Moving UK Pension to India – that will be the topic of today’s article.
Before introducing this article, if you are interested in our core services which are expat financial, insurance and mortgages, you can contact me here.
The best time to consider your financial situation is when you are moving to a new country.
For many days, India has been one of the preferred destinations for the people of the UK, where it is for a temporary basis such as vacation/tour or a permanent basis such as retirement.
In most cases, these people are actually from India who’ve gone to the UK for employment (mostly) and wishes to come back to India.
If that’s the case, then they would have to go through a lot of complex issues to transfer their pension to India. Therefore, in this article, we will discuss how you can transfer your UK pension to India and what are the options to do so.
First of all, for those of you who may not know, India happens to be one of the countries outside of the European Union, where UK pensions can be transferred.
Options – For transferring your UK pension to India, you might have to choose from one of the three options provided below.
- International SIPP
Just stating the methods won’t be helpful, and hence, let us discuss more on each of these options individually.
QNUPS stands for “Qualified Non-UK Pension Scheme” and it was introduced by the HMRC in February 2010. QNUPS is a regulated pension scheme with tax benefits, which permits investment of wealth overseas.
Despite being a pension fund, QNUP comes with some potential advantages such as tax benefits and flexibility. Moreover, there is specific criteria for the people to take part in QNUPS.
- When it was introduced in February 2010, there were some specific set of rules that made sure that offshore pension schemes won’t be imposed with the UK’s inheritance tax.
By keeping your assets in an offshore pension scheme, you will have the privilege of avoiding the UK inheritance tax, which is considered a 100% legitimate way to do so.
- Another major benefit of QNUPS is that people aren’t required to be present in the countries that have a double taxation agreement (DTA) with the UK.
Instead, they can be from most countries, which is potentially advantageous in two ways. First, there won’t be any requirements for reporting to the HMRC, which is a bit of a relief to the people staying abroad.
Secondly, people, having the ability to have a QNUPS from many countries, have access to a wider choice to stay in countries other than the UK while enjoying the pension benefits.
- There is no maximum limit on how much money can be transferred using QNUPS, while other offshore pension schemes come with a limit.
- Not just on the money that can be transferred, but there is no maximum limit for the age of a person to make contributions in a QNUPS. You can just go ahead and make contributions to a QNUPS as long as you wish.
- One of the most important benefits of QNUPS is that they are tax-efficient. All your assets and capital gains held within your QNUPS are provided to your beneficiaries without any taxes.
In some pension schemes, you might be charged around 40% as a tax, but that’s not the case with QNUPS.
- Contributions are not only unlimited but they can be made from a wide range of sources.
In simple words, you may not just contribute the money earned as income, instead, you can contribute money from whichever asset you own.
- In some pension schemes, the assets have to be liquidated before getting into the pension scheme, which is not the case with QNUPS. QNUPS accepts a wide range of assets such as residential properties, vintage wine, antiques, etc.
- Another considerable advantage of QNUPS is that you won’t be taxed on your capital gains. The entire capital growth of your assets would be passed over to the beneficiaries listed by you.
- Just like a SIPP or a QROPS, the amount that can be taken out as a pension commencement lump sum (PCLS) is 25% to 30%.
Things to consider:
It should be remembered that when people try to avoid the IHT deliberately, then they would be subject to tax.
To transfer the funds from a UK-registered pension scheme to QNUPS, the pension schemes must also qualify as a QROPS.
QNUPS can be utilized as a tax-efficient wrapper for making an investment in the residential property of the UK.
Just like other pension schemes, QNUPS function as trust arrangements, and it could be potentially beneficial when QNUPS is tailored as a contract-based scheme.
The exit route from a QNUPS should be taken into careful consideration because a few years from now the tax situation might be subject to changes.
Not just the people who move to India, but the half a million people who move abroad from the UK often have the same question, which is whether to let their pension funds stay in a British pension plan or move it to their new country of residence.
QROPS often come in that list as one of the qualifying pension schemes that allow an individual to transfer their pension funds into their new country of residence.
So, let us discuss all the details about QROPS including requirements, tax benefits, advantages, and disadvantages.
To those who may not be familiar, QROPS stands for “Qualifies Recognized Overseas Pension Scheme”, which allows British nationals to transfer their pension overseas after being able to meet certain criteria.
Usually, this criterion has been set by the British tax agency, i.e., Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC).
By the year 2018, QROPS had more than 123,000 transfers that were equivalent for an amount up to £10.7 billion since their inception in 2006, which was equal to around £898 million (approx.) annually.
For being qualified as a QROPS, the pension scheme is required to meet some requirements that have been set by the laws in the UK.
An example of the requirements is that an individual should be of an age of more than 55 years for accessing the funds unless there are some special situations.
