Updated: July 19, 2019

Pension Transfer Ireland

Moving to Ireland and want to know if you can transfer your UK pension to a local scheme? Find out how to do this in our in-depth guide.

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Tony Stevens

Author: Tony Stevens - Finance Expert

Updated: July 19, 2019

In this article, you’ll learn about overseas pension transfers in Ireland – both in and out of the country.

Of course, there’s a huge number of scenarios in which you could be transferring your pension in or out of Ireland, so, if you want detailed advice tailored to your specific circumstances, get in touch. One of the expert advisors we work with will be able to help.

Can I transfer a pension to the Republic of Ireland?

Yes – in many cases. The specifics, of course, will depend on the kind of pension you want to transfer – and the country you want to transfer from.

What are the pension transfer rules in Ireland?

They differ depending on the type of scheme you’re transferring from and to.

We’ve outlined a few different scenarios below….

Can I transfer my UK pension to Ireland?

Yes. Considering the number of UK expats who’ve relocated, pension transfers from the UK to Ireland are not at all uncommon.

However – it depends largely on the kind of pension that you’re looking to transfer. Also, the Irish scheme you want to transfer to will have to be on HMRC’s list of qualifying recognised overseas pension schemes (QROPS).

If you have a defined benefit/final salary pension

It depends on the scheme. Certain ‘unfunded’ public sector pensions, such as ones for the police or armed forces, can’t be transferred by law.

Some private sector schemes (company pensions) can be transferred. Though as we’ve said before, in some instances it may be better to leave your pension where it is. This is often true with defined benefit pensions, which guarantee you an income, unlike defined contribution pensions.

Get in touch if you have any questions.

If you have a defined contribution pension

Known for their flexibility, defined contribution based pensions usually make it easier to transfer a UK pension to Ireland. Thanks to the Pension Freedoms, you’re much more likely to be able to transfer this kind of pension – but there can always be exceptions to the rule.

As always, you may also have the option to keep your defined contribution pension in the UK, and continue to draw an income in Ireland. Drop us a line if you want to find out about your specific options.

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Can I transfer my NHS pension to Ireland?

No, but you can keep your NHS pension in the UK and receive an income in Ireland.

Can I transfer NHS pension to the HSE?

No – even though you’d be forgiven for thinking so, seeing that both are publicly supported health services.

As of 2015, UK law prevents ‘unfunded’ public sector pension schemes, such as your NHS pension, from being moved anywhere – domestic or international.

Can I transfer my UK state pension?

Yes. But if you want to transfer a UK state pension to Ireland – you’ll have to have made enough National Insurance contributions to qualify for a UK state pension in the first place.

Your pension will continue to increase in line with UK inflation (not Irish inflation), and you’ll be paid in euros, not pounds. As such, fluctuations in the exchange rate may affect what you get back.

That said, it’s worth clarifying everything with DWP’s International Pension Centre before seriously committing to a transfer of your UK pension to Ireland.

Caveat: a note on ‘transferring’ your pension

By “transferring” a pension to Ireland (or vice versa), we mean moving your pension from one country to another.

We don’t mean keeping your pension in the UK, whilst retiring abroad – which is possible in many cases.

Which leads to our next point…

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Remember: You don’t have to transfer your pension to retire abroad

Which is particularly relevant if you’re unable to find an equivalent pension in the country you want to move to.

For example, if you have a defined benefit/final salary pension, you’re guaranteed an income for life. It may be harder for you to find a pension that you can transfer to which matches the benefits you’re getting – which could actually make transferring a UK pension to Ireland a bad idea in some cases.

Can I transfer my Irish pension abroad?

Yes. Transferring Irish pensions overseas is possible in many instances. It depends on where you want to move your pension to, and the kind of pension that you have already.

Can I transfer my Irish pension to the UK?

In theory, yes – though as with most cases, it depends on the kind of scheme in question.

Occupational pension scheme

Ireland and the UK are similar insofar as they divide occupation pensions into ‘defined contribution’ and ‘defined benefit’ schemes. Transferring a pension from Ireland to the UK will, typically, be easier with a defined contribution pension.

As we’ve said previously about UK-based defined benefit schemes, sometimes it’s harder to get a better deal elsewhere. Regardless of the kind of occupational pension you have, getting advice from a pension expert is always recommended. They will advise you of your options and let you know whether a transfer would be right for you.

Personal Retirement Savings Account (PRSA)

Yes, though there are restrictions. The scheme that you transfer to in the UK must be deemed ‘compatible’ with Irish pension law, and the trustees of your scheme must agree.

Ask the administrators of your scheme, or get in touch if you’d like to speak with one of the experts we work with about this.

State pension

Transferring an Irish pension to the UK is usually the most straightforward with a state pension. Ireland and the UK have a social security agreement that allows a certain amount of flexibility between both state pensions.

Essentially, the contributions you made back in Ireland can count as contributions towards a UK pension.

If you have questions, you can ask citizensinformation.ie, or speak to one of the experts that we work with.

Talk to an expert today

If you have questions about the pension transfer rules in Ireland and want to speak to an expert for the right advice, call us today on 0808 189 0463 or make an enquiry here.

Then sit back and let us do all the hard work in finding the advisor with the right expertise for your circumstances. We don’t charge a fee and there’s absolutely no obligation.


Can I transfer my Spanish pension back to Ireland?

Yes, in theory. Irish Revenue will allow this but whether it’s a good idea or not will depend on the kind of pension that you’ve built up in Spain.

Both being in the EU, both Spain and Ireland share a social security arrangement – so if it’s a state pension, things shouldn’t be too difficult.

If it’s an occupational pension, you’ll need to check whether the scheme allows you to transfer out in the first place and, if so, that you’ll be able to retain all or most of the benefits you’ve built up. If not, you might not be able to move it – or may face steep charges for doing so.

Ask your employer to clarify or drop us a line. One of the expert advisors we work with will be able to clear things up for you.

What’s a ‘pension transfer bond’?

It actually has nothing to do with the transfer of pensions from the UK to Ireland (or vice versa).

In Ireland, a pension transfer bond (sometimes known as a ‘buy-out bond’) allows for domestic pension transfers in Ireland. With a pension transfer bond, you can transfer out of a previous workplace pension into a scheme that you have more control over.

Do I need a pension transfer specialist to transfer from Northern to the Republic of Ireland?

Yes. Speaking to a pensions expert is always recommended before you pursue a transfer, and that certainly applies when transfering from a non-EU country to an EU territory like Ireland. This can help ensure that you avoid the potential pitfalls and choose the right option for your retirement needs.

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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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