British expats and those who worked in the UK can unlock significant benefits from their pension, including enabling them to avoid significant tax in the UK by transferring their pension to a QROPS (Qualifying Recognised Overseas Pension Scheme).
What is a QROPS?
A QROPS is an overseas pension scheme that meets certain requirements set by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC). A QROPS can receive the transfer of UK Pension Benefits in Private or Final Salary Schemes, without incurring an unauthorised payment and scheme sanction charge. (Other European pensions may also be transferred*)
QROPS transfers are increasingly popular for British Expats due to the tax advantages on the pension draw downs and the death benefits. Pension funds left in the UK are heavily taxed, in some cases up to 55%. Transferring a UK pension fund into a QROPS can avoid UK taxation altogether.
This could benefit individuals even if abroad for a short period of time or plan to return to the UK in the future. Any gains made whilst abroad are free of the 55% tax.
Who is eligible for a QROPS?
Typical scenarios are where a UK resident leaves the UK to emigrate (or to retire abroad) having built up a pension fund within a privately administered scheme or when a person born abroad who has spent some time working in the UK and built up benefits in a UK Pension Scheme decides to return to their home country with an expectation of then retiring there.
The QROPS does not have to be established in the new country of residence, thus providing greater flexibility and stability, along with a wider choice of scheme provider. To become a QROPS, a pension scheme must apply to and be approved by HMRC. A list of QROPS that have consented to have their names published is available on the HMRC website and is regularly updated.
Benefits af a QROPS?
Transferring your UK pensions to QROPS may bring several advantages.
Expert QROPS advice for Expats
Establishing whether you are eligible for a pension transfer can be a complex affair without the correct advice and we have been assisting British Expats with QROPS pensions transfers since HMRC introduced them.
*Conditions may apply and each client will be reviewed independently due to nationality, tax and jurisdiction.