What is QROPS?

A Qualifying Recognised Overseas Pension Scheme (QROPS) is a HMRC (Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs) recognised pension transfer scheme that is based in a jurisdiction outside the UK but still keeps the same standards or equivalent as a UK pension.

If you are thinking of moving away from the UK but have a local pension, then those savings are easily transferrable into a QROPS, provided that the overseas scheme of your choice is registered with HMRC and fully compliant with the standards of the jurisdiction it is domiciled in.

The popularity of QROPS schemes has risen considerably following the introduction of new pension rules in 2006 by HMRC.

Why should I choose a QROPS?

A QROPS provides you with more control over your pension fund investments. With a QROPS you can also combine various smaller pensions into one large pot. Additionally, you can even do away with purchasing an annuity thanks to this scheme.

QROPS will also let you bestow the rest of the fund to your beneficiaries without any deduction of UK tax upon death, as long as you have spent five years or more living outside the UK.

When it’s broken down, British Expats have two choices when it comes to managing existing UK pension schemes:

Option 1: Leave the UK and retain your workplace or private pension with a UK provider

Option 2: Transfer the UK pension funds into a QROPS

Is a QROPS suitable for me?

If you have left the UK and plan to retire outside of the UK, a QROPS may be suitable. Whilst there are many benefits of a QROPS, please be aware that if you become resident outside of the EEA within 5 years of the transfer to a EU QROPS, there is likely to be a retrospective tax charge. It’s essential to consult a professional and get the advice you need before taking steps to set up a pension transfer.

Which is the best jurisdiction for QROPS?

The QROPS jurisdiction you choose will vary depending on your individual requirements – however, we highly recommend Malta and Gibraltar. Malta is an integral member of the EU, with a highly-regulated banking sector and a fully transparent tax system. Meanwhile, Gibraltar’s links with the UK make it subject to EU rules and regulations.


What is a SIPP?

A SIPP (Self-Invested Personal Pension) is a type of UK-government-recognised personal pension scheme which allows clients and their financial adviser to choose from a wide range of investments that match the member’s individual circumstances. Therefore, a client can freely choose how their money is invested.

How does a SIPP work?

With the help of a financial adviser, a SIPP allows you to decide what type of investments to invest in depending on your risk appetite and timeframe until retirement.

It is likely you would have received UK tax-relief on your contributions to UK pensions when you were a UK resident. Alternatively, you may be a member of a UK Group Scheme or a Final Salary Scheme wishing to transfer to a SIPP so that you can choose your investment strategy, or so you can decide when and how to take your benefits.

It is essential that you start to plan for your retirement as early as possible so that you are able to live comfortably in the knowledge that your lifestyle needs are covered. This will mean careful consideration of your pension fund throughout your working life.

A SIPP gives you control of your pension, whereas most members of a company pension scheme have very little control and almost no idea where their pension money is invested. Also, with many of the UK’s largest companies closing their final salary schemes to all members, a lot of individuals are now having to look at taking their pensions into their own hands.

Indeed, there are many reasons why SIPPs are becoming increasingly popular. Some of the key features include:


A SIPP allows the individual along with their financial adviser to decide on the type of investment depending on their risk profile and timescale to retirement.

Flexible Investment

A wide range of investments are available including stocks and shares, unit trusts, investment trusts and OEIC’s. You can sit down with your adviser to discuss your needs and what solutions are available to you. However, it’s important to explore options that diversify your portfolio whilst also offering the greatest prospect of growth for as little risk as possible.


SIPP trustee fees tend to be fairly affordable on an annual basis, sometimes as low as a few hundred pounds per year. Funds, other collectives and shares are generally available via platforms or offshore wrappers, allowing access to a whole range of assets at lower charges than individuals can achieve.


There are a number of people who have several small pensions that they have either forgotten about or the funds are not growing as they should. The National Association of Pension Funds and the Trades Union Congress believes that an average UK person changes jobs eleven times during their career. A SIPP can consolidate all these pensions into one, allowing for easier management and better control.

Taking Benefits

Members of a SIPP can take income drawdown, meaning that an income can be taken from the fund (subject to certain limits) whilst leaving the remainder of the fund to grow in value. An annuity need not be purchased. The benefits taken each year can vary depending on your individual circumstances and give real flexibility to match your income requirements.


What is a QNUPS?

A Qualifying Non-UK Pension Scheme (QNUPS) is a pension scheme based outside the UK that qualifies for an exemption from UK Inheritance Tax (IHT).

QNUPS were created under the Inheritance Tax Regulations 2010, which became effective from 6th April 2010 and add to the armoury of potential retirement planning solutions available from Sovereign.

They are open to UK tax residents, including those permanently residing in the UK, and overseas residents, including UK domiciled individuals. In particular, QNUPS are an attractive additional retirement savings plan where individuals have reached the permitted limit of their domestic UK pension contributions.

Therefore, UK resident individuals who have already used their annual and lifetime allowances, but who wish to make further provision for their retirement, might choose a QNUPS. QNUPS may also provide attractive pension planning for non-UK resident and non-UK domiciled individuals who may decide to move to the UK, or UK expats who may wish to return to the UK in the future.

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