UK SIPP & International SIPP

If you’re considering a Self-Invested Personal Pension (SIPP) and want to transfer your existing pension funds into it, we will guide you through the process. Transferring a pension is a crucial financial decision, and understanding the steps involved will help you make an informed choice. Whether you’re transferring a Defined Benefit pension or a Defined Contribution pension, the process is relatively similar. Let’s explore how you can complete a SIPP pension transfer and choose the SIPP solution that matches your requirements.

What is a SIPP?​​ A Self-Invested Personal Pension

A SIPP is a tax-free wrapper for consolidating all of your UK pensions together in one place. SIPPs provide investors with greater flexibility and control than a standard UK company pension. SIPPs are the most common form of personal pension arrangement. SIPP transfers make up the majority of transfers from both Final Salary and Defined Contribution schemes.

What is an International SIPP (SIPP for Non-UK Residents)? A Self-Invested Personal Pension for non-UK residents​​

An International SIPP (Self-Invested Personal Pension) is for non-UK residents who want to consolidate their UK pensions even if they no longer reside in the UK. Transferring to a SIPP affords them greater flexibility and control over their pension assets before and during their retirement. An International SIPP has the same tax treatment as a non-international SIPP.

Watch our video to learn more about International SIPPs.

Understanding the Benefits of a UK SIPP And an International SIPP

Choosing the right pension plan is a crucial step toward securing your financial future. While a UK SIPP offers tax benefits, flexibility, and regulatory protection, an International SIPP provides currency flexibility, global investment options, and potential tax advantages for non-UK residents. By assessing your investment goals, risk tolerance, and tax status, you can determine the most appropriate SIPP for your retirement needs. Seek guidance from an independent financial advisor to receive tailored advice and make an informed decision.

Self-Invested Personal Pension Scheme: The Advantages of The UK SIPP


After your 55th birthday, you are in control of when and how much you withdraw from your pension pot. In theory, you could withdraw all of your pension savings in your first year of retirement. So there is a danger that you could reach retirement with insufficient funds.

Early Access

Within an International SIPP, you can withdraw money from your pension at Age 55 (57 in 2028). In a typical company pension, you cannot draw any pension until Age 60 or 65. The first 25% is tax-free (PCLS), and the remaining 75% is taxable at your marginal rate.


Consolidating your UK pensions allows you to view all your pensions together online 24/7. Simplicity not only reduces your letters, admin, and log-ins but also enables your Financial Adviser to make more accurate projections of your estimated pension income at retirement.

Tax Benefits

One of the significant advantages of a UK SIPP is the tax benefits it offers. Similar to other UK pensions, a UK SIPP provides tax relief on contributions, allowing you to save for retirement with tax-efficient savings. Additionally, any growth on your investments within the SIPP is tax-free, providing you with the potential for increased returns over time.

Investment Choice

SIPPs provide a broader investment choice. Standard company pensions typically offer limited pre-packaged options with a handful of fund options. For example, they may purchase an ETF from Blackrock for 0.08% TER and rebrand it as an in-house fund with a TER of 1.00%. Within any International SIPP, we offer our clients access to over 2,000 funds with no markup on TER. The table below highlights the broader range of available assets.

Flexible Income Payments

At Age 55, you decide how and when you wish to access the capital. For example, one year you may withdraw £10,000, the following year £0, and the following year £30,000. How you spend your pension income is your decision.

Regulation and Protection

Another benefit of a UK SIPP is the regulatory oversight provided by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). The FCA ensures that UK SIPPs operate within a regulated framework, offering you peace of mind and financial protection. With your money safeguarded, you can confidently plan for your retirement with a UK SIPP.

A Powerful Tool for Inheritance Planning

One of the critical benefits of SIPPs is the ability to pass on your pension to your beneficiaries tax-free if you pass away before the age of 75. This advantage sets SIPPs apart from other pension schemes, as they are subject to inheritance tax if the pension pot’s value exceeds the inheritance tax threshold.

In the event of your demise before the age of 75, your beneficiaries have two options. They can choose to receive the pension fund as a lump sum or leave it invested in the SIPP. Opting for the lump sum ensures that no inheritance tax is applicable, as long as they claim it within two years of your death. Alternatively, if they decide to keep the funds invested in the SIPP, any growth in the fund will remain tax-free.

