This blog post aims to guide individuals moving out of the UK by answering the question if they can claim benefits when they are living abroad. We will conduct a detailed discussion of the eligibility criteria for this, as well as the policies and limitations involved. 

Can You Claim Benefits If You Are Living Abroad?

Yes, you can claim certain UK benefits if you are living abroad; whether you are travelling for a short period or intend to live permanently outside the UK. However, the amount that you can claim through benefits will depend on the country that you are in and the length of time that you plan to spend there.

If you are going to live in a country that is part of the EEA (European Economic Area) or one that has a special agreement with the UK, you will be able to claim UK-based benefits; as well as benefits offered by the country that you live in.

The benefits that you can continue to claim will be transferred to your bank account as per the regular schedule. If you need to make a fresh application for certain benefits, the Job Centre will guide you through the process. 

Below is a list of benefits that you can claim if you are living abroad:

  • Universal Credit
  • New Style Job Seeker’s Allowance
  • Contribution-Based Employment and Support Allowance
  • Statutory Maternity Pay
  • Statutory Sick Pay
  • Maternity Allowance
  • Child Benefit
  • Tax Credits
  • Guardian’s Allowance
  • Industrial Injuries Benefits
  • Winter Fuel Payments
  • Bereavement Support Payment
  • Widowed Parent’s Allowance
  • Attendance Allowance
  • Disability Living Allowance
  • Personal Independence Payment
  • Carer’s Allowance

In addition to this, you will also be to receive your State Pension if you retire abroad.

How Do You Know Which Benefits To Claim If You Are Living Abroad?

Eligibility criteria for the benefits you can claim if you are living abroad will depend on the country and duration of your stay. We will discuss some of these to give you an idea:

For instance, to qualify for Universal Credit payments, you should be able to fulfil the below-listed criteria:

  • prove your eligibility in the UK for Universal Credit before moving abroad
  • remain eligible for Universal Credit after moving abroad
  • inform your work coach about your departure and the expected date of return (if any)

You can claim new style Job Seeker’s Allowance if you are living in an EEA country or Switzerland as long as you fulfil the required conditions.

Certain countries have a social security agreement with the UK. If you are moving to any of the following countries, you can claim unemployment benefits: 

  • Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Channel Islands
  • Kosovo
  • Macedonia
  • Montenegro
  • New Zealand
  • Serbia

You can also claim Statutory Maternity Pay and Statutory Sick Pay if you move to an EEA country or Switzerland as long as you are working for a UK employer in any of these countries. If you move to any other country, your employer will need to pay National Insurance on your behalf in the UK so that you can claim SMP while living abroad.

If you do not qualify for SMP, you can claim Maternity Allowance; whether you are in an EEA country, Switzerland or any of the below-listed ones:

  • Barbados
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Channel Islands
  • Gibraltar
  • Israel
  • Kosovo
  • Macedonia
  • Montenegro
  • Serbia
  • Turkey

To claim Tax Credits while living abroad, your reasons for moving out of the UK should be limited to the following:

  • you are living abroad for your medical treatment, that of your partner or your child’s
  • you had gone abroad when you experienced the death of your partner, a child or a close relative of either you or your partner
  • you are living abroad temporarily intending to return to the UK in 2 months

You can also claim contribution-based Employment and Support Allowance if you are living abroad; as long as you:

  • can confirm your eligibility for ESA
  • have made the required amount of National Insurance contributions
  • are covered by the Withdrawal Agreement

How Long Can You Claim Benefits If You Are Living Abroad?

The duration for which you can claim benefits if you are living abroad varies from benefit to benefit. Below are details of some of the key benefits that you may be eligible for:

Under usual circumstances, you can claim Universal Credit up to a month after leaving the UK if you are living abroad; if you have fulfilled the requirements, both before and after moving out of the UK. However, you can claim Universal Credit for 6 months under the following conditions:

  • you are going out of the UK for medical treatment
  • you are living abroad under “approved convalescence”. This means that the duration of your stay outside the UK is a period of recovery that has been approved by a medical professional 
  • your child or partner is going abroad for “approved convalescence” and you are accompanying them

Otherwise, you can either be a mariner or a continental shelf worker to claim Universal Credit for 6 months while you live abroad.

