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‘Proof of life’ certificates may go online for UK pensioners in France

Plan raises questions over how elderly will avoid payment stoppages if paper forms end

The DWP had no further information on how a digital system would work if a pensioner lacked IT skills Pic: Tyler Olson / Shutterstock

‘Life certificates’ sent to UK pensioners living abroad, including in France, could be moved online.

The certificates are sent to UK state pensioners overseas from time to time to confirm they are still alive and, therefore, that their pension is still payable.

The pensioners must have a form signed by a professional person or retiree, and it has to be posted back within 16 weeks. If it is not, the pension is suspended, pending contact from the pensioner. 

Pensions minister has digital plan

UK pensions minister Laura Trott referred to the digital plan, which would replace the current process of the Department for Work and Pensions sending letters abroad, in a letter to Conservative MP Roger Gale that he shared with The Connexion.

Pensions have on occasion been stopped in error after issues with logging the return of forms. 

Read more: Life certificate issues for Britons in France caused by system error

Who can vouch for you?

The person signing must have known the pensioner for at least two years, be able to identify them, and be ‘of good standing in the community’. 

Often, recipients ask their local mayor to help with this.

The person signing should know the pensioner in a personal capacity, but not be a relative. 

They do not need to have a British passport.

The DWP said it had no further information at this stage when we asked about the possible timeframe, how a digital process might work for signatures, and whether it might be difficult for some elderly people who lack IT skills. 

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