To take advantage of the inheritance benefits offered by SIPPs, it is crucial to nominate your beneficiaries. By completing a beneficiary nomination form, typically available on your SIPP provider’s website, you can specify the individuals or organizations you wish to inherit your SIPP.

The Advantages of International SIPP

Currency Flexibility

If you are considering retiring abroad or have plans to relocate to a different country, an International SIPP may be a more suitable choice for you. International SIPPs provide the flexibility to hold your pension in various currencies, mitigating the risk of currency fluctuations and allowing you to manage your retirement savings in your preferred currency.

Global Investment Options

International SIPPs typically offer a broader range of global investment options compared to UK SIPPs. This expanded selection allows you to diversify your portfolio across international markets, potentially capitalizing on global economic opportunities. By exploring investments beyond the UK, you can broaden your investment horizons and potentially enhance your returns.

Watch our video to learn more about the benefits of International SIPP

Transferring Final Salary (DB) pension to a SIPP: Should I transfer my final salary (DB) pension to a SIPP?

A Final Salary to SIPP transfer requires a thorough analysis.

If you are considering transferring a Final Salary scheme into a SIPP, you need to assess if the transfer is in your best interest. We reserve the right to refuse Final Salary workplace pension transfers if we cannot prove they are in your best interest. 

Transferring a Final Salary pension to an International SIPP requires careful consideration, as it could potentially diminish the value of your existing safeguarded benefits. While the allure of an International SIPP may be enticing, a thorough review is necessary before making such a decision.

The Importance of Evaluating Safeguarded Benefits

One of the key disadvantages of transferring a Final Salary pension to an International SIPP is the potential loss of safeguarded benefits. Final Salary pensions typically offer secure, guaranteed income throughout retirement. However, by moving to a SIPP, you forfeit these benefits, which could lead to a less favorable financial outcome.

Old Costs and Value Deals

In the past, transferring to a SIPP could have incurred high costs, with providers charging up to £500 per year and substantial initial setup fees. Fortunately, due to increased competition in the market, these costs have significantly decreased. It is essential to compare the costs associated with International SIPPs to ensure you are getting the best value for your money.

Flexibility: A Double-Edged Sword

One of the primary advantages of a SIPP is the flexibility it offers in terms of when and how much you can withdraw from your pension pot after the age of 55. However, this flexibility comes with potential risks. It is crucial to exercise caution and avoid depleting your pension savings too quickly, as this may leave you with insufficient funds in later years of retirement.

Investment Risks and Responsibility

By opting for an International SIPP, you assume full responsibility for managing your pension investments. This responsibility includes choosing suitable investments and monitoring their performance. If you are not well-versed in investment strategies or lack the time to dedicate to managing your portfolio effectively, this can be a significant disadvantage.

Currency Fluctuations and Tax Implications

International SIPPs involve investing in assets denominated in different currencies. Currency fluctuations can impact the value of your investments and potentially erode your pension savings. Additionally, tax implications may arise when dealing with overseas investments, which can further complicate matters.

Regulatory Differences and Complexity

International SIPPs are subject to regulations that differ from those governing Final Salary pensions. Navigating the complexities of international regulations and ensuring compliance can be challenging and time-consuming. It is vital to consider the potential administrative burden that comes with managing an International SIPP.

Can I Transfer My Defined-Benefit Pension to a SIPP? Solutions for Defined Benefit Pension Transfer

If you’re transferring a Defined Benefit (Final Salary) pension into a SIPP, there are specific considerations. Transfers exceeding £30,000 require FCA sign-off, ensuring that you receive appropriate advice and understand the potential impact on your retirement income. Your financial adviser will guide you through the process, helping you evaluate the benefits and risks involved.

Can I Transfer My Defined-Contribution Pension to a SIPP? SIPP Solutions for Defined Contribution Pension Transfer

Transferring a Defined Contribution pension into a SIPP follows a similar process, but it does not require FCA sign-off. You have the freedom to consolidate multiple pensions into a single SIPP, offering greater visibility and control over your investments.

