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?
Can Brits living abroad still claim the winter fuel payment? Photo: he gong / Unsplash

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?

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For members


What to do with a damaged bank note in Spain?

Bank notes are fairly durable, but they can get wet or torn and become too damaged for others to accept them, so what can you do about it?

What to do with a damaged bank note in Spain?

Bank notes are difficult to tear unless you deliberately do so, but sometimes they can get wet and rip or so damaged that you can no longer see all the images. In this case, you’ll find that some shops may not accept them in that condition.

Euro notes have special characteristics so that they resist the passage of time. They are made with 100 percent cotton fibres and small bills, which are the most common, are coated with a special varnish, which also protects them from dirt or deterioration.

Even though paying with card has become a lot more popular in recent years, particularly during the pandemic, according to the Bank of Spain, cash is still the most widely used payment method, especially for small purchases. 

The report ‘Studies on habits with cash 2022′, published in October of 2022, and carried out by market research company Ipsos, confirms that cash is still the means of payment that is used most frequently.  

This is followed by cards, then mobile devices or apps. The report explains that cash is a universal means of payment and is used by almost the entire Spanish population since three out of five people use it on a daily basis.

READ ALSO: Is Spain going cashless?

With cash still so popular, it’s inevitable that at some point one of your notes will get damaged, so it’s important to know what to do when that happens.

So what can you do about it? Are you just down €20 or is there some way you can exchange it?

The Bank of Spain has advised on the steps you need to take if your banknote is damaged.

Firstly, you can present your damaged banknote at any branch of the Bank of Spain or any national central bank in the Eurozone and they should exchange it for you.

Banks should accept the damaged note whether more than half of the note has been destroyed or less than half.

READ ALSO – EXPLAINED: What are Spain’s rules and limits on cash payments?

What if my banknote has anti-theft marks on it?

Anti-theft marks are usually ink stains that have been left on a note because they were stolen from an ATM machine.

The Bank of Spain warns that if you suspect a note has been marked in this way and was stolen, then you should not accept it if someone is trying to pay you with it or give you it as change. You can simply ask for it to be exchanged for another.

When will banks not accept my damaged note?

If your note does have the ink-stained anti-theft mark on it, then Spain’s Banknote Analysis Unit warns that the Bank of Spain will not exchange it. Therefore, it’s very important that you don’t accept these in the first place.

The Bank of Spain will also not exchange any notes that have been intentionally damaged or defaced, so you can’t deliberately go around drawing on your bank notes or ripping them and then expect them to be changed.