Updated: October 15, 2019

Transfer Pension Abroad

Is it possible to transfer your pension abroad? Read our guide for more details on how to do this.

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Tony Stevens

Author: Tony Stevens - Finance Expert

Updated: October 15, 2019

The prospect of enjoying your pension overseas is a huge draw for those approaching their retirement, and we have lots of people contacting us asking us if it’s possible to transfer their pension overseas.

Fortunately, the pension experts we work with are experts when it comes to transferring your pension abroad and can give you the right advice.

If you’d like to talk to someone today about how to transfer your UK pension abroad, call on 0808 189 0463.

Alternatively, make an enquiry online and one of the  pensions specialists we work with will be in touch shortly. There’s no fee for the initial consultation and no obligation.

Can I transfer my private pension abroad?

Depending on the terms of your pension scheme, you can usually transfer a private UK pension to an overseas pension scheme.

The process of transferring your UK pension to a scheme abroad can be fairly simple if you have knowledge of the market.

It’s important to know that a UK pension provider may charge you for withdrawing your pension and transferring it to another country, so always seek advice from one of the pensions experts we work with, who can identify the best option for you.

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Can I transfer a state pension abroad?

Unfortunately, it is not possible to transfer your UK state pension to a new pension scheme abroad, however, you are entitled to live in another country and receive your UK State Pension.

This sounds complicated but essentially, as long as you have informed HMRC of your decision to retire abroad so that you can pay the correct tax, you can still receive your state pension.

Some overseas retirees have their UK pension paid into a UK account and then transfer the funds to an overseas account.

Can I transfer an NHS pension abroad?

Although it is possible to transfer an NHS pension to another defined benefit scheme in the UK, it is not possible to transfer an NHS pension overseas, even if the pension scheme is a qualifying QROPS pension.

Can I leave my pension in a UK scheme if I move?

Yes, this is now possible. Despite living or moving abroad, you do have the option to leave your pension in a UK scheme.

If you do this, it will continue to be held by your pension provider until you claim it.

Of course, you may be able to accumulate more interest or funds in your pot by transferring it to another provider, but this would only be the case if you have a defined contribution scheme. The same could be said for keeping your funds in your current UK pot and you will need to check that your scheme has full Pension Freedoms.

So, before deciding to proceed with either option, calculate which one will provide you with the most income or will be most suited to your needs in retirement.

If you are unsure how to do this, or want to compare the various overseas pension schemes that could be available to you, talk to one of the pension experts we work with.

Where can I transfer my pension to if I move overseas?

There could be many potential schemes suitable for you depending on your circumstances.

As long as the overseas pension scheme is a qualifying scheme, recognised by HM Revenue and Customs, it could be either of the below pension types:

Should I transfer my pension?

Transferring your pension can have a lasting financial impact for your retirement, so it’s important to carefully consider your options and seek professional guidance.

Whether transferring your pension plan is a good idea, is largely based on your own circumstances as well as the terms of your current and future pension scheme.

Some soon to be pensioners want their new pension fund to provide them with more income whereas others may be looking for a defined contribution scheme that provides them with more flexibility to drawdown larger amounts of cash upfront.

Whether it will end up being a good idea to transfer your UK pension abroad will depend on the kind of pension you hold and how much your fund is currently worth. Another major influencing factor will be your age at the time you are considering making the transfer.

Your current UK pension could have terms and conditions which make transferring your pension abroad costly or less appealing.

Transferring your pension abroad and then later realising you could have made more money can sting.

It’s your financial future and your retirement, so don’t feel pressured to switch before you understand the implications or feel ready.

Questions to ask your pension provider

The below apply to defined contribution pensions only…

  • What is the ‘transfer value’ of my pension?
  • Are there any fees for transferring my pension and if so, how much?
  • Will I lose the right to take out my money at a certain age?
  • Will I lose any benefits eg a guaranteed annuity rate?
  • Will I lose the right to take a tax-free lump sum of more than 25% of my pension?

