UK Pension For Expats Explained

UK Pension for Expats

UK Pension For Expats Explained.

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

This isn’t tax advice, and the facts might have changed since we wrote this article.


This article explains how the UK pension for expats work, including UK state pension rates to help you determine how much you’ll get, pension age, and what payments you’ll need to make to qualify.

Knowing how pensions function can help you plan a secure retirement in the UK if you reside and work there.

The UK pension system has always had a strong global reputation. However, the UK dropped to 15th spot in a recent Melbourne Mercer Global Pensions Index; only a few years prior, it had been comfortably in the top 10.

The current UK pension laws, which have been in effect since April 2016, include automatic enrollment for employment pension plans, therefore recent changes are to blame for a huge drop in ranking. Additionally, the legal pension age in the UK has gradually risen for both men and women.

For individuals who are preparing for retirement in the UK, the new state pension offers adequate income and a respectable standard of living. Consider if UK taxes and inheritance laws apply to your assets, including any pension funds.

The UK Pension

The UK government offers a state pension system in which persons who have worked in the country and paid National Insurance (NI) contributions – a tax paid on wages – get annual payments to finance their retirement.

When you reach state pension age, you can begin claiming the state pension. This age has progressively increased in recent years and is expected to continue. When you are judged to have achieved state pension age is determined by your birth date.

Individuals can complement their retirement savings through company pensions and private pension investments.

Usually, your company will automatically enroll you into the former type of pension. Since 2017, all employers are required to use automatic enrolling. Employees used to have the option of opting into workplace pension plans, but now they also have the option to opt out.

Anyone working and making National Insurance Contributions (NICs) in the UK is eligible for this option. For foreign nationals who do not plan to retire in the UK, other pension regulations may be applicable.

Eligibility for UK Pension

You must reside, work, and possess a UK National Insurance Number in order to be eligible for a UK pension.

UK citizens receive their NI number just before becoming 16 years old. When visiting the UK, visitors from abroad must apply for one. To learn more, read about getting an NI number.

Residents are required to pay NICs for at least 10 years in addition to possessing a current NI number.

You should be aware that NICs are only deducted from your salary if your weekly income exceeds a particular amount, which is presently £116. If you have a low income, you might be eligible to make voluntary NI contributions to secure your eligibility.

It’s also feasible to use National Insurance credits in place of contributions. You will receive these if you are applying for benefits including Maternity Allowance, Jobseeker’s Allowance, and child benefit.

UK Pension for Expats
Department for Work and Pensions in London, England, United Kingdom. The Department for Work and Pensions, DWP, is responsible for welfare, pensions and child maintenance policy. As the UKs biggest public service department it administers the State Pension and a range of working age, disability and ill health benefits to over 22 million claimants.

State Pension Age in the UK

The state pension eligibility age is 65 as of November 2018. This is expected to increase to 67 in 2028.

The UK is gradually raising the legal retirement age to match that of males. The pension age was initially 65 for males born before 6 April 1945 and 60 for women born before 6 April 1950.

The state pension age will be raised to 68 between 2037 and 2039.

There is no longer a default pension age (forced retirement), so you are free to work as long as you like. You can postpone receiving your state pension if you choose to work past the age at which you are eligible. This raises your eligibility for a pension.

In order to get your pension in the UK, you must apply; to delay, just do not file a pension application.

You may use the government’s pension calculator to determine your UK retirement age or view a list of retirement ages for the following years. For additional details, read about the new pension requirements.

If you have a private or corporate pension, you might be able to receive the money earlier than you can with a state pension. Some companies let you withdraw saved money after you’re 55. As this might change, check with your provider.

What if You are Not Eligible for Full Pension

A qualifying period of 35 years of contributions is required under pension laws to obtain the entire pension; if your contributions are less than this, you will get a pro-rata pension amount based on the pension contributions you made (as long as this is more than 10 years).

Pension eligibility does not need ten years of continuous residence in the UK for individuals who have not done so. After 10 years that are not consecutive, you can still take a pension if you leave the country and come back to the UK.

You may be eligible to buy optional class 3 contributions to cover any gaps in your NIC payments over the previous six years. You can then make further claims for your state pension after that.

The UK Pension for Expats

Knowing what will happen with your pension entitlement is important if you’re a foreign citizen who lives and works in the UK.

If you are an expat and you fulfill the requirements for contributions, you should be eligible to apply for a pension when you reach retirement age.

You may also benefit by signing up for private pension plans, or occupational pension plans if you are not currently enrolled in automatic enrolment.

Consolidate and Transfer Your UK Pension

Pension transfers into a Qualifying Recognized Overseas Pension Scheme (QROPS) from UK expats relocating overseas may be possible. Foreigners can combine their pensions into one plan through QROPS. This facilitates their management of their retirement money and protects them from exchange rate volatility.

QROPS offers a lot of benefits. Take counsel from a qualified financial consultant like AES since they are not appropriate or accessible to all UK retirees.

UK Pension for Expats
Qualifying Recognized Overseas Pension Scheme

What if You Retire outside the UK

If you decide to retire outside the UK, there can be extra limits and taxes.

The UK and other nations’ bilateral agreements affect tax rates. This occasionally leads in paying taxes to both nations.

In this situation, you have two choices regarding your total pension amount. One option is to leave your pension fund in the UK and withdraw it from a foreign country. Alternately, you can combine both of your pensions and relocate them abroad. However, it’s crucial to get counsel because the tax implications might lower your pension eligibility.

