QROPS stands for Qualified Recognized Overseas Pension Scheme. It is a type of pension scheme that is designed for anyone who has built up a UK pension pot but are planning to retire outside the UK.
QROPS is designed to provide a tax-efficient way for UK pension holders to transfer their pension savings to a pension scheme based overseas. The scheme must meet certain criteria to be recognized as a QROPS, and must be approved by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC).
Here are some key points to understand about QROPS:
- Available to individuals who are planning to retire or move outside the UK
- Individuals with a UK pension pot who are planning to transfer their pension savings overseas
Benefits of QROPS
- Tax efficiency: QROPS offers tax benefits as pension income drawn from a QROPS is normally taxed in the country of residence, which can be lower than the UK tax rate.
- Greater flexibility: QROPS may offer greater flexibility in terms of investment options, currency, and withdrawal options compared to UK pensions.
- Avoiding currency risk: QROPS can help avoid currency risk by allowing pension holders to hold their pension savings in the currency of their country of residence.
QROPS and HMRC
- A pension scheme must be recognized by HMRC to qualify as a QROPS.
- HMRC maintains a list of recognized QROPS schemes.
- If a QROPS scheme loses its recognition, it may result in tax penalties for the pension holder.
QROPS and Overseas Transfers
- To transfer a pension pot to a QROPS, the pension holder must meet certain conditions and follow certain procedures.
- The pension holder must inform their UK pension provider of their intention to transfer their pension savings to a QROPS.
- The QROPS scheme must be approved by HMRC.
- The pension holder must notify HMRC (via their ceeding scheme) of their intention to transfer their pension savings overseas.
Potential Risks of QROPS
- Loss of UK tax benefits: Once pension savings are transferred to a QROPS, the pension holder may lose any UK tax benefits associated with their pension.
- Transfer fees: QROPS transfers may incur fees, which can be high.
- Investment risk: Pension holders may be exposed to higher investment risk with QROPS than with UK pensions.
The Overseas Transfer Charge
Whether you pay an Overseas Transfer Charge on your Transfer will be dependent upon several factors:
A 25% tax or overseas transfer charge will be payable if:
- You transfer to a QROPS which is based in the European Economic Area (EEA) or Gibraltar and you live outside the UK, EEA or Gibraltar at that time or move to live outside these areas within five years of transferring.
- You transfer to a QROPS which is established outside the UK, EEA or Gibraltar and you don’t live in the country where your QROPS is based (NB: if you were to move to that country within five years of transferring, the tax charge would be refunded).
- If the information asked for on form APSS263 – which your UK scheme provider needs to advance the transfer – isn’t supplied within 60 days of your transfer request (you may be able to apply for a refund at a later date).
The Overseas Transfer Charge isn’t payable if:
- The QROPS that you transfer to has been provided by your employer.
- You are resident in the country where the QROPS is based.
- The QROPS is based in the EEA or Gibraltar and you’re resident in the UK, Gibraltar or an EEA country.
- You started the QROPS transfer process before 9 March 2017.