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Last checked : 21/03/2018

Social security systems in the EU

UK decision to invoke Article 50 of the TEU: More information

For the time being, the United Kingdom remains a full member of the EU and rights and obligations continue to fully apply in and to the UK:

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.

Sample story

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.

Useful forms

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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