Going abroad

Going abroad is usually defined as going outside the United Kingdom. If you are receiving benefits and go abroad, your benefits may be affected.

Benefits while abroad

Short absences for holidays abroad do not affect most benefits. However, your entitlement to certain benefits can change if:

  • you live abroad permanently
  • you live in the EEA, Switzerland or a country which has a reciprocal agreement with the UK

If you want information about receiving your benefits during a temporary or permanent absence, you must tell the office that pays your benefit.  You must also tell them so they can arrange payment during the absence, if required.

Benefits affected by going abroad  

Benefits not affected by going abroad

Attendance Allowance  

Industrial Death Benefit

Bereavement Benefits 

Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit

Carer's Allowance 

Retirement Allowance

Constant Attendance Allowance

 

Disability Living Allowance

 

Employment and Support Allowance

 

Housing Benefits

 

Incapacity Benefit

 

Income Support

 

Jobseeker's Allowance

 

Maternity Allowance

 

Over 80s Pension

 

Pension Credit

 

Reduced Earnings Allowance

 

Severe Disablement Allowance

 

State Retirement Pension

 

Unemployability Supplement

 

War Pensions

 

Widow's Benefits

 

Employment and Support Allowance

If you are receiving Employment and Support Allowance this may be affected if you go away from home.

In some circumstances, you may keep getting Employment and Support Allowance for up to four weeks during temporary trips abroad. This may apply:

  • for some short trips
  • if you have to go abroad to get medical treatment
  • if you live with a member of the armed forces and go overseas with them

If you get Employment and Support Allowance and you plan to go abroad, you must tell the Employment and Support Allowance Centre straight away to check if your benefit will be affected.

If you are able to get Employment and Support Allowance while you are abroad, you can arrange for someone else to get your payment for you while you are away. Or you can be paid when you get back and in some circumstances, you can have it paid to you abroad.

Pension Credit

You should contact the Northern Ireland Pension Centre for information on how temporary or permanent absence abroad affects your Pension Credit:

Attendance Allowance, Carer's Allowance and Disability Living Allowance

Temporary absence

Attendance Allowance and Disability Living Allowance can be paid for up to 13 weeks of a temporary absence, but special arrangements apply for certain people.

If you are a carer in receipt of Carer’s Allowance and accompany the disabled person, the entitlement may continue for up to 13 weeks, as long as the disabled person qualifies for:

  • Attendance Allowance
  • Constant Attendance Allowance 
  • Disability Living Allowance (at the middle or highest rate for help with personal care)

Permanent absence  

Attendance Allowance is not normally paid if the absence is permanent, but special arrangements may apply depending on where you are going.

Disability Living Allowance can be paid for up to 13 weeks but special arrangements apply for certain people.

Carer’s Allowance is not normally paid if the absence is permanent but special arrangements may apply depending on where you are going.

Under European law, entitlement may be exported or awarded to you if you reside in the European Economic Area or Switzerland

If you are caring for someone, but the person being looked after does not accompany the carer, Carer's Allowance will cease from your date of departure.

Before going abroad, you should always contact Disability and Carers Service to check if your benefit may be affected.

Bereavement Support Payment and widows benefits

If you receive Bereavement Support Payment or widows benefits, these may be affected if you go abroad.

Temporary absence

Paid anywhere in the world no matter how long the absence is.

Absences of six months or less

International Pension Centre will arrange payment abroad on transfer of the case.

The first payment may be an adjusting payment to bring the case on to cycle.

Absences of more than six months

International Pension Centre will arrange for payment abroad and advise on methods of payment available when the case is transferred (the method can vary according to the country).

Where preferred, benefit can be left to accumulate and arrears paid on return to Northern Ireland, provided the absence is intended to be less than two years.

Permanent absence

Bereavement benefits can normally be paid anywhere abroad.

If you are bereaved you will receive annual increases in Widow's Pension, Widowed Mother's Allowance and Widowed Parent's Allowance only if you live in European Economic Area , Switzerland or in countries covered by Reciprocal Agreements/Conventions.

In other countries the benefit will stay at the same rate as you left the UK, or when you first qualified for the benefit if you were already living abroad at the time.

If you are receiving Widowed Mother's Allowance or Widowed Parent’s Allowance and live abroad permanently and have a child who normally lives with you, you will get an increase in benefit for the child only if you live in an EEA country, or certain other countries.

If you want to know what effect the departure would have on benefit rates you must contact: The Northern Ireland Pension Centre Pensions Service or International Pension Centre Awards if already residing overseas.

International Pension Centre will arrange for payment abroad and advise on methods of payment available when the case is transferred (the method can vary according to the country).

Constant Attendance Allowance

Temporary absence

Payable in EC countries (which includes Iceland and Norway by virtue of the European Economic Area Agreement) and certain countries with which we have a Reciprocal Agreement/Convention, subject to the normal UK statutory conditions being satisfied.