SIPP Advice Process

Simple and Straightforward
Contact The IFA
Situation Analysis
Solution Appointment
Complete Application
Ongoing Reviews


When it comes to planning for retirement, a Self-Invested Personal Pension (SIPP) can be an excellent choice. A SIPP provides you with greater control over your pension investments, allowing you to make decisions based on your financial goals and risk appetite. However, navigating the world of SIPPs can be complex and overwhelming. That’s where professional SIPP advice comes in. 

Contact Your Independent Financial Advisor

The first step in obtaining SIPP advice is to get in touch with a reputable financial advisory firm that specializes in retirement planning. Look for firms that have experienced advisors with a strong understanding of SIPPs. Once you have identified a potential advisor, reach out to them to express your interest in SIPP advice. They will schedule an initial consultation to discuss your needs and explain the SIPP advisory process in detail.

Situation Analysis

During the initial consultation, the advisor will conduct a comprehensive situational analysis. This involves gathering information about your current financial situation, retirement goals, and investment preferences. The advisor will take the time to understand your unique circumstances and tailor their advice accordingly. This step is crucial to developing a personalized SIPP strategy that aligns with your objectives.

Solution Appointment

Based on the information gathered in the situation analysis, the advisor will propose a suitable SIPP solution tailored to your needs. They will explain the investment options available within a SIPP and recommend a diversified portfolio that suits your risk profile. The advisor will provide clear and concise explanations, ensuring you understand the benefits, risks, and potential returns associated with each investment option.

Complete Application

Once you are satisfied with the proposed SIPP solution, the advisor will assist you in completing the application process. They will guide you through the necessary paperwork, ensuring all forms are filled out correctly and submitted in a timely manner. The advisor will also explain the administrative aspects of setting up a SIPP, such as choosing a SIPP provider and transferring existing pensions into your new SIPP.

Ongoing Reviews

After your SIPP is set up and your investments are in place, the advisor will continue to provide ongoing reviews and support. Regular reviews are essential to ensure your SIPP remains aligned with your evolving financial goals. The advisor will monitor the performance of your investments, assess any changes in your circumstances, and make adjustments as necessary. Ongoing reviews give you confidence that your SIPP continues to work in your best interest.

Choosing the Right SIPP for You

Ultimately, the decision between a UK SIPP and an International SIPP depends on your individual circumstances and financial objectives. Consider the following factors when making your choice:

Investment Goals

Evaluate your investment goals and determine whether you aim to grow your pension pot or generate a steady income during retirement. Understanding your objectives will help you align them with the investment options available within each SIPP.

Risk Tolerance

Investment choice is one of the most significant advantages of a SIPP. Our role is to ensure the portfolio matches your attitude toward risk. Attitude to risk sounds like industry jargon; what does it mean?

Your attitude toward risk is based on how comfortable or uncomfortable you feel with short-term market movements. Our Advisers assess this during your free consultation by asking you a range of hypothetical investment questions and how you would react. From this, we can determine your risk profile. Below is a simplified version to provide a general overview.


Clients with a lower appetite for risk are less comfortable with short-term market movements and prefer a more consistent but smaller return. So we build their portfolio with a lower equity weighting. This approach means less exposure to the stock market.


In the middle, we have clients with a balanced appetite for risk. They wish to have stable returns but understand they can improve profits by taking a balanced level of risk over time. So we build their portfolio with a balanced equity weighting. This approach means less exposure to the stock market.


Clients with a higher appetite for risk are more comfortable with short-term market movements and seek higher long-term rewards. So we build their portfolio with a higher equity weighting. This approach means more exposure to the stock market.

Tax Status

Take into account your tax status, particularly if you are no longer a UK resident. If you have become a non-UK resident, an International SIPP may offer tax advantages, allowing you to optimize your pension income and minimize tax liabilities.

To ensure you make an informed decision, it is essential to consult an independent financial advisor who can provide personalized advice based on your specific circumstances and requirements. They will guide you through the process, helping you select the most suitable SIPP for your retirement needs.

SIPP Lifetime Allowance 

As you plan for your retirement, it’s essential to understand the limits and regulations surrounding your pension savings. One crucial aspect to consider is the SIPP Lifetime Allowance (LTA). The SIPP Lifetime Allowance refers to the maximum amount of money you can save in your Self-Invested Personal Pension (SIPP) without incurring a tax charge.

