The UK Social Security System and Living Abroad

The UK has a very comprehensive social security system that is funded through individual’s National Insurance payments. Once UK residents reach the age of 16 they are awarded a National Insurance number, which is used as a reference number for their subsequent access to the social security system. The social security system covers state benefits for individuals who are unable to work because they are ill, injured or suffering from a disability and also provides payments to people who are out of work or on maternity leave. The NI contributions are also used to fund pension payments to individuals once they reach retirement age. At present this is the age of 65.

What to do if you do not know your National Insurance number

Your NI number can be obtained from the Department for Social Development (Northern Ireland) or the Inland Revenue National Contributions Office. A list of contact numbers and addresses for these offices throughout the UK can be found on the National Insurance website.

The impact of living abroad on your social security eligibility

If you make the decision to live overseas this may impact your social security eligibility, both in your country of residence and your home country. Whether or not you are entitled to social security will depend upon whether or not you live in the EU or a country that has a reciprocal social security agreement in place with the UK. The following sections contains details of how your social security entitlements may be impacted by living overseas:

Have a comment?

Do you have a comment about this article, a further question or even a correction? If so please do let us know. We may edit your comments and cannot guarantee that all comments will be published, please be nice!

Our Expat’s Manual is updated regularly so comments about the article may have already been addressed.


  1. I have been Living in Bermuda since 1972, before that I was living in the UK. I paid into the system for seven years, I understand I am unable to claim a pension, but I would like a lump sum compensation for what I paid in, my Social Insurance Number is YP 13 71 95 B my name at that time was Jane Rattigan, my birthdate is 14/06/48. I am now Jane Jones. I paid in from 1965 June to 1972 April. I sent in a form in 2016 and received a letter with a number to call, which I could never get through to. I was then told to contact lost pensions, who also I have not been able to contact. I have e mailed on several occasions and have called, but still with no success. I would appreciate any help you can give me.

    Thank you

    Kind regards Jane Jones

  2. My mother in law is an English ex-pat. She has a Quarterly deposit of about 1000 (USD) deposited into her bank account here in the US. The deposit only reads “State Pension” could this be the pension that is provided by the U.K. social security system?

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