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Understanding a QROPS Transfer

What is a QROPS?

A QROPS (Qualifying Recognised Overseas Pension Scheme) is an overseas pension scheme that meets the requirements and pension rules set out by HMRC to transfer and consolidate UK registered pension schemes.

If you’re considering retiring abroad, and have UK pension provisions, a QROPS allows you to transfer your pensions abroad, within the jurisdiction of your choice.

Who can transfer to a QROPS?

If you have accrued UK pensions, anybody can apply for a QROPS transfer. Once abroad, if you decide to return to the UK, the QROPS will become subject to UK pension regulations or you can switch your QROPS back into a SIPP.

If you haven’t been a resident of the UK for the past five tax years, the QROPS will be subject to the laws in which country it is based. You can, however, take pension income with no limits and no deduction of tax at source (although taxation will apply in accordance with your current country of residence).

Who Is Eligible for a QROPS Transfer?

QROPS Eligibility

Those who are eligible for a QROPS pension transfer are UK residents who wish to emigrate or to retire abroad and who have built up a pension fund within a privately administered scheme.

In addition, a person can qualify if they were born abroad but have spent some time working in the UK and built up benefits in a UK Pension Scheme. A QROPS pension provides great flexibility and stability as it doesn’t have to be established in the new country of residence.

However, in order to qualify, you must fit the following criteria:

  • You have UK pensions (excluding state pensions) with a total fund value of at least £50k.
  • You currently or are planning to live overseas.
  • You will be not be returning to the UK within the next five-ten years.
  • You haven’t already purchased an annuity.
  • If yours is a final salary scheme, then the scheme should not be already in drawdown.
  • UK Budget 2017 Changes – there was also an array of changes for QROPS particularly for expats who are resident outside of the EEA where an International SIPP would be the most prudent option.

Transfers to QROPS requested on or after the 9th March 2017 are subject to a 25% tax charge, unless:

  1. The QROPS is in the EEA and the Member is also resident in a EEA country.
  2. The QROPS and Member are in the same country or territory. This is a limited if negligible part of the market.
  3. The QROPS is an employer-sponsored occupational scheme, overseas public service pension scheme or a pension scheme established by an international organisation.

If you are not sure if you are eligible for a QROPS transfer, or confused by the options available speak to an HB financial adviser for a free pension review.

What are the Benefits of a QROPS Transfer?

Retirement and pension planning are highly important and if carried out properly, British expats can get significant benefits from their pension:

No Lifetime Allowance Charge +

Protection from UK Inheritance Tax +

Easier Inheritance Process +

Gross Income +

Alternative Investments Options +

Things to Consider

Potential Drawbacks of a QROPS

The Overseas Transfer Charge (OTC) means that transfers to QROPS are subject to a 25% tax charge, unless:

  • the QROPS is in the EEA and the Member is also resident in an EEA country; or
  • the QROPS and Member are in the same country or territory.

QROPS are generally quite expensive. Set up and annual trustee fees are typically three or four times the cost of an International SIPP.

By taking your pension out of UK jurisdiction, you lose all the protection afforded by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), as well as the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS), which would normally cover any UK pension.

Often sold by commission-based advisors, who tend to put a commission paying investment bond within the pension structure.


Maltese QROPS

Comparison - March 2020
Momentum QROPS PlusSTM QROPSTrireme Pensions QROPSSovereign Centaurus QROPSOptimus QROPSAzure
Setup fee£645 / £895Nil£750€1000Refused to confirm pricing£400 / £700
Annual fee£895 / £945£803£950€1400Refused to confirm pricing£400 / £700
Establishment of benefits feeTime / Cost BasisNilNil€0Refused to confirm pricingNil
Income drawdown feeTime / Cost basisNil£150€0 (unless monthly then €100 PA)Refused to confirm pricingNil
Termination fee£1500£1000£2000€1000 - €3000 dependent on length heldRefused to confirm pricing£400 / £700

All pricing will be + VAT if you reside in the EU. PA= Per Annum.

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Don't just take our word for it, here's what some of our clients have to say.


  • "From my first contact with Jack Camille I was impressed by the service of Harrison Brook. Advice was clearly given after an in-depth financial review. Advice was very clearly outlined and came with regular reviews of progress. Excellent service all round."

  • "Prompt reliable and expert help when needed.Transparent disclosure of all the costs involved. Friendly and efficient service I would highly recommend."

  • "Sound advice in difficult times. Acceptable prices when compared with alternatives. Regular contact and updates in clear understandable form."

  • "James was able to instantly build rapport, while he guided me through the process of opening an account. This is my first account of this nature, and I had countless questions. James patiently explain things in a way which was easy to understand, while still listening to what I had to say. I really appreciate his insight."

  • "Excellent customer service all the way through, professional, proactive, patient in answering all my questions, immediate answer to emails, great follow up and communication, deep legal knowledge and legal experience in the field, all of which helped in having my pension transferred in a faster amount of time than normal. I’ve rarely received such swift and excellent customer service before. The whole complex pension transfer experience could have been heavy and stressful, but instead it was the whole opposite."

  • "My financial knowledge is very limited but I knew I had to do to invest somewhere. I found the market scary and intimidating. I think really its a mine field. I am very grateful for finding Harrison Brook as they have been outstanding. From the very start they have guided me through the process in an honest and transparent manner explaining every step. Even after a lot of hesitation on my behalf. I don't think I could be happier with the first 6 Months. James Rayburn has been a class act answering all my interrogations patiently and professionally. I would recommend him and Harrison Brook to friends and family. The advice I have received has been very financially rewarding. I look forward to working with Harrison Brook and James for a very long time. Probably one of the best decisions I have ever made."

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