QROPS Thailand | Transferring a UK Pension Abroad for Brits Retiring in Thailand
If you are thinking of moving to Thailand or you are considering retiring in Thailand, you need to think about what to do with your UK pension. If you leave your pension in the UK, it could be taxed at up to 45% on both income and on death. We will explore some of the options to maximise tax efficiency and reduce the effect of currency fluctuations on your pension income.
Can I Transfer My Pension to Thailand?
Unfortunately, there are no Qualifying Recognized Overseas Pension Schemes (QROPS) in Thailand, but you can transfer a pension abroad, so that your pension is outside the UK tax net. Your pension can then be paid directly into a local Thai bank account.
Please read our latest article here explaining all the tax issues concerning a pension transfer to Thailand.
For British expats moving to Thailand, it may be better to explore the option of moving your pension to USD rather than leave in GBP. It is not possible to transfer to Thai Baht and the USD more closely tracks the Baht.
“We feel a better option may be to transfer your UK pension to USD which tracks the Thai Baht more closely, whereas the British Pound has dropped 36% against the Thai Baht in the past. There are also more financial instruments available in US Dollars to reduce risk in your retirement account.”
“You should only transfer to a QROPS if you are going to retire permanently outside the UK. For those who are returning to the UK within five years, a UK SIPP is a better option.
“British expats living or working in Thailand can take advantage of their offshore status and transfer their UK pension offshore to somewhere secure like Hong Kong or New Zealand and will no longer have to pay UK taxes on their pension as long as they remain tax resident outside the UK.”
“Even Thais working in the UK or who have worked in the UK in the past can transfer their UK pension(s) offshore to avoid up to 45% tax on income in the UK and up to 45% tax upon death .”
If your leave your pension in the UK, you are subject to UK taxes and your investment options may be limited. If you transfer to a QROPS, you can invest in the shares, bond funds, currencies, mutual funds and ETFs of your choice.
For pension pots which need to be transferred to Thailand, we recommend transferring your pension into US Dollars, as the USD fluctuates less with regards to the Thai currency, the Thai Baht.
Pension Options for British Expats in Thailand
- Leave your pension in the UK where it is taxed in the UK even though you are resident in Thailand
- Move your pension to a Self Invested Personal Pension (SIPP) in the UK where you have greater investment flexibility, but your pension would still be taxed in the UK.
- Transfer your pension to a Qualifying Recognized Overseas Pension Scheme (QROPS). This avoids up to 45% tax upon death and income taxes of up to 45% in the UK. You can also choose the currency your pension is paid into in order to reduce volatile exchange rates affecting your monthly or annual income.
Best QROPS Options for a British Expat in Thailand
- QROPS in Hong Kong gives the strongest protection as the HK-Thailand DTA gives the taxation rights to Hong Kong. This means no tax on income, no tax on growth and no tax on death as long as you remain tax resident outside the UK.
- QROPS in New Zealand also attracts zero tax, but the taxation rights in the NZ-Thailand DTA goes to Thailand. As long as the income isn’t remitted in the same calendar year as when you earned it, a NZ QROPS will avoid Thai income tax. This is often the best option for small pensions and for those who want a secure investment and want to pass their pensions on to their beneficiaries without spending them. NZ is an OECD country with very strong pension regulations.
- QROPS in Gibraltar faces a small 2.5% flat rate tax on income at source in Gibraltar. Also, as there is no DTA, it may attract income tax in Thailand, but if your pension isn’t remitted the same year you earned it, you may not get taxed on it.
- QROPS in Malta attracts up to 35% income tax at source in Malta. A Malta QROPS is the only QROPS which allows full pension flexibility, so it is a good choice if you don’t care about the optimal tax outcome or if you think you are going to retire in Europe as then the most likely tax outcome would be for zero tax in Malta, however this depends on the various DTA’s Malta has. As a resident in Thailand, you would pay Malta income tax of up to 35% upon taking income. Malta and Thailand are in discussions concerning writing a DTA.
There are other QROPS options available such as QROPS in the Isle of Man, but we feel the best option is usually a QROPS in Hong Kong if you want freedom of investment or a QROPS in New Zealand for pensions under 50k GBP
Transferring a UK Pension to a QROPS for British Expats Moving to Thailand
First, you need to assemble your transfer out papers from your present pension company. You should also ask them for a Cash Equivalent Transfer Value (CETV). This will give you the total value of all your pension pots.
We will then do a pension transfer analysis (TVAS) for final salary pension schemes to weigh up the benefits of moving your pension against any guarantees you may lose from transferring your pension abroad.
If you still want to move your pension abroad, we then do all the paperwork on your behalf. It can take 3 – 6 months to transfer a pension offshore.
The Benefits of Transferring a UK Pension to a QROPS for Brits in Thailand
What are the benefits of a UK Pension Transfer to a QROPS for British expats in Thailand?
- Avoid death tax of up to 45%
- Avoid UK income taxes of up to 45%
- Get 25% cash lump sum on transfer
- Access pension at 55
- 150% GAD rates on pension income, e.g. The annual pension for a 56 yr old would be 7.35% per year (according to gilt rates on 26/5/14)
- Transfer to currency of your choice: GBP, USD, EUR, etc, but have your pension paid into Thai baht in a bank in Thailand or into an offshore account. Your choice.
- Choose from top investment managers in the world
- Choose mutual funds, ETFs, bank notes, bond funds, etc.
What Happens to My QROPS if I Move Back to the UK?
You won’t be taxed on any of the benefits you receive whilst you are offshore. None of the growth earned after a transfer to the QROPS is subject to the normal 45% lump sum tax charge on death and the 45% charge that does apply is levied against a much smaller amount.
To maximize advantages and keep tax to a minimum, you should seek to take the full 30% lump sum and full income before you return. You can also look to transfer your pension back into a UK SIPP to keep fees down. Any income, benefits taken and growth from abroad is not taxed in the UK. Please contact us for more details.
QROPS Fees for British Expats in Thailand
There are new QROPS trustees opening all the time. Currently, we use Momentum, Sovereign, STM, Boal & Co and Brooklands, but we can use any trustee and we are all striving to get the lowest fees for our clients. But, here is a guide to typical fees:
300 GBP set up fee + 500 GBP per year for pension pots under 100,000 GBP
750 GBP set up fee + 900 GBP per year for pension pots over 100,000 GBP
Contact a QROPS Adviser in Thailand
If you want to contact a QROPS Specialist in Thailand, please give us a call on +66 2 661 7884 or skype: richard.bkk or email us at email@example.com.
Our HQ is based in Hong Kong, but we have advisers who frequently travel to Bangkok, Hua Hin, Phuket and Chiang Mai.