Qualifying Recognized Overseas Pensions Schemes (QROPS) have been able to receive transferred in money from a UK pension scheme since 6th April 2006.
A common question from many people living abroad is, if I transfer from a UK scheme to a QROPS, when can I take my pension benefits?
The first point that an expat should do is take QROPS advice from a specialist that is aware of the UK legislation. UK legislation is key because for 5 complete tax years of a UK pension member’s overseas residency, the retirement age from the QROPS must be the same as that permitted under UK legislation. For a QROPS to release benefits to a member, in respect of their UK pension transfer funds, before the permitted UK retirement age (other than circumstances such as serious ill health), would potentially lead to the member incurring an unauthorised payment charge.
Significance of 6th April 2010
From 6th April 2010, the retirement age from virtually all UK registered schemes (and QROPS) will be age 55. For members of overseas pension schemes whose date of birth falls shortly after 5th April 1960, they will have to wait around 5 years longer to access their UK pension benefits than someone born on or before 5th April 1960.
For those members of UK pension schemes or QROPS that are aged between 50 and 54 before 5th April 2010, advice should be taken as to whether benefits should be accessed now before the window of opportunity is delayed to age 55.