I am currently employed in the UK and am paying into the state pension. I am looking at moving to New Zealand on the young people's working holiday visa for up to 3 years, which is being extended to age 35 in July. I intend to work while in New Zealand over this time.

I am 34 and have been contributing to my state pension for some years now. I am trying to understand my options around my state pension as I will obviously have a gap of up to 3 years when I return. Is there an option to continue making contributions while living and working abroad, and not working in the UK?

1 Answer 1


Yes - you can make voluntary national insurance contributions.

The current rates are either £3.45/week ("Class 2") or £17.45/week ("Class 3"), which is quite a big difference. In the case of living abroad, it seems that you pay the Class 2 contributions if you are working and the Class 3 ones if you aren't. I have no idea why!

If you've been working in the UK for most of your adult life and intend to do so on your return from NZ, this may not be worthwhile. You only need 35 "qualifying years" to get a full pension, and with a state pension age of 68, you've got 50 years available to get those credits. The 35 years don't need to be consecutive, and if you have fewer than 35 then your pension gets proportionately reduced unless you have fewer than 10 in which case you get nothing.

  • Thank you for your reply @GS - Apologise to Monica. Do the 35 qualifying years need to be consecutive - or can there be gaps? Struggling to find official info on this, although have found something on this site here which says they don't need to be consecutive rights4seniors.net/content/qualifying-new-state-pension
    – fortunia88
    Commented Apr 23, 2023 at 16:09
  • I've also just found this article here, which says "Your UK State Pension will be based on your UK National Insurance record. You usually need 10 years of UK National Insurance contributions to be eligible for the new State Pension." This 10 years is different to the 35 qualifying years seen elsewhere? nidirect.gov.uk/articles/…
    – fortunia88
    Commented Apr 23, 2023 at 16:12
  • I'm assuming 35 years are needed to get the full pension.. but it's not clear to me what the 10 years would bring?
    – fortunia88
    Commented Apr 23, 2023 at 16:19
  • 1
    @fortunia88 10 years would get you 10/35 of a full state pension.
    – Simon B
    Commented Apr 23, 2023 at 16:49
  • 5
    They don't have to be consecutive. 10 years is the minimum to get anything, if you have 9 then you get 0 rather than 9/35. Commented Apr 23, 2023 at 17:22

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