State pensions abroad
Applying for pensions
If you've worked in several EU countries, you may have accumulated pension rights in each of them.
You'll have to apply to the pension authority in the country where you're living or you last worked. If you've never worked in the country where you're living, your host country will forward your claim to the one you last worked in.
That country is then responsible for processing your claim and bringing together records of your contributions from all the countries you worked in.
In some countries, the pension authority should send you your pension application form before you reach that country's retirement age. If you don't receive it, check with your pension authority to see whether they will automatically send it to you.
You should ask for information on obtaining your pension at least 6 months before you retire because drawing a pension from several countries can be a long procedure.
Documents you'll need
These vary from one country to another, but you usually have to supply your bank details and some form of identification.
For more exact details, contact the pension authority handling your claim.
Differences in retirement ages
In some EU countries, you will have to wait longer to start drawing your pension than in others.
You can only receive your pension from the country where you now live (or last worked) once you have reached the legal retirement age in that country. If you have accumulated pension rights in other countries, you will only receive those parts of your pension once you have reached the legal retirement age in those countries.
So it's important to find out in advance, from all the countries where you have worked, what your situation will be if you change the date on which you start receiving your pension.
If you take one pension earlier than the other, it might affect the amounts you receive.
You can get more advice from the relevant authority in the country where you live and/or in the countries where you worked.
Find out about retirement ages and pension systems in different EU countries:
Be aware of different (later!) retirement ages in other countries
Caroline from France worked in Denmark for 15 years, then went back to France towards the end of her career. When she turned 62, she applied for her pension, as is usual in France, but only got a very low one.
At 62, Caroline is only entitled to the French part of her pension. She will receive the Danish part when she turns 67 — the legal retirement age in Denmark for Caroline's age group.
In some EU countries, you must have worked for a minimum period of time to be entitled to a pension.
In such cases, the pension authority has to take into account all the periods you've worked in other EU countries, as if you'd been working in that country all along, to assess whether you're entitled to a pension (principle of aggregation of periods).
If it fails to do so, contact our assistance services for help.
Tom worked for 4 years in Germany and 32 years in Portugal.
In Germany, you must have worked for at least 5 years to be entitled to a pension. Tom would not normally qualify for the national pension scheme in Germany as he had worked there for only 4 years.
However, the German pension authority had to take into account the years Tom worked in Portugal. It recognised his entitlement and is paying him a pension for the 4 years worked in Germany.
Periods of insurance of less than one year
If you have been covered for less than a year in one country, a special rule may apply, as some EU countries do not provide a pension for short periods: your months of insurance or residence in the country where you worked for a short time will not be lost but taken into account in the calculation of your pension by the countries where you worked longer.
If you have a problem obtaining the payment of a pension for working periods of less than a year, contact our assistance services for help.
How your pension is calculated
Pension authorities in each EU country you've worked in will look at the contributions you've paid into their system, how much you've paid in other countries, and for how long you've worked in different countries.
The EU-equivalent rate
Each pension authority will calculate the part of the pension it should pay taking into account periods completed in all EU countries.
To do so, it will add together the periods you completed in all EU countries and work out how much pension you would get had you contributed into its own scheme over the entire time (called the theoretical amount).
This amount will then be adjusted to reflect the actual time you were covered in that country (called the pro-rata benefit).
The national rate
If you meet the conditions for entitlement to a national pension irrespective of any periods completed in other countries, the pension authority will also calculate the national pension (known as an independent benefit).
The national authority will then compare the pro-rata benefit and the independent benefit; you will receive whichever is higher from that EU country.
Each country's decision on your claim will be explained in a special note, the P1 form, you will receive.
Rosa worked for 20 years in France and 10 years in Spain.
Both countries apply a minimum period of 15 years of work in order to have the right to a pension. Each country will calculate Rosa's pension:
The French authority will make a double calculation:
- It will calculate Rosa's national pension for the 20 years worked in France - let's say EUR 800.
- It will also calculate a theoretical amount, the pension Rosa would have had if she had worked the full 30 years in France - let's say EUR 1 500. Then, it will determine the pro-rata pension, that is the part of this amount which should be paid for the years worked in France: 1 500x20 years in France/30 years in total= EUR 1 000.
Rosa is entitled to the higher amount — EUR 1 000 a month.
The Spanish authority will not calculate the national pension because Rosa has worked in Spain less than the minimum period required. It will only calculate the EU-equivalent rate - starting with the theoretical amount, the pension Rosa would have had if she had worked all the 30 years in Spain - let's say EUR 1 200.
Then, it will determine the pro-rata pension - the part of this amount which should be paid for the years worked in Spain: 1200x10 years in Spain/30 years in total= EUR 400.
In the end, Rosa will receive a pension of EUR 1 400.
Payment of your pension
Each country that grants you a pension generally pays the corresponding amount into a bank account in your country of residence - if you live within the EU.
If you do not live in the EU, you might need to open a bank account in each EU country which pays you a pension.
Invalidity / survivors' pensions
The rules mentioned above also apply to the calculation of invalidity pensions and survivors' pensions. It is important to know that:
- If you claim an invalidity pension or incapacity benefit, each country you have worked in could insist on examining you separately — and may well reach different verdicts. One might assess you as seriously incapacitated while another may not consider you incapacitated at all.
- Some EU countries do not pay survivor's pensions. If your husband or wife works abroad and you are counting on the possibility of a survivor's pension, check whether they exist in that country.