For the thousands of people that migrate to Australia each year, whether a pension transfer to Australia is possible or not, may not be the foremost topic on their mind.
For those that do think of the possibility of a pension transfer to Australia, the first enquiry may be put to their employer (or the scheme administrators running their company pension scheme) or, for UK expat pension members, their former employer. In some cases, an employer (or former employer) may inform their member that a pension transfer to Australia is not possible, but are they correct to say this?
There may indeed be legitimate reasons as to why a pension transfer to Australia or to another UK scheme or even to a QROPS (Qualifying Recognized Overseas Pension Scheme) in another jurisdiction is not possible. One problem may be if an individual is within 1 year of their normal retirement from the scheme. In those circumstances an individual no long has a UK statutory right to a transfer – although the scheme trustees/administrators do have discretionary powers to grant a transfer.
Another reason may be down to the Australian scheme itself. Does the scheme feature on the list of approved QROPS that appears on the HMRC (Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs) website? A UK scheme administrator may not see a scheme listed and refuse to transfer on this basis. Remember, however, the HMRC QROPS list is not a definitive list and should not be used as an ultimate guideline. In which case, has the scheme administrator for your UK pension asked for the receiving schemes QROPS certificate?
An individual looking at a pension transfer to Australia should speak to a specialist adviser in this field, pre migration if possible, in order to establish whether a pension transfer to Australia is possible or not.