It should be duly noted that not every overseas scheme out there in the world is able to meet the criteria set by the government of the UK.
The official website of HMRC contains a list of countries that qualify for QROPS and the schemes available within those countries. This list is generally updated twice per month by the HMRC.
By the time of writing this article, there are currently 29 countries having access to QROPS. The countries in this list are as follows:
- Hong Kong
- Isle of Man
- New Zealand
- South Africa
Before you can transfer your pension funds into a QROPS, we highly suggest you get in contact with a financial expert, who is familiar with all these aspects.
- QROPS might be beneficial to some retirees, whereas they might be considered advantageous for some others.
- When you transfer, you will be having the ability to consolidate all your pensions into a single pension scheme, which makes the process of managing them easily and reduces the money needed to be spent in the form of fees.
- This also allows managing all your finances in a single currency, which is quite helpful in most cases.
- Not only would be easy to manage all the finances in that country, but you can also avoid the hassle of worrying about the fluctuating exchange rates.
- The tax liability can also be reduced in the new country of residence depending on the taxation rules.
- The process of investing money with QROPS is made more flexible compared to British pensions.
- The fees and charges involved with QROPS happen to be transparent.
- When you are over the age of 75 years when you die overseas, then there won’t be a tax for the beneficiary to receive the pension.
- In the early days, it was mandatory for the people to utilize 75% of their British pension funds to buy an annuity, which would usually offer a guaranteed income for a lifetime.
It sounds good, but the major disadvantages of this concept were that the returns were low, the imposition of income tax, and the expiry of the pension fund when the person dies.
By transferring the pension to a QROPS, when a person dies, the annuity would be provided to the dependents of the individual or beneficiaries listed by them.
- Apart from being tax-efficient, the fund transfer process is very simple and the process of transferring funds to the beneficiary has been made easy.
- People who transfer their pension funds into a QROPS are allowed to get 25% of the funds as a tax-free lump sum amount.
- QROPS is free from the IHT (Inheritance Tax), which is around 45% and deducted at source for some other pension schemes.
As we talked about before, QROPS might not be a viable solution for everyone, and most people lost a considerable amount of money because of the advice they’ve received from inexperienced advisors.
For instance, when the pension is transferred into a QROPS, people would lose the benefits that usually come with their British pension plan.
In some cases, these benefits tend to be more lucrative when compared to the benefits acquired from transferring the pension overseas.
Along with that, when the pension funds exist within the UK, then they are offered protection from the FCA (Financial Conduct Authority).
Some other disadvantages include fees, maintenance costs, etc., and people might have to move to another country if their country loses QROPS status.
There are 4 types of fees applicable to QROPS namely “Annual Fees”, “Initial Transfer Fees”, “Fees within the investment”, and “Advisory Fees”.
Process – The process of transferring a UK pension to QROPS has been given below, and it should be noted that the timeframes have been provided as a reference and the actual timeframes may vary based on the factors influencing them.
- During the first week, the individual must go ahead and get all the details related to the process from a financial expert.
Then, the advisor will send a letter of authority to the individual so that they can take over for the individual and deal with the current pension provider.
- Following the first week, the individual is required to send an email or fax the letter of authority while sending the original copy as well.
The advisor who contacts the current pension provider will check the eligibility of the individual and confirms whether the pension fund qualifies for a transfer or not.
- After 4 weeks, the individual is required to clarify the details regarding their selected jurisdiction, and these details are to be provided to the advisor.
Right after that, the current pension provider would be sent a discharge form and the QROPS provider would be sent an application form.
Finally, the pension funds of the individual would be transferred to the QROPS while offering tax-free income present in the currency of the individual’s choice and the individual can also choose from a wide range of assets to make an investment.
The QROPS plans available in India as of writing this article are as follows:
- “Canara HSBC Oriental Bank of Commerce Life Insurance Secure Bhavishya Plan”
- Exide Life Golden Years Retirement Plan
- Exide Life My Retirement Plan
- Exide Life New Immediate Annuity
- Exide Life New Immediate Annuity with Return of Purchase Price
- Exide Life Smart Pension Plan
- HDFC Life Assured Pension Plan
- HDFC Life Click 2 Retire
- HDFC Life New Immediate Annuity Plan
- HDFC Life Pension Guaranteed Plan
- ICICI Pru Easy Retirement
- ICICI Pru Easy Retirement SP
- ICICI Pru Guaranteed Pension Plan
- ICICI Pru Immediate Annuity
- Kotak Assured Pension Plan
- Kotak Lifetime Income Plan
- SBI Life Annuity Plus
QROPS might be beneficial to you, or in some cases, it might be better for you to leave the pension funds within the British pension plan itself.
If you don’t have clarity on what to do, you can get in touch with an expert financial advisor (like us), who might be able to determine your situation and determine whether QROPS is suitable for you.
