QNUPS Explained: International Pension Schemes

A Qualifying Non-UK Pension Scheme (or QNUPS for short) is a trust that acts as an overseas pension scheme. A QNUPS is often used as a form of tax relief, particularly for people who are considered to be high net worth individuals who have already reached their income tax relief and/or lifetime benefit limit on their UK registered pension.

QNUPS are commonly used by overseas residents who aren’t able to contribute to their UK-registered pension plan anymore, providing tax benefits that are similar to the benefits you would receive under a UK-registered pension.


At Brite Advisors, we’ve been helping expats safely invest their money in pensions for years, aiding thousands of people in their quest to gain financial independence through our expert investment advice. We offer an all-in-one pension service, with QNUPS being one of the most popular options on the market at the moment for both UK residents and British expats, whatever your country of residence.

If you think a QNUPS might be right for you and you want to find out more, then our financial advisers are just a phone call away. Fill out our contact form and we’ll get in touch as soon as possible.

What Is a QNUPS?

Before deciding to invest pension funds in a QNUPS, you need to make sure you fully understand everything involved with the process of setting one up. Getting professional advice from investment advisers is always a good plan – however, this guide will help you get to grips with the basics first.

A QNUPS is an international pension scheme or trust which has zero residency restrictions so it can be used within the UK as well as overseas. Depending on where you live, it should be noted that each country will have different rules based on its unique tax regulations.

QNUPs are often used by high net worth individuals who have already reached their income tax relief and/or lifetime benefit limit on UK registered pensions or by individuals overseas who are no longer able to contribute to their UK registered pension plan. A QNUPS provides tax benefits similar to UK registered pensions.

There are no restrictions on residence – you can live anywhere and establish a QNUPS – however, the tax treatment of the benefits will depend on your country of residence and whether you are still domiciled in the UK.

The QNUPS scheme was first established back in 2010 by HMRC. There are no HMRC reporting requirements at the moment – this is because transfers from UK tax-relieved funds are not allowed to be transferred to a QNUPS, including pension funds. With a QNUPS, an overseas trustee will be appointed to look after your money, as part of the trust.

A QNUPS has to be recognised in the jurisdiction it’s established in. Because of this, contributions to the fund are usually made out of existing savings, personal capital, income and existing assets – however, there may be tax consequences when using assets, so this is something you’ll need to assess first.

When Can I Drawdown from a QNUPS?

One of the best things about a QNUPS is that you can start drawing money from your retirement fund at the age of 55 – instead of having to wait for the state pension retirement age. Many private pensions allow for earlier drawdowns than state pensions, so it certainly can be worth investing in one, particularly with something like a QNUPS, which may grant you a degree of tax relief.

You can’t withdraw all the money at once though. Only 30% of the amount saved can be withdrawn as a lump sum, with the rest providing an income instead. The lump sum isn’t usually taxable under UK law, but it may be taxed in the overseas jurisdiction you’re currently residing in, depending on your present situation. The remaining 70% paid as income may be taxed – this is also dependent on your country of residence.

So long as all the rules and regulations are followed, the funds should accumulate free of UK income and capital gains, giving you valuable pension benefits outside of any UK estate.

The Difference between QNUPS and QROPS

Another popular pension scheme for expats is a QROPS, which stands for ‘Qualifying Recognised Overseas Pension Scheme’. It’s similar in some ways to a QNUPS, but there are some key differences.

QROPS are subject to reporting requirements – however, QNUPS are not required to undergo the same process.

The Benefits of QNUPS

Like all pension schemes, there are several benefits that a QNUPS has, particularly when compared to more conventional pension schemes, such as SIPPs (Self-Invested Personal Pensions).

You’ll need to assess whether these benefits are suitable for your individual circumstances – if not, there are several other types of pension scheme available that might be more suitable, which our expert team can guide you through.

Key benefits of QNUPS


QNUPS: Things You Need to
Be Aware Of

Though QNUPS continue to be popular, they aren’t suitable for everyone. Before you make the decision to apply, there are several things you should consider. 

Your financial situation, the assets/capital you have, and the country you currently reside in are all factors that will determine whether a QNUPS is for you. 

Here are some key areas to be aware of – and, as always, if you have any questions about QNUPS or just need some expat pension advice, Brite Advisors are on hand to help.

  • Taxation may depend on the country you’re based in – Whilst it is true that QNUPS can provide tax relief if you’re living in the UK or are classed as a tax resident in Britain, tax – specifically capital gains tax, income tax and inheritance tax – may still be charged if you live elsewhere, particularly if your trust isn’t recognised. The amount of tax that you’re charged will be dependent on the nation in which you choose to live, as not every country will apply tax in these situations. 
  • Trusts aren’t always recognised abroad – Trust legislation is different around the world – some countries don’t recognise trusts at all, whereas others have a partial acceptance of them based on their own stipulations. If you’re looking to set up a QNUPS overseas, it’s important to set it up in a nation that recognises trusts, otherwise you may end up paying tax, such as income tax, regardless. One example of this is France – under French law, it’s not possible to set up a trust and you may still be charged income tax if you decide to live in France, despite having a QNUPS.
  • There is no UK tax relief on contributions – This might be surprising due to the other tax relief implications of a QNUPS, but it’s something to be aware of before applying.
  • Contributing too much can lead to tax issues – Whilst there’s no limit on contributions with a QNUPS, contributing a significant portion of your capital could lead to HMRC deciding to challenge your fund before removing some of your tax advantages.
  • There may be penalties if a QNUPS is not used as a retirement fund –  Whilst a QNUPS will naturally give you tax relief benefits – for example, on inheritance tax – it’s primarily a pension fund to be used upon retirement. If you don’t claim the money when you retire or only withdraw a nominal amount, this may lead to tax implications, suggesting the reason the fund has been set up is for tax relief instead of retirement.
  • Only assets that can be liquidated should be held in a trust – All assets within a QNUPS must also provide an income or a yield.
  • Your benefits will differ depending on your residency and domicile status – The jurisdiction your QNUPS is registered in could be different to the tax treatment in your country of residence, which could impact the benefits you receive. Double tax treaties may exist in some situations, and not every country recognises pension fund structures in non-tax treaty jurisdictions.


As you can see, there’s lots to consider before setting up a QNUPS – as such, seeking out financial advice is recommended. If you’re wondering whether a QNUPS is right for you, fill out our contact form and one of our professional advisors will call you to discuss your overseas pension options. 

Interested in finding out more about QNUPS?
Brite Advisors Are Here to Help!

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If you’ve read through our QNUPS guide and have made the decision that this is the best overseas pension scheme for you, then look no further than Brite Advisors, as we’re here to help you get your QNUPS set up.

We understand that pension information can be a little tricky to grasp at times, but if you have any questions, our expert advisers will help to explain everything you need to know in a transparent and honest manner.

We put your interests first, aiming to help you maximise your pension benefits so you can really enjoy your retirement. We offer an all-in-one service, without the use of middle men or third parties, in order to keep costs down and ensure you keep control of your retirement planning.

If you want to put your pension plan into action, there’s no time to waste – get in touch with Brite Advisors today.

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