Updated: July 19, 2019

New Zealand Pension Transfers

Moving to New Zealand and need to move your pension over there? Read this article to find out how it's done

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Tony Stevens

Author: Tony Stevens - Finance Expert

Updated: July 19, 2019

Amongst our many enquiries regarding pension transfers, we get quite a few customers wanting to know whether they can, or indeed, should, transfer a UK pension to New Zealand (NZ).

This is because the vast majority of us like the reassurance that what we are doing (or what we are thinking of doing) is in fact the best course of action.

With the above in mind, we have put together a comprehensive guide which covers:

Can I do a UK pension transfer to New Zealand?


Since 2017, all pension transfers from the UK to New Zealand must be deposited into a NZ QROPS (qualifying recognised overseas pension scheme) or a SIPP (self invested personal pension).

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What type of pensions can be transferred?

Most types of pension schemes in the UK are transferable to New Zealand. If you have any of the following pension schemes and you are thinking of leaving, or have left the UK, to live and work in New Zealand, you should be able to transfer your existing UK pension to a New Zealand QROPS.

However, if you have already bought an annuity or have an occupational pension and are taking benefits – you are now ‘in retirement’ and generally would not be allowed to transfer.

Can I transfer my NHS pension?

Yes, there are two ways you can receive your NHS pension in NZ. Firstly, there is the direct payment method, which pays your NHS pension into a bank account chosen by you either every four weeks or every 13 weeks.

By using this method (the direct payment method) it means that the amount you’re paid will change depending on the currency exchange rate and also any superannuation you receive from your employer will reduce the amount of the UK pension you receive.

The other way of receiving your NHS pension while you’re working and living in New Zealand is through a special banking option. With this special banking option, your UK pension is paid into a special bank account that only the bank and the New Zealand government can access.

This gives you the means to receive the full amount of NHS pension, either once a week or once a fortnight. Tax is paid already and the amount is not affected by the exchange rate.

Other things to note:

  • Transferring a NHS pension into a kiwisaver is no longer permitted.
  • If you do not transfer your NHS pension to a nominated scheme you will have to pay tax on future increases in New Zealand.

Can I transfer my UK state pension?

Yes. You have two options – a direct payment method or a special banking option.

Under the direct payment method, you can choose to have your state pension paid directly into your own personal bank account. By choosing this option, the amount you receive may change and potentially fluctuate due to the exchange rate.

If your UK state pension combined with any New Zealand superannuation or veteran’s pension comes to the same or more than the full rate of New Zealand superannuation, the amount you receive will be reduced.

Under the special banking option tax is already paid and the amount you get would not be affected by the exchange rate. If you choose to have your state pension paid into a special bank account, only the government and the bank can access it. In return, you get the full amount of New Zealand Superannuation or veteran’s pension.

Can I transfer a UK private pension?

Yes, and the transfer of a private pension to New Zealand can have huge tax benefits such as:

  • No tax on withdrawals at retirement age.
  • No tax at source on retirement income.
  • No tax on growth.
  • No tax on death.

If you have a private pension and want to discuss your options in more detail you should speak to a pensions expert, like the ones we work with. Call us today on 0808 189 0463 or make an enquiry here.

How do I transfer my pension?

Transferring a pension from the UK to New Zealand can seem daunting especially having to find out what is (or isn’t) a qualifying recognised overseas pension scheme (QROPS). If you are ready/prepared the first thing to do is to provide you current pension provider(s) (in the UK) with a letter of authority – informing them of your intentions and to inform them who is acting on your behalf. It would then be wise to follow this up with a phone call requesting the transfer out paperwork. Once you have the transfer out paperwork things become a little easier.

The most straightforward and most time efficient way to transfer would be to get in touch with a pensions expert, like the ones we work with.

Call us today on 0808 189 0463 or make an enquiry here.

They can guide you through every step of the process and offer bespoke advice along the way.

Why should I transfer my UK pension?

If you are looking at transferring a pension to New Zealand from the UK then you may have already made your mind up and could just be looking for some reassurance. Many expats now residing in New Zealand have found that the benefits of transferring their pension to New Zealand far outweigh the potential downsides.

