Why is this important?
British and Irish citizens - claiming benefits
If you're a UK or an Irish citizen coming to live in the UK from abroad you may want to claim benefits. Depending on how long you have been out of the country, you may also have to pass a test, known as the habitual residence test (HRT) before you're allowed to make a claim.
To pass the test you must prove:
- you have a legal right to live in the UK and claim these benefits. This is called right to reside and
- 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.
This page explains whether you may need to take the HRT when you return to the UK.
Proving your right to reside and intention to settle in the UK can be difficult. If you're unsure about your rights and status you can get help from an adviser.
If you're a British citizen you have an automatic right to reside in the UK, as well as in Ireland, Isle of Man and Channel Islands. This is known as the common travel area and you will also be considered to be habitually resident in the UK if you've been living in any of these places.
However, if you have recently returned to the UK after a period living outside of the common travel area, you will still have to show that you intend to settle in the UK to pass the HRT.
The Department for Work and Pensions, your local authority or HMRC may decide you're habitually resident immediately, depending on how long you have been away, why you were abroad, and what ties you kept with the UK during this time.
For example, you'd be unlikely to lose your habitual residence status if you left the UK for a long holiday or gap year. In this case you would not have to take the HRT. But if you have spent many years away and no longer have property or close family ties in the UK, you may be asked to take the test.
If you're planning to move back to the UK and you think you will need benefits and housing straight away, think about how you would cope if you didn’t pass the test.
Irish citizens automatically have a right to reside in the UK as part of the common travel area. If you were habitually resident in Ireland or any of the places in the common travel area before you came to the UK, you will automatically pass the HRT.
However, if you come to the UK from a country outside the common travel area, you will have to prove you're habitually resident to pass the test.
- Proving your status and intention to settle in the UK
- Some people do not have to take the habitual residence test. This is called being exempt.
- Check if you are exempt from taking the test
- What to do if you don't have the right to reside
- More about the habitual residence test and the benefits it applies to
- If you need more help
Other useful information
- Case-law examples of the habitual residence test at www.parliament.uk - go to page 12
- What the European law says – the EC Directive 2004/38 at www.eur-lex.europa.eu
- What the UK law says – Immigration (EEA) Regulations 2006 at www.legislation.gov.uk
- Department for Work and Pensions at www.dwp.gov.uk