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The tax benefits of transferring your UK pension into a QROPS


QROPS is a "Qualifying Recognised Overseas Pension Scheme" that has met the criteria laid down by HMRC and is recognised and listed as such. In 2006 ("A" Day) the UK Government dramatically altered UK pension rules to enable you to transfer your UK Pension to an overseas plan without tax deduction and with no future tax liability (subject to 10 years of non-UK residency.)




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The QROPS landscape has evolved dramatically since "A" Day but pension legislation remains complicated and subject to change. New rule changes introduced in the UK Spring Budget of 2017 means that UK pension transfers are subject to a transfer tax of 25% unless the member is resident in the EEA or is resident in the same jurisdiction as the QROPS provider. Following Brexit, despite the UK no longer being part of the EEA, this exemption still applies so a UK pension can continue to be transferred to a QROPS based in the EEA or Gibraltar and the 25% transfer tax will not apply.  This rule may change though.  This means that if you are resident in the EEA it will pay to act swiftly to make sure that all options remain open to you.

“We have never underestimated the importance of managing your pension pot to help you achieve the retirement lifestyle of your choice.”

How Does UK Pensions Freedom Affect QROPS?

UK pension rules changed dramatically from April 6th 2015. If you are aged 55 or over and have a Money Purchase Pension Scheme (Defined Contribution) you will be able to access all or as much of your pension fund as you require at anytime. Flexibility usually comes at a price and any benefits that you access in the UK over and above a 25% tax free lump sum will be taxed at your highest marginal rate.

The tax you pay when you move your pension to QROPS will depend on where you pay your taxes. Our retirement planning experts will be able to guide you in respect of the tax due on your QROPS Pension income when they know where you are going to be resident.

In our experience we know that you will have accumulated your pension fund in order that it will provide for your income needs in later life. Careful planning is needed to ensure that your fund will survive as long as you do and hopefully there might be something left over for your dependents.

Can I Move a Final Salary Scheme Into a QROPS?

The answer is Yes you can, although whether that will be the best advice for you will depend on many factors. Of course, pensions freedom, mentioned earlier, will provide greater access to your pension fund than a final salary pension scheme (also referred to as a Defined Benefit Scheme - DBS) ever can, but whereas a final salary pension scheme will provide guaranteed benefits, the return from all other pensions which are not final salary pension schemes, depends on the performance of the underlying investments.

In many cases, but not all, the guarantees offered on your final salary pension scheme may outweigh the benefits provided from transferring your pension benefits out of your final salary scheme.  We are unable to advise you directly on the final salary pension scheme transfers as this is a highly specialist area of advice covered by specific permissions from the FCA.  We will require an independent assessment to be carried out by an FCA regulated pension transfer specialist who will conduct the assessment in accordance with FCA guidelines to determine whether or not a transfer away from your final salary scheme is appropriate in your particular case. 

Can I Consolidate a Number of UK Pensions?

Yes, it is possible to bring together all of your existing UK pension arrangements (except for state benefits) and hold them together in one QROPS.  This will simplify your pension arrangements and allow you to draw retirement income from just one source.  Any requests to transfer final salary pension schemes will be subject to an independent assessment by an FCA regulated pension transfer specialist who will conduct an assessment as outlined above.


Can I Consolidate UK Pensions Without The Need For QROPS?

Yes, if we agree that QROPS is not the most suitable vehicle for your pension funds then you may consolidate all of your existing UK pension funds into one scheme within the UK.  Any requests to transfer final salary pension schemes will be subject to an independent assessment by an FCA regulated pension transfer specialist who will conduct an assessment as outlined above.

Can I Avoid The New Death Tax Charge by Switching to QROPS?

New rules mean that if you die after the age of 75 your beneficiaries could pay tax of up to 45% before receiving the remainder of your fund. If you move your pension fund to a QROPS then after ten complete tax years outside of the UK this rule will no longer apply and your chosen beneficiaries can receive all of your remaining fund without suffering this UK tax liability.

