Do UK pensioners in France now have to use digital life certificates?

New IT-based services are replacing classic ‘proof of life’ formats for some

Some pension platforms for overseas Britons are now fully digitalised
Published Last updated

Reader Question: I receive a UK county council pension. Third-party contractors now manage the payments and say I have to complete a digital life certificate with biometric facial authentication. Can I just continue to send back paper certificates as I have done in the past?

Britons who have left the UK but receive a pension from there are asked, from time to time, to offer proof of life to continue receiving it.

This is often done via paper copies that require an official signature from a ‘witness’ (in France this can be a mayor, pharmacist, etc).

If you do not return these certificates, there is a risk of losing access to your pension.

Read more: How UK pensioners in France are dealing with ‘life certificate’ issues

Some pension providers, including some councils, now require ‘digital life certificates’ instead of a paper one as proof of life, usually via a smartphone application or website.

In some instances this has completely replaced the use of paper certificates.

How do digital life certificates work for British pensioners in France?

The exact way the digital certificates work will depend on the third-party contractor in question, as well the council itself.

For example, Kent County Council, as well as a number of other UK bodies providing work pensions, uses a third party called ‘Crown Agents Bank’, which is a registered UK bank and uses a website for digital certificate requests.

Users must create an account with their site, after which they will be able to use it to confirm proof of life via a digital certificate.

The process can be undertaken using a desktop computer, smartphone or tablet, and requires you to take a photo of an ID document (ie. your passport) as well as a ‘selfie’.

There is more information here.

The UK government uses a similar system when setting up to view state pension records via its Government Gateway system.

Read more: Foreigners among the losers amid France’s ‘excessive digitisation’

Can a UK pensioner in France use the paper ‘proof of life’ version?

The Connexion contacted Kent County Council which confirmed that the new digital service was in place for all overseas individuals receiving a pension.

Its pension team said any potential issues with the services, including technical difficulties, should be addressed with the third party with which they work, as the pension team would be unable to assist.

In theory, everyone receiving their pensions now has to use the digital service.

If you have difficulty we suggest you contact your county council or the third party for more information.

If you struggle with IT, you could seek help from a branch of France Services.

Related articles

Is there a way to check my French pension contributions?

What is the ‘FranceConnect’ button used for on websites?