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Becoming an expat – what happens to your state pension and private retirement annuities

By April 3, 2017June 28th, 2023Retirement annuities

Becoming an expat – what happens to your state pension and private retirement annuities

April 3, 2017

When you start off your expat journey, retiring might be the furthest thing from your mind. But if you spend a lot of your life working in a foreign country, it’s important to know if you are eligible for a state pension. More and more expats are actually middle aged when they head off to their new country, and for them, the reality of what happens to their pensions and retirement annuities when they move abroad is an important issue – particularly if they want to enjoy their new expat lifestyle. In this blog post, we will give you a quick overview of what you can expect.

What happens to your state pension and private retirement annuities when you become an expat?

The reality of state pensions

If you have worked in your home country, you should be entitled to some form of state pension – but what happens to it when you move abroad? For most countries, the rule is that you are unable to claim this money until you reach the retirement age of the country where the contributions were paid.  This amount will depend on your personal levels of wealth and the contributions you have made over the years.  Some countries allow you to make contributions to your state pension even when you are working abroad – but the amount you can contribute and your window of opportunity may be limited, so make sure you know all the ins and outs by speaking to your local pension office.

The next question people want to know is whether they can claim a state pension in their new country. Unfortunately, it’s unlikely you’ll be entitled to a state pension, even if you spend many years working in your new country, unless you have permanent residency status and have made the necessary contributions.

If you are still living abroad when your home country’s state pension is due to be paid you, you might be able to have your pension paid directly to you if there is an agreement between your home country and your new country.  Alternatively have it paid into a bank account in your home country and then get it transferred to your new country when the exchange rate is in your favour.

The reality of retirement annuities

The good news is that when you become an expat, you don’t necessarily have to wait until you are 55 to get your hands on your retirement annuity!

One of’s top services is retirement annuity transfers. With this service, we assist South Africans living overseas turn their South African retirement annuity policies into cash and we then transfer the funds to their new home. The best part of this process is that it can happen even before you turn 55, and the funds can be used for any purpose!

With thousands of clients in over 105 countries, we’re widely recognised as South Africa’s leading financial migration brand and have assisted expats with retirement annuity transfers and many other migration services. In everything we do, we are proud to have a 100% success rate.

If you’re planning on immigrating and need financial advice, contact us today and we’ll help you maximise your finances in your new home.
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  • Lynette Webb says:

    Hi there, I’m writing with one simple question – hoping the answer will calm my very worried mother-in-law. She lives in Australia (has limited internet access hence I’m asking on her behalf). She presently gets a pension paid out to her (Sent via cashkow) from the SA State Education Dept as her late husband was a teacher. If she takes out Australian citizenship and doesn’t renew her SA passport will she still be entitled to get her SA pension?

    • Byron Martin says:

      Hi Lynette,

      Please send us your or your mother-in-law’s contact details, – One of our financial consultants will contact you and explain the whole process. Our financial consultants are more than willing to contact your mother-in-law via telephone since she has limited internet access.

  • Aldo Scarcella says:

    Hi, I am an Italian citizen but living permanently in South Africa and receive a monthly pension from 2 retirement annuities. Should I decide to go and live in Italy would I be able to receive my monthly pensions into an italian bank account converted into Euros.
    Best regards,
    Aldo Scarcella.

  • Johannes Ferreira says:

    I am a UK resident and have a living annuity in SA. I have UK and SA citizenship and have decided on financial emigration in view of the new legislation. Two questions:
    Is it true that I will be unable to cash in my living annuity to transfer the funds to the UK?
    Is it necessary for me to financially emigrate if I keep my UK income below R1m per year?

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