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Pension Exodus Report: The UK pensioners who have flocked to Poland

UK pensioners in Poland

Did you know that more than one million people outside Britain are currently claiming a UK pension?

Every year thousands of retirees decide to pack up their bags, leave Britain and make the move abroad. But forget the sunny Costa Del Sol, our research reveals that the number of people claiming a pension in traditional expat destinations such as Australia, Canada and Spain has fallen since Brexit.

Instead, it seems, they are going elsewhere.

For more information, read our guide on expat pensions and retirement planning.

Looking to transfer your UK pension abroad?

Speak to me, Dan Ward, about transferring your UK pension to another country.

The pensioner hotspots

An extra 2,213 people claiming a UK pension have set down their roots in Poland since Britain officially left the EU on 31 Jan 2020, reveals our 2023 Pensioner Exodus Report.

Since you only need ten years of National Insurance contributions to get some UK state pension, the increase could be due to Polish nationals heading home after retiring from work in the UK. Or it could be that Poland has become a new hotspot for pensioners looking to enjoy their latter years.

Unsurprisingly, France remains a firm favourite among retirees with an extra 1,804 pensioners claiming a UK pension there since Brexit – only a 3% increase.

Meanwhile, Japan has seen a 24% increase, with an extra 1,310 people claiming a UK pension since Brexit Day. Thousands have also flocked to New Zealand (1,258) and Portugal (994) too.

A bit closer to home, the petite Isle of Man has seen a huge influx of UK pensioner expats, with numbers rocketing 567% since the Brexit vote on 23 June 2016.

The table below shows the increase in pension claimants since Brexit

Increase since Brexit Day 31 Jan 2020 Increase since Brexit vote 23 June 2016
Destination Numbers % Numbers %
Poland 2,213 75% 1,962 93%
France 1,804 3% 4,342 7%
Japan 1,310 24% 2,115 50%
New Zealand 1,258 2% 5,244 9%
Portugal 994 9% 1,100 11%
Isle of Man 813 169% 775 568%
Thailand 750 16% 1,202 31%
Netherlands 745 6% 1,073 9%
Norway 610 15% 984 28%
Germany 584 1% 1,276 3%

The countries losing popularity

Some of the more traditional expat hotspots, such as Australia, the US and Canada, have all seen pensioner claimants falling since Brexit was implemented.

Numbers in Australia dropped 7%, those in the United States fell 6.6% and expats in Canada decreased by 10%.

Ireland, Spain, Italy and Cyprus – all members of the European Union – also saw a decrease in people claiming a UK pension since Brexit Day.

The table below shows the countries where claimants have decreased most

Decrease since Brexit Day – 31 Jan 2020 Decrease since Brexit vote – 23 June 2016
Destination Numbers % Numbers %
Australia -18,037 -7% -17,335 -7%
Canada -14,567 -10% -18,601 -12%
USA -9,034 -7% -7,816 -6%
South Africa -4,591 -13% -4,295 -11%
Jamaica -3,540 -24% -4,361 -26%
Ireland -3,142 -2% -334 0%
Spain -3,141 -3% -1,719 -2%
Italy -2,891 -8% -3,678 -10%
Yemen -1,258 -66% -1,316 -52%
Cyprus -1,010 -6% -797 -4%

But despite the drop since Brexit, Australia remains the most popular destination for UK pension holders with 222,339, followed by Ireland (128,854) and the USA (126,977).

Top 20 places for UK pension-holders

Destination Current people claiming UK pension
Australia 222,339
Ireland 128,854
USA 126,977
Canada 126,426
Spain 103,844
France 66,847
New Zealand 63,930
Germany 42,337
Italy 32,945
South Africa 30,345
Cyprus 17,157
Netherlands 13,442
Portugal 11,734
Switzerland 11,350
Jamaica 10,807
Jersey 8,815
Japan 6,802
Sweden 6,113
Greece 5,991
Malta 5,949

Looking to transfer your UK pension abroad?

Speak to me, Dan Ward, about transferring your UK pension to another country.

Eligibility for claiming a UK pension from another country

To claim a UK pension there are certain criteria that need to be met. For example, a person could only do so if they have at least ten years of National Insurance contributions. To get a full UK state pension, you need 35 years of contributions.

There are currently 1,140,697 people collecting a UK pension in other countries around the world.

However, since Brexit Day and changes in eligibility – which saw the retirement age increased to 66 for men and women in October 2020 – there are actually 430,000 fewer people claiming a UK pension. There are 380,000 fewer in the UK and nearly 55,000 fewer in the rest of the world.

See also: A guide on how to transfer your UK pension to Australia

Value of UK pension since Brexit

The weekly pension for British residents has risen 13% in value since Brexit Day, increasing from £141.33 in November 2019 to £160.45 in February 2020.

This will come as welcome news for some retired expats. The average weekly UK pension claimed by expats in Tahiti has soared 64%, rocketing from £46.92 to £77.00.

Increases of more than 30% have been seen in the same period in Algeria (49%), Iran (40%), Syria (34%), Ascension Island (32%) and Guam (31%).

Increase since Brexit Day – 31 Jan 2020 Increase since Brexit vote – 23 June 2016
Destination Pension increase % Pension increase %
Tahiti £30.09 64% £36.39 133%
Algeria £19.98 49% £17.74 53%
Iran £19.69 40% £17.23 41%
Syria £13.61 34% -£8.30 -17%
Ascension Island £24.81 32% £24.70 37%
Guam £19.27 31% £7.51 12%
Vanuatu £18.11 29% £17.08 31%
Cape Verde Islands £10.81 28% -£6.95 -15%
Burma (Myanmar) £18.79 27% £24.29 43%
Bolivia £20.75 26% £23.86 35%
Britain £19.12 14% £20.43 16%

If you have moved to the EU, Switzerland or somewhere in the European Economic Area, your pension will increase in value alongside British levels, but if you’re elsewhere, you might need to make other plans.

If you live abroad already or intend to retire overseas when you reach retirement age, it’s important to be aware of the rules that could affect you when drawing a UK pension overseas as a non-UK resident.

Are you an expat pensioner? We’d love to hear your story. Send us a message and tell us more…

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