You can combine state pensions from different member states if you live in an EU or EEA state. This makes it possible for you to be eligible for a state pension in any nation where you do.

You must submit an application to the pension office in the last country where you held employment in order for them to compute your pension allowance for each nation by exchanging data with other pertinent EU members. See a description of how this functions.

After the UK quits the EU, it’s unclear whether or how these conditions will alter.

The United States, Canada, Chile, Guernsey, Israel, Jamaica, Jersey, Mauritius, New Zealand, the Philippines, and the United Kingdom all have comparable agreements with the UK.

This indicates that citizens of these countries living in the UK may also get state pensions from both nations. However, it is simply prorated according to the number of years you worked in each nation (hence, typically a lower rate).

UK Pension Rates and Contributions

During 2019–2020 tax year, those who were eligible for the full state pension could anticipate receiving around £168.60 each week, or £8767.20 per annum. Year after year, the rate rises. This tax year, the full new State Pension is £185.15 per week.

Your National Insurance history determines your eventual UK pension rate. If you haven’t contributed for 35 years, you could get less than this.

Your pension rate is determined by comparing your total pension contributions to a variety of variables. To guarantee there are no gaps in the National Insurance records of low-income workers or those receiving National Insurance Credits, the government pays for their National Insurance.

You may find out how to increase your UK pension rate as well as receive an estimate of it here. You may also use the pension calculator provided by the UK government to get a general idea of your UK pension rate.

The triple-lock mechanism is used to run the new UK pension. This indicates that it rises by whichever is greater each year:

  • Earnings – based on the average pay growth rate
  • Prices – determined using the Consumer Prices Index (CPI), a measure of price increase that is taken in September of each year
  • 2.5 percent

If you decide to continue working after reaching the state pension age, your pension rate will rise by 1% for every additional five weeks, reaching a maximum of 10.4% for a complete year. 

Along with your usual pension payment, the additional pension rate is paid out.

Additionally, if you keep working after you reach the pension age, you usually won’t have to pay National Insurance. Employees who are self-employed and fall under Class 4 are exempt from this.

However, if your total income exceeds your tax-free allowances (the amount of income you can have before paying tax), you will still be required to pay income tax.

Supplemental Sources of UK Pension for Expats

Occupational Pension

Workplace, corporate, or occupational pension plans make up the second pillar of the UK pension system. The companies offering these programs will vary depending on the firm in which your employer has chosen to make investments.

Employees will be automatically registered in workplace pensions, which are now required for all businesses. Since 2019, employees automatically contribute 8% of their monthly wages to their workplace pension. You have the choice to pay more or less. If you like, you can completely choose not to have an occupational pension.

Employers will also contribute, albeit the amount will depend on the available plan. Pension plans can take the following forms:

  • defined benefit (DB) plans, which guarantee retirees a certain pension amount;
  • defined contribution (DC) plans are those that give employees a lump sum to use when the time comes to retire in order to purchase a pension, such as an annuity that provides a lifetime of guaranteed income.

The latter is used by the majority of businesses in the UK since it provides more tax advantages because the payments are made from your gross income, which is your revenue before taxes.

Private Pension Providers

Private pensions, which may be obtained through your preferred pension provider or at the majority of British banks, make up the third pillar of the UK pension system.

Private pensions are intended to be supplemental sources of retirement income. They can be used to provide a fixed or monthly income during retirement, or they can be withdrawn as a lump amount that is 25% tax-free in the UK.

Private pensions in the UK require monthly or lump-sum contributions from the individual and may include employer contributions as well as a number of tax advantages.

Private pension funds in the UK mostly come in two forms:

  • insured personal pension plans
  • self-invested personal pension plans (SIPPs)

The latter allows greater freedom to pick what investments are made and when they are sold, which can generate better returns from your pension fund, whilst the former has a restricted number of pension fund options, despite the fact that most current plans still offer a considerable degree of choice.

UK Pension for Expats
More than 1.5 million personal State Pensions forecasts requested since the launch of the new State Pension.

Other Sources of UK Pension for Expats

Opening a Lifetime ISA is another option to save money in the UK for retirement.

It is a government-backed savings account available to UK residents and workers between the ages of 18 and 39. You may deposit up to £4,000 every tax year, and the UK government will match 25% of your contributions.

Although bonuses are paid each month, you cannot access the money if you are saving for retirement until you are 60 years old. A 25% withdrawal penalty fee will be assessed if funds are withdrawn prior to this time.

The account may only be funded up to the age of 50.

Applying for UK Pension

It is usually a good idea to consult a financial expert or your local pension office. To guarantee that you maximize the amount of pension income and prevent needless tax penalties, it is essential for expats to consult an international advisor or seek advice in each country where they have participated in pension plans.

All citizens must initiate the process with their local pension agency in order to collect their state pension because it isn’t given out automatically.

There are several ways to submit a claim for your UK pension. You may get a detailed explanation of them on the UK government website, or you can seek guidance from the UK pension service.

You should get a notice from the UK pension authorities three to four months prior to reaching the UK pension age. This implies that if you reside outside of the UK, you must keep them informed of any changes to your personal information or get in touch with them personally as you approach the UK state pension age.

Within four months of attaining UK pension age, you can submit an online claim to collect the state pension.

You should give yourself plenty of time to get in touch with your pension provider whether you have a private pension plan or workplace pension in the UK to make sure you start receiving income when you reach retirement age.

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Adam is an internationally recognised author on financial matters, with over 694.5 million answer views on, a widely sold book on Amazon, and a contributor on Forbes.

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