It’s a big move to change countries. As a UK expat, you’ve had to jump more than your fair share of hurdles to move to Australia.

But there might be another hurdle that’s in front of you, that’s still concerning you?

Your UK pension.

Specifically, getting your UK pension across into Australian superannuation so you don’t have to pay tax on your retirement income.

Dealing with the QROPS quagmire can certainly feel like trudging through mud at times, but thankfully there’s a clear (albeit complex!) process that if you follow it and get help making it happen, will succeed in getting your UK pension safely across into your Australian super fund.

If you’re new to Qualifying Recognised Overseas Pension Schemes (QROPS) in Australia, or if you’re still researching how to make it all happen, here are some facts and tips to help you through the process.

Five QROPS facts for UK expats 

1. THE TAX SAVING 

First, let’s recap the motivation to jump this hurdle…

Your UK pension that you worked so hard for is, sadly, taxed here in Australia just like normal income. What a waste of your hard-earned cash, not to mention a dent in your lifestyle.

But… if you can get those funds across into superannuation in Australia, your retirement income is tax-free.

You probably already new that, which is why you’re here.

So let’s move on to the important details…

2. THE URGENCY 

There is a very real urgency here. You need to act sooner rather than later because of superannuation’s annual contribution limit of $100,000.

This means you can only transfer your UK pension at the rate of $100,000 per year. If your UK pension balance is the equivalent of $500,000 Australian dollars, then it will take you 5 years to get your UK pension fully into your Australian super.

What’s the problem with that?

Any delays in starting this process, and you’ll pay more tax than you have to.

Here’s an example. Let’s call him William…

  • William has 100% of his retirement income from his UK pension
  • His annual pre-tax retirement income is $90,000 AUD
  • William’s withdrawal in the UK was tax-free
 Scenario 1
Scenario 2
Scenario 3
Do nothing
Move 100% of Pension
to Australian Super
Move 50% of Pension
to Australian Super
Taxable income$90,000$90,000$90,000
Tax$21,517None$5,892
Income after taxes$68,483$90,000$84,108
  • Doing nothing wastes $21,517 AUD in needless tax.
  • Being slow and only getting 50% of the UK pension into Australian super wastes almost $6,000 AUD.

I’m sure William can think of some better ways to spend $6,000!

Don’t procrastinate on getting this process started. Get in touch with me as soon as you’re able—see my contact details below—and we’ll get the ball rolling for you.

3. THE RULES 

You can transfer your UK pension to an Australian super fund if:

  • You have been an Australian resident for more than six months.
  • You are over 55 years of age
  • You are consolidating your wealth into the Australian tax system

Regarding the age limit, recent changes to the British pension system mean that Australians must now be aged at least 55 – the British preservation age for personal and workplace pensions – to transfer pension savings to Australia. Previously, pension savings could be transferred it at any age.

4. THE ELIGIBLE FUNDS 

The eligible funds are the ‘QROPS’.

If you’re wondering why there are only a small selection of QROPS and you can’t transfer your UK pension into any Australian super fund you like, it’s because Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) tightened their requirements which meant that 1600 or so Australian superannuation funds – including major retail and industry super funds in Australia – were struck off the list of super funds able to receive UK pension transfers.

The eligible funds are known as Qualifying Recognised Overseas Pensions Schemes (QROPS) and are made up entirely of Self Managed Super Funds (SMSFs). We can guide you on the in’s and out’s of SMSF’s and assist you with the setup and ongoing administration of an SMSF.

5. THE NEXT STEP 

That’s simple. Let’s just have a chat. There’s no charge for this and no obligation to use our services afterwards.

If you do decide to get our help in making this complex UK pension transfer process happen for you, you can rest assured we’ve helped other clients successfully navigate this process. Surprisingly, very few Australian Accountants have a thorough understanding of the process or hands-on experience hand-holding clients through it.

Just click here to drop me an email and we’ll set up a time to have a chat. I’ll be happy to answer any QROPS questions you want to throw at me.

I look forward to speaking with you.

Paul Tesoriero
Partner