Claiming Your UK State Pension From Overseas


If you are an expat about to retire and want to claim your state pension, you can still claim your pension by getting in touch with the International Pension centre.

It’s likely that if you have spent some time out of the UK that the government has lost track of your overseas address.

But claiming the state pension as an expat is still easy if you follow some simple steps.

Claiming Your UK State Pension as an Expat

If you do not receive a claim form in the post four months before your state pension retirement age, then contact the International Pension Centre about three months before you are due to retire.

Before getting in touch, check you are entitled to claim the state pension and/or the additional state pension.

Check your state pension eligibility on the official government web site

Qualifying years change

Don’t forget the state pension is changing – the old qualification was 30 years of national insurance contributions or credits, but this is rising to 35 years for men born after April 5, 1951 and women born after April 5, 1953.

You can email, call or write to the International Pension Centre:


Telephone: +44 (0)191 218 7777 between 8am and 6pm Monday to Friday (UK time)

Write to:

The Pension Service 11
Mail Handling Site A
WV98 1LW
United Kingdom

To have your state pension paid into a foreign bank account, you will need to give the International Pension Centre your bank identification code (BIC) and international bank account number (IBAN).

You can generally find these on your bank statements or online accounts – but your bank will give them if you ask.

Frozen pension payments

Most of the countries where state pension payments are uprated each April in line with inflation are in Europe, leaving thousands of pensioners in around 150 countries, including many former Commonwealth countries struggling financially.

If you have lived and worked overseas, send the claim form to the International Pension Centre unless you have lived or worked in one of the places where the state pension keeps in line with inflation, which are:

Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Gibraltar, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden or Switzerland.

Some special arrangements also apply to someone who has lived and worked in other countries, so call the International Pension Centre if you are unsure about your state pension status.

Many expats fail to find out how much their state pension is worth once they have moved abroad. In many countries outside Europe and a few special cases, the pension payment is not index linked and remains at the level of the first payment for life.

The state pension is not affected if they move between EEA countries or between the UK and a country with a social security or ‘reciprocal’ agreement.

Canada and New Zealand have reciprocal social security agreements, but these do not extend to uprating the state pension each year.

The UK government argues uprating the state pension for every expat is too expensive – costing around £600 million in additional payments each year

How is the state pension calculated?

The full state pension is only paid if men born after April 5, 1951 and women born from April 6, 1953, have 35 full years of national insurance contribution entitlement.

Qualifying years include credits for time off work, such as periods of looking after a family, caring for sick relatives or unemployment.

The new state pension started on April 6, 2016, and anyone retiring after this date who has paid national insurance prior to the cut-off date has a pension worked out under transitional rules.

Under these rules, expats are allocated a starting pension amount which is the higher of:

  • The amount they would get under the old state pension
  • The amount they would get had the new state pension been available when they first started work

From April 6, 2018, the full state pension is £164.35 a week (£8,546.20 a year). This rises by £4.25 a week to £168.60 a week (£8,767.20 a year) from April 6, 2019, for expats in EEA or reciprocal agreement countries.

Expats first receiving their state pension in 2018-19 living outside the EEA/reciprocal agreement list will have their pension payment frozen at £164.35, if they have the full number of qualifying years.

Working out the starting amount

Expats can qualify for extra qualifying years by working after April 6, 2016 until their state pension age.

The value of each qualifying year is calculated as the current state pension full payment divided by 35 years, then multiplying the amount by the number of additional qualifying years since April 6, 2016.

For example, was given a starting amount of £140 a week but worked an extra five years after April 6, 2016.

The new starting amount is £164.35 divided by 35, which is £4.70 a week. Multiply this by five (£23.48) and add this amount to £140 to give a new starting amount of £163.48.

Any extra years worked after 2016-17 will not increase the state pension payment if an expat already has 35 qualifying years by April 5, 2016.

No NIC payments before April 6, 2016

Anyone starting NIC payments after April 6, 2016 will have their state pension entitlement worked out under the new rules.

The calculation is simply the full current state pension divided by 35 multiplied by the number of national insurance qualifying years.

So if an expat has 25 qualifying years, the calculations is £164.35/35 x 25 = £117.39.

Unless you have at least 10 qualifying years of national insurance payments, you cannot claim the UK state pension.

Qualifying years from working overseas

If you have lived and worked outside the UK, any social security contributions you may have made may be considered as qualifying years towards the British state pension.

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  1. Thank you for this article.

    I think it could have been improved by pointıng out that some 45% (over 550,000) of all pensioners currently living abroad are victims of the UK government’s iniquitous frozen pension policy and do not get index linkıng.
    A mention, too, that many of the countries, like Australia, Canada and South Africa, and who are members of the Commonwealth, are among the 150 countries so affected.
    What is so unjust and unfair about the policy is, for example, that a pensioner living in Niagara Village USA who retired in 1982 on a full UK pension of GPB 28.50 per week now gets GBP 113.10 per week through the annual uprating. Compare with the pensioner who also retired in 1982 on full UK pension but lives just across the river in Niagara Village, Canada but who does not receive ındex linking. He or she ıs stıll only gettıng GBP28.50…..

  2. The article mentions frozen pension payments, then says nothing about this ongoing scandal. People need to know how the UK government treats it’s seniors. This is a constant shame that every right minded citizen should be shouting about and demanding that government end this blatant discrimination and victimisation of it’s most vulnerable citizens. Andy Robertson Fox has explained below the total illogicality of this injustice.

  3. “Many expats fail to find out how much their state pension is worth once they have moved abroad”. The reason for this is that many expats weren’t told that their pension would be frozen for life if they moved (and then retired) to certain countries. It’s only very recently, that after much publicity and criticism regarding this issue, that the DWP now puts this essential information out more publicly than previously.
    Canada is one of those 150 ‘certain’ countries, but at least Canada pays THEIR fully indexed state pension anywhere in the world – UK included. The UK however does NOT index their state pension of a retired Brit in Canada!
    Steve Webb has said that this is freeloading off other country’s taxpayers. How right he is.
    The National Insurance Fund – set up to pay for (amongst other things) state pensions is now £19 Billion in SURPLUS, and that could unfreeze British expats frozen pensions over and over and over. But Osborne wants that money – paid in by National Insurance contributors for their retirement – to be classed as General Revenue so he can use it for whatever he wants, and no questions asked.
    The whole frozen pension scandal is beyond shameful, it’s beyond deceitful or discrimination – it’s the legalized theft of a tiny 4% of all UK old age pensioners retirement. This disgusting policy must be scrapped. If any political party want expats votes in the future – it must be!!

  4. Also living abroad we’re not a strain on the NHS. Most of us get medical treatment in the countries we moved to, and that includes when we’re dying.

  5. I receive my UK pension in America. How do I get my pension tax details so I can submit them to the IRS in America.

  6. If you are currently receiving full pension rights in New Zealand and wish to return to the UK would I be entitled to receive full pension rights in the UK. I am a full citizen there. ?

  7. 4 of the six comments are just moans. Ignoring the fact that they were fully covered whilst paying they were paying taxes. And, it’s the elderly who decided Brexit. Consequences follow.:)

  8. i just applied and was turned down as i only worked 5 years yet i know of about 6 others people who had the same amount of years as i who got something including my sister who lives in SA and why did they get and yet i didnt

  9. Me and Spouse refused overseas pension. Claimed born in Scotland NOW INDEPENDENT and You or Your wife not Muslims BUT Scottish Presbyterians.. Told to shoot my wife for 39 years as she will never be paid. Sent to Glasgow tribunal and SNP. Hope they see sense.

  10. South Africans who leave and settle in UK receive nothing from the SA government. (If they stayed, it would be equivalent to 70 pounds a month! ) Equal rights was already in place before the new government took over.
    Britain imposed sanctions and forced a system of majority rule which everyone knows is the formula for disaster and corruption resulting in thousands of South Africans being forced out of their own country with nothing. Who is to blame?
    My question, since Britain ruined the country, are South Africans who leave in desperation and settle in UK, entitle to some form of pension like the Zimbabwe people when Britain ruined their country?

  11. All British expats living in Canada who worked for years in the UK and were born in the UK deserve to be treated fairly we should petition PM Trudeau and PM Theresa May this is criminal expats in the USA under Trump get indexed pensions from the UK why Not Canadians

  12. Daughters of mothers who were British subjects who leave Britain to reside in Canada,should automatically should be entitled to State Pension especially if they have worked in Scotland for 71/2yrs pryer to them leaving their country to reside in Canada as their home now.

  13. Subhas Chandra Biswas
    I and my spouse are receiving fixed weekly GBP 16.00 since 1997 (quarterly). I do not receive any other pension ever since. I intend visit Netherlands during September -October for two months (65 days). Would I be allowed to receiving GBP at the current Qrtly. rate for the duration of my stay there? Pl reply.

    • Yes you are. Notify the pension service 30 days before you leave. Ask them for uprating of you pension while you are in the EU. They will ask you for dates and where you are staying. You will see the difference in your next cheque.

  14. Stop moaning that most of the UK wants to take back control of their own country. There are far worse consequences for staying in that awful EU. I’m not elderly, I’m just a free thinker.

  15. Can I claim a minimum pension I left Scotland U K in 1969 have lived in South Africa since then..i am now 69yrs old..I worked in Uk for 3yrs from 1965 till 1968..both parents and grand parents were all Scottish..South Africa is becoming a very dangerous place to be and many of us expats need help..I still hold a UK passport..

  16. My father is Maltese living in Malta and receives British pension since he used to work for the the British navy. The pension goes directly to an HSBC branch in Malta, but since HSBC is closing 7 branches in Malta, my father wants to open a new account in another bank so that the cheque of the british pension can go through this new account. How is this possible and what has to be done please? Hope to get a reply soon. Thank you.

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