Even if you have an advisor and are not happy with their service, then you can opt for another advisor and take care of all the things for a few additional costs.
- International SIPPs:
To know what an International SIPP is, you must get familiar with a SIPP (Self Invested Personal Pension). SIPP is a UK pension scheme that permits investors to maintain an investment strategy towards their retirement.
The individual is able to take all the investment decisions instead of relying on trustees. In general, SIPPs are known to be UK-based pensions for expats living in the UK or UK residents living abroad.
SIPPs are known to be suitable for investors who have significant pension pots and desire flexibility in terms of investments.
These are preferred by investors who live outside of the UK on a temporary basis while intending to return to the UK in the future. In case these individuals die, the beneficiaries who return to the UK might be able to benefit from these.
Just like the other two pension schemes we’ve discussed, SIPPs are also free from the inheritance tax in the UK and considered the best option for investment planning.
If you think that your funds would increase by £1,000,000 by the time of your retirement, then a QROPS would be considered suitable for you.
However, it is common knowledge that QROPS and QNUPS are considered to be expensive when compared to SIPP products.
Even when some products might seem less expensive, QROPS and QNUPS tend to become expensive over time, especially in terms of annual fees.
People who are below 74 years of age and want to contribute towards their retirement can find SIPPs to be profitable in contrast to QROPS.
However, as we are talking about UK pension transfers, SIPPs can’t be utilized, and that’s where International SIPPs come into action.
International SIPPs are nothing but SIPPs that can be accessed by people who are not residents of the UK. These are not limited to a few places, and people belonging to various countries are able to access an International SIPP.
International SIPPs might not come with the same level of protection as the SIPPs because they are not regulated by the FCA, yet there are some regulations for these as well.
- Just like the other two options we’ve mentioned, International SIPPs also have tax benefits.
- With the help of International SIPPs, you would be having access to a wide range of investment opportunities.
- All the pensions of an individual can be kept in a single place and managed efficiently without any type of hassle.
- People can list beneficiaries to get the funds after they expire, and contributions can be made in various currencies.
While you want to have a SIPP product, you might be required to present the details such as income source, identity proof, financial information, etc.
Based on the pension freedom act of 2015, it has been stated that International SIPPs and SIPPs are the pension schemes that allow individuals to have more control over their pensions.
SIPPs do come with a significant potential for growth, yet it should be duly noted investments must be done carefully.
The thing with investments is that they can either go up or down, and nobody can anticipate the exact returns on the money they’ve invested.
To know more details about international SIPPs, check out this article.
People who are living in India have the ability to transfer their pensions into a wide range of investment platforms in various regions like the Isle of Man, Hong Kong, Singapore, etc.
By doing so, they will have broad exposure to various investment opportunities and when those individuals return home, they would be having the accessibility to local market funds.
However, investments are to be wrapped in a trust and the cost of investment platforms is becoming the same as the SIPPs in the UK.
To get more from SIPPs, it is highly recommended to contact your financial advisor and discuss the details with them.
Which is the best?
Well, this is a tough call. Till 2017, it was taken into consideration that QROPS were the best available options for the people who wanted to transfer their UK pensions to India.
Nonetheless, the current scenario is different because there is a 25% tax applicable to overseas transfers, which is a bit inconvenient.
When you have a smaller pension pot, then you can opt for International SIPPs because ROPS are taxed at a rate of 25% for the transfer, while with a SIPP, you can utilize it with your local provider.
One major thing that needs to be focused on is that anything less than the Lifetime Allowance of £1,073 million is considered to be too expensive for a pension transfer as per the 25% overseas transfer charges.
SIPPs can be flexible in terms of the rules while offering protection and are easier to be managed.
By transferring your SIPPs offshore, you can be able to invest the funds acquired from your pension scheme into various investment opportunities available in India.
Note – Pensions that can be transferred to an international scheme while moving back to India are defined contribution schemes, defined benefit schemes, UK SIPPs, Small Self-Administered Scheme (SSAS), or an employment pension.
It is hard to determine which method is better for you to transfer your UK pension to India without knowing certain factors such as your financial situation, retirement goals, and other financial aspects.
To know the best way to transfer your UK pension scheme to India, get in touch with us and acquire the best-in-class financial solutions offered by us.
We also offer a wide range of investment advice based on your investment goals or even manage your assets on your behalf. To get access, click here.
Retirement Planning and Investment Management can tend to be a lot hard than one can actually imagine. Even when a small mistake has been done, the price that has to be paid by the individual might turn out to be expensive.
Therefore, it is better to acquire the necessary knowledge from a professional rather than making hasty decisions in such important aspects of life.
That being said, we hope that you were able to find this article informative and we wish you luck with all your endeavors!!!