UK Pension Transfers Post Brexit

Over the last decade we have seen a number of moves from the U.K. Government to make it more difficult to move pension schemes out of the country and also out of Defined Benefit (DB) schemes.

As discussed in an article pre-Brexit, this started with removing the ability to transfer out of schemes like the NHS, followed by:

  • The striking off all ROPS providers globally, with the exception of a small number of jurisdictions such as Malta. While providers could apply to have their ROPS approval reinstated, a lot of providers were unsuccessful or did not bother applying.
  • In March 2017, a 25% tax penalty was introduced for schemes that did not fully meet a new set of HMRC rules.
  • In March 2020, the U.K. Regulator gave Trustees the option of delaying DB transfer requests from deferred members for up 3 months.

Since Brexit the Occupational and Personal Pension Schemes (conditions for transfers) Regulations 2021 were introduced. The primary purpose of the regulations is to combat “pensions scams” which is admirable, however it does cause a significant administration burden and can elongate the process greatly.

There is now a greater obligation on the UK Trustee to gather enough information to satisfy themselves that the transfer is legitimate. The regulations also introduce a system of red and amber flags. An amber flag causes the trustee to further investigate the transfer, a red flag will cause the trustee to reject the transfer

Amber Flags:

  • The client has not shown that they are employed in the country of the scheme
  • The member cannot show an employment or residency link
  • There are high risk or unregulated investments in the investment offering
  • The receiving scheme investment structure is complex or unusual
  • The receiving scheme charges are high or unclear

Red Flags:

  • Failure to provide required information
  • Not providing evidence of receiving Money Helper guidance
  • The advisor, receiving scheme or some other party does not have the correct regulatory status
  • The transfer request is a result of unsolicited contact
  • The client requesting a transfer was offered an incentive to make the transfer
  • The client was pressurised into requesting the transfer


Despite numerous changes over the last decade UK pension transfers are still a viable option for clients in many circumstances. As this area of pensions can be quite complex it is important to make sure that client’s receive good impartial advice.


Eoin Hassett
ITC Business Development Manager







*Please note this content is the view of the author and not of Independent Trustee Company