Tax for Crown Servants, EU employees and volunteer workers abroad

Understand the rules on tax and National Insurance while you're working abroad so you pay the right amount in the right country.

Crown Servants working abroad

Crown Servants include:

  • HM armed forces
  • civil servants
  • diplomats

If you work abroad as a Crown Servant, you pay Income Tax in the UK on income from your job for the Crown as if you live in the UK. The rules apply regardless of your UK residency status for tax, no matter how long you’re abroad, where you work or how settled you are.

Any other UK income you have is taxed according to the rules for people working abroad.

If the UK has a double taxation agreement with the country where you work, this will usually prevent you from being taxed in more than one country.

National Insurance

As a Crown Servant you pay National Insurance contributions as normal for some or all of the time that you’re working abroad. This depends on the job you do and any special rules that apply to the country where you work.

Working for the European Union (EU)

Your salary and pension payments made by an EU institution are exempt from UK tax. Your EU employer will deduct EU ‘Community tax’ on salaries, wages and pensions.

Any income in the UK is taxed according to:

National Insurance

When you start to work for a European institution and if you’re covered by the Withdrawal Agreement, you will be covered by the social security scheme of the EU institutions or, in certain circumstances, can choose to pay your social security contributions in the country where you:

  • work
  • last paid contributions
  • are a national

You can check if you are covered by the Withdrawal Agreement.

If you are not covered by the Withdrawal Agreement you can’t choose where to pay your social security contributions. In most cases you’ll pay social security contributions where you work.

Volunteer development workers

If you work abroad as a development worker for a registered UK charity, you’re liable for tax in the UK according to the rules for workers abroad.

National Insurance

If you normally live in the UK but go to a recognised developing country to carry out voluntary work for certain organisations, you can choose to pay a special rate of voluntary Class 2 National Insurance contributions to protect your UK record for certain benefit purposes.

This is known as ‘VDW Class 2’ - the volunteer development workers’ rate.

Claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance

If your Jobseeker’s Allowance claim date is between the first Sunday in January and 31 January, you can pay a special rate of voluntary Class 2 National Insurance that may help you qualify for contribution-based Jobseeker’s Allowance. HMRC will need to receive your payment for these contributions by no later than 31 January.

Contact HMRC to learn more.

Help and advice

Contact HMRC for advice on your employment status or help with paying Income Tax when you work abroad.

For information on National Insurance contributions, contact National Insurance: non-UK residents.

Published 8 December 2014
Last updated 31 December 2020 + show all updates
  1. Information about how your National Insurance contributions may be affected by the Withdrawal Agreement has been added.

  2. First published.