Reader Question: My wife and I lived in France from 2003 to 2014. She was employed for nine years and I was self-employed for six years. Now we are in the UK, can we recoup any French pension when we retire?
The French pension system is complex and rules vary depending on the caisse (pension body) to which you contributed.
The only way to know for sure what you could obtain is to contact the caisses in question, directly, though in some cases no pension might be payable if you did not work and pay in for a certain minimum of trimestres (quarters).
Note, however, that the Brexit Trade and Cooperation Agreement maintained pension coordination between the UK and France. This means years paying in in the UK should be taken into account by France, which might help you obtain more than you would otherwise qualify for.
In theory, this also means you can apply to the pension body in the country you are resident in to claim all your pensions, though bearing in mind that pension eligibility ages might vary.
A spokesman for Cnav, the body managing basic state pensions for employees in France, said: “The coordination rules have not changed.
“Where someone is living in the UK and has worked in France, with UK pension rights or without, they should apply for their [French] pension from the British body and it will transmit to us the form and supporting documents.”
He said for a French pension for an ex-employee there is no minimum length of paying in to be entitled to something. Bear in mind, however, that calculation of a French pension does depend on how long you paid in, and how much.
A spokesman for the UK’s DWP also said nothing has changed since Brexit and “people only need to claim state pension in the last country where they lived or worked”. This covers the EEA, Gibraltar and Switzerland, but any payments will be made by each country separately. He said the DWP is able to liaise with most foreign pension offices, including those in France.