With limited access to/knowledge of your pension assets in the UK?

UK Pension Transfer Advice for Expatriates in Spain

Ever considered a transfer of your pension to a SIPP or QROPS? 

The Key factors which influence those transferring their UK pensions to SIPP's or QROPS often include the following:

Access 100% of accumulated pension assets

By transferring UK pension assets into a SIPP or QROPS one has access to 100% of these assets whenever is so desired (please note, ordinarily there is a minimum age of 55, and some QROPS jurisdictions may vary).

Many Defined Contribution UK schemes are unable to entertain 'flexible drawdown' as brought about by George Osborne in 2015 (meaning that pension assets are tied up for gradual withdrawals over time) whilst Defined Benefit (final salary) schemes don’t allow for this at all (perhaps except in the case of terminal illness).

Low-interest rates = Great Time to transfer

Recently, in the case of transfer values from Defined Benefit (Final Salary) pension schemes, many have been experiencing very generous transfer values!!

However, this has already been commented upon by the pensions regulator last year, so if indeed you are considering your pension options then you may want to act fairly swiftly in order to perhaps secure the best transfer values.

Defined benefit schemes 

Avoidance of Currency fluctuations

The depreciation of the pound sterling over the last two years, or so, has devalued the majority of UK schemes which can only be valued in GBP. However, assets within a SIPP or QROPS can be held in numerous currencies.

Should one be looking to retire in the likes of Spain / utilise their pension fund outside of the UK, the ability to hold numerous currencies (such as Euro's and USD) can be very advantageous.

Tax Efficiency

Don’t let un-necessary taxes erode your pension income.

Your adviser will help you ascertain as to which scheme and jurisdiction will offer the most tax-efficiency.

Avoidance of scheme deficits

Should you possess a Defined Benefit (Final salary) pension, then you may have found that your scheme is in deficit.

Scheme deficits vary in size, and it has been known amongst many large corporations for their pension schemes to disappear altogether.

The receipt of a transfer value in the form of cash which may then be transferred to the likes of a QROPS or SIPP is an effective way in which to eradicate the risks of any future/further deficits within your final salary scheme.

100% of assets passed on to your loved ones

The utilisation of a SIPP or QROPS enables the full value of your remaining pension fund to be passed on to your loved ones upon your death.

Defined Benefit (Final Salary) schemes tend to merely allow a portion of remaining benefits to be passed on to loved ones – common examples of which are between 50%-70% to your spouse, and 0% to children (unless dependant under certain criteria). 

Clarity and consolidation of multiple schemes

Residing in Spain and holding multiple UK pension could be frustrating at times, and un-clear.  Whilst QROPS and SIPP's are much sought-after in pension transfers for many beneficial reasons, as outlined on this page, they also enable one to consolidate their multiple pensions into one plan.

Consolidation can bring about enhanced clarity and peace of mind, and also may well result in lower overall costs. 

Why not talk to us today about how best to arrange your multiple pensions …

Where would the transfer be to? (and is it safe to do so?)

A pension transfer is a regulated process, and must abide by certain rules and specified criteria. 

The likes of SIPP's and QROPS are both effective and popular regulated, recognised and approved alternatives for many people who seek certain advantages over their existing pension arrangements.

SIPP's are UK pensions (though be it with a lot of flexibility than other UK schemes), whilst QROPS will have foreign jurisdictions such as the Isle of Man, Malta and Gibraltar to name but a few. All of which carry UK recognition and approval.

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What is a SIPP?

 A SIPP stands for self-invested pension plan. These are essentially UK-based schemes, and are fully regulated in the UK.

It is quite common for UK residents (and non-residents) to hold SIPP’s for their pension plans, but for those who don’t – ie, those who hold company pensions, private/personal pension plans, or defined benefit/final salary schemes, a transfer to a SIPP can potentially offer some key advantages.

What is a QROPS?

 A QROPS is a ‘Qualifying Recognised Overseas Pension Scheme’.

QROPS came about in 2006, and are essentially UK government approved schemes based outside of the UK. Leading jurisdictions include the Isle of Man, Gibraltar and Malta.

In 2017, the UK government introduced a 25% tax charge on transfer-out of a UK scheme to a QROPS (in certain circumstances) , so it’s very important to consider fully as to which alternative scheme is best for you.

What are the associated risks of a transfer?

The first thing to understand is that there is very little risk in pension transfer from one trust to another since the alternate scheme carries government approval.

The major risk of a pension transfer might come about through how your pension money is invested and managed within the new scheme. Please see the below section How would your pension assets be invested after transfer? which explains how this risk is mitigated.

Important factors applicable to Spanish residents include:

HMRC’s 25% tax charge on transfer of UK pension to QROPS.

Not only your current residency in Spain will be important, but also you past few years’ residency, as well as future residence plans.

Any Double Taxation Agreements in place between relevant QROPS jurisdictions and Spain, or the UK and Spain in the case of SIPP’s.

  • We can help make sense of these.

*Always ensure that you are confident in receiving all relevant information prior to any transfers of your UK pensions.

Avoid scams, at the bottom of this page are some useful links:

How would your pension assets be invested after transfer?

At Specialty Advice, our solutions, offer access to the world's leading fund houses and investment management teams.

Key names include Quilter Cheviot, Dolphin Brewin, Henderson asset management, HSBC and so on, and so forth…

As a client, you have the choice of making your own investment decisions, or as with the majority of our clients - you may opt for your cash to be managed via professional portfolio managers, according to important specifications such as your attitude to risk and other key criteria.

   Useful links: 

Specialty Advice is committed to helping protect the public from pension scams.

Always consider the transfer of your pension very carefully, and make sure that you understand all implications of transferring, including the associated costs, along with any potential risks.

Ensure that you are making an informed decision.


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 "acting with the highest ethical standards and integrity" and "acting in the best interests of each and every client"