• Age in Spain Team

Returning to the UK

Updated: 5 days ago

About this guide

This guide is for British citizens over State Pension age who moved to Spain and who are

now considering moving back to live permanently in the UK. It gives information

specifically about things to consider if you might need help with accessing benefits and

housing assistance.

Habitual Residence Test

The Habitual Residence Test is a series of conditions you will need to fulfill in the process of applying for a benefit or social care in the UK. Anybody returning to the UK after living abroad for two years or more (including UK state pensioners) will have to satisfy the decision-making authorities that they have the right to reside and are habitually resident in the Common Travel Area (U.K., Republic of Ireland, Channel Islands, Isle of Man) before making an application for certain benefits including State Pension Credit, Housing Benefit, Council Tax Benefit, Income Support and Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance. The same rule applies for local authority housing Applications.

Those wishing to claim benefits upon their return will have to establish:

  • They are voluntarily in the UK

  • They are resident in the UK

  • They have settled intentions to remain in the UK

  • They have been in the UK for an appreciable amount of time. This period could be anything from a few days up to six months, but there are no hard and fast rules. Benefits case law suggests that the period lies between one and three months (CIS/4474/2003 paras 18-19).

Factors which could be taken into account by the decision-makers include:

  • Length and continuity of residence

  • Reasons for coming to the UK

  • Whether the claimant has brought their possessions to the UK

  • Whether the claimant established residence before arrival

  • If the claimant has strong ties with the UK

  • If the claimant has registered for services and with a doctor, etc.

The objective of the test is to prevent people who are not UK residents (such as

visitors/tourists who reside elsewhere) from accessing state funded help with

accommodation and living expenses which are only available for UK residents. The

adjudication officer’s decision is based on the situation at the time of the claim and will be

reached after considering the overall circumstances of each claimant’s personal


Full details can be found at Housing-rights.info.If you have been unwell, before finalising arrangements for returning to the UK, it is essential that you obtain confirmation from your doctor that you are not only fit to travel but fit to fly on a commercial flight. The cost of an air ambulance is high and it is not possible to fund the cost from UK charitable sources.

*If you are seeking social care or funding, you will not be able to obtain confirmation of

any available assistance or entitlement until you are in the UK and in the offices of the

local council area in which you hope to become resident.

Legislation and benefits/allowances may vary in the constituent parts of the UK. It is

wise to plan in advance and to obtain the relevant information before your return.*

Help with housing in the UK

Finding and selecting suitable housing or care is a personal responsibility that could be

shared with family or friends. There are no charitable organisations in Spain or the UK that

will undertake this on your behalf.

There are many businesses, housing associations, and charitable organisations which

provide offering housing and care. Waiting lists for housing and care for older people are

often long. Therefore, if this is an option you are considering for the future, it is good idea

to make contact with the appropriate person/organisation well in advance of a proposed

move. It is not possible to list them all here. Below is a sample of organisations which

provide housing support for older people.

Abbeyfield Society -​ ​www.abbeyfield.com

This organisation provides care and support for older people.Its mission to provide the

best service of care and housing for all their residents, and to be a champion for older

people. It has been a charitable housing organisation for nearly 60 years.

Elderly Accommodation Council (EAC) - ​www.eac.org.uk

This organisation is a national charity that aims to help older people make informed

choices about meeting their housing and care needs. It provides an information and advice

service directly to older people and their relatives and carers.

Housing and Care 21 - ​www.housingandcare21.co.uk

This organisation is a leading national provider of retirement housing and care services for

people aged 65 and above. It delivers affordable, contemporary, person-centred care and

housing that meets individual needs, improves wellbeing and promotes independent living.

Useful tips

In the busy weeks leading up to a move back to the UK it is easy to forget to do the things

needed to de-register with the Spanish authorities, so make time to return residency

papers, advise your local council to remove you from the Padrón, sort out your tax

arrangements with the Spanish tax authorities (Hacienda), return your Spanish medical

card and sort out matters relating to your Spanish bank account.

If you are planning to buy a car in the UK, you will need to have proof of any no-claims

bonus from your Spanish car insurer. Be prepared to hunt around for a UK car insurer that

will recognise your Spanish no-claims bonus and waive the requirement for you to have

been resident in the UK for more than a year.

Advise the Department of Work and Pensions, HMRC, private pension providers and other

UK organisations you deal with at your new UK address.

Opening a UK bank account can take time and identification and proof of residency, e.g.,

utility bills to your new address will be required.

Useful contacts

Recommended reading

For more information about finances and housing, eligibility for health and social care

services for people returning to the UK from abroad see the following:

About Age in Spain

Age in Spain is a national charity which provides information and support to older

English-speaking people in Spain and their families.

Founded by people with direct experience of dealing with the changes and

challenges of living in Spain, we are available to help everyone make informed later life

decisions through independent, accessible information and support. So if you are thinking

of moving to Spain, you already live in Spain, or wish to help someone who does, our

services are for you.

What we do

We provide information to help everyone make informed decisions about life and

living in Spain, a Casework Service to help vulnerable people to get through later life

changes, often caused through a combination of ill-health and isolation and act as

an agent for UK military charities to support UK veterans living in Spain.

  • We depend upon a small team of trained volunteers to assess how best we can help vulnerable clients and give support during times of crisis.

  • We work across mainland Spain, the Balearic Islands and the Canary Islands and use our links with other charities and organisations in Spain and the UK to ensure that people can access the right kind of help.

Our donors and supporters enable us to get help where it is needed.

Support our work

We rely on donations from our supporters to provide our guides and information for free. If

you would like to help us to continue to provide vital services, support and information,

please make a donation today by visiting our website, contacting us by email:

info@ageinspain.org or calling +34 932 209 741

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