SIPPS, QROPS and QNUPS in a nutshell

8th May 2017

The Author: David Cooper
Financial strategist, investment adviser and Sales Director for United Advisers

The Pensions arena, with its ever-shifting legislative landscape, seems to be prolific in giving birth to seemingly incomprehensible acronyms; in fact, it probably wouldn’t be wrong to say that Pensions, as a subject area, suffers from TMA.

As an Expat, it’s hard enough just to navigate the continually changing pensions terrain, let alone try to decipher the language!

So, what do these acronyms mean… in a nutshell?

SIPP stands for Self Invested Personal Pension
QROPS stands for Qualifying Recognised Overseas Pension Scheme
QNUPS stands for Qualifying Non-UK Pension Scheme

Oh, and;

• TMA stands for Too Many Acronyms

While a SIPP is popular with UK residents, the QROPS and QNUPS have become attractive alternatives with expats because, depending on personal circumstances, QROPS and QNUPS can offer substantial advantages to people living overseas (i.e. not in the United Kingdom).


A SIPP is a type of personal pension scheme and, for years, UK residents have recognised the many advantages of consolidated pensions into SIPP arrangements.

The SIPP itself is a just ‘pension wrapper’ that holds all your investments until retirement when you start to draw income from your pension.

Most SIPPs are ideal for people who want to manage their own pension fund because it offers a great deal of freedom of choice when it comes to deciding which underlying investments you want to hold within your ‘wrapper’ and, therefore, allows you to invest in, and switch between, a range of assets.


A QROPS is similar to a UK registered pension scheme, but is a pension scheme established outside the UK. You can transfer the value of your UK pension scheme(s) to a QROPS.

Subject to meeting certain criteria, transfers can offer a number of tax efficient benefits, but QROPS legislation and associated tax implications have been subject to regular and extensive change over the past few years, so it’s always best to seek the advice of a qualified Financial Adviser if you are considering transferring your pension.

For more information about QROPS, download our free guide, updated to include budget 2017 legislation.


HMRC defines QNUPS as:

“A QNUPS is a form of Overseas Trust that qualifies as a pension for UK Tax purposes and it is afforded special IHT treatments”

A QNUPS is an HMRC devised and designed pension trust structure that is more technically robust than individual discretionary trusts or double trust schemes. Although structured as a pension, access to the funds is not tied to retirement, and a QNUPS can be advantageous in creating estate protection, wealth creation and succession planning.

A QNUPS is an advanced product and, in some circumstance, can make an excellent supplementary pension. A QNUPS is tailored to each individual and, as such, requires comprehensive advice to find the right solution for you.

I hope this gives you a taste of the various options available on the pensions menu, but this article is just that; a taste.

There are a number of alternatives, and a whole lot more to consider when making decisions about your retirement and the money you tag to support the lifestyle you want to achieve.

Download FREE QROPS Guide

 If you want to discuss planning for your future, your retirement, and the various options available, we’d love to help you. To get in touch, click here and complete the blue section on the right of the page.