Here are some of the benefits of transferring:

  • If you become seriously ill you may be able to access your pension fund.
  • Upon death, your pension fund would be paid to your estate.
  • Death duty tax is not applicable in New Zealand, unlike the UK.
  • Benefits paid and received in New Zealand are tax free from a QROPS.

At this stage it would be prudent to speak with a pension expert to get the best advice for your circumstances. Call us today on 0808 189 0463 or make an enquiry here.

Will I have to pay tax on a UK pension transfer to NZ?

Possibly – the amount of tax payable in New Zealand is governed by how long you have been in the country at the time of withdrawal or transfer. New migrants or returning residents are usually able to take advantage of a new four-year rule and move the pension plan to NZ tax-free.

This is where specialised advice from a pensions expert is key. You must be very careful when you are transferring your pension because the wrong transfer could land you with a tax bill up to 55% of the value transferred, from HMRC. To avoid such hefty tax bill you must only transfer UK pensions to QROPS (qualifying recognised overseas pension schemes) a list of which is available on the HMRC website.

Other things to be aware of:

  • If you leave New Zealand to live in another country within five full consecutive tax years from the date of the transfer, an overseas charge of 25% of the original transfer value in payable.
  • Once you turn 55, 25% of the funds are available to withdraw tax free. The remaining 75% of the funds are also available for withdrawal. However, if you access more than 25% of the funds, then any amount in excess of 25% will be subject to UK tax if you return to the UK within 10 years of leaving the UK.

Where should I transfer my UK pension to?

You will undoubtedly be looking for the best place to transfer your UK pension to in NZ.

Can I transfer to a Kiwisaver?

The transfer of a UK pension into a New Zealand Kiwisaver used to be very popular pre-2015.

Transferring a UK pension to a Kiwisaver is no longer an option for expats and the like since the Kiwisaver is no longer part of the New Zealand approved QROPS, due to it allowing withdrawals before the age of 55 – something HMRC does not allow.

Transfer to NZ – Britannia

Britannia retirement scheme have conducted over 20,000 pension transfers and like to see themselves as the pioneers of transferring a UK pension to NZ.

As with all big decisions it would be prudent to get the best advice for you and your circumstances from a pensions expert – they will be able to advise on the best place to transfer your pension and which provider is best for you. Call us today on 0808 189 0463 or make an enquiry here.

How long does a transfer take?

You should be aware that the transfer of a UK pension to NZ can take some time, so if you qualify for the transitional resident four year exemption and are contemplating transferring your pension plan within the transitional resident period you should speak to an expert pension advisor at least six months before your exemption period expires.

Can I transfer my New Zealand pension to the UK?

Rules depict that transferring your NZ pension to the UK is not possible. However, New Zealanders that reside in the United Kingdom can generally use their New Zealand residence to help them meet the residency/contribution criteria for United Kingdom benefits and pensions.

Speak to a pensions expert

If you have questions about a UK pension transfers to NZ or pensions in general and want to speak to an expert for the right advice and for more information, call us today on 0808 189 0463 or make an enquiry here.

Ask a quick question

We can help! We know everyone's circumstances are different, that's why we work with brokers who are experts in pensions. Ask us a question and we'll get the best expert to help.

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Tony Stevens

Tony Stevens

Finance Expert

About the author

Tony has worked in a vastly diverse array of areas in the pensions industry for over 20 years. Tony regularly writes for trade press, usually on topical and pensions pieces as well as acting as a judge at prestigious national events.

Tony is also a highly qualified Independent Financial Adviser in his own right. His mantra has always been “Hope for the best, but plan for the worst”, and believes that the biggest impact that an adviser can have on a client’s life journey is to take them on a journey from generally having little or no real idea of what their retirement will look like, to giving them the understanding of what their retirement looks like now, then helping them navigate a path to what they want their retirement to be.

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FCA Disclaimer

*Based on our research, the content contained in this article is accurate as of the most recent time of writing. Lender criteria and policies change regularly so speak to one of the advisors we work with to confirm the most accurate up to date information. The information on the site is not tailored advice to each individual reader, and as such does not constitute financial advice. All advisors working with us are fully qualified to provide mortgage advice and work only for firms that are authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. They will offer any advice specific to you and your needs.

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