ProACT Sam discusses the scope and purpose of state related social insurance and pension benefits and how expats can take short and long term steps to protect their family and business confidently.
Social Insurance Agreements have substance and implications. Post Brexit UK expats can consider and benefit beyond the EU. If you are feeling unwell, or have concerns about welfare benefits and allowances, or feel anxious about your state pension entitlement then reciprocal social insurance agreements can help you feel better.
It is not always simple to work it out. Social Insurance or National Insurance schemes are just that – insurance funds to provide benefits. Everyone’s entitlement is not automatic, but earned and paid for.
It can be easy for Expats to lose sight of the long term implications when relocating overseas and Living and Working Abroad only for the implications to come into sharp relief when accident, sickness, disability or retirement knocks on your door.
Social Insurance includes child benefit, allowances and unemployment benefits as well as state pensions, plus state medical care. Rights and qualifications of citizenship can still depend upon where you are resident and tax resident, if you are working, contributing to a social insurance scheme as well as entitlement to benefits.
AGREEMENT TO TRANSFER BENEFIT
- Social Insurance Agreements have a standard format that is then personalised when signed between two sovereign countries.
- The UK has agreements with countries like Barbados and USA around the world.
- The UK and Cyprus had a social insurance agreement dating back to 1957 that was later superseded by the EU.
- The EU social insurance agreement applies to 27 EU countries as well as extending to EEA countries. The European Economic Area countries generally abide by all the EU trade rules to access the single market but are not full EU member states. These countries include Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein.
- There are some remoter lands that are EU members with their residents including the Spanish Canary Islands, Portugal’s islands of Azores and Madeira, and the French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Mayotte, Saint-Martin and Reunion Islands.
- Gibraltar being a British overseas territory is not in the EU or EEA.
- Greenland and the Faroe Islands are lands within the Danish kingdom with autonomous local government and are not in the EU.
- Greenland did join the EU with Denmark in 1973 then held a referendum back in 1982 and voted for Greexit 40 years ago in disputes over fishing rights. EU fishing quotas are restrictive to countries with vibrant fishing waters, as British fishermen experienced before Brexit freedoms arrived.
- Generally concerns over fishing rights would be a concern that stops Faroe Isles or Iceland joining the EU.
- However the UK and Switzerland do have special EU agreements which include being members of the EU social insurance agreements but not the EU or EEA.
This means UK expats can relocate Living and Working Abroad within EU countries and transfer social insurance benefits as well as to counties with which the UK has separate bilateral agreements around the world – although EU benefits may not apply to these additional countries.
When you have Healthcare entitlement in the UK or EU you can also obtain a Health Insurance Card that covers for emergency cover in another jurisdiction for short stay travel for family, holiday or business trips. Good for spring in Provence, summer in the Azores, or Skiing in Switzerland, Christmas in Turkey.
To transfer healthcare benefits between countries under social insurance rules then there is a standard form S1 that needs to be issued for a qualifying citizen and their dependent family.
Generally this is used with state pension recipients but short term working contracts abroad could be covered up to 2 years.
For example a remote worker could transfer benefits while working in Cyprus but employed from another country including the UK.
When considering allowances and benefits including child benefits the rules depend upon each country involved. Not all national social insurance schemes are the same and vary by country, including benefits that can be transferred, payment amounts, and qualification under the new country schemes.
Expats Living and Working Abroad including Cyprus can pay Social Insurance and qualify for state pensions under local rules.
Meanwhile you can protect and maximise your entitlement in your home country.
UK expats Living Abroad could pay voluntary contributions up to and including the UK tax year in which you reach the UK state retirement age.
You can contribute for the current year and previous 6 years.
There is also a window for people to add additional years between 2006 and 2016.
If you have no or partial UK National Insurance contributions any of these years since 2006 and your UK state retirement age then expats Living and Working Abroad can make contributions to top them up.
The UK has now extended the deadline to make up national insurance contributions for 10 lost years 2006-2016 until April 2025.
A full UK state pension requires 35 years of contribution. An expat qualified for the UK state pension system – being British or having paid at least 3 years into the system – could buy back 17 years, half a UK state pension by making voluntary contributions this year – That’s worth £100 per week, £5200 per year indexed linked pension income from UK state retirement age.
If you have neglected UK state pension provision that could be a shrewd investment to make.
If newly Living and Working Abroad you could pay class 2 national insurance contributions, and for expats working abroad that comes at a quarter of the cost – less than £200 per year, noting the only benefit is UK state pension at retirement.
If Living and Working Abroad remotely for a UK based employer you could pay national insurance in the UK as an employee or contractor.
Contributions can be a business tax deductible expense.
ProACT Know How
Residency permits, tax registration, starting a business and national social insurance are all part of Living and Working Abroad. ProACT Know How is available for help and guidance to support your tax and social insurance registrations and returns.
No matter how you feel about tax, remember Social Insurance is a tax – with real benefits tailored to you.
Register online for advice and guidance, to contact us: