National Insurance contributions when you work outside the UK

If you work or live abroad, your National Insurance contributions may be affected. You may have to contribute to another country's social security scheme or you may have to continue paying UK National Insurance. This depends on where you work, what you do and for how long.

On this page:

UK National Insurance liability

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) can tell you if you have to pay UK National Insurance contributions for any period that you have worked, or will work, outside the UK as either an employed or self-employed worker.

If you do have to pay UK National Insurance contributions for a period when you are working outside the UK then depending on which country you are in HMRC will give you for a certificate which means that you will not normally have to pay contributions to the other country's social security scheme:

  • in a European Economic Area country, HMRC will normally give you a Portable Document A1 but in some cases an E101 or E102
  • in a country with which the UK has a Reciprocal Agreement on Social Security (except for New Zealand), HMRC will give you a certificate applicable to that country

You should apply for the document before you go abroad. It is possible to issue portable documents retrospectively but applying as early as possible helps HMRC make the process as simple as possible for you and can prevent complications that arise if you apply for documents a long time after the work abroad has started.

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Employees and employers

If you are an employee or an employer, find information on the basic National Insurance rules for people working abroad by following the link below.

National Insurance for people going abroad

Read about European Union (EU) social security rules that operate from 1 May 2010 by following the link below.

National Insurance contributions: rules for workers moving around the EU on or after 1 May 2010 and their employers

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Self-employed

If you are self-employed read about the basic National Insurance rules for people working abroad by following the link below.

Important Information for self-employed people going to European Economic Area countries.

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Voluntary National Insurance contributions and how to pay from abroad

HMRC can tell you if you can pay UK Voluntary National Insurance contributions for a period spent outside the UK and how much you need to pay.

Voluntary National Insurance contributions are paid to protect your entitlement to UK National Insurance state benefits such as the basic State Pension.

There are special agreements about benefits with European Economic Area (EEA) countries and countries with which the UK has a Reciprocal Agreement on Social Security. There are leaflets that tell you more - HMRC advises that you read them first before you decide whether to pay. Find out more about voluntary National Insurance contributions and how to pay by following the link below.

Voluntary National Insurance contributions if you live abroad

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Mariners

If you are a mariner find out more about your National Insurance position by following the link below.

National Insurance for mariners

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Gets a State Pension statement whilst abroad

HMRC no longer issue information about your State Pension. You can check whether you're likely to have a gap in your National Insurance contributions and if this will affect the amount of State Pension you get by requesting a State Pension statement.

Find out more about your State Pension statements online on GOV.UK (Opens new window)

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Forms you might need

Form

Description

Social Security Abroad

NI38 (PDF 340K)

You may find this leaflet very useful. It contains details about National Insurance rules if you are not going to countries in the EEA, Switzerland nor a country covered by a Reciprocal Agreement or Double Contribution Convention.

Employer's questionnaire - employees working in a European Economic Area or Reciprocal Agreement country

CA3821

For employers whose employees are going to work in the EEA. If you have not applied for Portable Documents in the past you must complete and return form CA3821, which asks for details about your company

Employees temporarily posted to another country in the European Economic Area

CA3822

Application for Portable Document A1 or E101 when employees are going to work abroad. If you are sending an employee to work temporarily in a country which is part of the EEA, you must complete form CA3822 for each individual employee. Return each completed form to the address shown on page 1 of the form. The information that you give us on form CA3822 will be used to see if the employee can continue to pay UK National Insurance contributions when working in the other country. If the employee can continue to pay UK National Insurance contributions a Portable Document A1 or E101 will be issued.

Note: all new companies must submit the CA3821 Employer's Questionnaire.

Self-employed temporarily working in another country in the European Economic Area

CA3837

Application for Portable Document A1 or E101. If you are registered self-employed, are going to work in a country which is part of the EEA and you wish to continue to pay UK National Insurance contributions, please complete form CA3837 and return it to the address shown on the front of the form. If you can continue to pay UK National Insurance contributions a Portable Document A1 or E101 will be issued.

Important information for self-employed persons going to European Economic Area countries

Normally working in two or more countries in the European Economic Area

CA8421

Application for Portable Document A1 or E101 when an employee is employed in two or more countries of the EEA.

