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Transferring UK Pensions FAQ


What criteria is required to transfer my UK Pension?

You have to have permanently immigrated to New Zealand. You must have either been granted permanent residency or have submitted an application. 

Should I transfer my UK pension fund to New Zealand? 

For many UK ex patriots your pension fund will be the second biggest "investment" after your home. 

Do I have to have a super scheme in NZ to transfer my UK pension into? 

Yes. If you decide to transfer your UK pension funds, UK regulations require that they must be transferred to an approved or registered superannuation scheme that is also a QROPS (Qualifying Recognised Overseas Pension Scheme) in New Zealand.

Should I transfer my UK pension fund to NZ, even if I think I may return to the UK to retire? 

No. Once you have made the transfer to a NZ pension you cannot transfer back to your UK pension plan as a pension.  Do not transfer your pension until you are highly confident that you plan to retire in NZ.  BUT if you change your mind about living in NZ (it happens) you can transfer your pension funds back to the UK.  It is important that you discuss your options with a tax specialist and make sure you are not making an unauthorised withdrawal in the eyes of the HMRC.

Who handles my money and how safe is it? 

All transfers are paid directly by your UK Pension fund into the New Zealand HMRC, QROPS approved superannuation fund. We do not use a trust account, or handle your money so the transfer is secure. 

How long does it take to transfer my UK Pension?

Each pension transfer is different as each individual has different circumstances. The rule of thumb is that a normal transfer will take between 3 to 4 months (the fastest transfer took 6 weeks and the longest 10 months).   When there is a delay it is usually due to the time that the UK pension provider takes to arrange transfer papers and confirm transfer values.  The transfer values usually involve actuarial calculations and these can take some time to produce.  Some pension providers will advise that it will be three months before they provide that value.  It is our role to correspond with your pension provider in the UK, request any additional requirements and keep you informed of progress. In addition sometimes it can take up to six months for pension funds to be released by a UK pension provider after all the paper work has been completed.

What are the main benefits to transferring my UK pension to New Zealand? 

  • Transferring your pension enables you to keep track of your pension plan and gain more control of your funds without affecting their earning power. You won't need to be concerned whether the fund is merging, closing or going out of existence. 
  • You no longer need worry about exchange rate fluctuations affecting your pension payouts. 
  • You will not be paying bank fees for each transfer (may be as a high as £18 per transfer) 
  • You will have more information and control on the companies holding your retirement savings. 
  • Easier to access your money in retirement. 
  • If you die with a UK pension scheme your spouse can get up to 2/3 of the pension you would have received (usually it is more likely to be 55%). If you both die your pension dies with you, however, If you both die leaving qualifying dependent children, your UK pension could continue for as long as you fulfil the schemes eligibility criteria. With New Zealand superannuation plans all of your remaining investment becomes part of your estate and is passed on to your children, heirs. 

What are the tax issues that need to be considered? 

  • If you retain your UK pension and it pays a regular benefit this is deemed to be income and you will need to pay tax on it in New Zealand. 
  • If your funds are transferred to a NZ approved superannuation plan under current legislation you are not taxed when you withdraw funds. 
  • Under the new FIF rules an immigrant to New Zealand is exempt from paying tax on overseas income for up to four years This person is a transitional resident.

Can I get my UK pension paid directly into my bank account? 

No, it is a requirement of the UK legislation that the money can only be paid into an approved New Zealand HRMC, QROPS approved superannuation plan. 

Why don't I just transfer the pension myself? 

You may be able to transfer the pension yourself, but the process is complex, and can be very frustrating and confusing. Do you have the necessary understanding of your actions and how they might impact on your future financial security?  Our UK Pension Transfer service will save you time, money and stress.  

The most difficult part of transferring your pension yourself is that you need to arrange for your funds to be transferred into a QROPS superannuation plan and generally the fund managers require the investor to have received investment advice from an AFA prior to accepting any new funds.

Or, If you did find a superannuation fund manager and could transfer your funds directly you may find that full fees would be charged by the pension provider and you have done all the work alone when a specialist could have done for you at no additional cost. At Lyfords we discount standard entry fees based on the amount of money being transferred.  The cost to you to transfer your pension is usually less when you work with Lyfords and receive professional advice than if you transferred your funds independently.

I have already started to draw income from my UK pension can I still transfer the lump sum? 

This depends on whether your UK pension provider will allow this.  Usually once you are taking a pension you cannot make a withdrawal other than your regular pension.

Will I be eligible for New Zealand Government superannuation payments? 

To be eligible for New Zealand Superannuation you need to be aged 65 or over and a legal resident of New Zealand, having lived here for ten years since age 20. Five of those years have to be since you turned age 50. Contact Work and Income Support on 0800 552 002 or at www.winz.govt.nz. For current rates of New Zealand Superannuation click here.

Should I transfer my UK pension to a NZ Superannuation plan before I leave the UK? 

No, you need to be a permanent resident in New Zealand before your UK pension plan can be transferred. We recommend waiting until you are living and working in New Zealand before you make any sort of decision on this. At present entitlement to New Zealand superannuation is not asset tested. The NZ Government will off-set pension income you are paid by the UK Government against your NZ Government Superannuation entitlement. How much would I get if I qualify for New Zealand superannuation?

Can I withdraw cash from my pension fund once the transfer is complete? 

Not until you turn 55 and you have been a non UK tax payer for 5 years or more. Your UK pension money was saved for your long term retirement savings so keep to this plan and put it aside for your retirement savings.

With a UK Pension

Your payments from your UK pension funds will be affected by exchange rates and bank transfer charges.

New Zealand Inland Revenue assesses worldwide income as taxable income even if your investments are invested in tax havens. You may receive a tax credit for any income tax already deducted in the UK.

With a NZ Pension

At age 65 you will receive a state pension (New Zealand Superannuation) if you have lived in New Zealand for a total of 10 years since you turned 20 and a total of 5 years since you turned age 50. Any UK state pension will be offset against (deducted from) your New Zealand superannuation entitlement.

Your personal superannuation savings (not the Government funded New Zealand Superannuation) are part of your estate on death.


Lyford Investment Management Limited and Lyford Financial Services Limited are operated by Alison & Richard Renfrew. The companies provide advice based on decades of experience.  Both Alison and Richard have earned their Diplomas in Financial Planning, are Certified Financial Planners (CFP is an internationally recognised designation) and Authorised Financial Advisers.  

Lyfords provides full financial planning services including retirement planning & pension transfers.

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0800 4 LYFORDS
0800 459 367
Lyfords UK Pension Transfer
174 Hutt Road, Petone
Lower Hutt 5012