Slovakia disappears off the HMRC QROPS List
Slovakia has now been removed from the HM Revenue and Customs list of QROP offshore schemes available for expats. In the list previously, Slovakia, a relatively small and less popular destination for pension savers, had four retirement plans for both British expats as well as international workers who had UK pension rights. In all honesty, it is not likely that these Slovakian plans had many members. The majority of the pensions most likely would have been taken up by Slovakians themselves who at some point worked in the UK and then chose to return back home.
The four delisted pension schemes have all been administered by a subsidiary of Tatra Bank, based in Bratislava and a part of Austria’s Raiffeisen Zentralbank group. The spokesperson of the bank was not aware of reasons for the delisting of the QROPS. HMRC also declined to comment why Slovakia no longer appeared on the latest QROPS list. We can suspect that the continuous checks that HMRC undertakes on pension schemes around the world has brought up to their attention something that was not up to their expectations or requirements.
How often does HMRC update the QROPS register? The list gets published every two weeks and is closely followed by the QROPS industry professionals for any changes and amendments. Slovakia is the third jurisdiction to delist so far. Singapore has come off previously, more recently, Cyprus got delisted in 2012 – both of these nations lost their status and have not been reinstated up to date.
In other parts of the world, this month, 2,895 QROP schemes in 46 countries have been listed which overall represents an increase of some 35 schemes across 47 countries. The biggest increase of pension plans was seen in Australia – with an increase of 28 pensions to a grand total of 1,072. Ireland also registered an increase of four plans, to 686; the Isle of Man added three QROPS to 212; at the same time Malta (11) and Gibraltar (14) all saw one new addition. At the same time, one QROP scheme was closed in the USA.
What is the criteria for the QROPS list, how to understand it? To clarify, the QROPS published list is not an HMRC register of ‘approved’ pensions, it is a list of schemes that are self-certified by their respective administrators who reaffirm they meet all the required QROPS rules. It is also important to keep in mind that not all schemes appear on the list as some stay anonymous.
How is this relevant to you? Pensioners cannot transfer a UK retirement fund to a QROPS scheme that is not listed. If the scheme is not listed, you can check with HMRC if the QROPS is listed on the private register. As the first step, you can find a list of current scheme providers on the HMRC website. Following this, for further advice, feel free to get in touch with us for any question related to your pension planning.