Can I have French and UK pensions for same period?

Qualification to receive a UK state pension, and at what level, is determined by a number of factors
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I recently started to receive my French state pension. I did not pay National Insurance contributions in the UK while working in France. If I buy back the missing years from the UK, is it possible to be paid a state pension from France and the UK for the same periods?

In short, yes, it is possible to claim both a French and UK pension for the ‘same periods’.

With regard to your UK state pension, once you reach the UK retirement age and start to claim it, it will be a ‘full’ UK state pension if you have paid in for 35 qualifying years; it will be reduced proportionally if you have not. Note that you need at least 10 paying-in years to receive any UK pension. Years paying into a French pension may be taken into account for this (but not to increase the amount you may receive).

It is possible to ‘top up’ a UK pension from abroad, even if you are at the same time accruing rights to a pension in the country you are living in, in your case, France.

Read more: Can foreign retirees really claim ‘free pension’ after move to France?

Topping up

In fact, it is good to do so while working, as if a person worked in the UK immediately before moving and is currently working in France, they can top up at Class 2 level, which is some four times less than the alternative Class 4. These cost respectively £3.45/week and £17.45/week.

It is unclear, however, what the future holds for voluntary Class 2 payments, or what may replace them as the current government has spoken of ending this structure.

Usually, you can top up periods within the last six UK tax years (April to April). However  there is currently a window if you want to top up periods between April 2006 and April 2016, running until April 5, 2025.

The recommended first steps are to check your National Insurance record (number of contributing years) and obtain a pension forecast. This should give you an idea of whether it will be worth making top up payments.