Social security agreement with the United Kingdom

Introduction

This information is for:

  • New Zealanders who have resided, reside or are going to reside in the United Kingdom, including Northern Ireland
  • Former United Kingdom and Northern Ireland residents who have resided, reside or are going to reside in New Zealand.

Note: If you intend to only travel around the United Kingdom and then return to New Zealand or intend to travel around the United Kingdom and then to a third country please refer to Retired and Going Overseas.

The Social Security Agreement

New Zealand and the United Kingdom have a social security agreement. The Agreement covers the following benefits and pensions:

New Zealand

  • New Zealand Superannuation
  • Supported Living Payment (health condition, injury, disability or totally blind)
  • Sole Parent Support for widows
  • Orphan's Benefit
  • Jobseeker Support

United Kingdom

  • State Pension (formerly Retirement Pension)
  • Widow's Benefits and Bereavement Benefits
  • Incapacity Benefits
  • Guardians’ Benefit
  • Child Benefit
  • Job Seekers Allowance

The Agreement means that:

  • New Zealanders that reside in the United Kingdom may be able to use their entitlement to a New Zealand benefit or pension or their New Zealand residence to help them meet the residential/contribution criteria for United Kingdom benefits and pensions.
  • Former United Kingdom residents that now reside in New Zealand may be able to use their residence in the United Kingdom and/or their contributions to the United Kingdom National Insurance Scheme to meet the residential requirements for benefits or pensions in New Zealand.
  • When former United Kingdom residents apply for a New Zealand benefit or pension and may also qualify for a United Kingdom benefit or pension they must apply for that United Kingdom benefit or pension as well.

Note: If you have resided in the United Kingdom or New Zealand for some time, you may qualify for benefits or pensions that are not covered by the Agreement.

New Zealand benefits and pensions are not paid into the United Kingdom.

If you have resided or worked overseas or you have made contributions to an overseas social security scheme, you may be required to apply for an overseas benefit or pension from that overseas country. Work and Income will decide if this is required when you apply for your New Zealand benefit or pension.

This document only applies to benefits and pensions covered by the Agreement.

Phrases used

“Ordinarily resident in New Zealand” describes a person who normally resides in New Zealand and intends to continue doing so. As there are a number of factors that prove “ordinarily resident in New Zealand", Work and Income decides this on a case by case basis.

A partner is your spouse (husband or wife), or a person with whom you have a de facto relationship or in a civil union with.

Note: If you are in a same sex relationship and residing in Ireland, we cannot pay you a married rate.

The International Pension Centre in the United Kingdom is the equivalent of Work and Income in New Zealand.

Receiving a benefit or pension in the United Kingdom

If you reside in the United Kingdom you can't be paid New Zealand benefits and pensions. However, you may qualify for United Kingdom benefits or pensions.

Note: If you are in the United Kingdom temporarily you can apply for a United Kingdom benefit or pension, or an increase in your United Kingdom benefit or pension.  If you receive a New Zealand benefit or pension at the same time you must tell Work and Income as your rate of New Zealand benefit or pension will be affected.

Receiving United Kingdom benefits or pensions in the United Kingdom

The International Pension Centre in the United Kingdom decides who can receive United Kingdom benefits and pensions and how much will be paid.

If you have resided in New Zealand for long enough or made enough contributions to the United Kingdom National Insurance Scheme, you may be able to receive the following benefits or pensions:

  • State Pension (formerly Retirement Pension)
  • Widow’s benefits and Bereavement Benefits
  • Incapacity Benefits
  • Guardians Allowance
  • Child Benefit
  • Job Seekers Allowance.

How do I apply for United Kingdom benefits and pensions?

You must be in the United Kingdom to apply for United Kingdom benefits and pensions that you want to receive while residing there.

If you don't receive New Zealand Superannuation or Sole Parent Support for widows before leaving New Zealand and you would like the period of your New Zealand residence to be taken into account when applying for a United Kingdom benefit or pension, you will need evidence of that time.

This includes tax certificates, employers’ references, wage slips, travel documents, testimonials, work references and letters from neighbours and friends (please provide their contact details).

If you already receive New Zealand Superannuation or Sole Parent Support for widows prior to leaving New Zealand for the United Kingdom, you will need to contact Senior Services International in New Zealand for a letter which will:

  • verify that you received New Zealand Superannuation or Sole Parent Support for widows and the date this stopped
  • state that you received this payment in your own right (not using another social security agreement to meet the criteria).

