Q. I worked in Paris, for three different companies, for almost seven years 1971 - 1978. I retire in November this year at the age of 60. I am currently domiciled in England but we have a second home (through a Société Civile Immobilière) in France. We may eventually move permanently to France when my husband retires in a few years time. I had intended to claim my French pension through the British pension system but I’m wondering if I might not be better off claiming it separately in France.
So my questions are:
a. Do I have a choice about where my French employment pension is paid?
b. Are there any advantages in having it paid in one country rather than the other?
c. Where can I find out more information about my French pension?
A. (a) You can choose the bank account to which the pension is paid, yes, irrespective of whether this is in France or not. However, be careful if you ask for this, as many people ask the wrong question! Essentially, there is no question to ask of your pension payer, just give them the international bank account details to which the pension is to be paid if outside of France, otherwise known as the ‘IBAN’ number - International Bank Account Number.
If you want the funds converted from euros to sterling this will occur automatically in the transfer process but if you would rather keep the pension in euros, even though in the UK, then you might wish to consider opening a euro bank account in the UK.
(b) Essentially no, as the income will have to be taken into account for tax anyway irrespective of the country in which the pension is received. However, currency exchange may gave an impact on the amount of the pension finally declared at the end of the year as, if the funds are received in France in euros, then you have to convert the euros to sterling at given exchange rates set by the Inland Revenue.
While you can usually choose between, for example, the average exchange rate of the calendar year or of the tax year, that’s it. On the other hand, if the pension is paid monthly, for example, into a sterling account, then it is the sterling receipt that counts. The latter option provides for a more realistic exchange rate over the course of the year, but then whether this will eventually be better or worse than using one of the average rates will only be known after then end of the year. Unless your income is high when it pays to use currency exchange dealers, most people tend to go for the most practical option.
(c) Information about your pension in France is complicated as most pensions are paid by organisations dependant on the work sector in which the person was employed. In general terms, the best idea apart from contacting your own organisation from the papers you will have been given as an employee is probably to go onto google.fr and search for ‘retraite’. Without knowing what information you are looking for it is difficult to offer any further assistance in this domain, apart from perhaps mention that French pensions are based on buy annual ‘quarters’ of pension rights.