You can get certain Irish social welfare payments and live in another country. You can also continue to get certain social welfare payments if you are on holiday abroad for a specific period of time or if you are getting medical treatment abroad.
Most social insurance payments can be paid to you outside of this state, though the duration can depend on the payment and your circumstances. However, to get a social assistance payment you must live in the State.
Brexit and social insurance payments
On 31 January 2020, the UK exited the EU. However, during the agreed transition period (until 31 December 2020), UK citizens and their families have the same right to live, work, claim benefits, and access healthcare in the EU as they had before.
Irish and UK citizens have the additional protection of the Common Travel Area between Britain and Ireland which will continue after UK leaves the EU. In particular, an agreement called the Convention on Social Security between Ireland and the United Kingdom (pdf) will maintain all the arrangements that existed before the UK’s exit with regard to recognition of, and access to, social insurance entitlements in both jurisdictions. This means that the rights of Irish citizens living in Ireland to benefit from social insurance contributions made when working in the UK are protected and vice versa.
Holidays and social welfare payments
In general you can take up to 2 weeks holidays each year and have your social welfare payment paid. However you must always contact your local Intreo Centre, Social Welfare Branch Office or your Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection (DEASP) representative (formerly known as the Community Welfare Officer) to check your entitlements before planning or taking holidays. If you plan to take longer holidays or to be abroad for an extended period your social welfare payment may not be paid.
Holidays abroad and COVID-19
If you are getting Jobseeker’s Benefit, Jobseeker’s Benefit (Self-employed), Jobseeker’s Allowance or the COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment, you can go on holiday on the island of Ireland (this includes Northern Ireland) for a maximum of 2 weeks and your payment on your return.
The Minister has stated that regulations will be amended to allow people getting the COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment and jobseeker’s payments to go on holiday abroad for up to 2 weeks to countries on the COVID-19 Green List and get their payment on their return.
You must notify your Intreo Centre or Social Welfare Branch Office before taking your holiday.
Jobseeker’s payments can also be paid on your return from representing Ireland in an amateur capacity at international sporting event. You must get written confirmation of the sport and time involved from the governing sporting body.
Irish social welfare payments paid outside the State
If you are living outside the Irish State, the following social welfare payments can be paid abroad:
- Invalidity Pension
- State Pension (Contributory)
- Disablement Benefit. The Constant Attendance Allowance increase is only paid for up to 6 months. However, if you are abroad for medical treatment you may continue to get Incapacity Supplement, such claims are assessed on a case by case basis.
- Guardian’s Payment (Contributory)
- Widow’s, Widower’s or Surviving Civil Partner’s (Contributory) Pension
- Death Benefits under the Occupational Injury Benefit Scheme
- Bereavement Grant
If you are getting one of these social welfare payments and you are going abroad for just a few weeks, you do not have to notify the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection.
If you are going abroad for a long period of time or moving abroad permanently you must notify the Department. You will be asked to produce evidence to prove that you continue to fulfil the qualifying conditions for the payment. For example, you must not be married or in a new civil partnership or cohabitating with someone to continue to get a Widow’s, Widower’s or Surviving Civil Partner’s Contributory Pension.
To get your social welfare benefit paid to you abroad, you must contact the section in the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection that pays your payment and give your bank account details so that they can transfer your payment directly into a bank account while you are abroad. Where payment is already made into your bank account in the State, you can continue to have it paid as it is or change it to a financial institution outside the country.
You must always notify the Department of a permanent or temporary absence from the State and give your contact address abroad.
Payments made abroad in limited situations
Injury Benefit can be paid abroad if you are getting approved medical treatment.
Illness Benefit can be paid for a maximum of 4 weeks while you are on holiday in a country covered by EU Regulations and 3 weeks in other countries. You can continue to get Illness Benefit if you go to live in another country covered by EU Regulations. However, you must still meet all the qualifying criteria for Illness Benefit which includes submitting medical certificates to the DEASP. If you go to live in another country covered by EU Regulations and become ill you may apply for Illness Benefit from Ireland if you paid your last insurance contribution in Ireland or you were getting Jobseeker’s Benefit in Ireland before you went abroad. Illness Benefit is not paid in countries not covered by EU Regulations. However, if you go to a country not covered by EU regulations to get approved treatment your payment may resume when you return.
