UK pensions can be transferred abroad into Qualifying Recognised Overseas Pension Schemes (QROPS). This allows them to be moved without being subject to an unauthorised payments charge that would otherwise have been due. To be deemed qualifying a QROPS must both be non UK based and follow certain rules set forth by HMRC (Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs). To aid the transfer process HMRC produce a regularly updated list of QROPS providers who they recognise as deemed to abide by this criteria.
Technically speaking it is actually HMRC’s Recognised Overseas Pension Schemes (ROPS) notifications list due to a change in wording. This latest amendment also included confirmation of the QROPS Pension Age Test which applies from the 6th of April 2015. This test was specifically added as a result of certain providers bending the rules to allow people to access their pension early.
Of note, the process of being included on HMRC’s list is through each schemes’ manager making the necessary submission when they believe they satisfy the rules. Therefore, since the list is comprised of companies self certifying that their inclusion is warranted it should not be used as an endorsement or recommendation of a particular pension’s suitability. Furthermore, not all QROPS may feature and some that do may not qualify under further scrutiny. In the latter case, transferring to such a scheme could potentially result in you becoming liable for an unauthorised payments charge.
The Pension Schemes Services (PSS) typically updates the list bi-monthly, though when HMRC are notified of a scheme no longer meeting the QROPS criteria their inclusion will be removed promptly. In the event of a QROPS no longer qualifying, pension holders may avoid any charges depending upon whether the pension transfer took place prior to or after the scheme lost its status.
Finally, a QROPS may not appear on HMRC’s list out of choice. If this applies, then due to confidentiality rules the PSS cannot confirm the overseas pension’s QROPS status without written consent from the scheme’s manager.
QROPS list of providers
HMRC’s full listing of qualifying schemes can be accessed below through their respective jurisdictions.
A snapshot of the top 10 jurisdictions, based on the number of schemes listed, are as follows;