The key benefits of establishing a QROPS as a UK Pension for you can be summarised as follows:

  • Your pension assets would grow within a tax-free environment.
  • Your heirs would avoid UK Inheritance after 10 complete and consecutive tax years of non-UK residency.
  • Removal from any adverse future UK pension legislation.
  • Depending on your country of residence the opportunity to pay considerably less tax on your pension income.
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Frequently Asked Questions about UK Pension Transfer Advice to a Qualifying Recognised Overseas Pension Schemes for British Expats

Welcome to our FAQ on QROPS (Qualifying Recognised Overseas Pension Schemes)! If you're a UK resident or have previously worked in the UK and are now considering transferring your UK pension overseas, you've come to the right place. In this guide, we aim to provide you with a comprehensive understanding of QROPS and address the most common questions surrounding this pension scheme.

Here are some frequently asked questions about QROPS to help you make informed decisions about your financial future:

A QROPS, which stands for Qualifying Recognised Overseas Pension Scheme, refers to an offshore pension scheme that complies with the requirements set by HMRC (Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs). It offers a beneficial opportunity for both British nationals and foreign nationals who have accumulated pension benefits within a UK registered pension scheme to carry out a UK pension transfer offshore.

By leveraging a QROPS, individuals gain the advantage of potential tax benefits, increased flexibility in investment options, and the ability to consolidate their UK pension funds. This scheme provides an avenue for transferring their UK pension benefits to an overseas jurisdiction, allowing for more diverse investment opportunities and the potential for improved retirement planning.

The qualifying rules for a Recognised Overseas Pension Scheme, commonly known as QROPS, are established by HMRC (Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs) to facilitate UK pension transfers. QROPS serves as a valuable retirement solution for individuals who have permanently left the UK to either work or retire abroad, or those planning to do so within the next 12 months.

To qualify as a QROPS, an overseas pension scheme must meet the stringent requirements set forth by HMRC. These requirements encompass various criteria, such as reporting obligations, regulatory compliance, and tax implications. Adhering to these rules ensures that the overseas pension scheme provides a secure and legitimate option for transferring UK pensions.

In November 2021, new regulations were introduced under the UK Pensions Schemes Act 2021, empowering UK pension ceding scheme trustees to decline pension transfers if there is an increased risk of pension scams. These regulations were implemented to safeguard individuals from potential fraudulent activities and protect their pension funds.

The amount of tax you are liable to pay when utilizing pension drawdowns varies based on the tax laws and regulations of your country of residence. It is essential to understand the tax rules specific to your jurisdiction and how they apply to pension income.

When it comes to QROPS, the jurisdiction in which the scheme is established and the location of its trustees can also impact taxation matters. Different countries have varying tax laws and rates, which can affect the taxation of pension income. Consulting with tax advisors or experts familiar with the tax regulations of both your country of residence and the QROPS jurisdiction can provide valuable insights and guidance.

To ensure compliance with tax obligations and optimize tax efficiency, it is recommended to seek professional pension advice from tax specialists who have expertise in cross-border pensions and international tax matters. They can help you navigate the complexities of tax regulations, ensure proper structuring of income payments, and maximize tax advantages within the legal framework.

In summary, the taxation of pension drawdowns is influenced by your country of residence, the structure of income payments, and the jurisdiction where the QROPS is established. Understanding the tax rules specific to your circumstances and seeking professional guidance can help you make informed decisions and optimize tax outcomes.

Yes, it is possible to transfer your company scheme to another pension arrangement. This applies to both defined benefit schemes, such as final salary schemes, and defined contribution schemes, which include SIPPs (Self-Invested Personal Pensions), Personal Pensions, and SSAS's (Small Self-Administered Schemes).

However, it's important to note that transferring out of a UK final salary scheme, also known as a defined benefit transfer, may not always be the most suitable option. The decision to transfer should be made after careful consideration and seeking independent advice from a specialist with the necessary permissions from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

When considering a transfer, it is crucial to consult with a qualified pension advice professional who can provide independent advice tailored to your specific circumstances. They will assess factors such as the benefits offered by your current company scheme, potential risks and advantages of transferring, as well as your long-term financial goals.

Seeking advice from a specialist with the necessary FCA permissions ensures that you receive expert guidance based on your unique situation. They will evaluate the implications of transferring your company scheme and help you make an informed decision aligned with your retirement planning objectives.

In summary, transferring your company scheme to another pension arrangement is possible, including defined benefit and defined contribution schemes. However, it is vital to carefully consider the options and seek independent pension advice from a specialist with the required FCA permissions to make an informed decision that best suits your individual circumstances.

