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If you have a UK pension and are considering transferring your benefits, the specialists at Blacktower can help. Our advisers have many years’ experience guiding individuals through the processes relating to international pension transfers to help maximise the chances of protecting and growing your wealth, while also minimising any tax liability.

UK pensions fall into two broad groups:

  • Defined benefit schemes (often referred to as a ‘final salary scheme’), and
  • Defined contribution schemes (often known as ‘money purchase’ schemes)

Defined Benefit Pension schemes

Defined benefit (final salary) schemes are often described as ‘gold-plated’ because they offer guaranteed benefits at retirement. However, they have faced many challenges in recent times as employers struggle to fund them adequately. This particular scheme promises to pay you an income based on the final salary you retired on. You can carry out an overseas pension transfer into either a SIPP or a QROP.

Find out more about defined benefit pension schemes

Defined Contribution schemes

These schemes do not have the guarantees that defined benefit schemes offer. Instead, the pension at retirement relies upon three main factors – the level of contributions paid, the investment return earned by the fund and the rate at which that fund is converted into an income (the annuity rate).

Find out more about defined contribution schemes

Transfer pension abroad: your options

Many people who retire abroad find that they have a mixture of defined benefit and defined contribution arrangements. There are two main options when looking to transfer your pension abroad:

  • SIPP (Self Invested Pension Plan)
  • QROPS (Qualifying Recognised Overseas Pension Scheme)

Self Invested Personal Pension (SIPP)

A SIPP is simply a personal pension, but with wider investment powers. An overseas pension transfer to a SIPP is an option for those living abroad, as well as those based in the UK, to go ahead with a pension transfer. If you transfer your benefits to a SIPP, the benefits will still be subject to UK pension regulations.

Find out more about full SIPPs low cost SIPPs and hybrid SIPPs.


A QROPS is an international pension plan, which is often the preferred vehicle for international pension transfers.

If you transfer to a QROPS, the benefits broadly cease to be governed by UK pension regulations, although there are certain reporting and other requirements that must be met.

Find out more about QROPS.


A Qualified Non-UK Pension Scheme (QNUPS) is not a specific scheme or product – instead, it’s a term given to schemes that comply with the International Organisation in the UK International Organisations Act 1968 Section 1(a).

Offering a degree of flexibility, and free from the UK’s inheritance tax, anyone is eligible to invest in a QNUPS, provided their country of residence allows this.

These expat pension schemes enable you to hold assets in a variety of areas, including property, investments, fine wines, and art.

Find out more about QNUPS.

Overseas pension transfers with the specialists at Blacktower

If you have pension benefits and are considering a transfer, we can help. As a fully regulated firm, Blacktower has international pensions transfer specialists who can help you decide whether a transfer is suitable for your circumstances and, if so, whether a SIPP, QROPS or QNUPS is the best solution. We can help you plan your financial future whatever your country of origin and current country of residence. Get in touch with us today to find out how we can help.


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