QROPS Timeline

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We have updated the QROPS Timeline that plots the history of Qualifying Recognised Overseas Pension Schemes (QROPS) since they were introduced in April 2006.

This table timeline goes in to all the dates, numbers and names anyone needs to know about QROPS right up to September 2015.

DatesComments
6 April 2006A Day - QROPS launched as part of ‘pension simplification’
QROPS hit the market for the first time intended as a portable pension for anyone with UK pension rights moving permanently overseas
25 May 2008Singapore loses QROPS status
The infamous Panthera ROSSIP was delisted by HMRC without reason as the precursor to a long-running legal battle and Singapore lost status as a QROPS financial centre - the first to do so
September 8, 2009Gibraltar QROPS freezes transfers
Although listed as providers, Gibraltar’s QROPS got off to a rocky start as a row brewed with HMRC over whether 0% income tax paid on Gibraltar pensions was really a tax rate. The providers feared delisting, so froze transfers in pending clear-the-air talks with HMRC
December 1,2009Malta readies first QROPS
Malta regulators green-lighted the island as a QROPS financial centre
January 10, 2010Gibraltar false dawn as “HMRC agreement reached’
Gibraltar QROPS providers ready to accept transfers as ‘agreement’ is reached with HMRC, but nothing happens....
January 20, 2010QROPS save retirement savers £1m tax a day - FoA
A Freedom of Information request by a UK pension provider tried to show QROPS were a tax dodge - but only encouraged more transfers as the PR backfired and showed pension savers how a QROPS could ease their retirement finances
February , 20101,000 + transfer out of Singapore
Leaks out of Singapore suggest 1,000 QROPS investors had voted with their feet and switched their cash out of the Panthera ROSSIP scheme
February 15, 2010QNUPS launched to plug IHT gap
Qualifying Non-UK Pensions (QNUPS) launched by UK government to extend inheritance tax exemptions not covered in QROPS rules - result is all QROPS are QNUPS but not all QNUPS are QROPS
February , 2010Panthera applies to High Court over Singapore QROPS
The Singapore QROPS row rumbles on as Panthera takes gloves off to fight HMRC in court
February , 2010Guernsey QROPS providers tout code to avoid scams
Guernsey QROPS providers up their game with voluntary code of conduct aimed at giving retirement savers confidence in their schemes
February , 2010First Gibraltar QROPS ready to go but still no transfers
Ready, steady, as you were...nothing changes in Gibraltar
March, 2010First 2 Malta scheme open for transfers
Malta opens the doors to QROPS business
August , 2010Panthera wins right for High Court challenge
Panthera wins another Singapore QROPS battle, but the war with HMRC is far from over
September 7, 2010Hong Kong - Beazley - HMRC waives tax charges
Advisers penalised over QROPS ‘misunderstandings’ but HMRC declines to punish investors with tax penalties
October, 2010Isle of Man launches 50c QROPS - Trinity is first scheme
50c QROPS stretch QROPS limits with a clever interpretation of QROPS wording by offering 30% plus tax-free lump sums with a formula based on adding some or all of fund growth to the lump sum amount allowed from the transfer value to set up the QROPS
November, 2010Gibraltar still shut for QROPS transfers
...still no transfers in sight
November, 2010IoM 50c reported to HMRC for pension rule violations
IFA grasses up 50c QROPS as tax abuse - transfers put on hold
December, 2010QROPS transfer top £1 billion
Statistics gleaned from HMRC estimate QROPS transfers from UK pensions to date in excess of £1 billion
January, 2011HMRC wrongly drops 50c QROPS from list
Whoops - now you see them, now you don’t. HMRC delists Isle of Man 50c QROPS in error...
January, 201150C QROPS back in business
...HMRC relists 50c QROPS
February, 2011HMRC fraud unit monitors rogue QROPS
HMRC reveals special task force is monitoring suspected QROPS tax abuses without naming names
March, 2011QROPS provider Close Brothers sold for £29m
Kleinwort Benson buy out Close Brothers offshore arm
March, 2011Judge sets HMRC 28-day Singapore QROPS deadline
HMRC forced to court by Panthera after delays presenting evidence
April, 20116,000 a year switch to QROPS - Treasury
HM Treasury reveals 6,000 UK pension funds are transferred to QROPS schemes every year
April 14, 2011Treasury shuts Hong Kong loophole
Double tax loophole exploited by some Hong Kong advisers is closed with emergency legislation
April, 2011Guernsey code published
Guernsey QROPS providers publish their code of conduct - the first to print anywhere in the world
April, 2011Gibraltar will have QROPS by end of year
Yeah, yeah, yeah....
May, 2011High Court backs HMRC Singapore QROPS ban
HMRC wins hands down - Singapore QROPS never qualified as a QROPS so all transfers in were unauthorised and subject to tax penalties
May, 2011Singapore QROPS pledges appeal
We’ll be back...
June, 2011HMRC green light for 50c QROPS after review
Isle of Man QROPS do not break the rules, says tax man
September, 2011£3.5 million QROPS fraudster jailed
Colin Pearson, 47, helped expats illegally release around £3.5 million from their investments by setting up scam pension funds in Barbados and Cyprus.
December, 2011HMRC reveals QROPS draft legislation & opens consultation until Jan 31, 2012
QROPS 2 draft rules released by government
January, 2012Guernsey upgrades QROPS to match new pension rules
Guernsey providers try to best guess HMRC as the Channel Islands changes laws to align with QROPS 2
March, 2012UK agencies start ‘pension unlocking’ campaign
FSA, HMRC and pensions regulator join forces to tackle schemes that cash pensions in early and effectively close the market
March, 2012Guernsey ratifies new QROPS laws
Guernsey is a bit too smug about QROPS 2 compliance and reckons they have stolen a march on the rest of the world in readying for the new rules
March, 2012HMRC publishes new QROPS rules in error
Someone presses the wrong button and a red-faced spokesman admits new QROPS laws were released too early
March, 2012Pension unlocking firms appeal ban
Ark Business Consulting appeals High Court decision ruling pension unlocking unlawful
March 26, 2012Budget 2012 QROPS changes
Chancellor George Osborne confirms QROPS 2 rules
April 6, 2012New QROPS rules come in to force
HMRC launches QROPS 2 - and the trouble starts
April 10, 2012300 Guernsey QROPS closed to new business
Guernsey QROPS schemes are closed to new business, along with 50c schemes and other QROPS in the Isle of Man and some in New Zealand
April 11, 2012‘Third party’ QROPS not banned confirms HMRC
