For members


Which UK benefits can Brits keep if they move to Spain?

You may be surprised to find out that there are a handful of UK benefits Britons can still claim if they live in Spain.

Which UK benefits can Brits keep if they move to Spain?
Benefits you definitely can’t claim from the UK while living in Spain include Job Seekers Allowance, Income Support and Winter Fuel Payment. (Photo by JORGE GUERRERO / AFP)

If you have worked in and paid taxes in the UK for a long time and then move to Spain, you may want to know if you’ll still be eligible for UK benefits.

While most benefits can’t be claimed while you live abroad, there are still some that you may be able to hold onto, depending on your individual circumstances.

Be aware that you will need to tell the UK government if you’re moving to or retiring in Spain.

UK State Pension

The most important benefit for many is their UK State Pension and the good news is that you can still claim this if you move to Spain.

The UK government website states: “You can carry on receiving your UK State Pension if you move to live in the EU, EEA or Switzerland and you can still claim your UK State Pension from these countries”.

If you live in one of the above countries such as Spain, your UK State Pension will be increased annually in line with the rate paid in the UK.

You can also count relevant social security contributions made in Spain to meet the qualifying conditions for a UK State Pension, the UK government confirms.

What about other benefits?

According to the UK government, if you’re eligible, the following benefits and payments can be paid to Britons in Spain, other EU countries and Switzerland:

  • Bereavement Support Payment and other bereavement benefits
  • Industrial injuries benefits
  • Maternity Allowance
  • Statutory Maternity Pay
  • Statutory Paternity Pay
  • Statutory Sick Pay

Keep in mind that the UK has social security agreements with EU countries like Spain that allow you to claim some benefits while you’re there, which means that your National Insurance contributions can count towards your eligibility for benefits here in Spain.

Remember, you only need to pay National Insurance contributions in the UK when you’re living in Spain if the HMRC has issued you with a special certificate. This certificate can be used as evidence that you do not need to pay social security contributions in Spain, according to the UK government. 

This situation, however, only applies if you’re temporarily living in Spain and working for a UK employer, if you’re working on a ship or are cabin crew (and your home base is the UK), if you’re working in both Spain and the UK or if you’re a civil servant working for the UK government and in EU.

The UK government website has a great tool here you can use to find out which benefits you may be eligible for while living abroad, but here’s a breakdown of some that you may be able to claim while you’re living in Spain.

Maternity Benefit

You can only claim UK maternity benefits in Spain only if you are working for a UK employer and paying Class 1 National Insurance.

Child Benefit

Generally, you can’t claim child benefits from the UK in Spain, unless you’re claiming other benefits UK at the same time, then you may be able to.

Statutory sick pay

You can only claim UK sick pay if you are working for a UK employer while in Spain.

Employment and Support Allowance

You may be able to get Employment and Support Allowance from the UK if you lived or worked in Spain before January 1st 2021, but it will depend on your specific circumstances.

Carer’s Allowance

You can only get Carer’s Allowance if the person you care for gets a qualifying benefit from the UK and if you lived or worked in Spain before January 1st 2021.

Bereavement Support Payment or Widowed Parent’s Allowance

You may be eligible to claim this type of benefit while living in Spain, but it will depend on your individual circumstances, so you will have to contact the relevant UK authorities to find out.

Tax credits

You may be able to apply for certain UK tax credits if you are also claiming other benefits from the UK at the same time and you pay tax there or if you’re a cross-border worker.

Benefits you definitely can’t claim from the UK while living in Spain include Job Seekers Allowance, Income Support and Winter Fuel Payment.

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For members


Can British people in Spain claim the UK’s winter fuel payment?

In the UK, there are various benefits available to help eligible people through the cold winter months – one of which is the winter fuel payment. But can Britons living in Spain claim this benefit to cover the cost of heating their Spanish homes?

Can British people in Spain claim the UK's winter fuel payment?

Energy costs are on the up in Spain, and with the winter fast approaching the added cost of paying for heating when the mercury drops can result in some very high bills.

Not all of Spain has freezing winters but there are often cold spells and many houses in the country tend to get even colder than it is outside.

READ MORE: Why are Spanish homes so cold?

The average winter temperature across Spain is 8C (1981 to 2010 average). That’s higher than the average in other European countries, but in Spain’s interior and mountainous areas it can be truly chilly from November to March.  

That means that overall, there’s a chance you’ll need to use a radiator or the central heating to keep your Spanish home warm.

So are some of the 400,000+ UK nationals who reside in Spain eligible for winter fuel financial support from the UK?

What is the UK’s winter fuel payment?

The UK’s winter fuel payment is a tax-free payment to help older people with heating costs during the cold winter months.

Those eligible must have been born before September 26th 1956, according to the UK government website.

How much people receive depends on their age and whether anyone else in the household is also eligible, but the amount is usually between £250 and £600.

I’m a UK national living in Spain. Can I claim the winter fuel payment?

The UK government states that those living abroad can benefit from the winter fuel payment if:

  • You moved to an eligible country before 1st January 2021
  • You were born before September 26th 1956
  • You have a genuine and sufficient link to the UK – this can include having lived or worked in the UK, and having family in the UK

While many EU nations are on the list of eligible countries, such as Austria, Germany, Sweden, and Italy, unfortunately Spain is not on the list.

This means that if you live in Spain, you will not be able to claim the winter fuel payment at all, even if you meet the age conditions.

Why isn’t Spain on the eligible list of countries?

The UK government services website nidirect states that “you cannot get the payment if you live in Cyprus, France, Gibraltar, Greece, Malta, Portugal or Spain because the average winter temperature is higher than the warmest region of the UK”.

This is despite the fact that some parts of Spain are a lot colder than the average UK winter temperatures. This includes cities, towns and villages near mountain ranges such as the Pyrenees or Sierra Nevada, or regions in the interior like Castilla-La Mancha, Aragón​​ and Castilla y León.

According to the British government, during winter the average temperature is between 2 and 7 C in the UK.

READ ALSO: Where are the coldest places in Spain?

Foreigners in Spain used to be able to claim this financial benefit, but it was scrapped in 2015 after many UK taxpayers were angry that UK winter fuel payments were going to help people that lived in countries that were generally warmer than the UK.

READ ALSO: Which UK benefits can Brits keep if they move to Spain?