Working Abroad


During your working life you accrue rights to receive a State Pension. What happens if we have worked abroad for part of that working life?

European law generally prevents you paying contributions in more than one country at the same time, as you are subject to the social-security laws of only one country at a time. This means that you do not need to pay pension contributions in more than one country for the same period of compulsory social-insurance cover.

If you worked or lived in a European Economic Area (EEA) Country or in any other country with which the UK has a reciprocal social security agreement, the Pension Service will contact that country to find out if the period of employment or residence there will help your contribution record. For details of the relevant countries, visit the website for the Department of Work and Pensions.

If you lived or worked in any other country during your working life, the burden is on you to find out about your pension entitlement. For further advice, contact the International Pension Centre.

Where few or no UK National Insurance Contributions have been made

You may still be entitled to a Basic State Pension. Indeed, any social security contributions that were made in the country where you worked may count in the UK, particularly if the country was an EEA country. Even if the country where a person worked does not have a reciprocal agreement with the UK, you may still be entitled to something.

European law also allows you to have many of the rights and benefits you accrue in one country paid out to you in another. Therefore, you may be entitled to a separate State Pension from the other country or countries in which you lived.

Where UK National Insurance Contributions have been made

Some people employed abroad have to pay UK National Insurance Contributions (NICS). Others may choose to pay them to help qualify for benefits when they get back to this country. Whether they come back or stay abroad, paying NICS will help you qualify for State Pension or bereavement benefits

Useful Contacts from NI Direct

Pension Service

International Pension Centre