In non-EC/Reciprocal Agreement/Convention countries it may be payable for up to six months.

Permanent absence

Payable in EC countries (which includes Iceland and Norway by virtue of the European Economic Area Agreement) and certain countries with which we have a Reciprocal Agreement/Convention, subject to the normal UK statutory conditions being satisfied.

In non-EC/Reciprocal Agreement/Convention countries benefit entitlement ceases from the date of departure.

Housing Benefit

Temporary absence

If you are absent from home due to any of the following reasons:

  • holidays
  • domestic
  • religious
  • paid work
  • voluntary work

Payment of Housing Benefit will continue for a maximum period of four weeks unless:

  • you do not intend to return home
  • you have let or sub-let your home
  • it is known, at the outset, that the period of absence will exceed four weeks

If you are absent from home due to any of the following reasons:

  • undertaking a period of medically-approved treatment or convalescence
  • medical treatment for yourself or a dependant
  • receiving medically-approved care
  • providing medically-approved care
  • undertaking approved training courses

Payment of Housing Benefit will continue for a maximum period of 26 weeks unless:

  • you do not intend to return home
  • you have let or sub-let your home
  • it is known, at the outset, that the period of absence will exceed 26 weeks

You should always tell the Northern Ireland Housing Executive / Land & Property Services to keep them up to date with any relevant changes.

Permanent absence

Housing Benefit will stop immediately.

You should always tell the Northern Ireland Housing Executive / Land & Property Services to keep them up to date with any relevant changes.

Incapacity Benefit

If you are receiving Incapacity Benefit, this may be affected if you go abroad.

Short term rate - temporary absence

Generally not payable unless the absence is to get medical treatment or you have been continuously incapable of work for at least six months at the date of departure, but is only payable for a maximum of 26 weeks in most circumstances.

However, if you are authorised to go to the EEA, Switzerland or certain Reciprocal Agreement countries to get treatment, or have been continuously incapable of work for six months at the date of departure, is not restricted to 26 weeks.

You must contact the Incapacity Benefits Branch with full details of the reason for the absence.

Short term rate - permanent absence

Payable in European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland providing you are covered by the EC regulations. It is not payable unless Reciprocal agreement can assist.

You must contact the Incapacity Benefits Branch with full details of the reason for the absence.

Long term rate - temporary absence

Generally not payable unless the absence is to get medical treatment or you have been continuously incapable of work for at least six months at the date of departure, but is only payable for a maximum of 26 weeks in most circumstances.

You must contact the Incapacity Benefits Branch with full details of the reason for the absence.

However, Incapacity Benefit is payable regardless of the length of absence in the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland providing you are covered by EC regulations.

Reciprocal agreements may allow payment in some circumstances in other countries.

Long term rate - permanent absence

Payable in the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland providing you are covered by EC regulations.

It is not payable unless a Reciprocal Agreement can assist.

You must contact the Incapacity Benefits Branch with full details of the reason for the absence.

Income Support

Temporary absence 

Entitlement may continue for up to four weeks if you were receiving Income Support immediately before the absence began, the absence will not exceed 52 weeks, and you satisfy one of the following conditions:

  • you are incapable of work and the sole purpose of your absence is to receive medical treatment for that incapacity
  • you have a partner who is going abroad with you and for whom you receive a pensioner premium or a disability premium
  • on the day the absence began, you were incapable of work for 365 days (or 196 days where you are terminally ill)

Any payment is paid on return to the UK.

If you are going with a child abroad for medical treatment entitlement may continue for up to eight weeks.

Permanent absence

Income Support will stop from the day of departure.

Jobseeker's Allowance

If you are permanently leaving NI your claim will be closed from the date you leave.

If your absence is temporary, the effect it will have on your Jobseeker's Allowance will depend on the reason for your absence and whether you told your Social Security or Jobs & Benefits office before going away.

For further information contact your local Social Security or Jobs & Benefits office.

Maternity Allowance

Temporary absence

If you go abroad during your Maternity Allowance period and confinement takes place there, you may in certain circumstances, be treated as going for treatment.

Also, if the Maternity Allowance period commences abroad during a Temporary absence in the EEA and Switzerland then Maternity Allowance may be payable.

Permanent absence

Maternity Allowance is payable if the Maternity Allowance period commences in the EEA, Switzerland and certain Reciprocal Agreement countries provided all conditions for receipt of benefit are satisfied.

European Economic Area

European Community (EC) social security rules apply to European Economic Area (EEA) countries.

EEA countries are:

  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Bulgaria
  • Cyprus
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Hungary
  • Iceland
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Latvia
  • Liechtenstein
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Malta
  • Netherlands
  • Norway
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • United Kingdom (UK) - and for social security matters, Gibraltar

UK means England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland but not the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man.

Over 80 Pension

Any absence that is not temporary will mean administration of your benefit must transfer to the International Pension Centre.

Temporary absence

Paid anywhere in the world no matter how long the absence is.

