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Transfer of Private Pensions to Ireland for returning Irish Emigrants

From: Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection

What the transfer of private pensions to Ireland is

The Irish Revenue will allow pensions from overseas to be transferred to an approved occupational pension scheme, Personal Retirement Savings Account (PRSA) or Buy-out bond (BOB) providing:

  • the transfer takes place before pension benefits under the overseas scheme come into payment
  • the scheme member requests the transfer
  • the rules of both the Irish and overseas scheme permit the transfer
  • the trustees or administrator of the transferring scheme comply fully with any transfer rules, regulations or requirements in the other jurisdiction
  • the Revenue authority in the State from which the transfer is made approves/permits the transfer

The last three points are matters for the overseas trustee/administrator to confirm to the trustees/administrator of the Irish receiving scheme.

Returning emigrants considering transferring their pension savings should ensure that they are aware of the financial consequences. This would include (but may not be limited to) the following:

  • how benefits are paid from their existing scheme compared with how benefits would be paid from the Irish pension scheme
  • the age at which benefits can be accessed from their existing scheme as compared with the Irish scheme
  • the amount (if any) of the benefits that can be taken as a lump sum from the existing scheme as compared to the Irish scheme
  • projected values and costs under the existing scheme compared with projected values and costs under the Irish scheme
  • the taxation of benefits under the existing scheme compared with taxation of benefits under the Irish scheme
  • the investment fund choices that are available under the Irish pension scheme compared to those already invested in the existing scheme

How to qualify

Applicants should know that the conditions concerning pension savings in a country outside of Ireland will be determined by the rules and regulations of that country. These rules and regulations differ significantly from country to country and may be influenced by a wide range of factors.

Returning emigrants wishing to inform themselves of the conditions attached to accessing/transferring their pension savings are advised to contact the administrator of their pension savings and/or the relevant regulatory authorities in the country where they have established the pension savings.

Whilst rules and regulations pertaining to pension transfers will vary from country to country, given the large Irish emigrant population in the United Kingdom, Australia and Canada, Appendix 1 below provides a general overview of conditions applying in those countries.

United Kingdom

The UK allows transfers to overseas schemes with ‘QROPS’ status (Qualifying Recognised Overseas Pension Scheme). Requests for transfers may be assessed for tax purposes by the scheme administrator and by the UK’s tax authorities.

If the scheme to which you are considering transferring your pension savings is not a QROPS, your UK pension scheme may refuse to make the transfer, or you may have to pay at least 40% tax on the transfer.


Irish emigrants permanently moving back from Australia can only apply to have pension contributions returned if they have not become citizens/permanent residents of Australia.

Irish emigrants who have worked in Australia as ‘temporary residents’ having entered Australia on a temporary visa and paid in to the Australian ‘Superannuation’(pension) system can apply for a ‘departing super payment’ (DASP). You must have held a temporary visa under the Migration Act 1958 (except visas under subclasses 405 and 410) to be eligible to apply for the DASP.

Australia’s DASP payments are made to the individuals to whom the application relates and do not require that the payment be transferred to an Irish pension scheme. Australian withholding tax will apply to departing superannuation payments.

For more information about the departing Australia superannuation payment you should first contact your superfund administration.


The pension owner should in the first instance contact the financial institution/administrators responsible for their pension savings or ‘locked-in account’.

A ‘locked-in account’ owner who is a non-resident of Canada, as determined by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) for the purposes of the federal Income Tax Act, may apply to unlock and withdraw all the money in his/her pension savings or ‘locked-in account’ two years after departing Canada. Applications to access savings, which may be accessed through the Financial Services Commission of the relevant province, must be completed by the owner of the savings and sent to the administrators of the pension scheme.


United Kingdom

UK Government information on overseas pension transfers including application details and tax treatment can be accessed here.

A list of recognised Irish overseas pension scheme notified to the UK authorities can be accessed here.


For information and application details regarding a ‘departing superannuation payment’ click here.

Superannuation Information for temporary residents departing Australia.

Application Form for a departing Australia Superannuation payment.

Australian Tax Office

If you have left Australia, phone +61 2 6216 1111 between 8.00am and 5.00pm Australian Eastern Standard Time, Monday to Friday and ask to be put through to the Super area.

If you are still in Australia, phone 13 10 20 between 8.00am and 6.00pm, Monday to Friday, to speak to a tax officer.

Email the Australian Tax Office at DASPmail@ato.gov.au

Write to:

Australian Taxation Office

PO Box 3100, Penrith NSW 2740

Individuals will require a written determination from the CRA that states they are a non-resident of Canada for the purposes of the Canadian Income Tax Act and, if applicable, written consent from a spouse or a certification that you do not have a spouse.

You can get further information from the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions of Canada and the following document on OSFI's website entitled ‘Unlocking for Non-Residents.’

Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions of Canada.

Contact information for Canada Revenue Agency.

Instructions and Form for Applications to Financial Institutions for Access to Locked-in Accounts in the province of Ontario.