Going Abroad

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

(Going abroad is usually defined as going outside the United Kingdom).

If you want information about receiving your benefits during a temporary or permanent absence, you must tell the Social Security or Jobs & Benefits office.

For State Pension queries:

For other queries please contact:

Overseas Benefits Unit
Network Support Branch
Newtownabbey J&Bo
39-41 Church Road
Newtownabbey
BT36 7LB
  • telephone: 028 9560 6857 and 028 9560 6868

You will need to tell them:

  • your name and National Insurance number or the reference number shown on any correspondence which you received previously
  • your address abroad
  • the date you went abroad or the date you will leave the United Kingdom
  • the method of payment you require
  • whether the absence will be temporary or permanent (if temporary tell them how long it is likely to last)
  • whether your spouse or civil partner and any or all of your children live abroad with you
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 80's Pension  
Pension Credit  
Reduced Earnings Allowance  
Severe Disablement Allowance  
State Retirement Pension  
Unemployability Supplement  
War Pensions  
Widow's Benefits  

You must tell the Social Security office that pays your benefit that you are going abroad so that they can arrange payment during the absence -if required.

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

Going Abroad - Attendance Allowance, Carer's Allowance and Disability Living Allowance

If you are in receipt of Attendance Allowance, Carer's Allowance and Disability Living Allowance these may be affected if you go abroad. Short absences for holidays abroad do not affect most benefits. Going abroad is usually defined as going outside the United Kingdom

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.

Going Abroad - Bereavement Benefits / Widows Benefits

If you receive Bereavement Benefits 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 , Bereavement Allowance and Widowed Parent's Allowance only if you live in European Economic Area (EEA), Switzerland or in countries covered by Reciprocal Agreements/Conventions.

In other countries the benefit will stay at the same rate as you left the United Kingdom, 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 / 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).

Going Abroad - Constant Attendance Allowance

If you are receiving Constant Attendance Allowance, this may be affected if you go abroad.

Temporary absence

Payable in EC countries (which includes Iceland and Norway by virtue of the European Economic Area (EEA) 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 (EEA) 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.

Going Abroad - Housing Benefit

If you are getting Housing Benefit, this could be affected if you go abroad. This page explains when Housing Benefit will be paid, and for what periods it will continue to be paid for.

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 13 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 13 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 52 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 52 weeks

You should always tell the Northern Ireland Housing Executive / Rates Collection Agency 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 / Rates Collection Agency to keep them up to date with any relevant changes.

Going Abroad - 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 Incapacity Benefits Branch and provide full details of the reason for the absence.

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 Incapacity Benefits Branch and provide 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 Incapacity Benefits Branch and provide 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.

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

Going Away from Home - Income Support

If you are receiving Income Support/Jobseeker's Allowance (Income based), these may be affected if you go away from home.

Temporary absence - Income Support

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.

Going  Away from Home- Jobseeker's Allowance

If you are getting Jobseeker's Allowance, this may be affected if you go away from home.

Temporary absence

If you temporarily leave Northern Ireland, and you are receiving benefit and the absence is unlikely to exceed 52 weeks, benefit may continue:

  • for up to seven consecutive days where:
  • you are attending an interview for employment and you have given notice of this to the SSA

for up to four weeks where:

  • you go to Great Britain and continue to satisfy the conditions for entitlement;

for up to eight weeks where:

  • you are going with a member of your family, who is a child or young person, only in connection with medical treatment outside Northern Ireland for a disease or disability

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

Permanent absence

Jobseeker’s Allowance will stop from the day of departure.

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

Going Abroad - Maternity Allowance

If you are getting Maternity Allowance, this may be affected if you go abroad.

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 and the 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.

Going Abroad - Over 80 Pension

If you are receiving the Over 80 pension, this 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

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).

Going Abroad - Reduced Earnings Allowance

If you are receiving Reduced Earnings Allowance, this may be affected if you go abroad.

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:

Going Abroad - Severe Disablement Allowance

If you are getting Severe Disablement Allowance, this may be affected if you go abroad.

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.

Going Abroad - State Pension

If you are receiving State Pension, this may, this 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

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 Pensions Service The Northern Ireland 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).

Going Abroad - Unemployability Supplement

If you are receiving Unemployability Supplement, this may be affected if you go abroad.

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.

Going Abroad - War Pensions

If you are getting War Pensions, this may be affected if you go abroad.

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 War Pensions Agency or  War Pensioners Welfare Service.

Contacts

War Pensions Agency
Norcross
Blackpool
FY5 3WP
War Pensioners Welfare Service
Marlborough House
Victoria Street
Belfast
BT1 3GG
Telephone: 028 9032 7881

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