For more information contact the International Pension Centre in the United Kingdom.  See below for contact details.

How much will I be paid?

If you didn't receive New Zealand Superannuation or Sole Parent Support for widows prior to leaving New Zealand, the rate you are paid for United Kingdom benefits and pensions depends on contributions you made to the National Insurance Scheme and time resided in New Zealand.

If you received New Zealand Superannuation or Sole Parent Support for widows prior to leaving New Zealand, you may receive the full standard rate of the United Kingdom State Pension or Widow's Allowance/Basic Widow's Pension.

In both cases, the International Pension Centre decides how much will be paid.

Receiving a benefit or pension in New Zealand

If you reside in New Zealand or intend to, you may qualify for benefits or pensions from both the United Kingdom and New Zealand.

If you are paid a New Zealand benefit or pension, you must apply for any United Kingdom benefit or pension that you may be able to receive.  You must also apply for any other overseas benefit or pension that you may be able to receive.

The combined amount of your New Zealand and overseas pension payments receive will be similar to the amount you would have been paid if you spent all your life in New Zealand.

Generally, you must have permanent residence or New Zealand citizenship to be paid a New Zealand benefit or pension. If you already receive a United Kingdom benefit or pension, or a benefit or pension from another country, you must tell Work and Income.

Receiving United Kingdom benefits or pensions in New Zealand

The International Pension Centre in the United Kingdom decides who can receive United Kingdom benefits and pensions and how much will be paid.

If you have made contributions to the United Kingdom National Insurance Scheme and you meet the general criteria for United Kingdom benefits and pensions, you may be able to receive some of the following benefits or pensions:

  • State Pension (formerly Retirement Pension)
  • Widow’s Benefits
  • Child Benefit
  • Incapacity Benefits (short term assistance only)
  • Guardian's Allowance.

Note: The Child Benefit and Guardian's Allowance have criteria concerning permanent departures and ordinary residence in the United Kingdom.  Please discuss your situation with the International Pension Centre before you leave the United Kingdom.

How do I apply for United Kingdom benefits and pensions?

You should apply before you leave the United Kingdom. 

If you already reside in New Zealand contact Work and Income. See below for contact details.

Receiving New Zealand benefits or pensions in New Zealand

Work and Income uses certain criteria to decide who can get a benefit or pension in New Zealand, and how much will be paid.

Can I receive New Zealand Superannuation?

You may be able to receive New Zealand Superannuation if you have resided in the United Kingdom and:

  • you meet the New Zealand criteria for New Zealand Superannuation
  • you have been resident and present in New Zealand for more than 10 years since the age of 20 with five years since the age of 50 (your periods of United Kingdom residence and/or contributions may be able to be used for this)
  • you are ordinarily resident in New Zealand when you apply
  • you have been granted permanent residence in New Zealand by Immigration New Zealand, or you have New Zealand citizenship
  • you intend to reside in New Zealand
  • you are 65 or over.

For more information about New Zealand Superannuation, refer to: Services for seniors guide

Partners

You may choose to include your partner if they do not meet the criteria for New Zealand Superannuation eg if they are under 65 or do not meet the residency criteria.

If you choose to include your partner, the married rate of New Zealand Superannuation will be income tested. This means that the rate you are paid will depend on any income you and your partner have.

Can I receive the Supported Living Payment (health condition, injury, disability or totally blind)

You may be able to receive the Supported Living Payment (health condition, injury, disability or totally blind) if you have resided in the United Kingdom and:

  • you meet the New Zealand criteria for the Supported Living Payment (health condition, injury, disability or totally blind)
  • you have been resident in New Zealand for at least two years continuously (your periods of United Kingdom residence and/or contributions may be able to be used for this)
  • you are ordinarily resident in New Zealand when you apply
  • you have been granted permanent residence in New Zealand by Immigration New Zealand, or you have New Zealand citizenship
  • you are 16 or over
  • you are permanently and severely restricted in your capacity to work because of sickness, injury or disability or totally blind.

Supported Living Payment (health condition, injury, disability or totally blind) is income tested

For more information about the Supported Living Payment (health condition, injury, disability or totally blind), refer to: Supported Living Payment (health condition, injury, disability or totally blind) guide

Can I receive Sole Parent Support for widows?

