Pension transfer - can I transfer my pension?

You may wish to transfer some or all of your pots to a different provider if:

  • your current provider doesn’t offer the pension option you want
  • you want to combine pots to simplify your pensions
  • you want to pay less in fees
  • you want a higher income from your pension
  • you’re moving overseas and want to move your pension to a scheme in that country

Combining pension pots

It’s likely that you’ve paid into more than one defined contribution pension pot if you’ve had more than one job.

Combining your pots could make your pensions easier to manage and help you save on fees. You need to check if you’ll:

  • be charged fees to transfer one pot to another
  • lose any special features, e.g. a guaranteed annuity rate

You’ll need to speak to each provider separately to find out their rules on combining pots.

Transfer value

This is the amount your pot would be worth if you moved to a different provider.

Looking at the transfer value of your pot may help you work out if your pension has an ‘early exit fee’.

If the transfer value is the same as your pot value, it’s unlikely you’ll be charged a fee when you transfer.

If the transfer value is lower than your total pot value, you may be charged an early exit fee. Your pot may have had ‘market value reduction’ or ‘adjustment’ applied – ask your provider about the difference in values.

How to transfer a pension

You may have to get financial advice before you can transfer your pension.

Questions to ask your current provider:

  1. Can I transfer? There can be restrictions on which pensions you can transfer.
  2. What is the ‘transfer value’ of my pension? If it’s the same as your pot value, it’s unlikely you’ll be charged a fee when you transfer.
  3. What fees will I have to pay?
  4. Will I lose the right to take out my money at a certain age? This is called a ‘protected pension age’.
  5. Will I lose any special features, e.g. a guaranteed annuity rate?
  6. Will I lose the right to take a tax-free lump sum of more than 25% of my pension? This is called a ‘protected tax-free sum’.

You then need to shop around for a new provider to transfer your pension to.

Questions to ask your new provider:

  1. Do I apply to transfer through you or my current provider?
  2. Are there any fees for transferring in, e.g. set-up fees?
  3. Do I have to make regular payments into the new pension?
  4. What investment funds and levels of risk do you offer? You may need help from a financial adviser with this.
  5. What options do you have for when I want to take my money out?

You’ll need to complete an application form to request the transfer. If you’re transferring more than one pension you may have to complete more than one application.

Transferring your pension to a non-registered UK pension scheme or an ‘unrecognised’ overseas scheme will mean you’ll pay tax on the transfer.

Getting financial advice

Legally you must get financial advice if you want to transfer from a:

  • defined benefit pension worth more than £30,000
  • defined contribution pension worth more than £30,000 with a guarantee about what you’ll be paid when you retire (e.g. a guaranteed annuity rate)

Defined benefit pensions

If you have a final salary or career average pension (‘defined benefit’), you would need to transfer it to a defined contribution pension to be able to choose one of the pension options.

The value of your defined benefit pension gets transferred as cash and is invested into a defined contribution pot.

Think very carefully before you decide to do this – you would be giving up a fixed income for a less certain one and it’s possible you’ll be worse off.

Make sure you understand the risks, to help you make an informed decision.

Not all defined benefit pensions allow you to transfer out – ask your scheme administrator.


If someone contacts you unexpectedly and says they can help you transfer your pot it’s likely to be a pension scam.

Get free help and advice

You can get free and impartial information about transferring your pension from the Money Advice Service and the Pensions Advisory Service.