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Transfer your pension

There are many reasons why you might want to transfer some or all of your pension pots, for example if:

  • you’ve got a new job with a different employer
  • you have a few pensions with different providers and you’d like to consolidate them
  • you want to transfer to a pension scheme with more investment options
  • you’ve found a pension provider who offers better value for money
  • your current pension scheme is being closed
  • you’re moving overseas.

Whether transferring a pension is right for you will depend on your personal circumstances and objectives. You should also check whether your old pension has any special benefits that you’d lose by transferring to a different scheme, and compare the fees and charges of your current and possible future providers.

There are certain situations where it might not be a good idea to transfer a pension:

  • If you have a defined benefit (final salary) pension scheme, you’ll be guaranteed an income in retirement – if you transfer this pension into a defined contribution pension, you may lose out on that guaranteed income.
  • If you’re enrolled in your current employer’s pension scheme, you’re most likely benefitting from employer contributions – if you transfer this pension to a different scheme, you may lose out on the employer contributions.

How to transfer a pension

Some providers will help you with the pension transfer process – this may be easier than doing it yourself. To transfer, you’ll most likely need to complete an application form. The majority of pension transfers take two to three weeks in total to complete. Some can take around three months, or even longer depending on your provider.

Before you transfer your pension, you should contact your existing pension scheme provider. You’ll want to find out:

  • if you’re able to make a transfer
  • if you need to pay a fee to transfer out
  • if you’ll lose any benefits, features or rights by transferring out
  • your pot’s transfer value.

If you don’t yet know where you’re going to transfer your pension to, you’ll need to look for a new pension scheme provider. When shopping around for a provider, you may want to find out:

  • if there are any transfer-in or set-up fees
  • what investment options and risk levels are available
  • whether you have to make regular contributions
  • what your options will be for when you want to take money out of your pension
  • whether you’d be able to transfer away from the provider if you wanted to.

Once you’ve decided on the scheme and provider you’d like to move your pension to, you should contact them to check that they will accept your pension transfer, and to find out how to go about transferring it to them.

It may be necessary to seek financial advice before you transfer a pension.

Why consolidate your pensions?

Consolidating your pensions could make it easier for you to manage your retirement goals. You could combine all your pensions with one of your existing pension providers or transfer them all to a new provider.

Combining your pensions should make it easier for you to keep track of how much you’ve put aside for later in life, where your money is invested and how it’s managed. You can consolidate your pensions and still have a good spread of assets and a diversified portfolio.

What’s more, if you put all your pensions together with one provider, you’ll have less paperwork and administration to do. You’ll also be able to access your pension information faster – assuming your provider has an online portal – as one provider means only one website login to check.

You may even be able to save on fees and increase the potential for greater returns if you consolidate your pensions. But do remember, as with all investments, the value of your pension could go down as well as up, so you may get back less than you put in.

Consolidating pensions isn’t necessarily right for everyone and it may be that, due to the type of pension schemes you’re enrolled in, it won’t be possible to do. If you’re not sure whether you can, and should, combine your pensions you should speak to a financial adviser.

Transfer a pension from a previous employer

These days, we tend to move jobs quite often, in fact people have an average of eleven jobs over their lifetime. So, it’s possible that you have one or more pension pots sitting with previous employers.

When you change jobs, it’s likely that you’ll leave the old employer’s pension scheme and be automatically enrolled in your new employer’s scheme. But that doesn’t mean your pension pot moves with you. The pension administrator at your old employer should tell you what your options are: in most cases, you could either choose to leave your pension pot where it is or transfer it somewhere else.

Most workplace pension schemes allow you to transfer your pension pot. You may want to transfer it to your new employer’s scheme, a private pension, a self-invested personal pension (SIPP), or a stakeholder pension.

The good news is, you don’t have to decide what to do with your old workplace pension straight away after moving jobs. In fact, you generally can transfer your pensions any time you want up until a year before you start drawing retirement benefits.

That said, it may be a good idea to combine old work pension pots sooner rather than later – you could potentially save in fees and it should save you time and paperwork if all your pensions are with one provider.

Can I transfer my work pension to a SIPP?

Most workplace pension schemes should allow you to transfer your pension to a self-invested personal pension (SIPP). You’ll need to ask your pension administrator if it’s possible for your specific workplace pension.