Providers blame ‘third party’ QROPS for ban - these are pensions where the QROPS is based in one financial jurisdiction while the investor lives in another. Not so, says HMRC, it’s how the benefits are taxed that count
April 12, 2012 New QROPS list published - 360 schemes missing
Publication of HMRC QROPS list confirms closure of schemes in Guernsey, Isle of Man and New Zealand
April 14, 2012Jersey cancels new QROPS scheme
Jersey had announced amending QROPS laws along the Guernsey model...now realises that it’s not such a good idea and cancels the plan
May 11, 2012Treasury publishes new law outlawing Guernsey S157 QROPS
HM Treasury rushes out new order to ban revamped Guernsey QROPS
May 12, 2012Gibraltar nears end of rocky road to QROPS
No change here then...
May 28, 2012Gibraltar finally drafts QROPS law
Government announces pension law reforms to set tax at 2.5% for pension pay outs
June 13, 2012Guernsey green light - but only for residents
Guernsey QROPS can take new business - but only from residents, says HMRC
June 26, 2012Gibraltar ready for QROPS transfers in 14 days - didn’t happen
What a surprise, another announcement followed by no action
July 11, 2012Qatar Financial District cancels QROPS plans
More cold feet over ‘uncertainty’ in QROPS market claims Qatar as QROPS plans are dropped
July 18, 2012New QROPS rules become law under Finance Act 2012
QROPS 2 ratified by Parliament and entered in statute book
July 27, 2012Malta issues ‘stay away’ warning
If you run a delisted QROPS, we don’t want your business, warns Malta’s financial regulators as,island is tipped as new global QROPS centre
August 15, 2012Riddle as Cyprus QROPS delisted
HMRC delists all Cyprus QROPS without any explanation - wall of silence as providers and Cypriot government say nothing
August 18, 2012Malta Issues QROPS Tax Warning
Malta Financial Services Authority chairman Joseph Bannister pledges QROPS investors will have to file tax returns on the island.
September 4, 2012Gibraltar QROPS opens for business
It was a long time coming and saw several false starts, but Gibraltar finally signals the all clear and starts accepting pension transfers
October 12, 2012Gibraltar drafts QROPS code
Gibraltar's tax office and QROPS providers hint they are drafting a code for firms offering expat pensions
December 12, 2012
HMRC confirms more than £2 billion transferred into QROPS since April 6, 2006 when releasing information about new regulations for QROPS administrators
January 9, 2013
Latvia joins QROPS jurisdictions as one QROPS opens
February 1, 2013
Slovakia loses QROPS financial centre status. Four QROPS suspended
February 26, 2013
Financial Conduct Authority warns onshore IFAs to include QROPS advice in pension reviews for clients considering a move overseas
May 1, 2013 QROPS reach new milestone as 3,000th pension listed
May 3, 2013
Panthera ROSSIP (Singapore QROPS) investors win leave to appeal HMRC tax demands that would grab at least 55% of their pension funds in the High Court
May 31, 2013
HMRC reveals 10,000 British expats and international workers with UK pension rights transfer to a QROPS each year
June 23, 2013
‘Humiliated’ HMRC withdraws from Panthera ROSSIP (Singapore QROPS) in the High Court after four day hearing
July 1, 2013
HMRC delists 432 QROPS ‘by mistake’ and quickly relists them after an apology
July 12, 2013
HMRC files policy statement as ordered by High Court in Panthera ROSSIP (Singapore QROPS) case, but details are not released
August 1, 2013
23 Hong Kong QROPS delisted but providers and HMRC refuse to comment on why the schemes were suspended; however Hong Kong retains QROPS financial centre status
October 15, 2013
Bangladesh’s only QROPS delisted at the same time as St Vincent & Grenadine has three QROPS delisted and St Lucia has one QROPS delisted. All three no longer listed as QROPS financial jurisdictions
November 1, 2013
Malaysia’s one and only QROPS delisted – no longer listed as a QROPS financial jurisdiction
November 22, 2013
HMRC pledges tax amnesty for QROPS investors switching funds to pensions prior to September 24, 2008 unless ‘dishonesty’ or ‘artificiality’ suspected. Amnesty is believed to result from Panthera ROSSIP (Singapore QROPS) case
December 6, 2013
HMRC makes clear QROPS investors must carry out due diligence on providers as they cannot rely on QROPS List self-certification that a pension really is a QROPS and may face financial penalties if it is later found not to be a QROPS
December 19, 2013
HMRC switches on internet portal for QROPS administrators
February 20, 2014
Malta QROPS providers considering paying pension benefits to under 55s
March 1, 2014
The latest QROPS List shows a new QROPS pension opened on average every day since January 1, 2013
March 15, 2014
Chancellor George Osborne announces ‘easy access ‘pension rules will cover QROPS – so over 55s can draw down and spend pension funds as they wish
April 3, 2014
Public sector pension transfers to QROPS will be banned from April 6, 2015, says HMRC
September 28, 2014
New landmark as number of QROPS worldwide hits 3,500 for the first time
October 6, 2014
Easy access rules for QROPS confirmed from April 6, 2015, but we’re still working on the details, says HMRC
October 20, 2014
Rumours that India QROPS under scrutiny for tax irregularities as another seven schemes delisted, meaning 19 struck off QROPS List in a year
November 1, 2014 HMRC publishes 100th QROPS Llist
December 1, 2014 Falklands opens first QROPS
December 15, 2014 Kosovo opens first QROPS
December 19, 2014 QROPS rule changes revealed
HM Treasury confirms flexi-access will apply to all QROPS from April 6, 2015 while HMRC announces a review of QROPS qualifying rules
January 14, 2015 Flexible access for Malta QROPS
Pension regulators will change local pension rules to allow flexible access from QROPS from April 6, 2015
January 15, 2015 Kenya opens first QROPS
January 28, 2015 Flexible access for Gibraltar QROPS
Pension regulators intend to allow local pensions to allow flexible access from QROPS from April 6, 2015
February 11, 2015
Guernsey joins offshore race to allow flexible access for QROPS from April 6, 2015 by announcing rule changes in pipeline
March 2, 2015 Public funded QROPS transfers to stop
Government confirms civil service and public sector pension transfers to QROPS will cease from April 6, 2015
March 19, 2015 HMRC flexible access U-turn
Tax man scraps flexible access for QROPS outside the European Union and confirms 70% of transferred funds will remain ring-fenced to provide pension payments for retirement savers
March 20, 2015 Defined benefit pension advice shock
Government makes taking professional financial advice compulsory for all defined benefit pension savers with funds of more than £30,000 from April 6, 2015
April 6, 2015 Pension Freedom Day
New rules allow the over 55s to take pension cash and spend the money how they like

