State pension: UK expats urged to ‘do their research’ as overseas claim rules are changed

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State pension calculations for those who move to the EU, EEA or Switzerland who have also lived in Australia (before March 1 2001), Canada or New Zealand will be changing going forward. This change specifically concerns if a person qualifies for a UK state pension at all.

From January 1 2022, people in these circumstances will no longer be able to count periods living in Australia (before March 1 2001), Canada or New Zealand, towards calculating their UK state pension if both the following apply:

  • They are a UK national, EU or EEA citizen or Swiss national
  • They move to live in the EU, EEA or Switzerland on or after January 1 2022, including if they move to live in another EU, EEA country or Switzerland on or after January 1 2022

This will affect people regardless of whether they’ve actually claimed their UK pension or not and their state pension will be calculated, or recalculated, if already in payment using only a UK National Insurance record.

John Westwood, the Group Managing Director at Blacktower Financial Management, commented on this.

He said: “The UK Government intends to change how UK state pensions are calculated for some of those living abroad, affecting UK expats during an already turbulent time.

“If the Government goes ahead with this change in rule, they need to lay out clear foundations for UK expats on the new state pension breakdown.

“We urge UK residents to do their research before moving abroad and have already lived in Australia, Canada and New Zealand.”

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In examining data from the DWP, it appears UK pensioners are losing interest in retiring abroad in the face of Brexit.

Salisbury House Wealth examined data from the Government and found the number of UK pensioners living in the EU fell to 463,774 during 2020, down from 474,721 in the aftermath of the Brexit referendum in 2016.

Even the more popular retiree destinations saw decreases, as the following details:

  • Italy – falling 10 percent to 33,435 in 2019/20, down from 37,135 in 2015/16
  • Cyprus – falling nine percent to 17,219 in 2019/20, from 18,768 in 2015/16
  • Spain – falling five percent to 103,382 in 2019/20, from 108,442 in 2015/16

Those who wish to claim a UK state pension abroad will need to have paid a minimum of 10 years of National Insurance contributions to qualify.

They must also be within four months of their state pension age to claim and to do so, they’ll need to contact the International Pension Centre or complete the international claim form.

If a person only lives part of the year abroad, they’ll need to choose which country they want their pension to be paid in.

It is not possible to be paid in one country for part of the year and another for the rest.

State pensions can be paid into a UK bank account or an account based in the country the claimant is living in.

Those with an overseas account will need an international bank account number (IBAN) and bank identification code (BIC) when claiming.

The payments are paid in local currency, meaning income may be affected by exchange rates.

State pension payments can be paid once every four or 13 weeks for those based abroad.

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