How to check if you can transfer your pension

Have you been thinking about combining your pensions, but not sure if you can? Our pension experts answer some questions we often get asked.

How do I know if I can transfer my pensions to Scottish Widows?

Before you decide to transfer to us, it’s worth checking if you’re eligible. The main things we check when you ask to transfer into an existing pension with us are:

  • You live in the UK
  • You’re under the age of 75
  • You’re moving pensions which are with a UK-based provider
  • You plan to move a whole pension, not part of one
  • You aren’t already taking an income from the pension you’re moving, and
  • You haven’t taken a tax-free lump sum from the pension being transferred either.

If you’re setting up a new pension with us, you must be under the age of 74.

If you have a pension which was set up by your employer, it might be managed by trustees. If so, you will need to get permission from these trustees before you transfer to us.

If you’re not sure if your pension is run by trustees, check your policy or scheme documents, or contact your scheme administrator.

Which pensions can’t be transferred to Scottish Widows?

We accept most pensions, but here are some of the reasons why you might not be able to transfer to us online, as we don’t offer advice as part of this transfer process. Instead, you can talk to an independent financial adviser about your options.

  1. An employer, or someone other than you, is currently paying into the pension you want to transfer.
  2. Your pension is with a final salary (defined benefits) scheme. This type of pension usually gives you an income based on your earnings and the number of years you’ve been a member of the scheme.
  3. Your pension comes with guarantees or ‘rights’ that we can’t accept. You can find out more about these in our section on guarantees.
  4. You’re taking an income, or you’ve taken a tax-free lump sum from your pension.
  5. Your pension is subject to a bankruptcy order, or pension earmarking or sharing order, or other receiving orders.
  6. Your pension has been, or will be, set up using ‘disqualifying’ pension credits from a pension sharing order (i.e. the order applied to a pension which was already in payment or income drawdown).
  7. Your pension is with an overseas provider.
  8. You only want to transfer part of your pension.

What are pension guarantees?

Some pensions come with valuable guarantees. For instance, with a Guaranteed Annuity Rate you’d get a guaranteed income for life that’s likely to be higher than what you’d get using current annuity rates.

Other guarantees, such as Section 9(2B) rights, would give you an income based on how much you were earning at the time it was set up. Some older pensions set up by an employer might provide a Guaranteed Minimum Pension.

For these types of pensions, we can’t accept a transfer online. If you have these and you’d like to know more about your options, you can speak to an independent financial adviser. Read our guide to find out more about advice.

Can I transfer a pension that has or is being divided up as part of a divorce?

You can transfer your pension to us online if it​:

  • Relates to a pension credit awarded to you as part of a pension sharing order​
  • Originated in whole or part from a pension credit awarded to you previously following the implementation of a pension sharing order.
  • Has already been reduced as result of the implementation of a pension sharing order.

This is on the basis that none of the transfer payment originated from a ‘disqualifying’ pension credit. This is where the pension sharing order applied to a pension which was already in payment or income drawdown. The ceding pension provider will be able to confirm this. ​​

​Pension credits are treated as part of your overall allowance for Lifetime Allowance (LTA) purposes. If you have enhanced or fixed LTA protection, this may be lost when transferring pension credits. If you’re unsure, please speak to a financial adviser. They will normally charge for this service.