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Presence and Residence Tests

To get most benefits you have to be present in the UK and pass tests regarding your residency. This guide explains more about this.

1. What are the Presence and Residence Tests?

To get most benefits you have to be present in the UK and pass tests regarding your residency.

The rules on residence and presence vary between different benefits and tax credits. Some residence and presence rules refer to Great Britain and the UK, others refer to the Common Travel Area.

These are the different Residence and Presence Tests

  • Presence Test
  • Past Presence Test
  • ‘Living here’ for three months
  • Ordinary Residence
  • Habitual Residence
  • Right to Reside

We cover the Presence Test, Past Presence Test, ‘Living here' for three months and Ordinary Residence in this guide. Read more about Habitual Residence in our Habitual Residence Test Guide and Right to Reside in our Right to Reside Guide.

Find out which residence and presence tests you need to pass in order to claim a particular benefit.

If you are a Non-EEA National, you will also have to meet the immigration rules as well as the residence and presence rules in order to claim benefits.Please see our guide on Non-EEA Nationals for further information.

 

January 2019

2. Which Presence or Residence Tests do I have to pass?

Look in the table below to find out which presence and residence tests you have to satisfy in order to get a particular benefit. 

Benefit Which Presence Test? Which Residence Test?
Attendance Allowance Presence and Past Presence Test Habitual Residence Test
Bereavement Support Payment Presence Ordinary Residence Test
Carer’s Allowance Presence and Past Presence Test Habitual Residence Test
Child Benefit Presence and Lived here for three months Ordinary Residence Test and Right to Reside Test
Child Tax Credit Presence and Lived here for three months Ordinary Residence Test and Right to Reside Test
Contributory Employment and Support Allowance Presence No test
Contribution-based Jobseeker’s Allowance Presence No test
Council Tax Support Presence Habitual Residence Test and Right to Reside Test
Disability Living Allowance Presence and Past Presence Test Habitual Residence Test
Funeral Payment Presence Ordinary Residence
Guardians Allowance Presence and Lived here for three months Ordinary Residence Test and Right to Reside Test
Housing Benefit  Presence Habitual Residence Test and Right to Reside Test
Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance Presence and  Lived here three months Habitual Residence Test and Right to Reside Test
Income-related Employment and Support Allowance Presence Habitual Residence Test and Right to Reside Test
Income Support Presence Habitual Residence Test and Right to Reside Test
Industrial Injuries Benefits Presence No test
Maternity Allowance Presence No test
Pension Credit Presence Habitual Residence Test and Right to Reside Test
Personal Independence Payment Presence and Past Presence Test Habitual Residence Test
State Pension Presence No Test
Universal Credit Presence Habitual Residence Test and Right to Reside Test
Winter Fuel Payment Presence Ordinary Residence
Working Tax Credit Presence Ordinary Residence

The following benefits have no residence or presence rules:

  • Statutory Adoption Pay
  • Statutory Maternity Pay
  • Statutory Paternity Pay
  • Statutory Shared Parental Pay
  • Statutory Sick Pay

 

January 2019

3. What are the Presence and Past Presence Tests?

What is the Presence Test?

You must usually be present in Great Britain at the time you make your claim for benefits or tax credits.

To be entitled to Child Benefit (or Guardian’s Allowance), you and your child(ren) must be present in Great Britain.

What is the Past Presence Test?

In addition to being present at the time you claim, for some benefits you must have been present in Great Britain for a period of time before you become entitled.The Past Presence Test applies to the following benefits:

For the above benefits you must have been present in Great Britain for at least 104 weeks in the last 156 weeks

Exceptions to the Past Presence Test

The past presence test does not apply if:

If you are claiming Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for a baby under six months old, a shorter past presence test of 13 weeks applies.  If your child becomes entitled to DLA between the ages of six months and 36 months, then a past presence test of 26 weeks applies.

 

Updated July 2019

4. Living here for three months

To get the benefits listed below you must have been living in the UK or the Common Travel Area (for Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance) for the past three months.

The term ‘living in’ does not have the same meaning as ‘presence’.  You could, in some cases, be counted as ‘living in’ the UK/ Common Travel Area, even if you have had temporary absences in the UK.  The Benefit authorities will look at factors such as the length of absence; your connections and ties to the UK/Common Travel Area as to whether you meet the test.

Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance

In order to get Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance

  • You must have been living in the Common Travel Area (the UK, Ireland, Channel Islands and the Isle of Man) for the past three months in order to pass the Habitual Residence Test for Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, unless;
    • You are exempt from the habitual residence test, or
    •  At any time during the last three months you have worked abroad and paid Class 1 or 2 national insurance (NI) contributions, or
    • Your claim began before 1 January 2014

Child Benefit and Child Tax Credit

In order to get Child Benefit and Child Tax Credit

You must have been living in the UK for the past three months, unless;

  • You are an EEA national who has a ‘worker’ or ‘self-employed’ status  in the UK or you have retained that status
  • You are a non-EEA National who would be classed as a ‘worker’ or ‘self-employed person’ if you were an EEA national.
  • You are a family member of someone in the above two groups.  However, extended family members don’t qualify for this exemption.
  • You are a refugee or have humanitarian protection
  • You have been granted Destitution Domestic Violence Concessionary Leave.
  • You are returning to the UK after a period working abroad and prior to the last three months you were paying Class 1 or Class 2 National Insurance contributions
  • You are returning to the UK after either working abroad while paying UK national insurance contributions, or were ordinarily resident in the UK for three months before you went abroad.

Guardian’s Allowance depends on entitlement to Child Benefit, which means that you have to have lived here for three months to get it. See our guide on Guardian’s Allowance for other conditions you need to satisfy in order to get Guardian’s Allowance.

 

January 2019

5. What is Ordinary Residence?

You are ordinarily resident if you have been living in the UK for a settled purpose for the time being (whether for a long or short period).Your residence in the UK must also be lawful.

The following benefits have an ordinary residence requirement:

Guardian’s Allowance depends on entitlement to Child Benefit, so you have to be ordinarily resident in order to get it.  See our guide on Guardian’s Allowance for other rules you need to pass to get it.

 

January 2019