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How to top up your UK state pension when you live in France

We explain how former UK residents can still pay voluntary National Insurance to build up a full UK state pension, how much to pay and which form to fill in

gov.uk website

You need 35 years of paying in to obtain a full UK State Pension Pic: chrisdorney / Shutterstock

Former UK residents who now live in France can make top-up UK state pension contributions at two cost levels.

Paying voluntary National Insurance (NI) contributions might be of interest if you have paid in via work prior to moving but not for sufficient years to benefit from a full UK state pension at retirement age. 

This can also be the case if you have not paid any in at all or if you paid in for less than 10 years and do not have any French or other EU pension paying-in years that can compensate.

Top up to reach 35 years

You need 35 years of paying in to obtain a full ‘new state pension’ of £185.15/week. 

Some people obtain more due to additional state pension entitlement built up under a previous scheme.

If you wish to top up, you can usually make contributions for the past six UK tax years, with a deadline of April 5 each year, eg. you have until April 5, 2023, to make up for gaps for 2016-17. 

However, it is currently also possible to pay for years from April 2006 to April 2016 if you wish to and are a man born after April 5, 1951, or a woman born after April 5, 1953.

Which NI class?

If you are working in France and were working in the UK immediately before leaving, and have previously lived in the UK for at least three years in a row or paid at least three years of contributions, you pay class 2 NI contributions (£3.15/week). 

Otherwise, you pay class 3 (£15.85/week).

Useful contacts

Contact the Future Pension Centre to check your gaps and whether making voluntary payments may be of benefit: 0044 (0)1919 218 3600. 

You can also check your pension at gov.uk/check-state-pension if you create an account.

Apply to pay using form CF83

You will be sent information on how to pay by cheque or bank transfer. 

You should receive annual reminders asking if you wish to make further top-ups.

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