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FAQs: Pension Rights in the European Union

What are the rules governing payment of pensions if I have worked in a number of Member States during my working life?

The following rules apply if you live and have worked in one or more EU countries, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland.

  • In each country, your insurance record is preserved until you reach the pensionable age.
  • Every country where you have been insured for at least one year will pay you an old-age pension, when you reach its national pensionable age.

Example

I worked as a teacher in Milan for approximately twelve years commencing in the 1980s. I then obtained a position in a school in Waterford where I remained until now. Since I am approaching retirement, I wonder how to ensure that the period I worked in Italy is taken into account in calculating my pension.

Can you advise?

You are entitled to a separate pension from every country where you were insured for at least one year. In your case, you will be entitled to pensions from Italy and from Ireland. The amount you receive from each country will be proportionate to your periods of insured employment in each country. The respective pensions will be paid when you reach pensionable age for the country concerned. The pensions will be paid wherever you reside in the EU.

I am an Irish national currently residing and working in the UK, having previously worked in Ireland and Germany.  What are my pension rights?

As an Irish national currently resident in the UK, having previously worked in Germany and Ireland, you will be regarded as being in full scope of social security coverage under Article 30 of the Withdrawal Agreement between the UK and the EU.  This means that you will remain subject to EU social security rules (Regulation 883/2004/EC).

You should receive separate pensions from Germany, Ireland and the UK proportionate to the national insurance contributions made by you in each country on reaching retirement age.

How is my pension calculated?

Your pension will be calculated according to your insurance record in each country: the sum you will receive from each of these countries will correspond to the length of your social security coverage there. You will receive a Summary note (Form P1) which will give you an overview of the decisions made by each country on your claim.

Marie has worked in a number of Member States during her working life.  She has just retired.  She is having difficulty establishing a pension entitlement in one of the States where she previously worked.  Can her entitlement to pension in all States be withheld until the matter is completely resolved?

No.  If any of the institutions to whose legislation she has been subject establishes, during the investigation of her claim, that she satisfies the conditions for entitlement to old-age pension under its legislation, without recourse to the principle of aggregation of periods, it should pay her an independent benefit immediately. If the amount might be affected by the result of the investigation procedure, that payment will be considered provisional.

From the moment it becomes apparent that she is entitled to a pro-rata pension from a given institution, that institution will make an advance payment of an amount as close as possible to the pro-rata pension that will eventually be paid.

The institution(s) making these provisional or advance payments have a duty to inform Marie without delay, specifically drawing her attention to the provisional nature of these payments and of any rights of appeal under the relevant legislation.

Where should I apply for my pension?

Even if you have worked in several countries, you should apply for your pension in the country where you live, unless you never worked there. In the latter case, you should apply in the country where you last worked.

Supplementary Pension Schemes

Is there any EU legislation providing for the protection of rights accrued under a private or supplementary pension scheme when I take up employment in another Member State?

Directive 2014/50/EU on the acquisition and preservation of supplementary pension rights came into force across the EU on 21st May 2018.  If you move to another EU country, your insurer must pay your supplementary pension scheme the same amount and under the same conditions as if you continued to live in Ireland.  In turn, the host country cannot discriminate against your supplementary pension scheme, e.g. by giving national schemes preferential tax treatment.

Where can I obtain further information on pension rights in the EU?

Further general information on pensions in the EU is available here.