You may be able to receive a Sole Parent Support for widows if you have resided in the United Kingdom and:

  • you meet the New Zealand criteria for a Sole Parent Support for widows
  • you have been resident in New Zealand for at least two years continuously (you and your late partner's periods of United Kingdom residence and/or contributions may be able to be used for this)
  • any overlapping periods can only be counted once
  • you are ordinarily resident in New Zealand when you apply
  • you have been granted permanent residence in New Zealand by Immigration New Zealand, or you have New Zealand citizenship
  • you are 16 or over and were legally married to your last deceased spouse
  • if your partner died in the United Kingdom they will be treated as if they had died in New Zealand
  • dependent children born in the United Kingdom are treated as if they were dependent children born in New Zealand

For more information about the Sole Parent Support for widows, refer to: Sole Parent Support for widows guide

Can I receive the Jobseeker Support?

You may be able to receive the Jobseeker Support if you have resided in the United Kingdom and:

  • you meet the New Zealand criteria for Jobseeker Support
  • you have been resident in New Zealand for at least two years continuously (your periods of United Kingdom residence and/or insurance may be able to be used for this)
  • you are ordinarily resident in New Zealand when you apply
  • you have been granted permanent residence in New Zealand by Immigration New Zealand, or you have New Zealand citizenship
  • you are 18 or over
  • you are 16 or over and married, in a civil union or a de facto relationship and have one or more dependent children or
  • you are 16 or 17 and either pregnant or undergoing treatment in an approved rehabilitation programme and
  • you are unable to work because of sickness, injury or disability
  • you are not in full-time employment
  • you are available for and seeking full-time work.

Note: Jobseeker Support is not paid if you leave New Zealand.

For more information about Jobseeker Support, refer to: Jobseeker Support guide

Can I receive an Orphan’s Benefit?

You may be able to receive an Orphan’s Benefit if you have resided in the United Kingdom and:

  • you meet the New Zealand criteria for Orphan’s Benefit
  • you are ordinarily resident in New Zealand when you apply
  • you have been granted permanent residence in New Zealand by Immigration New Zealand, or you have New Zealand citizenship
  • you are 18 or over
  • you are likely to look after the child for at least one year
  • you are the main caregiver of the child
  • you are not the child’s natural or adoptive parent.

For more information about the Orphan's Benefit refer to: Help if you're caring for someone else's child

Can I receive extra assistance?

There are a number of supplementary benefits available in New Zealand. You may qualify for these depending on your circumstances.

Accommodation Supplement

The Accommodation Supplement helps with paying rent or board, or owning a home. The rate depends on the area you reside in and your accommodation costs.

Disability Allowance

If you have a disability you may be able to receive a Disability Allowance to help towards any extra costs such as regular doctor visits, medicines and extra clothes, food or travel.

Family Tax Credit (formerly Family Support)

If you care for dependent children, you may be able to receive Family Tax Credit. This depends on any other income you receive.

Community Services Card and Super Gold Card

If you reside in New Zealand and receive a benefit you may be entitled to a Community Services Card to help with health costs.

If you are returning to New Zealand temporarily and you meet the entitlement criteria, you may be able to get a Temporary Community Services Card.

If you reside in New Zealand and are 65 years or over, or under 65 and receiving a Veteran’s Pension, or you have been included in your partners New Zealand Superannuation or Veteran’s Pension, you will be eligible for a Super Gold Card. It gives access to discounts from a wide range of businesses nationwide and facilitates easy access to government entitlements and local authority services and concessions

Super Gold Cards are only available to people who are ordinarily resident in New Zealand.

For more information refer to: Need extra Help with Costs

If you're applying for New Zealand Superannuation refer to: Extra Financial Assistance

For more information on the Community Services Card, refer to: Community Services Card

For more information on the Super Gold Card, refer to the SuperGold Card website www.supergold.govt.nz or phone 0800 25 45 65

How do I apply for New Zealand benefits and pensions?

You should apply at a Work and Income office. To find out more, call Work and Income. See below for contact details.

When you make an application for a benefit or pension in New Zealand, you need:

  • proof of your identity (passport, birth certificate, marriage certificate or drivers’ licence)
  • your bank account details so that payments can be made to you (bank book, bank statement or deposit slip)
  • any other information that you think will be helpful.

How much will I be paid?

As a general rule, the amount you are paid is about equal to the New Zealand benefit or pension you would be paid if you had resided all your life in New Zealand.

Work and Income decides how much you will be paid based on certain criteria. Any benefit or pension similar to a New Zealand benefit or pension from another country including the United Kingdom is usually deducted from your New Zealand payment.

Other income you have may affect the amount paid to you if you are applying for an income-tested benefit.

