What happens to my state pension if I move abroad?

Zorica Lončar

Planning a move to another country? You’ll have a lot of preparations to make, from applying for visas to finding somewhere to live. But if you’re at or approaching retirement age, one of your top priorities should be sorting out your pension arrangements.

In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about receiving your UK state pension abroad. This includes whether it’s possible, how it works and how to apply to receive pension payments in another country.

We’ll even show you a smart way to avoid bank fees, currency conversion charges and poor exchange rates when receiving UK pension income abroad. Open a Wise multi-currency account and you can receive your payments in GBP. This neatly swerves the need for a bank to convert the currency (which can cost you money), as you can do it for just a tiny fee and the real, mid-market exchange rate using Wise.

Learn more

But first, let’s focus on how to get your UK state pension abroad.

Receiving your state pension in another country¹

The good news for UK expats is that you can get your state pension paid to you in another country, and the application process should be pretty straightforward.

First, check that you meet these conditions:

  • You’ve paid enough National Insurance contributions in your life to qualify for the UK state pension
  • You’re within four months of your State Pension age.

If you’re planning to move to another country for just part of the year, you’ll need to decide whether you want to receive your state pension there or in the UK.

Your UK state pension payments will be paid either every 4 or 13 weeks (you can choose which you prefer). You’ll need to provide bank details - either for a bank account in your new country of residence, or back home in the UK. If you do the latter, you’ll need to arrange to transfer the money abroad.

Following Brexit, some of the rules have changed on receiving UK benefits in other countries, especially the EU. You can read all about the changes here, including whether your state pension will increase in line with the rate paid in the UK if you move abroad.

How to apply to receive your state pension abroad - a step-by-step guide

Ready to apply? Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Get in touch with the International Pension Centre - you can do this via an online enquiry form, email or phone. More details are available here.

  2. Make a claim to receive your UK state pension abroad - you can find the International State Pension Claim Form here.

  3. Provide details of your chosen bank account - you’ll need the International Bank Account Number (IBAN) and Bank Identification Code (BIC) for overseas accounts. You can use your own account or a joint account.

Use Wise to save money on UK pension payments overseas

When you receive pension payments from the UK in another country, it’ll be sent in GBP and converted to your new local currency using the bank’s own exchange rate. This usually has a mark-up added on top, along with high foreign transaction and conversion fees that can eat into your money.

Open a multi-currency account with Wise and you can use the UK account number and sort code available with your Wise account to get paid in GBP, then convert at your leisure using Wise’s mid-market exchange rate. The fees are cheaper too, as there are no foreign transaction fees and only a small conversion charge to pay.

Over time, this could save you a bundle, especially if your pension pot is large.

Join Wise and start saving today

And that’s pretty much all there is to it - you can apply to the International Pension Centre and receive your UK state pension wherever you are in the world.

Just make sure you take a look at the guidance on how your pension may be affected by a move abroad, especially after Brexit.

Sources used for this article:

  1. Gov.uk - state pension if you retire abroad

All other info from: Gov.uk - state pension if you retire abroad

Sources checked on 11th May-2021.

This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from Wise Payments Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

Money for here, there and everywhere

Find out more

Tips, news and updates for your location