After working hard all your life, the idea of moving abroad to your favourite holiday spot and living life amidst sandy beaches, hot climates and relaxed time schedules can be very inviting. But how will your savings be treated? In short if you can’t take your pension with you. how will you survive?
First of all – your State Pension
Yes, you can receive your State Pension. You have contributed to it throughout your working life – so why shouldn’t you? However, there are likely to be restrictions in how your pension would naturally increase in value. For instance, the State Pension increases to keep in line with the UK rate of inflation. To receive the increase, you would need to evidence that you were either living in the UK for more than 6 months in any one particular year, living in the European Economic Area (EEA) or living in a country that has a social security agreement with the UK that allows for pension agreements.
What about personal and private pensions?
Well, the good news is, if you have a defined contribution pension or a money purchase scheme you can still claim. In fact, there are two options here: you can either leave your pension pot in the UK or you can move it with you abroad to where you will be living. If you are considering going with the latter you will need to take into account transfer fees or exchange rate variations.
If you do move your pension pot overseas you can move it totally tax-free. The HMRC (Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs) just needs to recognise your pension scheme and would come under the bracket of a “Qualifying Recognised Pension Scheme” Or QROPS.
Can I contribute to my pension from abroad?
So, you have amassed a nice little pension pot, retirement is still quite a distant horizon and so you still want to continue contributing to your pension. No problem, you can continue to contribute to a UK pension scheme wherever you may be living in the world. However, the one big negative here is around the pension relief you would receive. For instance, you receive 20% tax relief on each pension contribution that you make while living in the UK. But pension relief was designed for UK residents only – so check out how your contributions will be affected before you leave.
Overall, to receive tax relief you need to show that you are “putting something in”. In other words, you need to evidence that you received UK earnings which were chargeable to income tax in that year. And, to continue receiving pension relief this must be on-going too. You would also have to evidence that at some time during any one year you were a resident of the UK. Thirdly and finally, you would need to evidence that you were a UK resident at some point during the previous five years when you joined the pension scheme.
Can I still access my pension before I retire?
If you move your pension pot to an overseas pension scheme you may be restricted as to what options are available to you. For instance, pension freedoms (gaining access to your pension at 55) is fundamentally for UK residents and driven by UK laws. So, you need to be aware of your pension access rights.
If you are considering living abroad be sure to get advice about what options you will have with your pension. Just as everyone will have unique needs, all pension schemes are different. If you are looking at options for your pension, get in touch with a regulated pensions specialist like Portafina or, view the information at Pension Wise.