Transferring your pension

You can transfer your pension fund to another pension scheme – generally any time up to one year before the date when you are expected to start drawing retirement benefits. In some cases, it’s also possible to transfer to a new pension provider after you've started to draw retirement benefits.

Overview

You may want to move some or all of your pension fund (sometimes called a ‘pension pot’) if:

  • you’re changing job
  • your pension scheme is being closed or wound up
  • you want to transfer to a better pension scheme
  • you have pensions from more than one employer and want to bring them together
  • you’re moving overseas
  • you’re moving overseas and want to move your pension to a scheme in that country

Transferring to a UK pension scheme

You can transfer your UK pension pot to another registered UK pension scheme.

Transferring your pension pot anywhere else - or taking it as an unauthorised lump sum - will be an “unauthorised payment” and you'll have to pay tax on the transfer.

To find out more about the tax implications of making an unauthorised payment, visit the following page on GOV.UK.

Deferred annuity contract

You can also use your UK pension pot to buy a deferred annuity contract. This is a policy or contract bought from an insurance company, using funds from an approved retirement benefits scheme, or from 6 April 2006 funds from a registered pension scheme. It will provide an annuity (a payment of a fixed total amount) to the member at some time in the future. It is therefore always a deferred annuity contract when purchased.

For more information about deferred annuity contracts, visit the following page on the HMRC website.

Before you make a transfer to a UK pension scheme

Contact your current pension provider and the provider you want to transfer to. You’ll need to check if:

  • your existing pension scheme allows you to transfer some or all of your pension pot
  • the scheme that you wish to transfer into will accept the transfer

If you transfer your pension, you may:

  • have to make payments to the new scheme
  • have to pay a fee to make the transfer
  • lose any right you had to take your pension at a certain age
  • lose any fixed or enhanced protection you have when you transfer
  • lose any right you had to take a tax free lump sum of more than 25 per cent of your pension pot

Your pension providers can tell you whether any of these will apply.

Transferring to an overseas pension scheme

You may be able to transfer your UK pension savings to an overseas pension scheme.

Before you make a transfer to an overseas pension scheme

The overseas scheme you want to transfer your pension savings to must be a ‘recognised overseas pension scheme’. It’s up to you to check this with the overseas scheme or your UK pension provider or adviser.

If it’s not, your UK pension scheme may refuse to make the transfer, or you’ll have to pay at least 40 per cent tax on the transfer.

Form APSS 263 tells you what information you’ll need to provide before making a transfer. Download a copy at the link below on the GOV.UK website, fill in the form and give it to your UK pension scheme administrator.

If you’re under 75, your UK pension scheme administrator will work out what percentage of your lifetime allowance is used by the transfer. They will tell you if the amount you’re transferring is more than your allowance and if you will be taxed on any excess.

To find out more about your lifetime allowance and how it relates to tax on your private pension contributions, visit the following page on the GOV.UK website.

Payments from an overseas pension

You may have to pay UK tax on some payments from your overseas scheme. This depends on when you were a UK resident. To find out more about tax on foreign income, visit the following page on the GOV.UK website.

Getting help and advice

You can get free, impartial information about transferring your pension from:

You can also get impartial advice about workplace pensions from an independent financial adviser. You’ll usually have to pay for the advice. Find out more at the following nidirect page.

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