Civil Service and public sector pension transfers should be banned, but legal loophole keeps the option open

Defined benefit retirement savers with funds of £30,000+ must take professional financial advice before transferring money to a QROPS

HMRC reviews QROPS List to ensure all schemes meet pension age test, which disqualifies any scheme making payments to anyone under 55 years old unless exceptional circumstances apply
April 15, 2015 QROPS List record
The official list of QROPS pensions worldwide hits peak of 3,754 schemes

HMRC changes QROPS List to ROPS List (Recognised Overseas Pension Schemes) and warns retirement savers they are responsible for undertaking due diligence to prove their scheme choice meets ROPS rules before transferring any cash
June 15, 2015 ROPS List suspended
HMRC withdraws list pending results of pension age test review with 3,702 schemes listed

UK pension provider Aegon warns 80% of QROPS transfer requests come from unregulated overseas advisers and could be possible scams
July 1, 2015 HMRC reinstates ROPS List
Huge shock as HMRC delists thousands of QROPS – new ROPS List has 665 entries

Australia QROPS loses 1,652 schemes and only one remains

Seven financial centres closed – Barbados, Falkland Islands, Finland, Hungary, Portugal, Sri Lanka and Trinidad
August 5, 2015 Treasury to act over public funded pension loophole
Government confirms new legislation on the way to stop public funded pension transfers
August 17, 2015 Hungary reinstated to ROPS List
August 24, 2015 Isle of Man government discloses flexible access plans
September 1, 2015 Portugal reinstated to ROPS List
September 7, 2015 Treasury closes public funded pension transfers
Civil Service and public sector pension fund transfers to QROPS banned

1 thought on “QROPS Timeline”

  1. This is a good article, and my compliments to the writer. Just one point re the 10 April 2012 comment and reference to the impact on IoM QROPS. Only IoM 50C schemes were affected. “Other” IoM Qrops (the vast majority) were not. Which is why IoM is today the leading centre for 3rd-country Qrops, with over 220 continuing Qrops schemes

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