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HMRC internal manual

Pensions Tax Manual

Transfers: transfers to a QROPS: when the overseas transfer charge doesn’t apply – the exclusion conditions

Glossary PTM000001
   

The overseas transfer charge does not apply to a transfer from a registered pension scheme to a qualifying recognised overseas pension scheme (QROPS) that is not a recognised transfer.  Such a transfer will be an unauthorised payment and will be taxed accordingly – see PTM131000.

The only transfer from a QROPS or former QROPS that is subject to the overseas transfer charge is an onward transfer to another QROPS.  A transfer to a registered pension scheme is not within scope of the tax charge.

The overseas transfer charge does not apply to an ‘onward transfer’ from a QROPS or former QROPS that is made after the ‘relevant period’ for the ‘original transfer’ has expired.  See PTM102200 for the meaning of the terms onward transfer, relevant period and original transfer.

Where a recognised transfer has been made to a QROPS, or an onward transfer is made from a QROPS or former QROPS during the relevant period, it may be excluded from the overseas transfer charge if certain conditions are met, as set out below.

The transfer was requested before 9 March 2017
The five exclusion conditions that apply to transfers from registered pension schemes, QROPS and former QROPS
Extra exclusion conditions for onward transfers from a QROPS or former QROPS

The transfer was requested before 9 March 2017

Section 244G(1) and (2)(d) Finance Act 2004

Transfers requested before 9 March 2017 are not subject to the overseas transfer charge.  Such a transfer also cannot become subject to the overseas transfer charge after the transfer has been made.  This exclusion applies to transfers from a registered pension scheme and transfers from a QROPS or former QROPS.

A transfer request is when a member has made a substantive request to the scheme administrator or scheme manager of their pension scheme on which they are required to take action in relation to the transfer. This means an instruction from the member to transfer £X or X% of their pension funds to a named overseas pension scheme. A casual enquiry is not a transfer request.

If a transfer to a QROPS requested before 9 March 2017 is not completed but instead the funds are sent to another QROPS, that transfer is not a pre-9 March 2017 requested transfer. This is because the funds have not been sent to the scheme included in the transfer request made before 9 March 2017.

The five exclusion conditions that apply to transfers from registered pension schemes, QROPS or former QROPS

Sections 244B to 244F and 244I Finance Act 2004

The exclusion of a transfer from the overseas transfer charge due to one of the following five conditions is dependent on the member providing the required information (see PTM102900) before the transfer.  If the member does not provide the required information before the transfer, the following five exclusion conditions will not apply to the transfer.  Where the member provides the required information after the transfer see PTM102600.

Where the member has given the scheme administrator or scheme manager the required information before the transfer, that transfer will not be subject to the overseas transfer charge if at least one of the following five exclusion conditions is met. 

PTM102350 provides examples of where a transfer is excluded from the overseas transfer charge.

Member resident in same country as QROPS

Section 244B Finance Act 2004

A recognised transfer or onward transfer is excluded from the overseas transfer charge if the member is resident in the same country as that in which the QROPS receiving the transfer is established.

In relation to the member, residence means residence for tax purposes. The definition of tax residence will vary from country to country.  For more information on when someone is UK tax resident go to guidance on the UK statutory residence test at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/rdr3-statutory-residence-test-srt.

Where an individual is resident in more than one state in a tax year, residence in this context is to be taken as the country of residence for the purposes of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) model tax convention prevailing at the relevant time.  Article 4 of the OECD model tax convention covers the definition of where someone is resident.

PTM112200 provides guidance on the country of establishment for a QROPS.

Member and QROPS in UK or EEA

Section 244C Finance Act 2004

Regulation 39 The Taxes (Amendments)(EU Exit) Regulations 2019 – SI 2019/689

A recognised transfer or onward transfer is excluded from the charge if the QROPS receiving the transfer is established in a country within the European Economic Area (EEA), or Gibraltar, and the member is UK resident, or resident in a country within the EEA or Gibraltar.

The previous section tells you how the country of residence of the member is determined and PTM112200 provides guidance on the country of establishment for a QROPS.

The EEA is made up of any EU member state as well as Liechtenstein, Norway and Iceland.

