In our last contribution to the BRA bulletin the British Embassy Berne informed you about the UK’s and Switzerland’s Covid-related travel restrictions. Despite Switzerland’s falling infection numbers and accelerating vaccination campaign, travel between the two countries remains restricted. Please refer to the links in our previous message to stay up to date on travel warnings and entry requirements.
For this edition, we would like to shift our focus to two different topics, namely pension and passports. In recent months, we have received numerous written enquiries concerning pension and passport matters from British nationals in Switzerland, which is why we would like to use this opportunity to offer some guidance on these subjects.
UK State Pension
You can carry on receiving your UK State Pension if you move to live in the EU, EEA or Switzerland and you can still claim your UK State Pension from these countries. Your UK State Pension will be increased each year in the EU in line with the rate paid in the UK. You can also count relevant social security contributions made in EU countries to meet the qualifying conditions for a UK State Pension.
This guidance is for UK nationals, however these rules on the State Pension apply to everyone regardless of your nationality and regardless of when you moved.
Benefits if you are moving to the EU, EEA or Switzerland
If you are moving, or thinking of moving, to an EU, EEA country or Switzerland the rules for paying some UK benefits in the EU, EEA or Switzerland changed from 1 January 2021.
You can also claim some benefits abroad for a time-limited period if you move abroad temporarily, for example for planned medical treatment, as long as you meet the qualifying conditions.
Check which benefits you can claim while abroad: gov.uk/uk-benefits-abroad
Benefits if you were living in Switzerland by 31 December 2020
If you were living in Switzerland by 31 December 2020 you are covered by the Citizen’s Rights Agreement. You may be able to make new claims for some UK benefits, if you meet all the other eligibility requirements. There are rules which say which country you should claim benefits from. We will only ask for further information if the UK is the country you may be able to claim benefits from.
If you were living in the EU, EEA or Switzerland by 31 December 2020 the rules on which UK benefits you can claim have not changed, as long as you carry on living in a country in the EU, EEA or Switzerland.
You may be asked to send evidence that you were living in the EU, EEA or Switzerland by 31 December 2020.
You can find a detailed list of required evidence here:
You may contact the International Pension Centre for further guidance if you do not have any of these documents.
Transferring to an overseas pension scheme
You may be able to transfer your UK pension savings to an overseas pension scheme.
The overseas scheme you want to transfer your pension savings to must be a ‘qualifying recognised overseas pension scheme’ (QROPS). It’s up to you to check this with the overseas scheme or your UK pension provider or adviser.
If it’s not a QROPS, your UK pension scheme may refuse to make the transfer, or you’ll have to pay at least 40% tax on the transfer.
You can find more information on the recognised overseas pension schemes here:
If you move abroad
You will need to tell the government office that deals with your benefits or your UK State Pension if you are moving or retiring abroad. You can find more information here: gov.uk/moving-or-retiring-abroad
Getting a life certificate
A ‘life certificate’ is a form the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) might send you to check you’re still eligible for the State Pension.
You can find more information here:
If you are wishing to renew your passport you must contact Her Majesty’s Passport Office directly. The British Embassy is not involved in the passport application process. All applications must be completed either online or via downloading a form and sending it back to the UK.
Renewing your Passport:
To renew your passport online please see here and follow the steps provided:
To renew your passport using a paper application form you can:
Go to a Post Office that has a Check and Send service (when in the UK) or call the Passport Advice line:
+44 (0)300 222 0000
It costs £85. You can pay by either: debit or credit card – fill in the form in the application pack – or cheque made payable to ‘Her Majesty’s Passport Office’.
You’ll need 2 new and identical printed photos of yourself.
To contact HMPO please see here:
or call via +44 (0)300 222 0000
The Consular Section of the British Embassy Berne wishes everyone a very pleasant summer.