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Updated : 20/06/2014

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Supplementary pensions abroad

Supplementary pensions are retirement, survivors' or invalidity pension schemes designed to supplement or replace statutory state pensions.

Before you sign a contract for a supplementary pension scheme, check how moving/living abroad will affect your pension rights. If there are any adverse effects, these are illegal.

If you leave a supplementary pension scheme because you move to another EU country to work, you have the same rights as people who stay in the same country but stop paying contributions — for example because they change jobs.

Example

Fred worked for 8 years in country A for a company which had a generous supplementary pension package.

He found a job in another country and started working for an employer who also offered a supplementary pension package.

Fred left the supplementary scheme in country A but the insurer told him that his acquired rights would not be preserved if he moved to another country.

Fred contacted a European consumer centre and obtained legal support. In the end, his previous insurer agreed to preserve his contributions in country A.

Pension companies sometimes penalise people who move abroad, by refusing to pay pensions, charging additional costs or requiring them to refund interest earned during the saving period.

This is illegal — if it happens to you, you can call on the European consumer centres.

Example

Anna worked 4 years for the same employer in country A before moving to country B where she remained definitively.

When she retired, she applied for her supplementary pension from country A, but the insurer refused, arguing that payment was only due to people who stayed in the scheme for over 5 years.

Anna felt discriminated against for having moved abroad to work, and sued her insurer. But she lost the case because the 5-year requirement applied to all members of this scheme, whether they changed their country of employment or not.

If you move abroad, your previous country of residence may require you to pay back any tax rebates you obtained while saving for a supplementary pension there.

This is illegal — your supplementary pension must benefit from the same tax treatment as supplementary pensions paid to residents of that country.

If you feel discriminated against, you can get help here.

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