If you don’t feel confident about asking them yourself, talk to one of the pension experts we work with. They can help you find out this information or speak to your pension provider on your behalf.

How to transfer a pension plan abroad

1. Seek advice from a pensions expert

Transferring a UK pension abroad can be daunting, especially if you are unsure about the pension processes in the country you are moving too.

As well as this, the language barrier can put some people off from moving forward with transferring their pension overseas.

To get around this and to ensure you understand the conditions and consequences of transferring your pension overseas, always seek professional advice.

It can be helpful to know that you have someone who can liaise on your behalf as well as managing any paperwork or translation issues.

Fortunately the experts we work with can help you with all aspects of transferring your pension overseas.

2. Decide where you would like to transfer your pension abroad

There could potentially be hundreds of pension options in the country you would like to move your funds too and comparing them can take some time.

Your pensions advisor can look at each option and calculate which one is more financially viable for you and provides the most benefits.

3. Check if the overseas scheme qualifies

To be recognised by HM Revenue and Customs as a qualifying recognised overseas pension scheme, (QROPS) the scheme must be:

  • Regulated as a pension scheme in the country where it is established; and
  • Recognised for tax purposes (so benefits that are paid to you from the scheme must be subject to taxation).

4. Calculate the costs of transferring a UK pension overseas

Once you have compared your options and been made aware of any fees or financial implications that could occur after transferring, you can proceed to switch.

Your pensions advisor can help you through this process, checking your contract and managing the paperwork on your behalf.

Potential costs could include:

  • Exit fees. This may also be referred to as Market Value Reduction, Early Surrender Charge or Transfer Out Fee. An exit fee can be charged as a flat fee or as a percentage of your savings. Therefore, the larger your pension, the more you’ll pay.
  • Overseas transfer pension charge.
  • Management fee.
  • Financial advice (this is mandatory if your pension fund is worth over £30,000).

If you are unsure about any fees or charges associated with transferring your UK pension abroad, speak to your pension provider and ask them for a list of all charges.

5. Consider the tax implications on your pension

If you move abroad before you start taking your pension, overseas tax laws may prevent you from taking anything tax free.

The amount of pension you have in your pot can also affect how much tax you pay on your overseas pension transfer, so always compare your options before moving forward.

You must also tell HM Revenue and Customs that you are moving abroad and taking your pension overseas as this ensures that you pay the right tax and avoid charges or penalties in the future.

6. Transfer your pension

Once you understand the financial implications of transferring your pension pot abroad, you can begin to proceed with the transfer.

Your previous pension provider will need to be notified of your decision to transfer your pension to another scheme and your new provider will need to confirm that they have agreed to the transfer.

Transferring your pension to a specific country

Every country has different rules regarding retirement and pensions pots.

The experts we work with can offer advice if you’re transferring your UK pension to pretty much anywhere in the World (subject to money laundering regulations), including:

  • Japan
  • Austria
  • Germany
  • Netherlands
  • Switzerland
  • Italy
  • New Zealand
  • Australia
  • The USA
  • Canada
  • Spain
  • France

Please note that the above list of countries aims to provide a snapshot of the territories the advisors we work with can help with. Other countries are considered, so if the territory you’re moving to doesn’t appear on the list, it may still be possible to transfer your pot there with our help.

If you are considering transferring a UK pension overseas, get in touch for a free, no-obligation chat with one of the pension experts we work with. They will be able to advise you of your best course of action based on all your personal circumstances, the type of pension and the options available in the country you are moving to.

Where can I get advice?

It can be really helpful to talk to a professional who understands the pros and cons of each option available to you.

Transferring your UK pension abroad is a huge decision and one that shouldn’t be taken lightly or without bespoke advice.

If you are unsure about how to transfer your pension abroad or want to understand more about the tax implications, call us on 0808 189 0463.
Alternatively, you can arrange a free, no obligation consultation with one of the pensions experts we work with.

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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