What is an International SIPP?

An International Self-Invested Personal Pension (SIPP) is a UK-regulated pension scheme that provides a flexible and tax-efficient way to save for retirement for individuals living outside the UK. Like a traditional SIPP, an International SIPP allows you to make your own investment decisions within a wide range of permissible investments. This means you have more control over how your pension fund is managed compared to conventional pension schemes. While a standard SIPP is typically designed for individuals in the UK, an International SIPP extends these benefits to expatriates and international workers, however, SIPPs and International SIPPs are technically the same. International SIPPs are designed to be portable across different jurisdictions, and they may offer additional benefits like multi-currency options, allowing individuals to hold and manage assets in different currencies. International SIPPs allow you to consolidate your UK pension assets into a single, manageable plan while living abroad.

Like UK SIPPs the tax treatment of International SIPPs can be complex and can vary depending on the jurisdiction, so it’s recommended that individuals seek advice from a financial adviser or tax expert before setting up an International SIPP.

How do International SIPPs differ from domestic SIPPs?

While International SIPPs and domestic SIPPs both offer flexibility in investment decisions, and are technically the same pension structure, International SIPPs are specifically designed for non-UK residents. These plans are often more accommodating to the needs of expats, including non-UK residency, the ability to hold multiple currencies and investments that are more relevant to an international lifestyle. They offer the same UK tax benefits as a domestic SIPP, but their structure can make them more efficient for those living abroad. Further, all of the dual taxation agreements that would apply to UK SIPPs, also apply to International SIPPs.


How does an International SIPP compare to a QROPS?

An International SIPP and a Qualifying Recognised Overseas Pension Scheme (QROPS) are both options for UK expats, but they have some key differences. A QROPS can allow for greater tax efficiency depending on your country of residence and may have fewer restrictions on withdrawals. However, QROPS can be subject to additional tax charges and periodic changes in legislation which can affect their benefits. An International SIPP, while potentially offering less flexibility in withdrawal, is regulated by the UK and may offer more long term stability.


Can I transfer my existing pension into an International SIPP?

Yes, you can typically transfer most types of UK pensions into an International SIPP. This includes personal pensions and company pensions. However, transfer values can vary and it’s important to understand the potential costs and benefits before making a transfer.


What types of investments can I hold in an International SIPP?

An International SIPP offers a wide range of investment options. This can include stocks and shares, bonds, ETFs, mutual funds, and even real estate in some cases. The specific investments available may depend on the provider and the regulations of the country where you are living.


Can I withdraw money from my International SIPP while living abroad?

Yes, you can typically withdraw money from your International SIPP while living abroad. The rules and tax implications for withdrawals can depend on your age, the size of your pension pot, and the tax laws of the country where you are residing. If there is no dual taxation agreement in place with the UK, you could be taxed both in the UK and where you are currently residing. Always take qualified financial advice when embarking upon any withdrawals.


How can I set up an International SIPP?

You can set up an International SIPP through a regulated financial advisor (preferably UK regulated) who specialises in pensions for expats such as AES International. It’s important to ensure that your advisor operates on a fee-only, non-commission basis to avoid potential conflicts of interest. They can guide you through the process and help you make the most of your International SIPP.

What are the tax implications of an International SIPP?

As a UK-regulated pension, International SIPPs have certain UK tax benefits. Contributions are typically tax-deductible in the UK, and growth within the SIPP is usually tax-free. However, the tax treatment upon withdrawal will depend on the tax laws of your country of residence and whether there is a DTA in place.

Can I access my International SIPP online?

Yes, most International SIPP providers offer online platforms that allow you to manage your investments, make contributions, and track the performance of your pension pot. This can be very convenient for expats living in different time zones.

What does it mean to set up an International SIPP on a fee-only, non-commission basis?

Setting up an International SIPP on a fee-only, non-commission basis means that your adviser charges a fee for their services rather than earning commission from the products or investments they recommend. This eliminates potential conflicts of interest and ensures that your adviser is acting solely in your best interests. Always choose fee based financial advice, over commission-based advice, wherever possible.

Is it beneficial to work with a UK regulated financial adviser when setting up an International SIPP?

Absolutely. A UK regulated financial adviser can guide you through the complexities of setting up an International SIPP. They understand the intricate details of UK pension legislation, tax regulations, and the specifics of International SIPPs. They can provide invaluable advice tailored to your personal circumstances and retirement goals. Where possible, always work with a UK regulated Financial Adviser when setting up an International SIPP.

What are the costs involved in setting up an International SIPP?

The costs of setting up and maintaining an International SIPP can vary. There’s often an initial setup fee, annual management charges, and potentially other costs related to specific investments. It’s important to note that these costs should be structured on a fee-only basis rather than via commissions to ensure your adviser is acting in your best interests.