The current SIPP Lifetime Allowance for the 2023–24 tax year stands at £1,073,100. If the total value of your pension savings exceeds this limit, you’ll be subject to a tax charge on the excess amount. The rate of the tax charge depends on how you choose to withdraw the money from your SIPP. If you decide to take it as a lump sum, the tax charge is set at 55%. On the other hand, if you opt for an income stream, the tax charge is 25%.

Factors to Consider Before Making a Transfer to International SIPP

Before finalising your decision to transfer to an International SIPP, there are several factors you should consider. These include assessing the charges associated with the new pension arrangement, understanding the investment options available, and evaluating the level of flexibility and control you will have over your retirement savings. Additionally, you should carefully consider the tax implications and any potential risks involved.

Understanding the Tax Implications

Transferring your pension to an International SIPP may have tax implications, and it’s crucial to be aware of these before proceeding. Depending on your individual circumstances and the specific regulations of your home country, there may be tax consequences associated with international pension transfers. Consulting with a tax professional can provide you with the necessary guidance to make informed decisions.

Evaluating Your Investment Options

When considering an International SIPP, it’s essential to evaluate the investment options available to you. A diverse range of investment opportunities can provide the potential for higher returns and greater security. Take the time to research and understand the investment choices within the International SIPP framework, ensuring they align with your risk tolerance and long-term financial objectives.

Safeguarding Your Retirement Savings

As with any financial decision, it’s crucial to safeguard your retirement savings. When transferring to an International SIPP, choose a reputable provider with a solid track record and strong regulatory oversight. Conduct thorough due diligence and carefully review the terms and conditions of the new pension arrangement. By taking these precautions, you can help ensure the security and growth of your pension fund.

What is the difference between an International SIPP and a QROPS?

QROPS are more suitable for EEA clients with pension pots of £700k+

QROPS (Qualifying Recognized Overseas Pension Scheme) is an overseas pension scheme typically used by expats living beyond the UK to consolidate their UK pension assets. A QROPS must meet the criteria outlined by HMRC.

Before March 9, 2017, QROPS made up a substantial proportion of all UK pension transfers. Following the regulatory change in 2017 and the introduction of an Overseas Transfer Charge (OTC) of 25% for any members beyond the EEA, their popularity and suitability have decreased significantly.

If you are an EEA resident and the value of all your UK pensions is approaching your Lifetime Allowance of £1.073 million, then you should read our QROPS Transfer page. A QROP transfer may allow you to mitigate your future tax liabilities.

Key Differences

Here is a table that summarises the key differences between an International SIPP and a QROPS:

Feature International SIPP QROPS
Eligibility Open to non-UK residents Open to non-UK residents who meet certain requirements
Tax treatment Subject to UK tax rules Subject to the tax rules of the country where the QROPS is located
Investment options A wide range of investment options are available Fewer investment options are available than an international SIPP
Flexibility More flexible than a QROPS Less flexible than a SIPP
Advantages Ability to hold investments in different currencies Ability to exceed the UK LTA and take benefits as a lump sum without incurring a tax charge

Which is right for you?

The best type of pension for you will depend on your individual circumstances. If you are a non-UK resident and you are looking for a pension that offers flexibility and a wide range of investment options, then an International SIPP may be a good option for you. However, if you are looking for a pension that allows you to exceed the UK LTA and take benefits as a lump sum without incurring a tax charge, then a QROPS may be a better option for you.

It is important to speak to an independent financial advisor to get tailored advice on the best type of pension for you.

Watch our video to learn more about the key differences between SIPP, international SIPP, and QROPS.

The Role of an Independent Financial Advisor in Transferring Your Pension to SIPP

Final Salary Pension Transfer and FCA Sign-off

As we mentioned, when transferring a Final Salary pension into a SIPP, the FCA (Financial Conduct Authority) mandates sign-off for transfers exceeding £30,000. This regulatory requirement ensures that you have considered all aspects of the transfer and have received appropriate advice regarding potential risks and benefits.

“If the value of your DB scheme is more than £30,000 you must, by law, get advice from a regulated financial adviser. This is to make sure you’re aware of the risks of transferring”

Financial Conduct Authority

Helping You Understand Your Options

When it comes to transferring your final salary pension, numerous factors must be taken into account. This includes assessing the tax implications associated with the transfer, exploring the investment options available within different schemes, and evaluating the flexibility provided by each scheme. An IFA can guide you through these complexities, ensuring you fully comprehend your options and can make an informed decision based on your unique circumstances.

