hmrcMany of us leave the UK and come to live and work here in Spain, but forget all about our national insurance contributions back in the UK.

By paying a small amount each month into your national insurance pot, you will be entitled to a number of benefits and other allowances regardless to whether you plan on returning to the UK at some point in the future or not.

Why Pay Voluntary National Insurance When Living in Spain?

Considering that you only need to pay a little each month in National Insurance Contributions (NICS) to build up your entitlement to certain benefits, it is well worth the effort to keep contributing. The benefits you may be entitled to are:-

  • Basic state pension
  • Benefits and allowances if you return to the UK
  • Certain state benefits within the EEA
  • Contribution based jobseeker's allowance
  • Employment and support allowance - contributions based.
  • Maternity allowance
  • Incapacity benefit
  • Bereavement allowances including widowed parents allowance, bereavement payment and bereavement allowance.

So as you can see, some of these are solely dependent on whether you return to the UK and others are payable regardless, such as the basic state pension.

Do You Qualify to Pay Voluntary National Insurance Contributions?

There are a couple of conditions that must be met before you become eligible to pay voluntary National Insurance Contributions. They are:-

  • You have lived in the UK for a continuous three year period at any time before making any payments.
  • Before you moved to Spain, you paid national insurance payments for at least three years.

Which Class of National Insurance Contributions Do I Pay?

There are basically six classes of NIC's which you can pay and the ones you pay depend on whether you are employed, self employed or want to just pay voluntary contributions.

The main two types of NIC's that you may have to pay while living abroad are either:-

Class 2 - As of 2015/16 these are paid at the rate of £2.80 per week.

To qualify to pay class 2 national insurance payments you need to have prior to moving abroad:-

  • Lived in the UK for a minimum of 3 years.
  • Paid national insurance payments continuously for 3 years.
  • Were employed or self employed immediately before moving abroad
  • Were employed or self employed and were registered unemployed immediately prior to moving abroad.

Class 3 - As of 2015/16 these are paid at the rate of £14.10 per week. They are generally paid if you are not entitled to pay Class 2 contributions. They also do not provide certain benefits that the Class 2 NIC's provide.

To qualify to pay Class 3 NIC's you need to have prior to moving abroad:-

  • Lived in the UK for at least 3 years.
  • Paid 3 years worth of national insurance contributions.
  • Are not entitled to pay Class 2 contributions.
  • Are unemployed abroad

You may also be able to pay Class 3 contributions if you have not been able to pay enough class 1 and class 2 contributions in the tax year towards your state pension or other state benefits.

Topping Up Your National Insurance Contributions

You can pay your voluntary national insurance payments via two methods which are:-

  • Every 4 or 5 weeks via direct debit.
  • With an annual payment.
  • Quarterly bill (Class 3)

Information on how to pay Class 2 national insurance contributions can be found at

Information on how to pay your Class 3 national insurance contributions can be found at

Making Up For Missed Payments

If you qualify to be able to make voluntary National Insurance Contributions and have a gap or shortfall in your contributions, you can make a payment to cover the lost payments.

Payments can only be made for up to 6 years of missed contributions.

Future Changes to the Pension System

Changes are currently being made to how the state pension will be calculated in the future.

From the 6th April 2016 the new state pension will come into force.

This means that if you are a man born after the 6th April 1951 or a woman born after 6th April 1953 you may be entitled to the new state pension.

To qualify, you will need to have paid a minimum of 10 years National Insurance Contributions.

At the moment, the minimum that you will get is £148.40 per week. This amount will be finalised in Autumn 2015.

This amount will rise depending on how many years you have paid National Insurance Contributions.

You can find out more about the new state pension here.

Updated 19/5/2015

Join us on Facebook