Yes, we provide advisory services for clients who have existing QROPS (Qualifying Recognised Overseas Pension Scheme) and may require assistance. Our expertise extends to various situations, including cases where a QROPS has been established in an unsuitable jurisdiction, individuals who have received inadequate personal tax advice, or those who have experienced subpar investment performance.

We also offer support if you believe you have been wrongly missold a QROPS while residing in the UK as a tax resident. Our team is experienced in handling such situations and can provide guidance tailored to your specific circumstances.

If you currently have a QROPS, seeking a second opinion is a wise step to ensure that your retirement plan or pension scheme aligns with your pension requirements and expectations. Our advisory services aim to evaluate your existing QROPS, assess its suitability, and provide recommendations to optimize your retirement planning strategy.

By reaching out to us, you can benefit from our expertise and knowledge in QROPS matters. We will work with you to understand your unique circumstances, review your existing QROPS, and provide personalized pension advice to help you make informed decisions.

In summary, we offer advisory services for individuals with existing QROPS who may require assistance. Whether you need guidance on unsuitable jurisdictions, inadequate tax advice, underperforming investments, or concerns about mis-selling, we are here to provide support. Contact us for a second opinion to ensure that your retirement plan or pension scheme meets your specific requirements and expectations.

If you decide to move back to the UK, there are options regarding your pension assets held within a QROPS arrangement. While you can keep your pension assets within the QROPS, it's important to note that any pension income you withdraw will be subject to UK tax regulations.

Alternatively, you have the opportunity to transfer your QROPS back into a UK pension arrangement, such as a self-invested personal pension (SIPP). This allows you to consolidate your pension funds within a UK-based pension scheme, providing potential benefits and aligning with the UK tax framework.

When considering your options upon returning to the UK, it's advisable to seek professional advice from financial experts or pension specialists. They can guide you through the implications, tax considerations, and the most suitable course of action based on your individual circumstances.

In summary, if you move back to the UK, you have the choice to either retain your pension assets within a QROPS arrangement, with pension income subject to UK tax, or transfer your QROPS back into a UK pension arrangement like a SIPP. Seeking professional advice ensures you make informed decisions that align with your financial goals and comply with relevant regulations.

When it comes to what happens to your pension when you pass away, the circumstances can vary depending on several factors. If your spouse has been nominated as the beneficiary and their tax residency remains unchanged, they can continue to draw the pension in a tax-efficient manner.

However, it's important to note that if your spouse chooses to collapse the pension scheme and receive a lump sum payment, there can be significant tax consequences. The tax implications in such cases can be severe, and it's advisable to seek professional advice to understand the specific implications for your situation.

If your beneficiaries are based in the UK, there are considerations related to UK Inheritance Tax. Upon your death, if you have been a non-UK resident for at least five complete tax years, the lump sum payment to your beneficiaries should generally be exempt from UK Inheritance Tax.

Understanding the complexities surrounding the distribution of pension benefits upon death is crucial. Seeking guidance from financial advisors or pension specialists can help you navigate the tax implications, make informed decisions, and ensure that your beneficiaries receive the appropriate benefits in a tax-efficient manner.

In summary, what happens to your pension when you die depends on various factors. If your spouse is the nominated beneficiary and their tax residency remains unchanged, they can continue to draw the pension efficiently. However, tax consequences can arise if the scheme is collapsed for a lump sum payment. UK Inheritance Tax considerations may also apply. Seeking professional advice is essential to understand and optimize the outcomes for your specific circumstances.


In conclusion, understanding QROPS (Qualified Recognized Overseas Pension Schemes) is essential for British expats looking to optimize their pension savings. QROPS provides flexibility and potential tax advantages for expats who want to transfer their UK pensions to qualified overseas recognised schemes.

However, it's crucial to seek professional advice from pension specialists to navigate the complex rules and regulations surrounding QROPS. By carefully considering factors such as tax implications, investment options, and retirement goals, you can make informed decisions that align with your individual circumstances.

With expert guidance, you can take advantage of QROPS to enhance your pension planning and secure a comfortable retirement as a British expat.

Talk To Us

Speak directly to a pension advisor about UK pension transfers to a QROPS arrangement.

If you require pension transfer advice please contact us on Tel: +44 207 998 0570 or email connect@fwm.gi