Providing Impartial Advice

Unlike advisers who are affiliated with specific pension providers, IFAs offer impartial advice. They are not bound to any particular company or product, which means they can provide unbiased recommendations that align with your best interests. The primary focus of an IFA is to help you achieve the optimal outcome for your pension, rather than attempting to sell you a specific product or service.

Managing the Transfer Process

Transferring a final salary pension can be a challenging process, often involving intricate paperwork and coordination between various parties. Engaging an IFA can help streamline this process, ensuring a smooth and efficient transfer. They will liaise with both your current pension provider and the new pension provider, ensuring that all necessary documentation is completed accurately and in a timely manner.

Monitoring Your Pension

Once your pension has been successfully transferred, the role of an IFA does not end there. They continue to monitor the performance of your pension to ensure it aligns with your long-term goals and financial needs. As your circumstances evolve, an IFA can help you make necessary adjustments to your pension plan, allowing you to adapt to changing situations and secure a stable financial future.

An IFA will help you fully comprehend your options, make informed decisions, manage the transfer process efficiently, and provide ongoing support to ensure your pension continues to meet your evolving needs.

Cameron James: A Trusted Partner in UK & Expat Financial Planning

At Cameron James, we are dedicated to providing each of our clients with access to regulated and transparent financial advice. We’ve recognized the challenges the expat market faces due to a lack of quality service from unqualified IFAs offering inferior products. Our mission is to change this narrative. We offer EU MiFID-regulated advice from RDR Level 4 UK qualified advisers and pride ourselves on our transparency and customer service​.

Cameron James Pension Transfer Fees UK

We believe in absolute transparency, especially when it comes to costs. If your portfolio is under £250k, we offer you a free consultation, independent advice, and a dedicated IFA and admin team. Our setup advice fee is 3%+, with a minimum advice fee of £3,000 and an annual fee of 1%.

For portfolios between £250k and £1M, the setup advice fee decreases to 2%+. For portfolios over £1M, the setup advice fee is 1%+. Please note that a fixed FCA report fee of £3,000-£3,500 applies to Final Salary (DB) pension advice. Rest assured, all our costs are inclusive of VAT, ensuring there are no hidden fees or surprises for you. You can learn more about our costs on our dedicated pricing page.

Why You Should Choose Cameron James for Pension Transfers and Financial Planning

We offer a combination of transparent pricing, experienced advisers, and a dedicated approach to each client’s needs. Our IFAs have seen thousands of expat situations and are adept at providing expert advice tailored to your unique circumstances.

We also emphasize low online costs, aiming to deliver a premium service without the usual high costs. Moreover, you will have a direct line to your dedicated IFA, eliminating the need for holding music and ensuring a seamless communication experience​.

What Our Clients Say

We are proud to share the high praise we’ve received from our clients, as evidenced by our 5-star Google reviews. Clients appreciate our professionalism, responsiveness, and quality of service.

Our clear and transparent answers provided during the pension transfer process have been commended by clients, leading to a feeling of safety and satisfaction with our service​. Our detailed communication and knowledge about the transfer process have also been praised, especially by UK expats living in the USA​.

We understand the importance of trust in choosing an IFA. We are humbled to receive testimonials that express complete confidence in our abilities and professionalism​. We are committed to maintaining this trust and providing you with highly skilled and trustworthy financial advice.

Frequently Asked Questions

Should I transfer my pension into a SIPP? Ask a SIPP specialist!

Our job would be easier if there were a one size fits all solution. It will depend on your situation and requirements. Everyone’s needs are different. For example, what may be the best advice for a colleague of a similar age may not be the best advice for you. Where you live, where you plan to retire, the value of your pensions and your attitude toward risk are all determining factors. You can determine what is best for you by asking a SIPP specialist, Cameron James.

Your pension pots are likely your most significant asset after your house, so taking advice from an experienced professional who specializes in this area is wise. Seeking qualified advice from an Independent Financial Adviser (IFA) is always the best course of action. Our IFAs look forward to working with you and helping you find the best International SIPP for your requirements.

