What is a pension transfer?

Since April 2006, British expats can move their pensions abroad with HMRC’s approval.

The receiving scheme has to be a qualifying recognised overseas pension scheme (QROPS).

This means it has to be regulated as a pension scheme in the country in which it is established, and recognised for tax purposes in that country.

Theoretically a QROPS can comply with these requirements and be tax efficient.

If the QROPS is in a country that taxes pensions at a minimal or even a zero rate, a pension transfer can potentially have tax benefits.

Critical facts about pension transfers

  • Pension transfers can benefit some people
  • But they are heavily marketed, over-sold and sometimes even mis-sold
  • Some transfers generate financial salespeople massive commissions
  • Those commission payments come from your pension
  • It is critical to take regulated, professional, certified pension advice
  • If you or your adviser get a transfer wrong, you will be charged a 55% tax penalty by HMRC

Our retirement experts

Because of the risks involved, you should never transfer a pension without the advice of an FCA regulated pension transfer specialist. Our retirement experts hold that accreditation.

Additionally, our retirement experts are Chartered Financial Planners, certified by the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII).

They are bound by the CII’s Code of Ethics, which requires them to: 

Pension transfer benefits
Obey all relevant laws and regulations
Pension transfer benefits
Act with the highest ethical standards and integrity
Pension transfer benefits
Act in the best interests of each client

Pension transfer benefits

Whether to transfer a pension has to be determined on an individual basis. The following potential benefits do not apply in every case: 

  • Tax-free lump sum of 30% at retirement
  • A pension free from UK taxes
  • Pension fund can be passed to beneficiaries tax free
  • No excess tax charge on growth above UK lifetime allowance
  • Access your pension from 55
  • Pension freedom in line with British reforms
  • Investment choice and access to multiple currency options

Pension transfer risks

There are 2 main risks when transferring a pension: 
Pension transfer risks


Some pension schemes set up as QROPS have been delisted by HMRC for non-compliance.

Anyone who transferred their pension to a subsequently delisted scheme would be penalised 55% of their entire pension’s value.

Affected expatriates rarely have any means of redress.

Pension transfer risks


Pension transfers can be very profitable for those financial salespeople who allege their advice is free.

Their advice is not free, they are paid commission by the QROPS company on each transfer they make.

That commission is clawed back out of your pension, reducing its value.

Understanding your choices

Our approach to pension transfers is transparent and comprehensive.

We work with you, and together we make the right decisions for your retirement.

Talk to us and we will: -

  • Review your current financial position, assessing pension performance and projected benefits, as well as investment returns to date
  • Consider where and when you want to retire, and your desired income in retirement
  • Identify each option you have, explaining the pros and cons of each approach, to guide your informed decision making
Talk to a pension specialist »
Call us for a conversation with an investment manager, or contact us to arrange a meeting at your convenience.
  • "What we really appreciated was the way AES International really listened to all our concerns, it's such a big step to entrust your life pension savings with anyone, and they took the time to keep us at ease.”

    Client Image

    Barbara Veale

  • “Thank you AES International for helping me and my family with your low cost no-nonsense approach. It is refreshing!”

    AES International Reviews

    Kristian Petersson

  • “With this sort of banking service you also expect to be paying very high fees, but it’s just not the case. I would definitely recommend this to other expatriates, especially those with connections to the UK.”

    Client Image

    Jake van den Dries

Stuart Ritchie - Chartered Financial Planner
Our specialists help people like you.

Whether to transfer a pension has to be determined on an individual basis.

Because of the risks involved, you should never transfer a pension without the advice of a qualified pension transfer specialist.

Our retirement experts hold that accreditation.

Speak to our specialists today »

Talk to a specialist today »