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Personal Independence Payment (PIP) - the presence and residence conditions

To get Personal Independence Payment (PIP), you must usually meet certain conditions concerning your presence in Great Britain, your past presence in Great Britain, and your habitual residence in the UK, the Republic of Ireland, the Isle of Man or the Channel Islands.

This page explains what these terms mean and gives more information about when the conditions don't apply.

The presence condition

To get PIP, you must be present in Great Britain on each day of your entitlement. Great Britain means England, Wales and Scotland. It doesn't include Northern Ireland, the Isle of Man or the Channel Islands.

Being present in Great Britain means being physically there, which is not necessarily the same as living there. You could be physically present in one place while living in another place. There is a different condition about where you live - see below under 'The habitual residence condition'.

There are exceptions to the presence condition for temporary absences and for people in certain occupations.

Temporary absences

You can still get PIP during a temporary absence from Great Britain if, at the beginning of your period of absence, the absence is unlikely to last for more than 52 weeks. In this case you can get PIP for:

  • the first 13 weeks of your absence from Great Britain, or
  • the first 26 weeks if you're going abroad for medical treatment.

If you work or live abroad

Some people are treated as present in Great Britain even when they're living outside Great Britain. This applies to you if you're:

  • a serving member of HM forces
  • an aircraft worker, such as a pilot or cabin crew
  • a mariner
  • employed at sea in connection with continental shelf operations
  • living with a serving member of HM forces, an aircraft worker or a mariner, and you’re their spouse, civil partner, son, daughter, step-son, step-daughter, father, father-in-law, step-father, mother, mother-in-law or step-mother.

The past presence condition

You must have been present in Great Britain for at least 104 weeks, or periods adding up to104 weeks, out of the previous 156 weeks, for each day that you get PIP. This means that you must have been physically present in England, Wales or Scotland for periods adding up to at least two years in the last three years.

When working out whether you've met the past presence condition, the DWP can ignore a temporary absence from Great Britain for up to 13 weeks, or up to 26 weeks if you went abroad for medical treatment.

A temporary absence means you don't expect to be outside Great Britain for more than 52 weeks at the time you go away.

Who doesn't have to meet the past presence condition

People in certain occupations can be treated as present in Great Britain even when they were living abroad. This applies to the same occupations and people as listed in the presence condition above.

If you're a national of an EEA state or of Switzerland, you don't have to meet the past presence condition if you're:

  • habitually resident in Great Britain, and
  • you can show a genuine and sufficient link to the UK social security system.

Showing a 'genuine and sufficient link to the UK social security system' is not defined in law, but depends on all the circumstances of your case. For example, the DWP could take into account previous periods when you have lived or worked in the UK and whether you are getting any other benefits.

If you're applying for PIP because you’re terminally ill, you don't have to meet the past presence condition.

The habitual residence condition

To get PIP, you must be habitually resident in the UK, the Republic of Ireland, the Isle of Man or the Channel Islands. This is known as the Common Travel Area.

Habitual residence is not defined in law. At the least, it means that you have been living in the Common Travel Area for a period of time and that you intend to make it your home for the time being. The period of time you must have been living there is not a fixed period. However, guidance to DWP decision makers says, "A period of between one and three months is likely to be appropriate to demonstrate that a person's residence is habitual in nature".

The DWP decision maker should take all the facts of your case into account when deciding whether you are habitually resident. For example, these could include your reasons for coming to the Common Travel Area and the strength of your ties here. Your ties might include having a job, joining your family, arranging accommodation and so on.

Some EEA nationals may be able to show that they're habitually resident in the Common Travel Area immediately they move there, if they're covered by EU law.

Remember that, as well as being habitually resident in the Common Travel Area, to get PIP you must also meet the presence and past presence conditions that relate to your presence in Great Britain, not to where you live.

Who is automatically treated as habitually resident?

You’re automatically treated as habitually resident in Great Britain if you're:

  • living outside Great Britain as a serving member of HM forces, or
  • living with a serving member of HM forces outside Great Britain and you’re their spouse, civil partner, son, daughter, step-son, step-daughter, father, father-in-law, step-father, mother, mother-in-law or step-mother.

Special rules if you live in another EEA state or Switzerland

To get the daily living component of PIP, you don't have to meet the presence condition, the past presence condition or the habitual residence condition if:

  • you're habitually resident in an EEA state other than the UK, or in Switzerland, and
  • you're covered by certain European Union co-ordination rules, which protect your right to claim benefits when you move within Europe and
  • you can demonstrate a genuine and sufficient link to the UK social security system.

To make a claim from abroad, you'll need to write to the DWP Exportability Co-ordinator at:

Department for Work and Pensions

Exportability Team
Room C216
Disability and Carers Service
Warbreck House
Warbreck Hill Road
Blackpool
FY2 0YE

Email: exportability.team@dwp.gsi.gov.uk

Next steps

Other useful information

  • DWP Advice for Decision Making, Chapter C2 'International issues - Personal Independence Payment, at www.dwp.gov.uk
  • DWP list of EEA countries, at www.dwp.gov.uk
  • More about the European Union co-ordination rules, at ec.europa.eu

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