Can I save money with an International SIPP?

SIPP transfers can be a valuable tool to save money.

We are encouraged to swap utility or broadband providers for the best deal every time we watch TV. However, few people realize you can do the same with your pensions. Many old UK pensions have high charges and hidden costs. Did you read p. 27 of your pension contract from HR when you started each of your new jobs? It is unlikely you reviewed all the paperwork. You are not an IFA and were likely ready to celebrate your new employment.

Many older UK pensions have a bid-offer spread of between 2 and 5%. Bid-offer spread sounds like jargon. In simple terms, a bid-offer spread means that every time your UK pension rebalances your portfolio by buying or selling the underlying holdings, you will incur a fee.

“A platform investment provides more online accessibility, including the ability to place trades online. This speeds up the process of buying and selling assets.” Cameron James

For example, if a UK pension reallocates £10,000 of your pension, you will be charged between £200 and £500. They do not need to inform you of this charge as you have signed the T&Cs of the pension plan, even if this was 20 years ago.

At Cameron James, there is a 0% bid-offer spread on all International SIPP solutions we provide. Over the course of 10 years, such charges can have a significant impact on your eventual fund values. Being proactive and transferring away from outdated pension arrangements is an easy way to save yourself money.

What is the best International SIPP?

We work hard to ensure we offer clients the best International SIPP

The International SIPP market has seen rapid growth as the number of UK expats living abroad increases. This growth means there is a frequent change in the best International SIPP provider as providers compete for client business. This competition is good for our clients, as it is driving down fees.

The standard cost for an International SIPP used to be a £300 set-up fee and a £500 cost per annum. We now have access to an International SIPP provider offering a £0 set-up fee with a £180 cost per annum.

Novia Global International SIPP

Some International SIPP providers continue to charge up to £500 pa plus an initial set-up fee of up to £300. At Cameron James, we currently offer a SIPP solution with a £0 set-up fee and a £180 pa admin fee. We are proud that since June 18th, 2019 Cameron James is working with the Novia Global International SIPP and offering its clients the lowest-cost International SIPP on the market. With a £0 initial set-up fee and a £180 annual SIPP Trustee Fee (VAT). This collaboration with Novia Global provides an excellent foundation for low-cost retirement planning. At Cameron James, we constantly take a detailed look for low-cost SIPP providers while ensuring the required levels of transparency, trustworthiness, performance, and experience. Cameron James is always transparent about what is to come in the future. We assure you that you will only get independent advice in your best interests.

Watch our video to learn more about the Novia Global International SIPP

What happens to your SIPP when you die?

Your nominated beneficiaries will receive 100% of your pension after your death

During your application process, you can choose one or more beneficiaries. Typically, clients designate their spouses and/or children. There are no rules, however. You can nominate someone you like, and this can also be changed as many times as you like. Furthermore, with Cameron James, there are no additional costs or exit penalties. Your policy will pass to your beneficiaries.

Can I transfer my work pension to a SIPP?​​​

Yes, you can transfer your company pension into a SIPP​​​ There are no restrictions on transferring your workplace pensions into a SIPP. You are free to consolidate all of your company pensions, work pensions, and stakeholder pensions together. There are no SIPP transfer rules, so to speak.

Can I put all my pensions in cash? Cash vs Stock Markets

Cash is extremely safe. The only problem with money is that it is standing still. Which is useful for short-term purchases but not long-term pensions. Eg. Prices in 2021 are 133.16% higher than in 1990 (Office of National Statistics). This inflation means that £100,000 in 1990 would need to have grown by 133.16% over the past 31 years or 4.30% pa to keep pace with the rising cost of living and inflation.

Stocks Markets have higher volatility compared to cash, but the long-term upward trend of equities has a historical track record of producing much higher returns than cash. It ensures investors’ pensions grow and keep pace with the rising costs of living. Portfolio values can fall as well as rise though. Investing pension savings until a minimum age of 55, though, is a sufficient time to ride out any short-term falls to end up with long-term growth.

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Dominic James Murray

My career in financial services began in 2010 during my Bachelor of Science (BSc) Undergraduate degree at Aston University in England. The degree required me to spend a year abroad working with an established organisation.

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