If it is possible to transfer your work pension to a SIPP, you need to make sure it’s the right thing for you to do, and that you understand what it means to have a self-invested personal pension.

Can I transfer my pension myself?

In most cases, you could transfer your pension yourself. However, it may be easier to use your pension provider’s transfer service if they have one.

Can I transfer my pension to another person?

It’s currently not possible to transfer part or all of your pension pot to another person, except if you’re getting divorced or dissolving a civil partnership. If you’re getting divorced or dissolving a civil partnership, you should get legal advice about your pension. Learn more on about what happens to your pension if you separate from your spouse.

Pension transfer charges

As part of the decision to transfer a pension, you’ll need to look into any potential fees that your existing provider may charge you to transfer out. These could include early exit fees, as well as charges based on your pot’s transfer value. Depending on the size of your pension pot these charges could be substantial and mean that it’s not worth transferring the pension.

How do I find lost pensions?

There are a few ways to find pensions you may have lost. It may be that you’ve got pensions with previous employers that you’d forgotten about, or pensions for which you no longer have the paperwork. But don’t worry, you’re not alone – many people find themselves in this sort of situation.

The first place to look for lost workplace or personal pensions is in your pension statements, which you should receive each year. The statements should give information on your pension provider, who to contact if you want to find out more about your pension, and an estimate of your retirement income from that pension pot. Try to find all your old ones and keep them together.

If you haven’t recently received any pension statements, you should contact your old employers and pension providers.

If you’re tracing a company pension set up by a former employer, contact that employer and ask for the pension provider’s details. When you contact the pension provider, it will be helpful to know your national insurance number, the start and end dates of that particular employment and the dates you contributed to the pension scheme. If you’re trying to find a personal pension and know who your pension provider is, contact them for information about your pension. Provide as many of the following as you can: date of birth, national insurance number, pension plan number and the date it was set up.

You can also use the government’s pensions tracing service to try to find your lost pensions. It’s a free online service that searches through a database of workplace and personal pension schemes to help you find your pension contact details. The pension tracing service will provide you with the pension provider’s current name and contact details. You can then contact them for your pension information.

Can I transfer my pension to another country?

You may be able to transfer your UK pensions to an overseas pension scheme.

To transfer a pension to an overseas pension scheme, you have to move it to a qualifying recognised overseas pension scheme – a QROPS. You’ll need to find out if the overseas scheme is a QROPS, either by asking them, your financial adviser, or your UK pension provider.

If the scheme in the other country is not a QROPS, your current pension provider could refuse to transfer your pension or you may have to pay at least 40% tax on the transfer.

Can my pension be paid overseas?

Most UK pension providers won’t pay money from your pension into an overseas bank account, or at least not without charging you a fee to do so.

So, if you retire overseas and leave your pension in the UK, it may be best for your provider to pay your pension into a UK bank account. You could then transfer funds from this account to your account overseas, or withdraw money directly from your UK account.

Transfer your pension to Nutmeg

You can transfer SIPPs, personal pensions and other defined contribution pensions to Nutmeg, so long as you haven’t started to take income from them – also known as ‘drawdown’.

Nutmeg now also accepts most defined benefit (DB) pension transfers. These are sometimes known as final salary pensions.

Customers transferring DB pensions valued over £30,000 must obtain specialist financial advice before transferring. A suitable adviser can be found through the government’s Money Advice Service retirement adviser directory.

DB pensions valued at less than £30,000 can be transferred without financial advice. You must sign a declaration stating that you are aware of the product features you’ll be losing and remain comfortable transferring.

We still won’t be accepting DB pension transfers from local authority pensions or the Universities Superannuation Scheme.

The majority of pension transfers should take no longer than three weeks to complete. Some pensions might take longer, around two to three months.

To transfer a pension to Nutmeg, simply fill in the details of the pensions you’d like to transfer and we’ll take care of the rest. We do not charge setup fees, but you may want to check any exit fees with your current pension providers, or any benefits you may lose as a result of switching. Here’s a list of what to check before you transfer your pension to Nutmeg >>

As with all investing, your capital is at risk. The value of your pension can fall as well as rise and you may get back less than you invest. Eligibility to invest in a pension depends on personal circumstances. Tax rules may change in future. If you need help with pensions, seek financial advice. Note that you can't withdraw money from a personal pension until you're 55.

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