Residence rules

The residence rules specific to universal credit are set out in the Welfare Reform Act 2012 and the Universal Credit Regulations 2013 (SI.No.376/2013).

NB: See below for equivalent legislation in Northern Ireland.

Basic condition for entitlement to universal credit

Section 4 of the Welfare Reform Act 2012

Sets out the basic conditions for entitlement to universal credit including that the claimant is in Great Britain, and regulation making powers in relation to the circumstances in which a person is to be treated as in Great Britain, including the disregard of temporary absence.

Person treated as not being in Great Britain

Regulation 9 of SI.No.376/2013

Provides that a person will not be treated as being in Great Britain unless they are habitually resident, that a person will not be treated as being habitually resident unless they have a right to reside (other than the categories of right to reside specified in paragraph 3, that include being a jobseeker), and sets out the categories of right to reside that will lead to the claimant being treated as being in Great Britain.

Crown servants and members of the armed forces who are posted overseas

Regulation 10 of SI.No.376/2013

Excludes crown servants and members of the armed forces who are posted overseas from the requirement to be in Great Britain.

Temporary absence from Great Britain

Regulation 11 of SI.No.376/2013

Sets out the circumstances in which periods of absence are disregarded and the periods for which absence in each of the specified circumstances is disregarded.

In Northern Ireland, the Welfare Reform (Northern Ireland) Order 2015 together with SR.No.216/2016 make provision relating to residence that is equivalent to that made in Great Britain.

Further explanation of the legislation is set out in guidance. Please note, however, guidance is not binding and cannot override the legislation.

Advice for decision making

Chapter C1

Sets out detailed guidance for decision makers on the presence condition and other residence issues.

DWP guidance from

Going abroad

Sets out guidance on temporary absences abroad, circumstances where the one month period can be extended, and holidays.

DWP guidance from

Refugees and asylum seekers

Provides definitions of ‘refugee’ and ‘asylum seeker’, sets out guidance on what support is given, and provides information on people arriving under a resettlement scheme, identifying a refugee, and method of payment.

DWP guidance from

Habitual Residence Test

​Provides guidance on the habitual residence test, differences between legacy benefits and universal credit, and the genuine prospect of work test.

Case law​ provides further interpretation of the legislation and establishes legal precedent.

Upper Tribunal

[2019] UKUT 192 (AAC)

Effect of CJEU judgment in Lounes - dependent EEA family members of dual nationals can derive right to reside where dual national exercised Treaty rights prior to acquiring citizenship of host state.

Upper Tribunal

[2019] UKUT 184 (AAC)

Basic condition of being in Great Britain can be met with a right to reside that falls outside situations in regulation 9(4) of the Universal Credit Regulations 2013.

Upper Tribunal

[2017] UKUT 130 (AAC)

Analysis of proportionality is not relevant to refusal of right to reside for Greek claimant in the UK for 30 years.