How to transfer your overseas pension to the UK

Zorica Lončar

Moving back to the UK after time spent living and working abroad? If so, you can potentially transfer your overseas pension to the UK. This could help you to consolidate different pension pots and manage your retirement savings more easily.

In this guide, we’ll cover all the essentials you need to know about transferring an overseas pension to the UK. We’ll even throw in a handy tip to help you save money on the actual transfer itself.

Open a Wise multi-currency account and you can have your pension paid in the sender’s local currency. Then, you can convert to GBP using a far fairer exchange rate than banks use. Plus, it could save you a bundle on expensive currency conversion and other fees.

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But more on that later. For now, let’s focus on how overseas pension transfers work.

Can I transfer my overseas pension to the UK?

There’s no one simple answer to this question, as it all depends on your overseas pension provider and what type of pension you have.

It is definitely possible to transfer your overseas pension to a UK scheme, but certain conditions may need to be met. A crucial thing to know is that many UK pension schemes will only accept transfers from a Recognised Overseas Pension Scheme (ROPS)

These are all on a list of pension schemes held by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC)

How to start the process

One of the first steps to arranging a pension transfer to the UK is to find out all you can about your overseas pension scheme. Schemes in different countries all have different rules, which could make an international transfer tricky.

For starters, find out if the scheme is on the HMRC ROPS list. If so, this should make it more likely that UK pension schemes will accept a transfer.

Next, you’ll need to find out the rules and conditions of the UK pension scheme you want to transfer your retirement savings into. If your overseas scheme is a ROPS, you should simply need to provide confirmation of this¹ and follow the UK pension provider’s transfer process.

To help you understand the process and its tax implications, and to find the right UK pension scheme, it’s a smart idea to seek expert pensions advice.

Unable to transfer your pension? Let’s explore alternative options

If you’re finding it too difficult to arrange a pension transfer to the UK, you could simply leave your overseas pension where it is. You can receive payments in a bank account in your previous country of residence, then arrange to transfer it to a UK bank account. This enables you to receive overseas retirement income here in the UK.

If you’re doing this though, you’ll need to watch out for high international transfer and currency conversion fees charged by banks. Any mark-up on the exchange rate used for the conversion could also eat into your retirement income.

Luckily, there is a way around this, which we’ll look at next.

Save money on international pension payments with Wise

Open a fully secure account with Wise and you can avoid eye-watering bank fees to receive pension payments from overseas.

Here’s how. When you sign up with Wise, you’ll get access to local account details for a number of different currencies - such as a SWIFT/BIC code and IBAN for Euro countries, or routing and account number for the US.

Use the relevant account details for your overseas pension and you can be paid in the local currency. This means no need for currency conversion, so no high fees or terrible exchange rates will apply. You can then convert to GBP using Wise’s far fairer exchange rate and just a tiny currency conversion fee.

If you’ve got a large pensions pot, this could save you a small fortune.

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Unfortunately, there’s no simple handbook to transfer an overseas pension to the UK, as the rules differ from country to country. But hopefully, we’ve given you a few important places to start here in this guide. And of course, you now have a way to save money on international pension payments using Wise.

If you get stuck, remember that a qualified pensions adviser could be a really useful source of information.


Sources used for this article:

  1. Aegon - overseas pension transfer to the UK

Sources checked on 26th April 2021


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