UK and Spanish Benefits in Spain
As a greater number of UK nationals are considering the option to move abroad to countries such as Spain, it proves wise to take a look at some of the social security benefits they can expect to receive. For the sake of clarity, we will split this article up into two sections; the first regarding what domestic UK benefits can be maintained, and the second section covering what Spanish benefits are available for those who choose to live in Spain permanently.
What Social Security Benefits am I Entitled to When Living in Spain? 
As it may take some time to attain Spanish residency, the first main question is, what UK benefits entitlement can you expect when living in Spain?
Can I Receive a UK Pension in Spain?
As many who will migrate to Spain are retirees, it is important to note that the UK basic state pension is available in Spain. It should be noted that this applies only if you have lived, but not worked in Spain. However, if you have worked in Spain previously, the pension must be applied for through the Instituto Nacional de Seguridad Social (the Spanish equivalent of the Social Security Administration).
Can I Get Disability Benefit or Personal Independence Payment in Spain?
If you are aged between 16 and 64 you are able to receive the new PIP (Personal Independence Payment) while living in Spain. If you are claiming for someone under the age of 16, you will need to claim DLA for Children.
The amount that you can receive when claiming PIP and DLA ranges from £21.80 to £139.75 per week.
Can I Get Child Benefits From the UK if I Live in Spain?
In some cases a UK citizen is entitled to receive child benefit in Spain as long as the child is below 16 years of age (20 years if they are continuing their education) and you are either a Crown Servant or are currently paying your National Insurance in the UK.
If you already receive a form of child benefit in the country in which you are living and it is less than the UK child benefit, this can be topped up to match the UK child benefit.
It is also worth noting that if you are leaving the UK temporarily for up to 8 weeks, your child benefit will not be affected and you will not need to inform HMRC.
If you are leaving the UK for more than 52 weeks then you may still qualify for child benefit and may be dependent on whether you are going to be living in an EEA country or whether you are already receiving UK national insurance related benefits.
Other rules also apply and depend on where you live and work. If you are in any doubt, please contact HMRC for clarification. For further information, please visit the HMRC page at
Can I Receive Unemployment Benefit While Living in Spain?
According to the UK’s Foreign Commonwealth office, unemployment benefits can only be claimed if one has been working in Spain and paying tax contributions. The necessary forms can be found at any employment office in Spain, and one should also state any prior contributions that may have been paid in the UK.
Can I Receive UK Tax Credits When Living in Spain?
There are a few conditions where this is possible. If you are either a Crown servant working abroad or a cross-border worker, tax credits may be possible. Alternatively, if you are currently receiving a state pension or have a child under 16 (20 if in university), you may also be able to claim.  More detailed information including individual stipulations can be found at
What Other Benefits Can I Expect to Receive?
You can qualify for statutory sick pay if you have been off work for more than 4 days and this pay is provided by your employer. This must be applied for before leaving the UK and will provide financial assistance for up to 28 weeks. Statutory maternity pay is also a possibility however, once again this pay must be applied for before leaving the UK at least 15 weeks before a mother is due to give birth. An employer is legally obliged to write within 28 days to confirm the approval.  
Job Seeker’s Allowance (JSA) is unavailable if your stay is permanent. It would then fall under the Spanish contribution-based system, as we will see shortly.  A winter fuel allowance was previously available, but is no longer the case as the average winter temperature in Spain is higher than in the UK.
Which UK Benefits am I Unable to Receive in Spain?
There are a number of UK benefits that you cannot apply for under any circumstances when living in Spain. These include, Housing Benefit, Council Tax Benefit, Pension Credit, Income Support and Means-Tested Incapacity Benefit.
What are Some Spanish Contribution-Based Social Security Benefits?
Working in Spain provides additional benefits for the UK national, and we will take a brief look at the four most common benefits to receive.
Unemployment Benefits
These benefits can be claimed if you have been working in Spain. As long as you have been paying contributions (tax and social security) to the Spanish government, you will be entitled to receive these benefits. However, the time period you may have had to work before qualifying for these benefits may vary, so it is best to consult the local Spanish employment office to learn more.
Disability Benefits
This benefit follows the same rules as the unemployment benefits listed above. Additionally, any previous contributions should also be stated while you lived in the UK. An application for a statement of National Insurance Contributions from HM Revenue & Customs should be obtained to assist with this claim.
Spanish Pensions
If you have lived and worked in Spain, you will be able to claim a Spanish pension if you have been a resident for at least ten years between the ages of 16 and pension age, and are over 65 when filing for the claim and have a low income. Note that the last two years of employment must be directly prior to filing for this benefit.
Means Tested Benefits
This claim will be approved if you have lived in Spain for 5 years or more, have a low income, are between the ages of 18 and 65 and are medically affected by a disability or chronic illness. You must have lived concurrently in Spain for the 2 years immediately prior to filing your claim.
So, we see that it is not illegal to receive UK benefits while living in Spain. However, there are simply some rules and regulations which can make these processes markedly easier.
Expat Health Insurance In Spain
If you are an expat living in Spain or hoping to move here and are looking for private health insurance, please check out our range of expat health insurance products.
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Image courtesy of ATsociety.
Updated: 19/8/2016

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