Citizens of the EU/EEA and Switzerland can get Maternity Benefit or Adoptive Benefit for any period of their maternity or adoptive leave spent in another EU/EEA country (including Switzerland). You can also travel outside the EU/EEA and Switzerland and get Maternity Benefit or Adoptive Benefit for a maximum of 6 weeks.
Citizens of countries other than the EU/EEA or Switzerland can travel anywhere abroad and get Maternity Benefit or Adoptive Benefit for a maximum of 6 weeks.
To get Maternity Benefit or Adoptive Benefit paid while abroad, you must notify the Department in advance of travel.
If you are working in another EEA member state you may qualify for benefit, if you continue to be insured under the Irish Social Welfare Acts.
Paternity Benefit can be paid abroad to both EU and non-EU citizens for a maximum of 2 weeks. You must notify the Department in advance of travel.
Jobseeker’s Benefit (JB) may be transferred to another EEA member state for up to 13 weeks (78 days), if you are looking for work there. You must be getting Jobseeker’s Benefit for 4 weeks before you can transfer it to another EEA member state (this requirement can be waived in some instances). From 1 May 2010 new EU Regulations came into effect which mean that if you apply to transfer your Jobseeker’s Benefit, it will be paid directly to you. If an Increase for a Qualified Adult (IQA) or Increases for Qualified Children (IQC) are being paid you continue to be paid these in the normal way (whether your dependents travel abroad with you or not).
You are still required to register with the employment services of the country where you have gone to look for work within a week. If you are leaving Ireland to move to Northern Ireland or Britain, your Intreo Centre or Social Welfare Branch Office will issue you with the Form U2 (formerly Form E303) which you take to the UK social services. If you are moving to another EU country, the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection will send the U2 form to your new address in that EU country. You may transfer your JB payment more than once while you are unemployed provided you do not exceed the maximum period of 13 weeks.
If you are claiming JB, you can claim increases for your qualified adult and children who are living in another EEA member state.
Carer’s Benefit can be paid if you accompany the person you are caring for abroad to get medical treatment. You can also go abroad on a respite break for a maximum of 3 weeks. Carer’s Benefit may be paid to a carer resident in any country within the EU who is providing full-time care and attention to another person in that country, provided the qualifying conditions have been met in relation to the Carer’s Benefit legislation.
The following payments are not paid outside the State
- Deserted Wife’s Allowance
- Guardian’s Payment (Non-Contributory)
- Prisoner’s Wife’s Allowance
- Supplementary Welfare Allowance
- Health and Safety Benefit
Rent Supplement is not normally payable while you are outside the country. You should contact the officer dealing with your claim if you intend to leave the country, even for a short absence. Payment may be made in certain circumstances for short absences from the country, such as holidays etc., if the officer dealing with your claims agrees to it.
The following payments are not paid if you are outside the State but there are some exceptions depending on your circumstances
Deserted Wife’s Benefit can be paid up to a maximum of 3 weeks.
Carer’s Allowance can be paid if you accompany the person you are caring for abroad to get medical treatment. You can also go abroad on a respite break for a maximum of 3 weeks.
Disability Allowance can be paid if you are studying an approved course outside the State under the Back to Education Allowance scheme or getting medical treatment not available in Ireland. You must notify the Department and provide proof of medical treatment or education abroad. Under legislation you have no entitlement to be paid Disability Allowance while on holiday. However, in practice Disability Allowance may be paid for 2 weeks while you are on holiday abroad. You should inform the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection before you go on holiday.
One-Parent Family Payment and Jobseeker’s Transitional payment can be paid up to a maximum of 3 weeks while you are on holiday abroad. You must notify the Department in advance that you are going abroad.
If you are getting Widow’s, Widower’s or Surviving Civil Partner’s (Non-Contributory) Pension, State Pension (Non-Contributory) and Blind Pension you can go abroad in exceptional circumstances for a limited period and the Department will review your entitlement when you return. You must notify the Department before leaving the State. If you are getting State Pension (Non-Contributory) or Blind Pension and take up residence in Northern Ireland, the pension is payable until you become entitled to an equivalent payment from Northern Ireland or for a period of 5 years whichever is the shorter.
Child Benefit can be paid to volunteer development workers and members of the Irish Defence Forces or Irish Civil Service serving abroad. It can also be paid if you are working abroad for an Irish employer and paying Irish social insurance contributions.
For further information about transferring your social welfare payment abroad, or taking holidays while getting a social welfare payment, contact the section in the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection that pays your social welfare payment or your local Intreo Centre or Social Welfare Branch Office.