National Insurance when you work abroad

5 mins

Our experts at DSR Tax Refunds know how hard it is to find good, quality information about HMRC’s National Insurance rules and regulations that is easy to understand, and that’s why we have created these handy guides to tell you everything you need to know. Our aim is to make life easier for our clients and that is why we want to share our expertise with you. You can also call our friendly team on 0330 122 9972 – we’re the tax experts you can trust.

Do you need to pay National Insurance if you work abroad?

Whether you will need to pay National Insurance if you work abroad depends on a number of factors, including where you work and whether you are self-employed. And of course, you might choose to continue to pay National Insurance contributions on a voluntary basis to keep your entitlement to certain UK benefits, including your State Pension.

What if you work in the EEA (European Economic Area)?

If you work in the EU or the EEA (which is the EU but also includes Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway), what you need to do about your National Insurance contributions depends on your particular circumstances. This also applies if you work in Switzerland, which is neither in the EU or EEA.

You can check which country you are supposed to make your social security (or National Insurance) contributions to. If you are in the UK, you can fill in HMRC form CA8421i but if you are already in the EEA country, you will need to check with the local authority which deals with social security in that country.

What if you work in a country with a bilateral agreement?

If you work for an employer in a country that has what is known as a ‘Reciprocal Agreement’ or ‘Double Contribution Convention’ (also known as a ‘bilateral Social Security agreement), you will usually pay social security contributions in that country instead of National Insurance.

The countries which currently have these agreements are:

However, you might still be able to continue to pay National Insurance contributions to keep your entitlement to certain UK benefits instead of paying to the country in which you are working in, if you are working there temporarily at the request of your employer. You can ask your employer to check this for you by sending form CA9107 to HMRC. This might affect your entitlement to healthcare and benefits in the country in which you are working so it is advisable to ask your employer for more details.

What if you work in any other country?

If you work in any other country not already covered in this guide then you will carry on paying National Insurance for the first 52 weeks you work abroad, if you meet the following 3 conditions:

If you are self-employed, you don’t need to pay Class 2 National Insurance contributions but you can continue to make voluntary contributions if you want to make sure you are still entitled to a State Pension and other contribution-based benefits.

What if you work for the UK government or HM Armed Forces?

You will usually still pay National Insurance if you work in one of the occupations and you are sent abroad to work:

What about voluntary contributions?

If you are eligible, you can choose to pay voluntary National Insurance contributions, which will go towards your State Pension and other contribution-based benefits if you return to live and work in the UK.

To be eligible to pay voluntary Class 2 National Insurance contributions, you must have:

If you live but don’t work abroad, you can make voluntary Class 3 National Insurance contributions, but only if you have lived in the UK for 3 years continuously in the past or have paid 3 years of contributions.

It is important to note that making voluntary National Insurance contributions from abroad won’t give you entitlement to healthcare in the country in which you are currently living and working.

How can DSR Tax Refunds help?

We know that figuring out your National Insurance eligibility when working abroad can be a complicated affair, even with our helpful guide to tell you everything you might need to know. It’s all very well reading about it and knowing what HMRC’s stand on it is – but how do you apply that to your own circumstances? It can seem like an absolute minefield but help is always available and you don’t need to battle through this alone. Our team of experts at DSR Tax Refunds are always on hand to help our clients and our excellent standing with HMRC means that we can make sure you don’t fall foul of their regulations, while claiming your maximum tax relief. We can even take care of all that paperwork and deal with HMRC on your behalf too. Call our friendly team on 0330 122 9972 – we’re the tax experts you can trust.

This page was last updated on 25/10/2018.

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