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        Updated: April 16, 2024

        Transfer Overseas Pension To The UK

        Looking to transfer an overseas pension to the UK? Here’s everything you need to know, including rules around specific international countries.

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        If you’ve currently got an existing pension set up overseas, you might wonder if it’s possible to carry out a pension transfer to move your retirement savings to a UK scheme or provider.

        This guide covers all the essential details you need to know about transferring a pension to the UK from overseas. We’ll explain the benefits and drawbacks along with providing some country-specific information for international pension transfers. And, where to get the necessary expert advice before carrying out a transfer.

        Keep reading for a complete explanation or click on a link below to jump straight to a section…

        Can you transfer your overseas pension to the UK?

        Yes, this is possible. However, it sometimes depends on the country you’re looking to transfer from, the type of pension and terms of the scheme, and whether the UK provider you want to use will accept incoming international pension transfers.

        Speak to an expert today

        International pension transfers

        To give you a better idea about international pension transfers, the table below shows examples of country-specific information you should be aware of if you’re hoping to transfer a pension to the UK from overseas.

         

        Country

        Can you transfer to the UK?

        What’s involved?

        Swiss Pension

        Yes

        • A pillar 3 (private pension) can be cashed out or transferred (but may involve exit fees or taxes).
        • A pillar 2 (company pension) can be more difficult. You might be able to transfer some but not all of your pension. Benefits must usually be paid into a Swiss bank account.

        German Pension

        Yes

        • Germany has a Double Taxation Agreement (DTA) with the UK, so you may be able to reclaim any German tax paid on your pension.

        Spanish Pension

        Yes

        • You need to inform the UK and Spanish authorities (International Pension Centre and the Instituto Nacional de la Seguridad Social).
        • Using a QROPS is the easiest way to transfer schemes from Spain to the UK.

        USA Pension – 401(k) plan

        No

        • You can’t transfer a 401(k) plan directly from the USA to a UK pension scheme.
        • With expert advice, there can still be creative and efficient ways to access and use your 401(k) retirement savings from the UK.

        Belgian Pension

        Yes

        • All types of pensions from the Federal Pensions Service can be paid out anywhere in the world, so a transfer may not be necessary.
        • If you want to transfer a Belgian pension to the UK, transferring from a QROPS is the simplest method.

        Dutch Pension

        Yes

        • There can be enough flexibility with pensions in The Netherlands to transfer a private pension, occupational scheme, or defined benefit scheme to the UK.
        • The UK pension scheme you’re transferring into must meet the conditions of Dutch tax authorities.
        • A Dutch State Pension (AOW) cannot be transferred to the UK.

        Irish Pension

        Yes

        • It sometimes depends on your scheme in Ireland.Defined contribution is easier than defined benefit.
        • With a Personal Retirement Savings Account (PRSA), the UK scheme you want to transfer to must be compatible with Irish pension law.
        • Transferring an Irish State Pension to the UK is straightforward as the two countries have a social security agreement.

        French Pension

        Yes

        • It is possible, but HMRC QROPS rules exclude French pensions, so there will be fewer transfer options.
        • Pensions in France can be complex, so expert advice is essential when navigating the international laws if you want to transfer a French pension to the UK.

        Italian Pension

        Yes

        • Like France, relatively recent HMRC rule changes can be restrictive around Italian pensions.
        • Transfers from an Italian pension to a UK scheme can be possible, but there are no QROPS in Italy.

        Other EU Pension

        Yes/No

        • You can usually transfer a pension from the EU to the UK (especially within the European Economic Area EEA), however, it depends on the specific country.
        • You can’t transfer your pension to the UK for some countries, or your options are limited.
        • It’s best to research and get advice based on a particular country and pension.

        Australian Pension

        Yes

        • The Australian pension system is made up of a compulsory superannuation fund.
        • If you’re a temporary resident you can claim a departing superannuation payment (DASP) if your right to work ends or you leave Australia. However, there can be a 65% tax plus management fees.
        • For permanent residents, you can access your superannuation from the UK, but if you want to transfer it – you have to be over 55 (or over the current preservation age).

        The benefits and drawbacks

        Below is a rundown of the main advantages and disadvantages to consider if you want to transfer an overseas pension to the UK.

        Benefits

        • The UK may have a greater choice of pension providers.
        • Some UK pension schemes offer more flexibility when taking pension income than those found overseas.
        • If you’re spending money in pounds sterling during retirement, you can save on currency conversion fees and avoid foreign exchange fluctuations.
        • It can allow your pension to be held in a more stable currency (depending on where your current pension is based).
        • You may have a wider choice of investment options with a UK pension (this will ultimately depend on the provider that you decide to transfer to).
        • There might be better tax treatment of UK pensions compared to your overseas arrangement.
        • HMRC has a database of qualifying recognised pension schemes (QROPS) that can make international pension transfers more straightforward and tax-efficient.

        Drawbacks

        • Finding a UK pension scheme willing to accept international transfers can be difficult.
        • An overseas pension transfer can be more complex if you’ve already accessed the pot or are receiving payments/benefits.
        • There can be outgoing restrictions with your existing pension provider.
        • Sometimes it can be more financially efficient to draw from your international pension and convert it to pounds instead of carrying out a complete pension transfer.
        • It’s vital to get expert tax advice to ensure you stay within the rules and don’t pay more than you need to (perhaps avoiding double taxation).
        • Transfers may be liable for 25% tax or more (especially if it’s not a QROPS).

        How to transfer your pension to the UK

        If you’ve got an international pension and want to move it overseas to a UK scheme, here are some straightforward steps to follow:

        Gather your details

        It’s worth having as much information as possible about your current pensions in whatever country you hold them. It’s also a good idea to have an idea about your retirement goals and what you want from a UK pension scheme.

        Speak to an overseas pensions expert

        Once you have all your relevant details and retirement plans, if you present everything to an overseas pensions transfer specialist – they’ll be able to evaluate your situation. Once they’ve taken a look, your expert advisor will be able to best advise you on whether it’s worth transferring your pension to the UK and what your transfer options will be.

        Transfer your pension

        If your pension transfer specialist recommends that it’s in your financial interest to move your pension to the UK, they’ll walk you through the rest of the process. This will involve speaking to your current overseas pension provider and your new provider in the UK. It’s always worth having an expert in your corner while transferring pensions.

        If you want to chat with an expert overseas pensions transfer advisor, just make an enquiry. We’ll arrange a free, no obligation chat between you and your ideal pensions transfer advisor.

        Schemes and options available

        If you can transfer your particular overseas pension to the UK, here are some examples of the types of schemes and options potentially available to you:

        Your specialist pensions transfer advisor will be able to explain all the choices that would suit your particular circumstances when moving your overseas pension to the UK.

        Transferring your UK pension overseas

        In many cases, you can transfer a UK pension abroad. The process is most straightforward if you’re transferring to a QROPS, but you can still arrange a transfer even if it’s not a QROPS (there may be significant tax implications).

        The exact transfer rules and process will depend on what type of pension you have in the UK, your pension provider, and which international country you want to move your pension to.

        Speak to a pensions advisor experienced in international transfers

        If you want to transfer your overseas pension to the UK, it can be a complex process and is best done with the guidance of an expert pension advisor.

        We offer a free advisor-matching service. This means we’ll quickly assess your retirement goals and pair you up with an expert independent pensions advisor.

        Just call 0808 189 0463 or make an enquiry, and we’ll introduce you to a specialist overseas pensions transfer advisor today.

        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

        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 as well as any of our own are fully qualified to provide mortgage advice and work only for firms who are authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. They will offer any advice specific to you and your needs.

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