+44 7393 450837
Follow on

How to Move a Retirement Account Overseas as an American Expat

Can you transfer retirement accounts? This post will discuss how to move a retirement account as an American expat living abroad, covering subtopics including the tax consequences and pros and cons of the transfer.

Expats must understand all the complicated regulations governing retirement account management and contribution.

If you are looking to invest as an expat or high-net-worth individual, which is what I specialize in, you can email me (advice@adamfayed.com) or WhatsApp (+44-7393-450-837).

This is for informational purposes only and does not mean to replace any financial or expat tax advice. It would be best to consult with an advisor you trust, someone who can help you make necessary arrangements for your retirement plan.

Moving Your Retirement Account Overseas as an American Expat

Generally speaking, it is not practical to roll over your 401(k) and individual retirement account straight into a foreign retirement account.

An alternative is to keep your US retirement account even if you move abroad. You can still handle it and make payouts per standard procedures.

The income from the foreign account may be subject to taxes in both the US and your present home country, contingent on local tax rules and any applicable tax deals.

How to Move a Retirement Account Abroad

You will also need to report the foreign account to the IRS.

For instance, nations like Canada exempt traditional IRA and 401(k) distributions from levies, while others like Portugal impose taxes on them.

You can, as a last resort, completely terminate your retirement account when you go overseas. The process entails withdrawing the entire payout, paying all relevant taxes and charges, and reinvesting the money outside of the retirement plan.

How to Move a Retirement Account

Because of the tax ramifications, transferring a US retirement account abroad is super challenging and typically not recommended. If you are positive you won’t be returning, your best bet is to either close the account altogether or leave it in the US.

However, we can offer guidance if you really must do so and are willing to take the responsibilities as well as risks.

Below are some important points to take note of:

  • Look into the potential effects of transferring your retirement account overseas on your tax liabilities in the US and in your new country of residence. Seeking advice from an expat tax professional is an important move.
  • Check to see if the supplier of your existing retirement plan accepts overseas retirement accounts. Certain providers could impose limitations or extra charges on accounts opened abroad.
  • Locate a foreign financial institution that can handle your retirement account while you are away. Seek for one that provides services specific to foreigners.
  • Choose if you want to move your retirement funds to a new provider or roll them over from a 401(k) to an IRA, for instance. To prevent fines or taxes, be sure the procedure is completed accurately.
  • Think about the effects of fees and currency exchange rates. To help with these problems, some financial institutions provide multi-currency accounts or other services.
  • Make sure that all local and federal rules pertaining to retirement accounts are followed. This could entail following rules and filing reports in both nations.

Tax for moving a retirement account abroad

Some implications for rolling over a US retirement plan to a foreign one are:

An IRS classification of foreign pension schemes as “non-qualified” normally precludes a tax-free rollover.

If you are under 59.5 years old, you may be subject to an early withdrawal penalty of 10% on top of income tax on the withdrawal. You can be subject to a higher tax rate if you withdraw a sizable lump payment.

Tax for moving a retirement account abroad

You might have to comply with certain IRS international reporting requirements, such as FBAR and FATCA, if you transfer money to foreign accounts. Penalties for improperly reporting foreign accounts can be severe.

Because of the saving clause which frequently negates benefits for US citizens seeking tax exemptions for private pensions, US individuals frequently find it more difficult to count on tax agreements.

It should be noted that there are some exemptions from the 10% fine for early cash outs from a US retirement account before the designated age, including disability and unreimbursed medical expenses that exceed 10% of your adjusted gross income.

Even in cases where the penalty can be avoided, it is typically not wise to execute early withdrawals from IRAs and 401(k)s. Such can have a negative long-term effect on your retirement resources.

Pros and Cons of Moving Retirement Account Abroad

It may be simpler to manage your entire investment basket and to adjust it as necessary if your retirement assets are consolidated in the same jurisdiction as where you currently reside.

However, there are more drawbacks.

For one, the IRS does not permit a tax-free rollover of money from a US pension scheme to an overseas retirement account.

Withdrawals and transfers to overseas accounts are often taxable transactions that may result in penalties.

Income from retirement accounts may be taxable in your home country as well as the US.

You will get extra reporting obligations to fulfill.

Pained by financial indecision? Want to invest with Adam?

smile beige jacket 4 1024x604 1

Adam is an internationally recognised author on financial matters, with over 760.2 million answer views on Quora.com, a widely sold book on Amazon, and a contributor on Forbes.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This website is not designed for American resident readers, or for people from any country where buying investments or distributing such information is illegal. This website is not a solicitation to invest, nor tax, legal, financial or investment advice. We only deal with investors who are expats or high-net-worth/self-certified  individuals, on a non-solicitation basis. Not for the retail market.



Gain free access to Adam’s two expat books.

Gain free access to Adam’s two expat books.

Get more strategies every week on how to be more productive with your finances.