QROPS Rules After The UK Autumn Budget 2017

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Expats expecting another round of tax and rule changes for QROPS offshore pensions can relax – for now at least.

Chancellor Phillip Hammond has left QROPS rules unchanged in his Autumn Budget 2017.

So, here’s a recap on the status of QROPS:

Who can transfer a pension to a QROPS?

Any British non-resident that has a pension pot in the UK can switch the money to an offshore QROPS – that covers expats who live permanently abroad and workers from other countries who spent some time in the UK who have now returned home or moved elsewhere

Which pensions can be transferred to a QROPS?

Any personal or workplace pension other than the state pension or a public or civil service scheme.

It doesn’t matter if it’s a defined benefit or defined contribution pension.

Will I have to pay the 25% transfer charge?

The overseas transfer charge started is calculated as 25% of the fund transferred into a QROPS.

Expats and other non-residents with UK pension rights must follow the same rules.

If they live in the European Economic Area, they can transfer their UK pension into any QROPS based in the same bloc, regardless of where they live.

So, an expat living in Spain can opt to move their QROPS to Malta or Gibraltar.

Someone living in the EEA cannot transfer their pension to a QROPS based outside the zone.

Outside the EEA, pension transfers are only allowed to QROPS based in the same country where the retirement saver lives, which are currently:

                Australia

                Barbados

                China – for any QROPS based in Hong Kong

                Guernsey

                India

                Isle of Man

                Jersey

                Kenya

                Mauritius

                New Zealand

                South Africa

                Switzerland

                USA

This list is likely to change, but the up-to-date details are published online by HMRC

A transfer means moving money between QROPS as well as from a UK pension to a QROPS.

Other exceptions to the transfer charge may apply if the overseas scheme is run by an employer or multinational non-government organisation, such as the EU QROPS.

A five-year residence rule may also apply.

QROPS and pension freedoms

In principle, any QROPS can offer retirement savers the same pension freedoms as they would expect in the UK.

However, most QROPS countries need to change their pension laws to allow early access to funds from the age of 55.

Malta is the only QROPS centre to do this to date.

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