Dual Entitlement

In certain circumstances you may receive your full New Zealand Superannuation and your United Kingdom benefit or pension. This only happens if:

  • you receive New Zealand Superannuation without using the Agreement. This means you have been resident and present in New Zealand for more than ten years since the age of 20 with five years since the age of 50, and
  • you were usually resident in New Zealand on 1 January 1970 and, while resident in New Zealand on or before that date, made contributions to the United Kingdom National Insurance Scheme

How is this done?

This depends on how you choose to have your payment from the United Kingdom made.

How are payments made from the United Kingdom?

You can choose to have your United Kingdom benefit or pension paid by the Direct Payment Method or the Special Banking Option.

Direct Payment Method

If you choose the Direct Payment Method, your United Kingdom benefit or pension is paid directly from the United Kingdom to your bank account every four or 13 weeks, or annually if it is very small. You are responsible for paying tax on this.

Your United Kingdom benefit or pension is converted each month to New Zealand dollars. This amount is directly deducted from your New Zealand benefit or pension. This means that the payments you receive from the United Kingdom and New Zealand will change each month due to fluctuations in exchange rates.

Each month Work and Income will send you a letter explaining how your New Zealand payment rate was worked out. If you don't want to receive these, please let us know.

For a majority of countries we use an average exchange rate between the overseas currency and the New Zealand dollar over a specific period ( the 16th of one month to the 15th of the next).

Some countries notify us of the actual exchange rate or sometimes more than one exchange rate they used to pay their pensions in New Zealand. With these countries we use the either actual exchange rate or the average of the exchange rates for the month whichever is the most advantageous to you.

Note: The rate of Supported Living Payment (health condition, injury, disability or totally blind), Sole Parent Support for widows, Jobseeker Support, and New Zealand Superannuation (where a non-qualified partner has been included) depends on any other income you have.

The Special Banking Option

If you choose the Special Banking Option, your United Kingdom benefit or pension will be paid into a special bank account that only Work and Income and the bank are able to access.

Work and Income will pay you the full New Zealand benefit or pension weekly or fortnightly. Your payment isn’t affected by exchange rates and the tax is already paid for you.

For more information, refer to: Payment Options for Overseas Pensions

What tax will I have to pay?

When I may have to pay tax

You may have to pay tax on your United Kingdom payments in New Zealand if:

  • you are paid New Zealand Superannuation or a Veteran's Pension, and
  • you are paid your United Kingdom pension by the Direct Payment Method.
  • you took up the Special Banking Option part way through a tax year

This is regardless of whether your United Kingdom benefit or pension is paid into New Zealand or the United Kingdom.

Make sure you keep copies of all your banking records, as these will show your gross United Kingdom pension payments required for tax purposes.

You may have to pay tax on any part of your United Kingdom payment that exceeds the normal amount of New Zealand benefit payable if:

  • you are paid any New Zealand benefit or pension
  • you are paid your United Kingdom payment by the Direct Payment Method
  • the rate of New Zealand benefit paid to you, when combined with your United Kingdom payment is more than the normal amount of benefit.

When I may not have to pay tax

Generally, you do not have to pay tax on your United Kingdom payments in New Zealand if:

  • you are paid a New Zealand Superannuation or Veteran's Pension, and
  • you are paid through the Special Banking Option or
  • you are paid a New Zealand benefit or pension other than New Zealand Superannuation or Veteran's Pension, and
  • you are paid your United Kingdom benefit or pension by the Direct Payment Method.

You may need to pay tax on any United Kingdom benefit or pension you received prior to choosing the Special Banking Option.

We recommend you discuss your tax liabilities with Inland Revenue (New Zealand).

What happens to my New Zealand benefit or pension if I leave New Zealand?

If you leave New Zealand temporarily, you need to advise Work and Income. You may continue to receive your benefit or pension but it may be paid at a different rate or not be paid at all depending on the length of time you are away and the country you are in.

Note: If you only intend to travel overseas temporarily, please refer to Retired and Going Overseas if you are receiving New Zealand Superannuation or a Veteran's Pension, or Are you Going Overseas if you are receiving a benefit.

If you move to another country, you may be able to continue to receive your New Zealand benefit or pension depending on what type of benefit or pension you are receiving and which country you move to.

Advise Work and Income of your plans so there’s less chance that you will be overpaid and required to make repayments later.

Carrying out full-time voluntary humanitarian work

If you go overseas temporarily to do full-time voluntary humanitarian work, you may be able to receive your New Zealand Superannuation or Veteran's Pension for up to 156 weeks. You need to check with Work and Income before you go.

