Moving to another EEA country: how EU Regulations affect you
The EU Regulations mean people from every country in the European Economic Area (EEA) are generally treated the same and have their benefit rights protected for as long as they are:
- employed or self-employed; or
- have been employed or self-employed and are getting benefit; or
- are close family members of people who are or have been employed or self-employed; or
- a student who is studying or receiving vocational training leading to an officially recognised qualification – in this case, only limited rights arise.
The following countries also apply the EC social security rules but have some special conditions:
- Switzerland is not a member of the EEA, but as a result of an agreement with the EU that came into force on 1 June 2002, the EU rules on social security will also largely cover Switzerland. However, the EU rules do not apply to you if you are a Swiss national going to or coming from Iceland, Liechtenstein or Norway or if you are a national of one of those countries going to or coming from Switzerland.
- Gibraltar – for everything in this leaflet except healthcare and child benefits, the UK applies the EC Regulations to Gibraltar as though it is another EEA country. Other EEA countries treat Gibraltar as though it is part of the UK.
The EU Regulations apply to you if you are:
- a national of any EEA country or at some time you have lived or worked or studied in an EEA country;
- a stateless person or refugee and you live in an EEA country;
- a dependant or the widow or widower of anyone who was covered by the Regulations. In this case, it does not matter what your nationality is;
- the husband, wife or child of someone who has died, where the deceased worked in an EEA country and was not an EEA national or a stateless person or refugee. In this case, you must satisfy the rules of nationality yourself;
- If you are not an EEA or Swiss national, you may be covered by the EUC Regulations, but only in certain circumstances. From 1 June 2003 the EC Regulations changed. Non-EEA or non-Swiss nationals who move between certain member states have new rights for the payment of social security insurance. The rules for each benefit are different. You will need to be legally resident in the UK to help you satisfy the conditions for the payment of benefit or UK National Insurance (NI) contributions. If you want to know more about the benefit provisions for non-EEA or non-Swiss nationals, write to or phone The Pension Service (Directgov). If you want to know more about UK NI contributions provisions for non-EEA or non-Swiss nationals, please write to or phone the HM Revenue and Customs Residency.
Getting benefits through reciprocal agreements
There are special arrangements, called reciprocal agreements, between the UK and the other countries covered by the EC Regulations (except Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Poland and Slovakia). If you are not covered by the EC Regulations (and, in very limited circumstances, even when you are covered by these Regulations), you may be able to get cash benefits because of the reciprocal agreements. If you want to know more about these agreements, write to or phone The Pension Service
- The Pension Service (Directgov).