Absences of six months or less

If you insist on payment abroad but do not want payment into an account, the International Pension Centre will arrange payment abroad on transfer of the case. The first payment may be an adjusting payment to bring the case on to cycle.

Absences of more than six months

The International Pension Centre will arrange for payment abroad and advise on methods of payment available when the case is transferred (the method can vary according to the country).

You can leave your benefit to accumulate and have the arrears paid on return to the United Kingdom, provided the absence is intended to be less than two years.

Permanent absence

Paid anywhere in the world no matter how long the absence is.

Annual increases are only paid in the EEA, Switzerland and in countries where there is a reciprocal agreement with the UK on Social Security which enables increases to be paid.

Anyone wanting to know what effect the departure would have on benefit rates must contact the benefit paying branch or the International Pension Centre if already residing overseas.

The International Pension Centre will arrange for payment abroad and advise on methods of payment available when the case is transferred (the method can vary according to the country).

Reduced Earnings Allowance

Temporary absence

Payable in EEA, Switzerland and certain countries with which there is a Reciprocal Agreement/Convention, depending on the normal UK statutory conditions being satisfied.

In non EEA countries including Switzerland and non-Reciprocal Agreement/Convention countries it can normally be paid for at least three months provided the absence from Great Britain is not in connection with any employment, trade or business. There are also rules about the date on which a claim is made.

Permanent absence

Reduced Earnings Allowance is not payable when the absence from Northern Ireland is permanent.

For more information contact:

Severe Disablement Allowance

Temporary absence

Severe Disablement Allowance may be payable in certain circumstances for up to 26 weeks if you have been incapable of work for the past six months immediately before going abroad.

Generally not payable after 26 weeks of temporary absence unless the reason for the absence is to get medical treatment.

In certain cases, it may continue to be paid in the EEA and Switzerland with no restriction on the length of absence, providing you are covered by EC regulations.

You must contact Incapacity Benefits Branch and provide full details of the reason for the absence.

Permanent absence

Payment can only be made to people covered by the EC regulations who have worker status (or who can be treated as a member of a family of a person who has worker status), and who transfers residence to another EEA country or Switzerland.

Reciprocal Agreement/Convention cannot be used to assist the export of Severe Disablement Allowance.

State Pension

If you are receiving State Pension, you must inform the Northern Ireland Pension Centre if you go abroad.  Any absence that is not temporary will mean administration of your benefit must transfer to the International Pension Centre.

Temporary absence

Paid anywhere in the world no matter how long the absence is.

Absences of six months or less

Arrange to transfer the payments abroad.

If you insist on payment abroad, but do not want direct payment, International Pension Centre will arrange payment abroad on transfer of the case.

The first payment may be an adjusting payment to bring the case on to cycle.

Absences of more than six months

International Pension Centre will arrange for payment abroad and advise on methods of payment available when the case is transferred (the method can vary according to the country).

You can leave your benefit to accumulate and have the arrears paid on return to Northern Ireland provided the absence is intended to be less than two years.

Permanent absence

Paid anywhere in the world no matter how long the absence is.

Annual increases in rate are only paid in the EEA, Switzerland and in countries with which the UK has a Reciprocal Agreement on Social Security which allow increases to be paid, provided you are covered by those arrangements.

Anyone wanting to know what effect the departure would have on benefit rates must contact the Northern Ireland Pension Centre or International Pension Centre if already residing overseas.

International Pension Centre will arrange for payment abroad and advise on methods of payment available when the case is transferred (the method can vary according to the country).

Unemployability Supplement

Temporary absence

Payable in EU countries (which includes Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway by virtue of the European Economic Area (EEA) Agreement) and certain countries with which there is a Reciprocal Agreement/Convention, depending on the normal UK statutory conditions being satisfied.

In non-EU/Reciprocal Agreement/Convention countries it is generally disqualified.

Permanent absence

Payable in EC countries (which includes Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway by virtue of the European Economic Area (EEA) Agreement) and certain countries with which there is a Reciprocal Agreement/Convention, depending on the normal UK statutory conditions being satisfied, regardless of the length of the absence.

In non-EC/Reciprocal Agreement/Convention countries entitlement ceases from the date of departure.

War Pensions

Temporary absence

Normally if you are a war disablement pensioner or a war widow you will continue to receive your war pensions and allowances anywhere in the world.

War Pensioners going abroad for a temporary absence should contact the War Pensions Agency for a Certificate of Identity in case the need for treatment, or repair to an artificial limb or an appliance, should arise.

Before departure you should contact War Pensions Agency or  War Pensioners Welfare Service.

Permanent absence

Normally if you are a war disablement pensioner or a war widow you will continue to receive your war pensions and allowances anywhere in the world.

Before departure you should contact Veterans UK or War Pensions Welfare Service.

Share this page

Feedback

Your comments are anonymous and can’t be responded to - if you would like a reply, use the feedback form.

Your comments
Plain text only, 750 characters maximum. Don't include personal or financial information.