Leaving UK Tip 2 State Pension if Moving Overseas

Published / Last Updated on 29/08/2023

Our second tip for when you are planning to move overseas is to plan early with your UK state pension.  Our points to note are as follows:

State Pension Forecast and Shortfalls

  • When UK resident, you can register for a Personal Tax Account online.  This will give you access to your social security/national insurance credits record and whether you have or will have a state pension shortfall.  You get a full UK state pension after 35 years credits.
    • You cannot register online for a Personal Tax Account when your postal address is outside the UK.
  • When UK resident, you can request a UK state pension forecast and shortfall calculation online.
    • You cannot request an online state pension forecast when your postal address is outside the UK, and you will need to apply by post using a BR19 form.

This will help you work out if you need to make voluntary national insurance contributions whilst overseas.

Social Security Treaties

  • The UK has reciprocal social security treaties with the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland as well as several non-EEA countries including the USA. 
    • The agreement with these countries means that when you live there, your UK state pension will still get cost-of-living increases each year when paid.
  • If the country that you live in does not have a reciprocal social security treaty with the UK, you will not get cost-of-living increases on your UK state pension each year when in payment. 
    • Notably Australia and South Africa do not have social security treaties with the UK.
  • Interestingly, Canada and New Zealand have signed social security treaties with the UK but not for cost-of-living increases on your state pensions, so if you live there, you will not get yearly UK state pension increases.

This will help you work out if it is worthwhile making voluntary national insurance contributions in the UK whilst overseas or whether you should save additional monies into local state pensions or private pension schemes if you are not going to get cost-of-living increases.

Transferring Social Security Credits Overseas

For social security treaty countries, it used to be common for the UK and their social security partner countries to work out whether you were better off transferring your UK credits to your overseas social security credits (and vice versa) to get the highest state pension benefits or to keep them separate.  Recent experience has shown that in most cases now, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and there equivalents overseas are opting to keep their relevant state pension benefits separate.

The DWP can usually make state pension payments direct to you overseas bank account.

Find out about our Leaving the UK Service:  Leaving UK

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