Brexit is just a year away and expats no little more now about what will happen to their pensions than they did a year ago when the British government triggered Article 50.
What is known is that Britain will sort of leave the European Union at 11am on March 29, 2019.
As the clock strikes eleven, the country will move into a quarantine or limbo where Britain is neither a member of the EU or outside of the bloc.
EU rules and regulations will still apply, and the UK will benefit from remaining within the single market.
By December 31, 2020, this quasi-membership will end, and Britain will no longer be part of Europe.
How will Brexit impact expat pensions?
The likely scenario for the state pension is business as usual.
Personal pensions are where Brexit will hit the hardest.
Expats with a UK pension can expect to see benefits paid in the same way pre and post Brexit.
Saving for retirement is likely to expats who remain UK tax resident – leaving tax breaks untouched for pension, ISA and investment programs like the Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme.
Any changes are likely to come with Qualifying Recognised Overseas Pension Schemes (QROPS).
Many of these offshore pensions for expats gain from special rules for EU residents.
QROPS dilemma for expats in Europe
Will expat pension rules change when Britain departs the EU? No one knows yet, which is unhelpful for anyone planning a QROPS transfer.
These may disappear sometime between March 29, 2019 and January 1, 2021, depending on if Britain remains a member of the European Economic Area (EEA).
Currently, EEA residents can take out a QROPS based anywhere in the EEA. Expats outside the EEA can only open a QROPS based in the country where they live. Breaking the rule means a 25% overseas transfer charge is slapped on non-EEA expats, whisking away a quarter of the savings they transfer into a QROPS at a stroke.
Time may be running out for British expats in the EU considering a QROPS as a retirement option.
Transfers traditionally take three or four months – plan for holidays and delays and the clock is probably ticking faster than you think for Brexit.