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How does the UK State Pension work for immigrants?

How does the UK State Pension work for immigrants?
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If you are planning to move to the UK, you might have some questions about the UK State Pension. Find out whether you qualify or can pay into the UK pension as a non-UK citizen or a non-UK resident.

Before continuing, we’d like to point out that it might be important to look at the EU Withdrawal Agreement. It sets out the terms of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU and how it might affect you.

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Who is entitled to the UK State Pension?

You need at least 10 qualifying years of National Insurance contributions to be eligible for the UK State Pension. This means that you should have made National Insurance contributions voluntarily or through your employer for at least 10 years. However, this is not the only way to qualify.

Social Security contributions you make in European Economic Area (EAA) or EU countries or Switzerland can help you qualify for the UK State Pension.

Let’s assume you worked in an EAA country and paid Social Security contributions. You later move to the UK and continue to make National Insurance contributions in the UK. 

When computing your State Pension, the UK’s pension authority considers your National Insurance contributions first. 

  • If you have not reached 10 qualifying years of National Insurance contributions: the pension authority in the UK will compute your Social Security and National Insurance contributions together. This could qualify you for the UK State Pension.
  • If you have reached 10 qualifying years of National Insurance contributions: the pension authority in the UK will still compute your Social Security and National Insurance contributions together. This could qualify you for a UK State Pension, which might be higher than the pension calculated above.

You might want to look at this UK State Pension guide to get an idea of how much you can get from the State Pension.

Do non-UK citizens get the State Pension?

Yes, as long as they are eligible. An example is if you are an EAA, EU or Swiss citizen. If you:

  • live in the UK;
  • work for a UK employer;
  • run your own business in the UK;

You can make National Insurance contributions that can entitle you to the State Pension upon attaining State Pension age.

If you are a third-country national (not a citizen of an EAA or EU country, Iceland, Lichtenstein, Norway or Switzerland citizen), it might be best to contact the International Pension Centre.

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Can a non-UK resident pay into a UK pension?

Yes. Here are instances where a non-UK resident can pay into a UK pension:

  • A non-UK resident working in the EAA, EU, Iceland, Lichtenstein, Norway or Switzerland. You need to pay social security contributions in the relevant country. However, depending on various factors and whether you are in a temporary situation, you might need to get a certificate or document from HMRC to help you to pay National Insurance contributions in the UK.
  • A non-UK resident who lived in the UK for at least three years or made three years’ worth of contributions. In this case, you are allowed to make voluntary Class 2 National Insurance contributions to protect your State Pension.

What is the EU settlement scheme?

EU, EAA and Swiss nationals living in the UK before 1 January 2021 are required to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme. The scheme will help them continue residing in the UK and protect their social security rights. The deadline is 30 June 2021.

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