QROPS is an occupational pension scheme

Section 244D Finance Act 2004

The tax charge does not apply to a recognised transfer or onward transfer to a QROPS that is an occupational pension scheme if the member is an employee of a sponsoring employer under the scheme when the transfer is made.

This exclusion from the overseas transfer charge is aimed at pension schemes set up by multi-national employers for their employees working in a branch, or for a subsidiary or other group company in another country.  HMRC will be keeping the use of the term occupational pension scheme in this context, and the scope of this exemption from the tax charge, under review.

QROPS set up by an international organisation

Section 244E Finance Act 2004

A recognised transfer or onward transfer is excluded from the charge if:

  • the QROPS is set up by an international organisation for the purpose of providing benefits for, or in respect of, past service as an employee of the organisation, and
  • when the transfer was made the individual was an employee of that international organisation.

PTM112200 provides guidance on the definition of an international organisation. It does NOT simply mean a multi-national employer.

QROPS is an overseas public service scheme

Section 244F Finance Act 2004

The tax charge does not apply to a recognised transfer or onward transfer to a QROPS that is an overseas public service pension scheme if, when the transfer was made, the member is an employee of an employer that participates in the scheme.

An overseas public service pension scheme is the equivalent of a UK public service pension scheme, being a scheme set up by or under the law of the host country, e.g. by the equivalent of an act of parliament or regulations (secondary legislation) or approved by the government of the host country. It is established for the purpose of providing benefits in respect of services rendered to the country or any subdivision or local authority. This means the only benefits capable of being provided under the scheme are in respect of public service employment. What constitutes public service employment for any particular country will depend on the structure and nature of the government of any particular country. HMRC will use the nature of the UK public sector as a guide in deciding whether or not an employer is a public service employer and a scheme an overseas public service pension scheme.

Extra exclusion conditions for onward transfers from a QROPS or former QROPS

PTM102350 provides examples of where an onward transfer from a QROPS or former QROPS is excluded from the overseas transfer charge.

Transferred funds are not from ring-fenced transfer funds

Section 244G(3) Finance Act 2004

An onward transfer from a QROPS is subject to the overseas transfer charge only to the extent that it is payable in respect of a ring-fenced transfer fund.  PTM113230 gives the definition of a ring-fenced transfer fund, and PTM102100 gives an overview of how funds transferred into a QROPS are treated.

Pre-9 March 2017 funds

Section 244G(2)(c) and (d) Finance Act 2004

Where a transfer includes pre-9 March 2017 funds, that part of the transfer that relates to pre-9 March 2017 funds is not subject to the overseas transfer charge.

These are funds where the ‘original transfer’ was made or requested before 9 March 2017.  So the funds that derive from a direct (or indirect via a chain of transfers between QROPS) transfer:

  • from a registered pension scheme, or
  • of a member’s UK tax-relieved fund (see PTM113230 for definition) from a relevant non-UK scheme (see PTM113210 for definition)

that was made or requested before 9 March 2017.  This protection from the overseas transfer charge ceases when the funds are transferred to a registered pension scheme.

Scheme managers should have details of when a transfer from a registered pension scheme or another QROPS was received by their scheme, so they will be able to identify transferred funds received before 9 March 2017.

For transfers made from 9 March 2017 scheme managers should receive information from registered pension scheme administrators telling them whether or not the transfer was requested before 9 March 2017 – see PTM103050.

There is also a requirement for scheme managers that make transfers to another QROPS to provide information as to what extent the transfer represents pre-9 March 2017 funds – see PTM103150.

The original transfer or previous onward transfer was taxed

Section 244G(2)(a) and (b) Finance Act 2004

If a transfer includes an onward transfer on which the overseas transfer charge has been paid, and where the charge has not become repayable, that part of the transfer will not be subject to the overseas transfer charge.

When a QROPS scheme manager receives a transfer from a registered pension scheme or from another QROPS, or former QROPS, they will be told if, and to what extent, the transfer is subject to the overseas transfer charge.  Where a transfer is not subject to the overseas transfer charge scheme managers should be told the reason why – see PTM103050 and PTM103150.