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Pension Transfer-UK

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If you migrate to Australia, you have to decide whether or not to transfer any UK pensions you have. It is a complex decision and usually requires professional assistance. The factors you need to consider include:

  • Your visa status in Australia. Normally, you should not consider transfer unless you are entitled to remain permanently in Australia.
  • Subsequent plans. If you transfer your pension, normally it's stuck in Australia. So if there is any chance you might want to return to the UK, or go to another country, you may prefer to leave your pension where it is.
  • Tax: Until recently Australia imposed unfavorable tax rules on personal pensions in other countries. Search for Foreign Investment Fund (FIF). These have been repealed in July 2010 but may be replaced by something different. Employer-sponsored pensions were not caught by these rules.
  • Investment Risk: If you are transferring from a defined-benefit plan, your Australian replacement will no longer be a fixed sum and its value to you in the end will depend on investment performance, charges, annuity rates, etc.
  • Currency Risk: If you leave your pension in the UK, you will have to bear in mind that the income will be paid in Sterling and hence its value to you will depend on future exchange rates. Which may be better or worse than today.
  • Employer risk: If your UK pension is employer sponsored, how secure is the funding of it and how reliable is the employer?
  • Your age: If you are older, and close to the age where you can take payment from your pension, you may want to leave it where it is. Even if you are still working, you should investigate to see if you can take payments from your UK pension and make higher contributions to your Australian superannuation.


[edit] General experiences of others

  • Where the pension has been a good employer scheme, many people have chosen not to transfer it.
  • On the other hand, a lot of people have looked hard at transferring personal pensions.
  • If you have more than one pension, you can make a different decision for each.
  • Getting the right professional assistance is very important.


[edit] If you do want to transfer

  • The UK will only let you transfer to certain compliant pension schemes in Australia. Search for QROPS.
  • If you transfer more than 6 months after establishing tax residence, any growth in fund value since becoming resident may be taxed at the Australian superannuation rate of 15% (this is taken directly from the transfer value).

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