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QROPS 2012 : Comparing Jurisdictions

By David Goodall - Wed 22th Aug 2012

New Generation QROPS 2012 have changed the face of UK Pension transfers to Qualifying Recognised Overseas Pension Schemes. The inclusion of professional advice and the exclusion of ‘cashout’ schemes have improved this valuable arrangement for expats.

As a result of the changes, there are now three major options, with a further fourth option which is also covered here :

Malta has four distinct advantages when dealing with British and Irish clients, especially those who become residents in Spain.

* Malta is an English speaking country

* A low cost economy

* A member of the European Union

* Retirement income can be taken at age 50

After many months of negotiations, Malta as an established Financial Services Centre was given approval by HMRC to offer QROPS in November 2009. Individual trustees then need to get approval from the Malta Financial Services Authority (MFSA). It was not until February 2010 that the first QROPS were approved. Without question, Malta benefited most from the rules changes which became operative from 6th April 2012

I am happy to recommend an adviser if you contact me.

Switzerland is a renowned centre for financial services, with security at the heart of it’s offering. There is one aspect of Swiss QROPS which could be seen, depends on your opinion, as either an advantage or disadvantage. The QROPS must be invested 70% in Swiss funds and held in Swiss Francs.

Funds are invested by a Discretionary Manager based in London, regulated by the FSA.

Membership of QROPS in Switzerland is highly restrictive, but for those who qualify and prefer the Swiss franc to euro or sterling, this maybe an excellent choice.

* Minimum fund of SwFr 100,000 (work on £70,000)

* Retirement from age 55

* Must be UK non-resident for 5 or more complete UK tax years

* Withdrawals taken as lump sum

Though not a member of the EU, Switzerland has many close, financial, connections with UK, Ireland and Spain. Most importantly Double Taxation Agreements are in place.

Due to the EXCLUSIVE nature of the Swiss QROPS offering, I can deal directly with clients, who will be referred to the authorised adviser.

Gibraltar has approved QROPS but I don’t intend to deal with this in any detail here.

New Zealand remains a viable and strong option for QROPS. Please note that since 6th April 2012 full encashment is not possible.

The principal benefits which New Zealand enjoys are :

* Tax Free Lump Sum is 30% of the Fund Value

* Flexible income arrangements, as long as the 70% available for income rule is maintained

* Tax Free investment portfolio which is ‘flexible’

As always, individual circumstances will dictate, but flexibility is certainly a realistic jurisdiction to consider.

Comparing features :

Features Switzerland New Zealand Gibraltar Malta
Good option for Spanish residents? Yes Yes No Yes
Has Double Taxation Agreement with Spain? Yes Yes No Yes
100% cash equivalent available? No No No No
Income paid Gross? Lump sums taken as capital (from age 55) 30% Lump sum then flexible income (from age 55) No, but only a nominal charge Yes, from age 50


Many advisers will compare all jurisdictions before making a recommendation. The determining of your priorities should be the overriding reason for recommending a particular QROPS. Some advisers only deal with one provider in one jurisdiction.

Qualifying Recognised Overseas Pension Schemes (QROPS) are for professional advisers and their clients and hopefully the unqualified, unregulated imitators will disappear.

Please feel free to post your comments or questions in the (below), however, for a more detailed response or no-obligation second opinion, please click though to my own page by clicking the link here.

Comment on this Blog

It is no longer possible to take 100% as this loophole has been removed. I would be happy to deal with the rest of your query if you are happy to contact me personally. You can either click provided above at the foot of my Blog, or e mail me directly on
David Goodall - Sat, 22nd Jun 2013
How can we take 100% lump sum from a small pension fund £25K in the UK for a woman aged 53 ? We have been resident in Spain for 8 years. Could you also give me a rating on Blevin Franks I have a Guernsey QROPS with them ?
Brian Maciver - Sat, 22nd Jun 2013

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