Updated: June 01, 2019

A Guide to Protected Rights Pension Transfers

Still got an old protected right pension? It's possible to transfer it to a better scheme! Read our guide to find out what your options are

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Tony Stevens

Author: Tony Stevens - Finance Expert

Updated: June 01, 2019

Protected rights pensions are no longer being offered. In truth, the only people who are affected by this defunct product are owners of the 1978 State Earnings Related Pension Scheme (SERPS) or the 2002 Second State pension (also called the Additional State Pension).

But if you’re one of them and are looking to transfer your pension elsewhere, this article is for you

Can I transfer my protected rights pension?

In short, yes it is possible. Since these protected rights funds have become your normal defined contributions (DC) benefits, your question is on whether you can transfer your funds from your existing scheme to another.

You can certainly transfer your defined contributions benefits to a range of schemes, as long as your chosen scheme is another registered UK pension plan.

Since each scheme has its own terms and implications, transferring your pension can be tricky and momentous. Make an enquiry for guidance from one of the independent pensions advisors we work with.

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Should I transfer my protected rights pension?

Given that these protected rights funds have become a normal defined contributions (DC) pension, the question, then, becomes whether you should transfer into your workplace scheme.

You can find our guide to workplace pension transfers.

When shouldn’t I transfer my protected rights?

Firstly, not all schemes allow you to transfer nor will other schemes accept your transference. Check whether you can transfer what used to be your protected rights (but is now your general pension).

Then consider the following:

  • Exit charges – Ask your provider their rate.
  • Lost benefits –  Your defined contribution pension may provide certain benefits that you lose by leaving. Look into these and speak to an advisor to discuss the risks vs. rewards.
  • Loss of guaranteed annuity rates (GARs) –  Your DC may offer higher guaranteed annuity rates when it comes to drawdown. Compare the GARs of both existing and intended schemes.

It’s seldom easy to make the decision and much is at stake –  make an enquiry to be referred to independent pensions experts who can help you assess your situation.

Where can I transfer it to?

Your choices would be a SIPP, a QROPS or a personal pension.


A self-invested personal pension (SIPP) allows you to manage your funds and invest them as you see fit.

SIPPs can be viable for those who want to flex their benefits and manage their own investments. You’re also allowed a far larger range of investments – including property and equities –  than with personal pension plans. But for some who are unskilled at investing, SIPPs can be dangerous in that you run the risk of losing part to all of your savings.

The same government rules as, for example, on contributions and age drawdown, apply with SIPPs as they do with other personal pension schemes.

Our Guide on SIPP Income Drawdown leads you through the topic.

Qualifying Recognised Overseas Pension Scheme (QROPS), are overseas pension schemes, usually in the countries you want to relocate to. Each of these are managed by its country of location and has its particular benefits and rules. To make sure your investments are safe, the British government obligates you to transfer your pension to one of its registered certified schemes. If you choose a non-recognised scheme, your current provider may either refuse to make the transfer, or may charge you at least 40% tax on the transfer.

Transferring to a QROPS is expensive. You’re usually charged an overseas transfer charge tax of 25% of the value of your pension transfer. Sometimes that’s lifted; make an enquiry for exemptions.

Even though these overseas pension schemes are regulated by their country of location, you still need to regularly supply Britain with a report on your QROPs income and performance.

How do I transfer a protected rights pension?

Being that we’re looking at transferring your defined contributions (DC), most times the process is simple:

  • Ask your current pension provider if you’re allowed to transfer and their exit rates.
  • Find out your current provider’s refund policies. Pension schemes give you a 30-day cancellation period.
  • Choose a scheme and ask that provider whether they accept your transfer. You’ll also want to know that new scheme’s costs.
  • Your new provider will want to see your latest pension statement and may request a copy of your pension valuation, namely to see the value of your pension assets.
  • Get independent qualified advice on whether you should proceed with the transfer. Sometimes, a seasoned advisor can point out aspects you overlooked or were unaware of.
    That’s crucial, since once you proceed you can’t change your mind.

Ask for a value analysis report that shows you how much you gain or lose from the move.

Make an enquiry for referral to independent, qualified pensions experts.

If you’re transferring overseas, there can be added complications. For instance: If you’re under 75, and you’re transferring more than your lifetime allowance, you’ll be charged on that excess. Consult with your UK pension scheme administrator before you transfer.

Anything else I need to know?

At one time, the legalities on transferring protected funds could be problematic. Today, since these funds are no different than your normal pension the situation is easier, but you still want to ask yourself the following:

  • Will I get better benefits with the new scheme?
  • What’s the drawdown age of the new scheme? Is it earlier or later than my present one? (See our guide for pension drawdown rules.)
  • Am I losing anything important by closing my scheme?
  • How much protection do I get with the new scheme?
  • Is the customer service and administration honest, helpful and accommodating?
  • What are the new scheme’s policies on factors like drawdown age and contributions? (See our pension drawdown age guide for details.)
  • How much autonomy do I have in the scheme’s investment decisions? How much autonomy do I want to have?

Speak to a pension transfer advisor

Looking for more information about transferring your private pension? Call us today on 0808 189 0463 or make an enquiry.

Then sit back and allow us the hard work in finding just the right private pensions transfer advisor for your situation. We don’t charge a fee and there are no obligations.

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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*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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