.
You can receive email alerts on the current situation in Macedonia and how to stay safe by signing up from the FCO travel advice for Macedonia. Alternatively, you can follow FCO Travel on Facebook and Twitter as well as the official British Embassy Skopje Twitter and Facebook. The FCO Travel Aware campaign provides tips on how to stay safe and healthy abroad.
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Registering with the Macedonian authorities
Before you move to Macedonia, make sure that you contact the Macedonian Embassy in London.
Residence requirements, e-registry and forms can be found on the website of the Macedonian Ministry of Interior.
It is a legal requirement that you register with the local police in the town/city where you are staying within 24 hours of your arrival in Macedonia, unless you are staying at a hotel where you will be registered automatically on checking-in. If you don’t register you could be fined, detained, or face a court appearance.
When you report your arrival to the Police, you will be issued with a registration card for foreigners. Please make sure you keep this registration card safe as it will be your proof of entry and you will need it upon exiting the country.
Please make sure to contact your nearest police station before leaving Macedonia and take your registration card with you. Follow police advice about what you need to do next in order to avoid any fines or being detained at the border.
Working in Macedonia
British Nationals can work in Macedonia provided that they have a work permit. First point of contact for obtaining a work permit should be the Macedonian Embassy in London.
Additional information about how to obtain a right to work can be found on the website of the Macedonian Agency of Employment (in Macedonian language only), the Government Services website (in Macedonian language only), and the Invest in Macedonia website.
You can find out more about how to plan for your healthcare if you are going to live abroad on a permanent basis on the NHS website.
If you are a resident in employment you are entitled to the same health benefits as a Macedonian national. More detailed information can be found on the website of the Health Insurance Fund of Macedonia.
There is a reciprocal healthcare agreement between the UK and Macedonia which entitles visiting British nationals to free medical treatment in genuine emergencies. You will need to present a British passport, evidence of residence and medical insurance in the UK and evidence of registration with the local police.
As the country remains outside the EU, your EHIC Card is of little use. Therefore, make sure you have adequate medical insurance - this should cover medical treatment, hospitalisation and medical evacuation to the UK, unexpected losses or expenses (e.g. cancelled flights, lost luggage, lost passport, stolen cash or credit cards).
The Embassy cannot provide financial assistance for medical purposes.
UK State pensions
If you have retired and you live in Macedonia, you may be able to claim your pension from the UK. For detailed information on how to claim your state pension, please check the websites of the UK Pension Service and the Macedonian Pension Fund.
The state pension changed in April 2010. More people now qualify for a full basic state pension. Find out about the most important changes and what they mean to you. To find out when you reach State Pension age, use the State Pension Age Calculator.
If you live but have not worked in Macedonia, you should claim your UK state pension by contacting the International Pension Centre (IPC) in the UK by telephone:+44 191 218 1999.
If you spend time in both the UK and another country and are unsure about how this affects your UK pension, benefits and healthcare rights, always consult the relevant UK authority.
Moving to Macedonia once in receipt of a UK state pension
If you are moving to Macedonia from the UK you should inform the IPC of the changes to your circumstances. This will prevent any problems with your pension payments.
Life certificates for UK state pensions
If you have received a life certificate from the UK Pension Service you’ll need to get it signed by a ‘witness’ and send it back, as instructed on the form. Check the list of people who can witness a life certificate. This is now the same as the list of people who can ‘countersign’ a passport photo, although they don’t need to live in the UK, or have a British or Irish passport.
The British Embassy in Macedonia no longer provides life certificates for British nationals claiming a British pension abroad.
Benefits in Macedonia
If you receive a UK benefit and are going abroad, even for just a short time, you should notify the office that pays your benefit before you go. In fact any change in your circumstances, such as moving in with a partner, starting work, or even moving house, should be reported immediately to the relevant authority paying your benefit or pension.
Spending time out of the UK, whether for a holiday or to live, doesn’t necessarily mean that your benefits will be affected. However, failing to notify your local benefit office of time spent abroad is considered an offence and could lead to prosecution, imprisonment and even the confiscation of your home and possessions.
You may still be able to claim some benefits if you travel or move abroad, or are already living abroad, and what you’re entitled to depends on where you are going and how long for.
For further information on what benefits you can and cannot claim if you live in Macedonia see the information on benefits if you are abroad.
Non-exportable UK benefits
The following benefits are for people who are ordinarily resident in the UK and under no circumstances are they available in Macedonia:
- pension credit
- council tax benefit
- income support
- housing benefit
- means-tested incapacity benefit/employment support allowance
Remember – if you are in receipt of benefits, it is an offence not to tell the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) if your circumstances change, for example:
- you are going to live or are currently living in Macedonia
- you get married, or if you separate, divorce or are widowed
- you start work, increase your earnings or your savings
If you don’t tell the DWP it could mean prosecution, imprisonment and even the confiscation of your home and possessions.
For more details visit the benefit fraud website.
For further details on what benefits you can and cannot claim if you live in Macedonia see the information about benefits if you are abroad.
Britain has a double taxation agreement with Macedonia to ensure people do not pay tax on the same income in both countries.
In Macedonia you should expect to pay personal income tax and home owners’ tax. Additional taxes may exist, including a vehicle tax. Detailed information about taxes in Macedonia is available from the Public Revenue Office.
Taxation is a complex issue and we strongly recommend that you seek professional advice.
Driving in Macedonia
The British Embassy cannot issue or renew a UK driving licence. For information about renewing a licence or applying for a new licence please visit the driving licence section of this website.
See how to get your UK driving licence replaced with a Macedonian on the Government Services website (in Macedonian language only).
UK driving licences seized by the Macedonian authorities are returned to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) in the UK.
Earthquakes are not uncommon in Macedonia and small tremors are recorded throughout the year.
The Macedonian Government is responsible for assisting foreign nationals immediately after a major earthquake or serious natural disaster. It is important to co-operate with the authorities. Despite much research and speculation, nobody can predict when or where a large earthquake might occur, but there are things you can do to be ready. These can make the difference between life and death. In the event of a major earthquake we will try to locate British nationals affected by the disaster and check on their condition. Please note, however, that the embassy may also be severely affected by an earthquake and may not be in a position to offer immediate assistance. Local infrastructure including roads, phone systems and hospitals are also likely to be affected.
We recommend that you make preparations at home and at the office to help you survive an earthquake. Guidance is available from the Red Cross.
Bringing money, medication and other goods into Macedonia
If bringing more than the equivalent of Euro 10,000 in cash into Macedonia, you must declare the money to the Macedonian customs. Failure to do so may result in arrest and forfeiture of the undeclared funds.
Importing medication is subject to issuing a special license issued by the Bureau for Drugs (Ministry of Health of the Republic of Macedonia). This does not apply for medication for personal use.
Please check what documents you need in order to be able to bring your medication (as well as other goods) in Macedonia on the website of Republic of Macedonia Customs Administration.
Returning to the UK
If you are a retired person who has spent some time living in Macedonia and you have decided to move back to the UK, please see the advice and factsheet provided by Age UK.
Please note that this information is provided as a general guide only and is not intended to address the specific circumstances of any particular individual, neither can it be regarded as legal advice. Definitive information should be obtained from the Macedonian authorities or by consulting a suitably qualified professional. The British Embassy in Skopje bears no responsibility for the accuracy of the information provided on the external websites quoted above and cannot guarantee that it is comprehensive and up to date.
Published: 30 October 2013