What happens to my New Zealand benefit or pension if I return to the United Kingdom?

If you return to the United Kingdom temporarily, you must advise Work and Income before you leave New Zealand. You may continue to receive your benefit or pension depending on what benefit or pension you are receiving and the length of time you are away.

If you visit the United Kingdom temporarily and you are paid a United Kingdom benefit or pension, you may be paid a higher rate of United Kingdom pension during your visit. This will affect your New Zealand payments. You must advise Senior Services International of any increase in your United Kingdom payment. This will ensure that you are paid the correct amount from New Zealand.

If you move back to the United Kingdom to reside there, your New Zealand benefit or pension will generally be cancelled. Advise Work and Income of your plans so there’s less chance that you will be overpaid and required to make repayments later.

For more information about how leaving New Zealand may affect your payment, refer to:

Legislation

A copy of the Social Welfare (Reciprocity with the United Kingdom) Order 1990 (the Agreement) can be found here on the New Zealand Legislation website:

Frequently Asked Questions

Who decides how much I will be paid?

The International Pension Centre in the United Kingdom decides who can receive United Kingdom benefits and pensions and how much will be paid. Work and Income in New Zealand decides who can receive a New Zealand benefit or pension and how much will be paid.

What happens to the information I provide Work and Income?

Any application forms you complete for New Zealand benefits or pensions may be compared with information held by the International Pension Centre or Work and Income.  Work and Income checks your identity and residency status.

Work and Income may compare information with by Inland Revenue, the Ministry of Justice, the Department of Corrections, the New Zealand Customs Service, the Department of Internal Affairs, the Accident Compensation Corporation, Housing New Zealand Corporation and Immigration New Zealand. Work and Income may pass this information on to the United Kingdom International Pension Centre as well.

In certain circumstances, Work and Income may approach other governments from whom you may be able to receive a similar benefit or pension.

Under the New Zealand Privacy Act 1993, you have the right to request all information we hold about you and corrections to that information.

What happens if I’m in New Zealand and my United Kingdom benefit or pension is higher than my New Zealand benefit or pension?

If your United Kingdom payment is paid by Direct Payment Method you will be paid your full United Kingdom payment but not a New Zealand benefit or pension.

If your partner is paid a New Zealand benefit or pension, any excess from your United Kingdom pension will be deducted from their New Zealand benefit or pension.

In some circumstances, your full United Kingdom pension may be deducted from your partner’s New Zealand benefit or pension payment.

If you are on the Special Banking Option, please talk to us about your options.

Is it to my advantage to make voluntary National Insurance contributions from New Zealand?

This depends on how much you decide to pay and whether you intend to reside in New Zealand, the United Kingdom or any other country in the future.  For more information contact Senior Services International or the International Pension Centre. See below for contact details.

I have been travelling through the United Kingdom for more than 26 weeks while receiving payment of New Zealand Superannuation overseas.  I had the intention of returning to New Zealand at the end of my travels but have now decided to reside in the United Kingdom, what should I do?

If you begin to reside in the United Kingdom your payments of New Zealand Superannuation will probably stop from the date you advise us that you intend to reside in the United Kingdom.  The Agreement does not allow payment of New Zealand Superannuation to those people who reside in the United Kingdom.  Please contact us immediately.  You will also need to contact The International Pension Centre to apply for a United Kingdom Retirement Pension.

I have been residing in the United Kingdom and am currently receiving payments of United Kingdom Retirement Pension from the International Pension Centre.  I have decided that I would like to travel overseas for a year.  Can I receive my New Zealand Superannuation while I do this?

If you intend to travel outside of the United Kingdom for a period longer than 26 weeks, you will not be entitled to payment of New Zealand Superannuation during your absence.

You must be ordinarily resident in New Zealand at the time you apply for payment of New Zealand Superannuation outside New Zealand to travel for more than 26 weeks to be able to receive payment.

Please contact Senior Services International to discuss this further.

You should also check with International Pension Centre in the United Kingdom about how absences from the United Kingdom might affect you UK Pension payments.

Contacts

For United Kingdom contact details go to our overseas pensions agency contact details page.

If you write to The Pension Centre, you should include:

  • your full name, full address and date of birth
  • a list of all the countries you have resided in
  • your National Insurance number if possible.

For New Zealand Senior Services contact details go to the Getting in touch with us page on the Ministry of Social Development website.