What Does Moving Abroad Mean for Your Retirement Plans?



There are several key questions you need to ask yourself when determining what impact moving abroad will have on your retirement plans. The following three questions will help you gauge the impact your relocation will have on your finances:

  • Where are you from?
  • Where do you live now?
  • Where are you moving to?

We’ll run through these three key questions in order to provide an insight into the kinds of things you can expect when moving abroad.

Where Are You From and Where Do You Live Now?

No matter where you are from, it is important to consider all your pension investments before you decide to relocate. If you’ve only ever lived and worked in the UK, you simply need to consider your public, private and workplace pensions – based on the legislation set by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

However, if you’ve also lived, worked or held a pension abroad, the table below might help you to understand the things that need to be considered:

UK Considerations Additional Expat-Specific Considerations
UK State Pension Trade and double taxation treaties for all countries where you have lived, worked or held a pension
Workplace and private pensions Investment policy and legislation in each country where you have lived, worked or held a pension


When moving abroad, one of the most important decisions you will make is whether to leave your pension in a UK plan or take your pension with you. Current HMRC legislation states that you are entitled to your State Pension if you move overseas. But even if this legislation changes, it is your existing private pensions (both in the UK and abroad) that are likely to have a greater impact on your retirement planning due to the respective values of those pensions by comparison.

It is worth considering that some countries have favourable tax conditions for expats while others have punitive ones; this should impact on your choice.

So, once you’ve considered where you are from and where you are based now, it is time to move on to your relocation plans.

Where Are You Moving To?

Your choice of destination is not, of course, purely based on your pension and retirement plans, but they are nevertheless important factors to consider.

Once you’ve decided to move abroad you must inform the HMRC:

– If you plan to retire abroad, so they can tax you accordingly

– If you wish to pay any voluntary national insurance contributions

– In order to avoid double taxation

Knowing the laws and limits of your chosen destination is of paramount importance. Each country will have its own rules and regulations, which are often influenced by treaties and trade deals between individual or groups of nations working together. These deals can provide significant bonuses or drawbacks to your pension plans, so it is vital to have a thorough understanding of these. You should also be aware of your chosen country’s political landscape, and any upcoming changes in the law that may impact on your pension and retirement plans.

You will stop paying National Insurance once you’ve moved abroad, but be aware that many countries require expats to make social security contributions. These will entitle you to certain benefits provided by the government of your new home. You must pay these social security costs regardless of your use of the public services, so you should remember to factor in these costs, and any benefits or alternatives, in your retirement plans.

What Does This Mean for Your Pension Plans?

Your final decision should always factor in the legislation from HMRC, your new destination, and any other country where you have lived, worked or invested. It is also important to consider social security contributions and what that actually entitles you to, so that you can afford the quality of life you are moving abroad for.

Whether or not you take your pension outside of the UK is likely to be your biggest decision.  Ensure you understand all the implications of your decision and seek advice and guidance from experts whether you decide to keep your pension in the UK or export them with you. Moving abroad is one of the biggest decisions you will ever make, and, more importantly, it is also the most exciting. After all, a new life overseas could improve your way of life, and your family’s, and provide you with a whole new range of experiences.

Contact us to speak with one of our Pension Transfer Specialist if you’d like to understand your own specific options.

Trudi Hayes

The Author

Trudi Hayes

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