CA8450 & CA8451

These forms have been withdrawn as there are no separate provisions within European Union regulations or respective Reciprocal Agreements for performers or entertainers. Applications for Portable Document A1, or E101, should be made using one of the following forms:

CA3822 - for employed people going to an EEA country or Switzerland.

CA3837 - for self-employed people going to an EEA country or Switzerland.

CA8421 - for employed or self- employed people working in two or more countries of the EEA.

CA9107 - for employed or self-employed people going to work in a country that the UK has a Reciprocal Agreement with.

Application for health care cover in the European Economic Area

CA8454

Application for Portable Document S1 or E106, E109 or other portable health form.

Application for Certificate of Continuing Liability for Reciprocal Agreement countries

CA9107

For employed or self-employed persons going to work in a Reciprocal Agreement country. If you are an employer and have not applied for certificates in the past you must also complete and return form CA3821, which asks for details about your company.

You can request other leaflets not available for download by filling in a 'Further information' form.

Go to further information form

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State benefits

If you are abroad and need help with an enquiry about the payment of State benefits, you should contact:

Department for Work and Pensions
Pensions Service
Tyneview Park
Whitley Road
Benton
Newcastle upon Tyne
NE98 1BA
UK

Find out more about State benefits when abroad on GOV.UK (Opens new window)

If you are going to live or you are living in another EEA country (see list below) after employment in the UK and you make a claim to benefits under that country's scheme, under certain circumstances your UK National Insurance contributions may help your claim.

If the authorities in the other country need a record of your UK National Insurance contributions to decide your claim they will contact HMRC National Insurance Contributions & Employer Office (NIC&EO) - International Caseworker on your behalf to obtain details of your UK National Insurance contributions record.

As an individual you can apply for the following:

  • Portable Document U1 (or E301 if you are not an EEA national, or will be making a claim in Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein) to assist a claim to unemployment benefit made in another EEA country. This shows the period of UK insurance that can assist a claim for unemployment benefits abroad. It only shows the period required by the authorities in the country in which you are making the claim and may not be the full period you were in the UK.
  • Full statement of National Insurance will show all the contributions recorded on your National Insurance account.This is for your information only and will not assist a benefit claim.

If you require one of these documents please complete form CA3916 by following the link below and return it to the address shown on the front of the form. To avoid any delays please send a copy of your last pay slip and copies of any P60 End of Year certificates you have with the completed form. However sometimes it may be necessary to get in touch with the employers you used to work for in the UK before a document can be sent.

NOTE - If you are a non-EEA national your UK insurance record will not assist a claim to benefits in Denmark.

Please note your claim will be decided using the other country's rules, not UK rules. You should also note that Portable Document  U1 and E301 do not give you any automatic right to receive unemployment benefit in another EEA country.

Go to CA3916

European Economic Area countries

Austria
Belgium
Bulgaria
Croatia
Cyprus
Czech Republic
Denmark
Estonia
Finland
France
Germany
Greece
Hungary
Iceland
Republic of Ireland
Italy
Latvia
Liechtenstein
Lithuania
Luxembourg
Malta
Netherlands
Norway
Poland
Portugal
Romania
Slovakia
Slovenia
Spain
Sweden
Switzerland - Switzerland is not a member of the European Economic Area, but as a result of an agreement with the EU that came in on 1 June 2002, the EU rules on social security also largely cover Switzerland.

Reciprocal Agreement countries

Barbados
Bermuda
Bosnia-Herzegovina
Canada
Guernsey
Israel
Jamaica
Japan - further details of the Japan Reciprocal Agreement
Jersey
Macedonia
Mauritius
Montenegro
New Zealand
Philippines
Republic of Korea - further details of the Republic of Korea Reciprocal Agreement
Serbia
Turkey
USA
Yugoslavia - the Slovenia part of the Yugoslavia Reciprocal Agreement has been superseded by the European Community Regulations.

Find out about Social Security agreements with other countries on the Department for Work & Pensions website (Opens new window)

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Contact HMRC

Non-UK resident individuals

Find HMRC contact details by following the link below.

Contact HMRC

Employers - apply for E101s online

If you are an employer, you can complete forms CA3821 and CA3822 online by following the link below.

Apply online for E101s

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More useful links

Information for volunteers and voluntary organisations carrying out development work in the developing world (PDF 86K)

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