Pension options for overseas staff
Both the College and the UK Government try to help you plan for your future retirement by offering ways for you to save for retirement, and there are also insurance companies, banks and building societies that offer ways for you to make your own personal savings arrangements.
When you come to work at Imperial College you may be eligible to join one of the College's occupational pension schemes. You could then build up pension benefits from both your Imperial College occupational pension and the state pension scheme.
This page summarises the key information overseas staff will need to know about pensions when they move to the UK to work for the College. It also has information for staff who will be working for the College but not in the UK.
Tabs - Overseas Pensions
When you come to work at Imperial College you may have the opportunity to join one of the College's occupational pension schemes. Information about pension membership is included with your contract, and there is also information on our website. If so, you could build up pension benefits from both your Imperial College occupational pension and the state pension scheme.
There are tax advantages to being in one of the College pension schemes, as contributions are deducted from your pay before tax, and it can also reduce your National Insurance contributions.
Please note that if you are an eligible member of staff, the College must enrol you into a pension scheme as soon as you become eligible (often when you first start working at the College). You may opt-out of the pension scheme either immediately on joining, or at any time after. However, the College must also re-enrol you the pension scheme approximately every three years. You will be able to opt-out of the scheme again at that point. To learn more about this please see our Auto-Enrolment page.
State Pension Scheme
The State Pension is a regular payment you can receive when you reach State Pension age. It is based on your National Insurance contributions (NICs) and how much you get varies.
Basic State Pension
Anyone who has enough qualifying years from their NICs record is entitled to some basic State Pension. Find out more about qualifying for the basic State Pension and how much you can get. Or use the State Pension profiler to estimate how much basic State Pension you may have built up and when you can claim it.
State Pension Age
The State Pension age is the earliest age you can get your State Pension and is based on your date of birth.
Claiming State Pension in another country
If you have paid NICs in the UK you may be able to claim the state pension even if you no longer live in the UK. However, the amount will depend on the number of qualifying years of NICs you have made, and the country in which you live.
The International Pension Centre will be able to offer assistance.
Personal pensions are available from banks, building societies and life insurance companies who will invest your savings on your behalf.
You can save as much as you want into a personal pension. You will get tax relief on the amount you put in up to the annual allowance. Understanding personal pensions provides further information. The College is unable to contribute to your personal pension.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: I’m an overseas employee of the College in an EU country (including Norway, Liechtenstein and Iceland), but I will not be working in the UK: can I still join one of the College’s pension schemes?
A: No. If you do not normally live in the UK and you also live and work in another EU country (including Norway, Liechtenstein and Iceland) for the entire time you work for the College you are not eligible to join one of our pension schemes.
Q: I’m an overseas employee of the College in a country outside of the EU (and also not Norway, Liechtenstein or Iceland), but I will not be working in the UK: can I still join one of the College’s pension schemes?
A: Yes. If you do not normally live in the UK and you also live and work in a non-EU country (and also not in Norway, Liechtenstein or Iceland) for the entire time you work for the College you are still eligible to join one of our pension schemes.
Q: I’m currently working in the UK and a member of a College pension scheme, but I am about to go and work abroad in an EU country (including Norway, Liechtenstein and Iceland) for the College. How are my benefits affected?
A: Unless it is a short-term secondment, you will no longer be eligible for the pension scheme. You will leave the scheme, stop paying contributions, and your benefits will be “deferred” – that is held in the scheme until you reach the normal retirement age (currently 65 for most people), at which point a pension would become payable to you. You have various options after you stop contributing. Your pension scheme will write to you soon after you have left to let you know about this.
However, if you are going to be returning to the UK, the College may agree for you to take a period of “voluntary absence” from the pension scheme, whereby you and the college would stop contributing to the scheme, and you would cease building up pension savings, but you would remain a member of the scheme. When you return you would be able to restart contributions and therefore pension saving.
Q: I’m currently working in the UK and a member of a College pension scheme, but I am about to go and work abroad in a non-EU country (and not Norway, Liechtenstein or Iceland) for the College. How are my benefits affected?
A: You will still be eligible to remain (or join) a College pension scheme for the duration of the time you remain in that county and working for the College.
Q: I currently work overseas but have been offered a short term contract in the UK. Can I join one of the College’s pension schemes?
Yes. In fact you may be automatically enrolled as soon as you start.
Q: I have pension savings overseas. Can I transfer it into the College pension scheme?
A: If you are in SAUL then no, as SAUL does not accept any transfers. If you are in USS, it may be possible for you to transfer your benefits. You should check with your overseas scheme whether a transfer value could be paid to a UK scheme.
Any transfers received from a recognised overseas pension scheme are excluded from the calculation of the available lifetime allowance and of the annual allowance for tax purposes (see our pensions tax page for more details on these. A list of the recognised pension schemes is available from the government website. If you would like to transfer benefits into USS please complete the transfer request form and send it to email@example.com .
Q: If I leave the College can I transfer my pension overseas?
A: Our schemes allow you to transfer your benefits to other schemes, but the scheme you want to transfer it to would need to be willing to accept it and it will also need to be registered with the UK tax authorities.
You should first check with the scheme you want to transfer it to that they would be willing to receive a transfer payment, and that the tax authorities in that country are happy for you to do so.
You will also need to check that the scheme you want to transfer it to is a “recognised overseas pension scheme” – or if they are not, ask them to register as such. You can check whether they are on the UK government website.
Q: I want to retire and move overseas, how will my pension be paid?
A: Both USS and SAUL can pay your benefits either to a UK bank account (and then how and when you transfer it overseas is up to you) or arrange to pay it to an overseas bank account (there may be some charges for this service).
Q: If I retire and take my pension when I am overseas how will it be taxed?
A: In most cases, UK pension benefits paid overseas are free of UK income tax if you are resident for tax purposes overseas. You may however pay income tax on your pension in your country of residence. If you live in a country without a ‘double taxation agreement’ with the UK, you pay tax in both countries. A list of all countries with such an agreement is available from the government website.
Some of the downloadable documents linked to on this page are not accessible. For accessible versions, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.