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A qualifying Non-UK Pension Scheme (QNUPS) offers flexibility and growth potential. Read our guide to QNUPS to learn more.

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A QNUPS can provide more flexibility and control over your assets, as well as significant tax advantages.

QNUPs are often used by high-net-worth individuals (HNWIs) and expats due to the benefits they offer.

In this guide, we explore QNUPS and how they can be used to build a tax-efficient retirement plan.

What is a QNUPS?

A qualifying Non-UK Pension Scheme, or QNUPS for short, is an overseas pension scheme with no residency restrictions. A QNUPS can be used by UK and non-UK residents.

Although it has the term ‘pension scheme’ in the name, it’s not really a pension. At least it’s not a pension in the same way something like a SIPP is, anyway.

Instead, think of a QNUPS as a set of rules that, when followed, provide certain tax benefits. The main one being they can allow you to legally avoid Inheritance Tax (IHT).

A QNUPS is often used by high-net-worth individuals (HNWIs) who may have reached their pension contribution limits. They are also an option for expats who can no longer take advantage of UK-registered pension tax benefits.

What is the difference between a QROPS and QNUPS?

QROPS are a popular option for expats and those who plan to retire abroad and want to take their pension with them.

While a QROPS and a QNUPS share some similarities, the two have some key differences.

The first is a QNUPS is not obligated to report fund details to HMRC. However, QROPS are subject to reporting requirements.

The second difference is that QNUPS are not permitted to receive UK tax-relieved pension scheme transfers.

To learn more, read our guide on the difference between QROPS, QNUPS and SIPPs.

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Benefits of a QNUPS

QNUPS offer several benefits for those looking to secure their retirement savings. They are also an attractive option for expats who can no longer contribute to a UK pension plan.

Some of the key benefits include:

Tax efficiency

A QNUPS may offer several additional tax advantages that a standard personal pension does not.

QNUPS are generally exempt from UK Inheritance Tax (IHT) as assets are held in an offshore pension scheme. This makes them an attractive option, especially for UK-domiciled individuals. In some cases, they can also help you avoid local wealth taxes.

Another advantage of a QNUPS is your asset and investment growth is often free of UK Capital Gains Tax (CGT). This allows for greater capital growth potential.


QNUPS are widely available in many countries. Unlike a QROPS, the QNUPS provider is not required to be in a country with a double taxation agreement (DTA) in place with the UK.

However, QNUPS held in jurisdictions with DTA in place with the UK are often the most popular and can provide additional benefits depending on your country of residence.


UK pension schemes have an annual and lifetime allowance. This is the maximum amount you can contribute to your pension fund before paying a tax charge.

However, a QNUPS has no cap, meaning you can make pension contributions beyond your annual and lifetime allowance. This can provide more flexibility when saving for retirement.

Greater investment choices

A QNUPS can offer a wide range of investment options, giving your greater control and flexibility. You can transfer most assets to a QNUPS, including art, property and shares.

We cover QNUPS investment options later in this article in more detail.

Estate planning

A QNUPS can be used as a part of an estate planning strategy as it allows you to effectively pass on wealth.

With a QNUPS, you can nominate beneficiaries. Your beneficiaries are those you wish to inherit the remaining assets or capital held within the QNUPS.

QNUPS and universal life insurance

Universal Life insurance is a type of permanent life insurance. A policy combines a death benefit and a savings or cash value component.

The cash value portion of the policy grows on a tax-free basis. This means you don’t pay Capital Gains tax on the growth or the cash value savings component.

But while the policy’s cash value grows tax-free, drawing money from it is subject to income tax based on the country’s tax laws where you are a resident. However, current or returning UK residents can reduce their tax bill by using a QNUPS.

By transferring a universal life insurance policy into a QNUPS, 25% of the income withdrawn from the cash value portion of the policy is tax-free. For example, if you took out £100,000, £25,000 would be tax-free, while tax would only apply to the remaining £75,000.

As well as a tax-free amount, the policy would also be exempt from UK inheritance tax as long as it is in a QNUPS. This can result in significant tax savings.

QNUPS investment options

QNUPS are typically funded through cash contributions and/or the transfer of existing assets.

You can transfer most assets to a QNUPS except for pension plans that have benefitted from tax relief.

Some of the assets that can be transferred into a QNUPS include:

  • Stocks and shares
  • Residential property
  • Commercial property
  • Investment funds such as mutual and exchange-traded funds (ETFs)
  • Cash deposits
  • Corporate and government bonds
  • Alternative investments such as wine and art

Retirement planning with Holborn Assets

A QNUPS can offer various tax advantages and greater investment flexibility, allowing you to optimise your pension strategy.

However, before making a pension transfer to a QNUPS, it’s important to seek expert advice.

At Holborn Assets, we offer independent, professional advice tailored to your financial circumstances, needs and goals.

We specialise in the expat market, meaning we have the knowledge and experience to offer clear, impartial expat pension advice.

Start planning for tomorrow by speaking to one of our expert pension advisers today. Book a free, no-obligation meeting today and learn how we can help you.

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