Why is this important?
What is the habitual residence test?
If you come to the UK from abroad and want to claim certain benefits, you must pass a test, known as the habitual residence test. This test is carried out to make sure that if you're planning to claim benefits, you've a legal right to be in the UK and that you're intending to settle here for the time being.
The test applies to British citizens returning to the UK after time abroad, as well as people coming to the UK from other countries.
The right to claim benefits depends on what terms you've been allowed to enter the UK. This is called your immigration status. If you have limited rights and are subject to immigration control, you may damage your chances of being allowed to stay in the UK if you try to claim benefits. If you are in any doubt about your immigration status, you should always seek specialist advice first.
This page explains what you need to know about the habitual residence test.
Proving your right to reside and intention to settle in the UK can be difficult. If you're unsure about anything, seek the help of an adviser.
What is the habitual residence test
The habitual residence test (HRT) is carried out on most people who apply for benefits. To pass the test you must prove:
- you have a right to reside in the UK. This means you have a legal right to live here and claim certain benefits
- you intend to settle in the UK, Isle of Man, Channel Islands or Ireland and make it your home for the time being. This is known as habitual residence.
What benefits does the test apply to?
If you're subject to immigration control, you can't claim benefits. Making a claim may affect your right to stay in the UK.
This may be the case if you:
- need permission to enter or remain in the UK but don't yet have it
- have permission to enter or remain in the UK only if you don't claim benefits or use other public services
- were given permission to enter or remain in the UK because someone formally agreed to support you.
The test applies to the following benefits:
- Income Support
- Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
- Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
- Pension Credit
- Housing Benefit
- Council Tax Benefit
- access to local authority housing.
To claim Child Tax Credits and Child Benefit you have to prove you have the right to reside, but you don't have to prove you are habitually resident. Seek advice if you want to claim these benefits.
- Find out how the decision is made on whether you have the right to reside or are habitually resident
Find out about whether you are likely to pass the test or if you are exempt from the test altogether:
- You are an EEA national
- You are a British or Irish citizen
- You are a non-EEA national
- If you need more help
Other useful information
- Case-law examples of the habitual residence test - Parliament at www.parliament.uk - go to page 12
- What the European law says: the EC Directive 2004/38 - EUR-Lex at www.eur-lex.europa.eu
- What the UK law says: Immigration (EEA) Regulations 2006 - Legislation at www.legislation.gov.uk
- Department for Work and Pensions at www.dwp.gov.uk