You can claim a “new style” JSA or contribution-based JSA for up to 3 months while living abroad; as long as you fulfil these conditions:

  • you are qualified for JSA on the day you go abroad
  • you register as a jobseeker in the destination country at least 4 weeks before leaving the UK
  • you have been looking for work in the UK until the day you leave
  • you are moving abroad to look for work
  • you register yourself at a similar organisation/institution in the country as the Jobcentre in the country you are moving to
  • you abide by the destination country’s rules regarding registering and looking for work
  • you are covered by the Withdrawal Agreement

If you intend to claim Tax Credits while living abroad, the duration of receiving payments will depend on the reason for which you are living out of the UK. For instance, you can claim Tax Credits for up to 12 weeks if you are living abroad for your medical treatment, that of your partner or your child or there has been a death of your partner, a child or a close relative of either you or your partner while you were living abroad. If you are living abroad temporarily and intend to return to the UK, you can claim Tax Credits for up to 8 weeks.

In the case of Employment and Support Allowance, claimants will be able to recover payments for up to 4 weeks as long as they inform their JobCentre before leaving. If you are claiming contribution-based ESA, you can claim the benefit for up to 26 weeks if you are travelling abroad for your medical treatment or that of a child.

If you are claiming Pension Credit or Housing Benefit, you can be away for four weeks to claim your payment. However, in the case of State Pension, there is no restriction on the time period as long as you are in a European Economic Area country.

When you decide to move out of the UK, you will need to inform the HMRC, your local council and Jobcentre Plus where and when you will be moving abroad. 

Can You Claim Disability Benefits If You Are Living Abroad?

Yes, you can claim disability benefits if you are living abroad. Likewise, if you are taking care of someone with a disability, you can also claim benefits that you qualify for. The amount that you receive will depend on the benefits you are eligible for and the country where you will be living.

For instance, if you are travelling for up to 13 weeks (this can increase to 26 weeks if you are travelling abroad for medical treatment), you can claim the following benefits if you are eligible for them:

  • Attendance Allowance
  • Disability Living Allowance
  • Personal Independence Payments
  • Carer’s Allowance

If you are moving to an EEA country or Switzerland, you can receive the above-listed disability benefits as long as you can meet these conditions:

  • you have worked in the UK and paid National Insurance 
  • you National Insurance contributions are sufficient to qualify for contribution-based benefits
  • you are getting State Pension, Industrial Injuries Benefit, contribution-based ESA or bereavement benefits
  • you are covered by the Withdrawal Agreement

Conclusion:

This article has helped in answering the question of whether you can claim benefits while living out of the UK by providing details of benefits that can and cannot be claimed if you are living abroad. While most of them are affected by the country where a UK citizen aims to live and the duration of their stay, there are some benefits one can claim indefinitely as long as the claimant meets the eligibility criteria.

FAQs: Can You Claim Benefits If You Are Living Abroad?

How long can I stay abroad without losing my benefits in the UK?

How long you continue to receive your benefit payments while staying abroad depends on the nature of your stay, the country you are living in and the beenfit you are claiming. For instance, if you are claiming Attendance Allowance, Personal Independence Payment or Disability Living Allowance, you can stay out of the UK for 13 weeks and still claim these benefits. This can be extended to 26 weeks if you are away for medical treatment.  

Can I claim Universal Credit if I am out of the country?

You can claim Universal Credit payments while being out of the country if you prove your eligibility in the UK for Universal Credit before moving abroad and remain eligible for Universal Credit after moving abroad. You can claim Universal Credit up to a month after leaving the UK; however, you can claim Universal Credit for 6 months if you are living abroad for medical treatment.

Do you have to tell DWP if I go on holiday?

Yes, you must inform the DWP if you go on holiday. If you fail to do so and are away for more than four weeks, you may lose your entitlement to some of the benefits you claim. Being away from your main residence is a change of circumstances, therefore, you must inform the DWP as well as your local council if you go on holiday while on benefits.

Are you allowed to go abroad when on benefits?

While you may travel for short holidays and keep receiving your benefits payments; in case you are away from the UK for more than four weeks, you may start to lose certain benefits. If you are going to live in a country that is part of the EEA (European Economic Area) or one that has a special agreement with the UK, you will be able to continue claiming UK-based benefits.

Am I still a UK resident if I live abroad?

Yes, you are still a UK resident if you live abroad. However, you must keep these out of UK trips limited to 6 months. You will also be liable for paying tax in the UK during this time. You need to be physically present in the UK for 183 days in a tax year you will be resident in the UK for that year.

References:

Claiming benefits if you live, move or travel abroad: Overview – GOV.UK

Claiming benefits if you live, move or travel abroad: Where you can claim benefits – GOV.UK

Benefits abroad | Independent Age