Topping up your UK State Pension

Topping up your UK State Pension as an expat

On the 31st of July 2023, the government’s initiative will end, which enables individuals (a man born after 5 April 1951 or a woman born after 5 April 1953) to supplement any missing periods in their national insurance history. Any payments made will be at the lower 2022 to 2023 tax year rates. If you are thinking about topping up or filling in gaps, now is the time to act and do it. Speak with an adviser directly to get the process started. 

If you meet those criteria, continue reading on. If not, read more about UK state pension information for expats here.

We have created this UK State Pension Guide to help with any further questions.

State pension top up



Those eligible may make the most out of their savings by investing in state pension top-ups to ensure that the maximum benefit forms part of their retirement income. 

  • For example, a person with 10 years of missing contributions could spend approximately £8,000 to fill the void and enjoy a potential increase of up to £55,000 in state pension payments throughout a typical 20-year retirement period. 

In line with typical regulations, gaps in an NI record can only be filled within six years following the year of reference. 

Once this has been reached, an unbroken gap is treated as permanent and could potentially impact their entitlement to a full state pension. 

It is recommended to consult a financial or tax expert to fully understand the National Insurance impact on your situation and ensure proper contributions for State Pension entitlement.


Typically, 2016/17 would be the furthest back that you could potentially start filling gaps from, but a special arrangement and a time-limited opportunity are open, allowing individuals to rectify any missing National Insurance contributions from 2006/07 onwards. 

Until the 31st of July 2023, individuals can access data that provides a decade of coverage, starting with the 2006/07 year and close any contribution gaps in this period.  

This system applies to those reaching or who have already reached the state pension age after April 5, 2016.  


It takes time to go through all the necessary processes, so being conscious of this deadline is critical – you should look at this sooner rather than later. For many individuals, making voluntary National Insurance contributions could be a wise decision financially as it could help you increase your state pension efficiently. Read here why we think making voluntary contributions is a good idea.

Those with gaps in their National Insurance contributions that date back over six years must act quickly, as the opportunity to top up will soon vanish. And purchasing back lost years CAN be very advantageous. 


The fee for class 3 NI contributions stands at £15.85 every week, with an annual rate of £824.20, which is a single, one-time contribution of 1/35 of the full rate to a person’s state pension.  

The current maximum state pension stands at £185.15 per week and will soon be £203.85 per week. If that increase was received over four years, the outlay (minus basic rate tax) would be returned, and any income beyond that would be a bonus. 

If one fails to meet the stipulated deadline, they will forgo the possibility of topping up their NI contributions for the 10-year period from 2006/07 to 2015/16. In a maximum case, filling in the 10 years with an investment of £8,242 would lead to an approximate return of £2,750 through the state pension annually. 

A retiree with 20 years of experience can receive approximately £55,000 from this initial outlay of just over £8,000.  

Claiming state pension overseas

You can receive your UK State Pension even after retiring abroad, as long as you have enough qualifying National Insurance contribution years.

For more information or advice on pensions and benefits abroad, visit the government-run website, the International Pension Centre.

Your State Pension will receive annual increases, but only if you reside in the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland. Other countries with social security agreements with the UK that allow for increases include America, Jamaica, and Israel.

Claiming the State Pension:

    1. Check if you have reached State Pension age
    2. Collect evidence of National Insurance contributions and other important information
    3. Contact the International Pension Centre to make a claim
    4. Provide proof of identity and current address
    5. Provide bank details for payment
    6. The International Pension Centre will assess the claim and notify you of the outcome.

Note: You can claim the State Pension up to 4 months before reaching State Pension age. Claiming closer to your State Pension age is recommended to ensure correct payment.

State pension guide

Importance of advice

There are several benefits to seeking professional advice when dealing with the UK State Pension system, especially for those living abroad:

    1. Complexity: Navigating the UK State Pension can be difficult, but a professional adviser can simplify the process and provide personalized advice.

    2. Cost-Benefit Analysis: A professional can help determine if making voluntary contributions is worth it in your circumstances.

    3. Tax Implications: UK State Pension and voluntary contributions can have tax consequences, especially for those living abroad. A professional can help minimise tax liability. Any payments made will be at the lower 2022 to 2023 tax year rates.

    4. Retirement Planning: A professional can help integrate UK State Pension and voluntary contributions into your retirement plan and ensure you are on track to reach your goals.

    5. Up-to-date Information: A professional will have current information on the UK State Pension system, including any changes that may affect your eligibility.

Seeking professional advice can help make informed decisions about UK State Pension and voluntary contributions, ensure progress towards retirement goals, and reduce the risk of costly errors.

What you need to do

We can assist with UK state pension queries if you are living overseas and any questions you may have about how to top up or fill in the gaps. Topping up may only be suitable for some. People need to speak to an adviser before making any investment, and this is no different.

Fortunately, a packaged service is available at Hoxton Capital Management to work through the state pension gap analysis and suitability report and handle the application with HMRC from start to finish. If you’d like to know more about this service, contact 

We have created this UK State Pension Guide to help with any further questions you may have.

UK State pension

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