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What happens to my UK pension when I become an expat?

11:17AM 13/08/2012

What happens to my UK pension when I become an expat?

Living abroad after retirement is a dream for many. Consequently, a frequently asked question is what happens to your pension when you become an expat. The good news is that you can continue to receive your UK state pension if you are lucky enough to retire abroad.

However, there are some differences between the countries that are in the European Economic Area (EEA) and those that are not.

State Pensions in the EEA

If you are moving to live in another country permanently and have your sights set on a country in the EEA, you are entitled to receive your state pension as well as any yearly increases.

State Pensions outside the EEA

Wherever you move to, you will be entitled to receive your state pension, but in some countries expats may not be able to receive the increases granted to people in the UK and EEA countries.

However, if you are moving to a country that is outside of the EEA, but one that has a special agreement with the UK regarding an increase in yearly pensions for expats, you will also be entitled to your state pension with yearly rises included.

Another way in which you will be able to access your state pension, paid in full with yearly rises included, is by spending six months or more of each year in the UK.

How to claim your State Pension as an expat

You need to contact the UK Pensions Service to inform them that you are moving abroad and give them your new address.

If you are not planning to live in another EEA country for some time, you will want to fill in the State Pension forecast application form known as a BR19. This form can be found at your local social security office or Jobcentre Plus office.

What will happen to my personal or company pension?

People in a personal or company pension scheme will find that becoming an expat should have no effect on their personal or company pension.

Their pension will continue to be paid in full, and they will usually be entitled to any increases, regardless of which country they have moved to; unlike the rules relating to the state pension.

That said, it is vital to check the small print of a pension scheme carefully before jetting off to start a new life. Important things to consider are whether the scheme will pay into an overseas bank account, because some schemes will only transfer into a UK bank. It is also essential to check whether the relevant annuity company will send money overseas without charging extra, as some do add on fees for this service.

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