Qualifying Recognised Overseas Pension Scheme (QROPS) and HMRC Rules


If you transfer your UK pension into a NZ QROPS (Qualifying Recognised Overseas Pension Scheme) and have chosen to live in New Zealand permanently you will not be affected by the Overseas Transfer Charge (OTC). 

The OTC is a 25% tax that is applied to pensions when they are transferred to another country.  There are exceptions:  If your pension savings are transferred into the same country in which you are living the OTC will not be applied.  You must remain a tax resident in New Zealand for five years, or move your transferred QROPS fund into another HMRC approved QROPS fund in the country that you are moving to, in order to avoid the 25% exit tax enforced by the HMRC.

If you move to live in another country within five years of transferring your money the OTC will be payable but if you move back to the country to which you transferred your pension you may apply for a refund if it is within five years of the time you transferred your pension.

If you are an Australian resident we can no longer assist you to transfer your UK pension. 

Kiwis wanting financial advice in Australia? See

We can assist NZ residents to transfer their Australian pensions to New Zealand.

QROPS rules were tightened from April 2015 when pension freedom reforms were introduced.  This new freedom enabled pension members to withdraw their pension funds from age 55.  The first 25% that is withdrawn will be tax free.  The remaining 75% will be taxed as additional income at the pension member’s marginal tax rate.  The usual rates of which are 20%, 40% and 45%.  If people dip in and withdraw too much of their pensions they could end up in a higher tax bracket.

The relaxation of pension rules brought in additional tax revenue of £1.5 billion in the first year and in the second year it is expected to be £1.1 billion for the tax year 2016 - 2017.

The latest budget announcement, effective 6 April 2017, will not affect pension members who are New Zealand residents and who transfer their pensions into a NZ QROPS.  But, the client will have to stay being a NZ resident for the exemption to become permanent.

Changes to NZ superannuation rules Effective December 2016 

From December 2016 all Superannuation Schemes in NZ have to be registered with The Financial Markets Conduct Authority FMCA and follow the rules set by the FMCA.  

QROPS Pensions have a special exclusion from the above rules.

2015 rule changes to UK Pensions have resulted in some no longer being transferable to NZ

New rules for UK pension transfers made by the UK Government came into effect on 6 April 2015.  While you can make withdrawals it is likely that 75% of your pension funds will be fully taxable in the UK if you choose not to transfer them into a QROPS in NZ.  Your funds might be taxed at 40%[1] Refer to the IRD Help Sheet HS304 to get your tax assessed in NZ only. 

Some pension plans can no longer be transferred. Defined Contribution Schemes which have been funded by the tax payer such as NHS, Teachers' Pensions and the Armed Services can no longer be transferred. The only option for these schemes is for retiring members to be paid a taxable pension.  This is often unsuitable for Brits who have emigrated from the UK. 

BUT: Local Government Pension Schemes (LGPS) can still be transferred. Some people working in schools, the Police and NHS might be on the LGPS payroll enabling their schemes to be transferred.  If you cannot transfer your pension due to the rule changes we will not charge you a fee for finding this out.  

The UK Government is currently discussing if transfers for private defined benefit schemes should have the same rules applied as State funded pensions.  If this happens private defined benefit pensions will also be unable to be transferred.  

Removal of Kiwisaver from QROPS list 

All Kiwisaver plans have been dropped from the QROPS list because Kiwisaver rules allowed early withdrawals for a first home purchase and significant financial hardship.  Contact the team today to discuss alternative QROPS fund options in NZ. 

The UK State pension

On 6 April 2016 the additional State Pension and part of the pension credit was abolished and replaced with a single tier state pension.  The rate was increased from £113 to £155 per week.
Most people do not qualify for the full pension as their schemes were contracted out of the second State Pension and they paid lower National Insurance contributions as a result.  To qualify for the full pension you need to have contributed into National Insurance for 35 years (instead of 30 years; the previous requirement).

​Death taxes on pensions

From April 2015 death tax was no longer payable on a pensions if the deceased was younger than age 75.  After age 75 the tax is payable at the beneficiary's highest marginal tax rate.

What can I do?

Check it out and confirm if you can transfer your pension or not

Ask Lyfords to write to your pension provider to see if your pension can be transferred (this is an obligation free service).  Nothing is certain until your provider has confirmed that your pension can or cannot be transferred.

Should I transfer my funds? 

This depends on your options advised by your UK pension provider (after a pension transfer value and transfer pack has been received)  Your adviser at Lyfords will consider:  How good is the pension your UK provider offers you?  How does it compare with transferring your funds to NZ?

Get Free Advice

Advisers at Lyfords are not accountants and do not provide tax advice. If you would like to be referred to a competent tax adviser who understands the taxation obligations relating to UK pension transfers to NZ please ask us.

However if you need more clarification around the UK pension legislation and UK pension entitlements please contact Lyfords today for peace of mind.