Set up a new pension and transfer

If you’d like to transfer to us online, you need to set up a new pension first. We call this our Scottish Widows Retirement Account.


     This section explains

  • Which pensions you can transfer to us online
  • How to know if setting up a new pension is right for you
  • If you’re not sure, how you can find out more.

How to know if you should transfer

It’s worth checking if your existing pensions have benefits and features which you’d like to keep, as you’ll give these up when you transfer to us. These may include:

  • A protected tax-free lump sum. You can normally take 25% of your pension as a tax-free lump sum. This benefit allows you to take more than 25%.
  • Protected pension age. This gives you the right to access your pension before the age of 55. (increasing to 57 in 2028). There may be exceptions to this, for more information see the benefits and features.
  • Fund guarantees or bonuses. These can include a guaranteed growth or bonus rate, a loyalty bonus or a fund bonus.
  • Protection. This can include life cover, critical illness cover or waiver of premium.

Why we can’t accept pensions with guarantees

Some pensions come with extra guarantees. These can be valuable, and you’d lose them when you transfer. That's why we don’t accept pensions with guarantees such as:

  • A Guaranteed Annuity Rate: this means, in most cases, you’d get a higher income for life when you retire than you’d get at today’s annuity rates.
  • Guaranteed Conversion Option: this allows you to convert your pension into a fund. This fund then gives you access to a wider, more flexible range of benefit options. At today’s rates, this fund is unlikely to be worth as much as your original pension.
  • Section 9(2B) rights: these would provide you with an income that’s based on what you earned at the time this pension was set up.
  • Guaranteed Minimum Pension: some older pensions set up by an employer might offer this benefit. You’d receive this if your employer’s scheme was contracted out of part of the state pension. To find out more, you can contact your scheme administrator.

These features can’t be transferred online. You can talk to an independent financial adviser if you’d like to transfer one of these.

If your pension scheme is run by trustees

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.

How to know if you can transfer

For some types of pension, you’d need to speak to an independent financial adviser if you want to transfer to us. These include when:

  • Your pension is with a provider outside the UK.
  • It’s a final salary pension (also known as a defined benefit pension).
  • Your pension is subject to a bankruptcy order, or pension earmarking or sharing order, or other receiving orders.
  • It has been, or will be, set up using ‘disqualifying’ pension credits from a pension sharing order (i.e. the pension sharing order applied to a pension already in payment or income drawdown).​

  • You’ve already taken an income or tax-free cash lump sum from your pension.

If an employer, or someone other than you, is paying into your pension, you won’t be able to transfer online to Scottish Widows.

You can find out about these in your policy documents, or by speaking to your provider or scheme administrator.

Is this type of pension right for you?

Our Retirement Account offers you flexibility. You can save for the future and, once you’re over 55, choose how you access your pension when you’re ready.

You can choose from a range of investment options to suit your circumstances and how you feel about investment risk.

Our charges are simple to understand and are based on how much you have in your plan.

Generally, a Retirement Account may be suitable for you if you’re thinking about combining plans worth at least £10,000.

If you’d like to talk about your options, you can contact us.

How to decide if you need advice

The information here is not the same thing as advice. Here, we provide you with guidance so you can make an informed choice about your pension transfer.

Read our guide to find out the difference between the guidance we offer you here, and advice. We also let you know where you can find an independent financial adviser if you need more support.

Our transfer checklist

If you need to speak to your providers about your pensions, use our checklist so you know what to ask.

Let us help you check your pensions

This information is not the same thing as advice.
Read more about advice and find out which type might be right for you.