QROPS, Qualifying Recognised Overseas Pensions Schemes, are overseas schemes which HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) allow UK pensions to be transferred into and may be appropriate for people who are expatriates or are planning to be so. But before transferring to a QROPS, here are some questions and answers that will hopefully prove helpful to those wanting to make an informed decision.

Can I transfer into any overseas scheme?

Not all overseas schemes qualify as QROPS, HMRC only allows transfers into schemes which meet certain criteria. A QROPS listing on the HMRC web site, however, is no guarantee of HMRC’s approval, so careful advice is critical in the selection process.

Can all British pensions be transferred into a QROPS?

Deferred pensions, pensions in drawdown (even in payment), Final Salary, Direct Contributory and protected rights can all be moved into a QROPS. The only pensions that cannot be moved are Government pensions (NHS, Police, Armed Froces, Fire Brigade etc)

As a result of a lot of UK domiciled pension funds falling into deficit these funds are moved into the Pension Protection Fund or PPF. Pensions stuck in the PPF in the vast majority of cases cannot be transferred to a QROPS.

How can QROPS help avoid currency risk on your pension?

QROPS pension assets can be held and paid out in any major currency rather than being restricted to GBP Sterling. This can remove currency risk and exchange costs if the pension currency is matched to the currency you are spending in. For US residents, this can save you thousands in lost currency transactions.

Is there compulsion for you buy an annuity with a QROPS?

There is never any requirement to purchase an annuity. As long as, on your death, you are a non-UK resident and have been for more than five full and consecutive UK tax years, the remainder of the fund can be paid to your surviving spouse or family members free of UK death taxes, which otherwise can be as high as 82 per cent. A QROPS allows you to leave your remaining pension fund to your estate.

Are there any income tax benefits with a QROPS?

The income from a QROPS will be paid to you gross if you have moved to a jurisdiction which permits this. You may be liable to tax in the country in which you are tax resident. In certain countries, income from QROPS can be structured so that you pay less tax (or in some cases, none) each year than on conventional UK pension income. 

Are there any local tax issues with a QROPS?

There may be dependent on where you are resident, so it’s vital that you take advice from a company that understands both the UK and local tax implications of transferring to QROPS. Tax issues vary from county to country and in the US state to state so it is vital to take tax advice from a qualified professional. 

Will I be able to alter my investments or keep them the same?

QROPS offer a wide range of investment options not commonly available with UK pensions, so you are able to invest your pension in a manner that meets your particular requirements. No two people are the same when it comes to retirement so it is important to use the advice of a qualified professional. 

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