If you’re moving abroad, permanently or temporarily, or you’re returning to the UK, you’ll need to check how this affects any benefits you’re claiming. Whether you’ll still qualify for benefits will depend on where you’re going and how long you’re staying, or where you’re returning from.
What should I do if I’m moving abroad?
If you’re moving abroad, you should inform:
- His Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC)
- your local council, and give them a forwarding or correspondence address
- the International Pension Centre.
If you’re claiming any benefits and planning to leave the UK, even if it’s just for a visit, you’ll also need to tell the relevant benefit offices. See Who to contact below for details.
The UK left the EU on 31 January 2020. There is guidance on what this means for UK nationals living abroad on Gov.uk.
Will I be able to claim benefits when I’m abroad?
Different benefits have different rules – you may be able to claim some benefits abroad, particularly if you’re in a European Economic Area (EEA) country or Switzerland. Use the Gov.uk benefits tool to find out about specific benefits in different countries.
Attendance Allowance (AA), Personal Independence Payment (PIP) and Disability Living Allowance (DLA)
If you’re going abroad temporarily, you can keep claiming these benefits for up to 13 weeks. If you’re going abroad for medical treatment, this might be extended to 26 weeks, but you’d need to get agreement in advance from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).
If you’re moving permanently to an EEA country or Switzerland, you may be able to continue to receive AA, the daily living component of PIP or the care component of DLA.
Adult Disability Payment (ADP)
If you’re going abroad temporarily, you can keep claiming ADP for up to 13 weeks, or up to 26 weeks if you’re going abroad for medical treatment.
If you’re moving permanently to an EU country, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland, you may be able to continue to receive the daily living component of ADP if you have a significant link to Scotland. This could mean that you:
- spent a significant part of your life in Scotland
- keep in contact with family living in Scotland
- have a bank account in Scotland
- have worked or paid social security or taxes in Scotland.
If you’re not sure if you can get ADP because of where you live, get advice from Citizens Advice Scotland (0800 028 1456).
You can continue to receive Carer’s Allowance – and Carer's Allowance Supplement, if you receive it – if you go abroad for up to four weeks in a six-month period. If you’re going abroad temporarily with the person you care for and they receive PIP, ADP, DLA or AA, this can be extended. If you move to an EEA country or Switzerland, you may be able to keep receiving payments or make a new claim.
You’ll still be able to claim your State Pension if you move abroad, but you’ll only get yearly increases in your pension if you move to:
- EEA countries or Switzerland
- countries that have a social security agreement with the UK – visit Gov.uk for an explanation of this.
If you’re going abroad temporarily, you can keep getting Pension Credit for up to four weeks if, at the start of the absence, you don’t plan to be away for more than four weeks. This may be extended up to eight weeks if the absence is caused by the death of your partner or child who is with you.
If you’re going abroad for medical treatment, you may be able to receive Pension Credit for up to 26 weeks. You can’t keep receiving Pension Credit if you move abroad permanently.
You can keep claiming Universal Credit if you’re going abroad for up to a month if, at the start of the absence, you don't plan to be away for more than one month. It may be extended up to two months if the absence is caused by the death of your partner, child or close relative who is with you.
You must inform your work coach that you're going abroad.
If you’re going abroad for medical treatment or accompanying your partner or child for treatment, you can get it for up to six months.
The rules are slightly different if you are claiming Universal Credit as a couple. Contact Citizens Advice for more information.
Winter Fuel Payments
If you live abroad, you are entitled to the Winter Fuel Payment if all of the following applies to you:
- you moved to an eligible country – see the list at Gov.uk – before 1 January 2021
- you were born before 26 September 1956
- you have a link to the UK – for example, you have family in the UK, or you have lived or worked in the UK.
If you’re going abroad temporarily and not subletting your property while you’re away, you’ll keep getting Housing Benefit for up to four weeks if, at the start of the absence, you don’t plan to be away for more than four weeks. This may be extended up to eight weeks if the absence is caused by the death of your partner or child who is with you. If you’re going abroad for medical treatment, you may be able to keep getting Housing Benefit for up to 26 weeks.
Bereavement Support Payment
You can receive Bereavement Support Payment if you move to an EEA country, Switzerland or Gibraltar and your spouse or civil partner died on or after 6 April 2017. You may also be able to claim in certain other countries – see the full list of countries at Gov.uk.
Who to contact
You need to contact the relevant department for the benefits you are claiming. You can find the telephone and textphone numbers on each website.
- Attendance Allowance - AA helpline: 0800 731 0122
- Personal Independence Payment - PIP helpline: 0800 121 4433
- Disability Living Allowance - DLA helpline: 0800 121 4600 if you were born after 8 April 1948; 0800 731 0122 if you were born on or before 8 April 1948
- Adult Disability Payment - Social Security Scotland: 0800 182 2222
- Carer’s Allowance - Carer’s Allowance Unit: 0800 731 0297
- State Pension - International Pension Centre: 0191 218 7777
- Pension Credit - Pension Service helpline: 0800 731 0469
- Universal Credit - Universal Credit helpline: 0800 328 5644
- Winter Fuel Payments - Winter Fuel Payment Centre at the International Pension Centre: 0800 731 0160 if you're in the UK; +44 191 218 7777 from outside the UK
- Housing Benefit - contact the housing department of your local council
- Bereavement Benefits - International Pension Centre: 0191 218 7777
If you’re moving abroad permanently, contact the Exportability team at the Department for Work and Pensions. If you live in Scotland, you must also contact Social Security Scotland and let them know that you're moving out of the country – find out more at mygov.scot.
You must tell the office that pays your benefit that you’re going abroad, even if you’re only going temporarily. If you don’t, you could be committing benefit fraud.
If you’re returning to the UK
Returning to the UK can affect the tax you pay, so you’ll need to contact the HMRC Residency Helpline (0300 200 3300 from within the UK; +44 135 535 9022 from outside the UK).
Before claiming benefits, you may have to pass a Habitual Residence Test, which looks at how long you have been in the UK and checks that you intend to remain settled in the UK. Contact our Helpline if you have any questions about specific benefits.
If you are subject to immigration control, seek specialist advice.
Also of interest
Also in this section
Call our free Helpline on 0800 319 6789
By calling Independent Age's free and impartial Helpline, you can get information and advice from one of our friendly advisers, or order our free guides.