Returning to the UK
Updated: Nov 2, 2022
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
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.
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 may be required.
Age in Spain - email@example.com
Age UK - www.ageuk.org.uk
Age Scotland - www.ageuk.org.uk/scotland
Age NI - www.ageuk.org.uk/northern-ireland
Age Cymru - www.ageuk.org.uk/cymru
Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) - www.citizensadvice.org.uk
UK Government - www.gov.uk
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:
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