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Can we Cash in Our Pensions When We Emigrate?

By: Tracy Whitelaw - Updated: 1 Jun 2016 | comments*Discuss
Cash In Pension Moving Abroad Cash Lump

Q.Hello, if my partner and I decided to move to New Zealand would we be able to cash in our state pensions, and what would the process be, thank you.

(Mr Graeme Edgar, 8 September 2008)


New Zealand and the UK have a social security agreement in place. You can actually have your UK pension paid directly into your nominated New Zealand superannuation account. There are no charges for this service. If you leave your pension in your UK account, you’ll need to declare this and pay tax on any increases from your pension scheme on your UK tax return. A possible suggestion would be to transfer your UK pension into a Qualifying Registered Overseas Pension Scheme (QROPS) which is a form of pension that was introduced a few years ago. If you put your cash in there, it’s no longer reliant on HMRC rules, but you must keep it there for five years. After this time, you can take the entire amount as cash, without the significant tax issues you’d face taking it as cash before you move. If you do decide to remove it as cash, you’ll only receive 25% tax free and the rest will be highly taxed, so this may not be the best option for you. If you do want to explore this option though, contact the International Pension Centre and let them know:

  • The date you are due to leave the UK
  • Details of any dependents moving with you
  • Whether you receive a pension from any other country
  • Your residency type – permanent or temporary
  • Where you will be living abroad
  • Your new banking details

You can contact the International Pension centre for further advice between 8am and 8pm Monday to Friday. There are a variety of ways to contact them as shown below:

  • Phone: +44 191 218 7777
  • Fax: +44 191 218 7381
  • Email: via their website The pension service
  • Textphone: +44 191 218 7280
  • Postal Address: International Pension Centre, Tyneview Park, Newcastle Upon Tyne, NE98 1BA, United Kingdown

It is worthwhile remembering that there is the very small change that you may want to return to the UK at some point in the future and if there is even a thought that this may be the case, it’s normally better to keep your UK pension in a UK account. Many people have issues trying to transfer it back when they return to the UK, so consider taking the advice of a financial advisor before you may any decisions and good luck!

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I am due to get my works pension in Dec 2016, from Social Services, I know my lump sum is tax free in the UK and assume the US will not tax it? But my monthly pension, I am unsure what to do with it, am I best having it transfered to the US or leave it in the UK, I know there is a double taxation agreement, do I have to fill a form in the UK to ensure I don't pay tax there?
chip - 1-Jun-16 @ 4:04 PM
@harry - I think in this instance the best thing would be to contact the UK pension service via the link here. I hope this helps.
EmigrationExpert - 17-Feb-15 @ 11:42 AM
I am Irish as is my wife. We worked in England for over ten years.We are now living in Ireland. How much of an English pension will we get? Can we cash it in early?
Harry - 15-Feb-15 @ 2:44 AM
This answer is now totally wrong due to the changes made by HMRC and it should therefore be removed to prevent mistakes being made.
n/a - 28-Apr-14 @ 8:11 PM
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