Social security systems in the EU
Affected by Brexit?
The rules and conditions presented on this page still apply to EU citizens in the UK and to UK citizens in the EU provided they are protected by the EU-UK Withdrawal Agreement.
If you acquired any social security rights (such as the right to healthcare, unemployment benefits, pensions) before 31 December 2020, the EU-UK Withdrawal Agreement sets out the general rules for the protection of these rights. Read more about EU citizen’s rights in the UK.
If you think that your rights under EU law are not being respected and you need advice, contact our assistance service.
If you are an EU national in the UK, you should first seek redress with the relevant UK authorities. If the problem persists, you can report a breach of your rights to the UK Independent Monitoring Authority.
If you are a UK national in an EU country and want to complain, you can report it to the European Commission.
There are big differences in the way different EU countries have organised benefits, healthcare and other social security services.
Each EU country has its own laws determining:
- what benefits you're entitled to, how much you'll receive and for how long
- how long you must work there before qualifying for unemployment benefits, the rules for calculating benefits and the duration of the benefits.
EU rules only determine which country's social security covers you when 2 or more countries are involved.
As a rule, you're covered by the legislation of just 1 country at a time and only pay contributions in that country; you should be treated the same as nationals of that country.
Benefit systems in your host country may be very different from what you are used to at home. Misunderstandings could have serious consequences — so make sure you check which benefits you're entitled to in your host country.
Each country has its own rules for awarding benefits
Line from Denmark was living and working in Cyprus when she lost her job and applied for unemployment benefit there.
She was disappointed when she found out she would only be paid for 156 days. In Denmark, the benefit would have run up to 4 years. She never suspected the difference would be so big.
To be able to move from one country's benefits system to another, you may need to submit forms that certify your benefits situation when you arrive.
Find out about standard social security forms.
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