If you are working overseas as an expat, you might want to continue paying UK national insurance to safeguard your state pension and entitlement to other benefits.
The rules and what you pay are different depending where you are living.
You can also consider voluntary national insurance contributions while overseas.
These will count towards you state pension and some other benefits, but not towards health care in the country where you live.
National Insurance in Europe
If you work in the European Economic Area – which is the European Union nations plus Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein – four different scenarios can apply. The same rules also apply to Switzerland even though it is outside the EU and EEA.
- Employed in the EEA – You probably won’t pay national insurance to the UK, but social security contributions in the country where you work.
Social security rules in the country where you work will apply and you could have a national insurance gap in the UK.
British expats may be entitled to free or reduced cost medical care while abroad.
- UK employed but sent to work in the EEA – You have a two-year period where you carry on paying UK national insurance and no social security payments abroad
- Self-employed in the EEA – The same rules apply as if you were employed in the UK and sent to work in the EEA
- Working in more than one EEA country – What you pay depends on where you live, you can check by filing form CA8421i in the UK or by checking with the social security authority where you live.
Countries with bilateral agreements
Britain has bilateral social security agreements with several countries. These are sometimes called Reciprocal Agreements or Double Contribution Conventions.
Expats will know these countries as places where they are paid the full state pension instead of having the payment frozen at the rate of the first payment.
Besides the EEA countries, these are: Barbados, Bermuda, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Canada, Chile, Croatia, Guernsey, Israel, Jamaica, Japan, Jersey, Macedonia, Mauritius, Montenegro, New Zealand, Philippines, South Korea, Serbia, Turkey and the USA.
As an employed or self-employed expat, you will pay typically local social security, which could affect your healthcare and other benefit entitlement back in Britain.
The rest of the world
Outside the EEA and the list of countries with bilateral agreements, expats can expect to pay national insurance for 52 weeks if:
- Your employer has a base in Britain
- You usually live in Britain
- You lived in Britain immediately before starting work abroad
Contact HMRC with any changes to your personal details, queries about your residence status or for more details about national insurance payments.