What is a PRSA?
A PRSA is a personal pension plan that you take out with an authorised PRSA
provider. It is an investment account that you can use to save for your retirement. You can make
regular and/or lump sum contributions to your pension, and, assuming you pay income
tax, you get income tax relief on the contributions you make, within certain limits set
down by Revenue. Income tax relief is given at your marginal (highest) income tax
rate. A PRSA provides benefits at retirement based on the amount of contributions paid in
and the investment returns earned on those contributions. https://www.labrokers.ie/prsas-ireland-personal-retirement-savings-account-pension-plan/
What are the benefits of a PRSA?
PRSAs are flexible; you can increase, decrease or stop your contributions at any time
without any charge or penalty. These types of pensions are portable; you can carry your PRSA from job to job or transfer it to another
Pension provider without any charge or penalty.
These types of pensions give you more choices at retirement; for example, you can continue making
contributions after you retire, while also receiving a pension income.
As a PRSA contributor, you will receive regular information to allow you to monitor its
performance and its suitability to your needs. Your contributions are eligible for tax relief, within certain limits.
Who can take out a PRSA?
PRSAs are available to you regardless of your job or employment status. You can get a PRSA if you are a part-time or casual employee,
a highly paid professional, self employed, a homemaker, a carer, a jobseeker, a contractor, an employer, an
employee or a partner in a partnership. You can continue to contribute to your policy after you retire, as long as you are not aged
75 or over.
Can I hold a separate personal pension and a PRSA at the same
Yes, but the contributions to both are added together when calculating your maximum
tax relief, which is dependent on your age.
If I am a member of an occupational pension scheme, can I take out
Yes, a member of an employer-sponsored pension scheme may also take out a PRSA.
Who contributes to my PRSA?
You contribute to your Pension if you are an employee, your employer may also
contribute but is not obliged to do so.
Is my PRSA risk free or backed by any Government guarantee?
No, your pension is not risk free or backed by any Government guarantee. Like other
personal pensions, your policy is an investment account that provides for your
retirement. This means that the value of your fund can increase or decrease,
depending on the performance of your pension providers investment funds.
What is a PRSA provider?
Investment firms, insurance companies and credit institutions may apply to the
Authority to become an authorised provider.
Who regulates PRSAs?
The Authority and Revenue are jointly responsible for approving PRSA products. The
Authority supervises the activities of Pension providers in relation to their approved
products and monitors compliance with PRSA legislation. The Central Bank of Ireland
is responsible for the prudential supervision of PRSA providers and the supervision of
the sales process of approved PRSA products.
What types of PRSA are available?
There are two types of PRSA – a Standard PRSA and a non-Standard PRSA. The
main differences between them concern charges and investment options.
Standard PRSA. LABrokers only offers Standard PRSAs https://www.labrokers.ie/prsas-ireland-personal-retirement-savings-account-pension-plan/
A Standard PRSA has maximum charges of 5% on the contributions paid and 1% per
year on your PRSA fund value. Apart from temporary cash holdings, Standard
PRSAs can only be used to invest in pooled funds, also known as managed funds.
A Standard PRSA may not be marketed or sold if purchasing it is conditional on also
buying some other product, such as life assurance.
A non-Standard PRSA does not have maximum limits on charges and allows
investments in funds other than pooled funds.
Can PRSA products be suspended or withdrawn?
Yes, the Authority, in consultation with Revenue, can suspend or withdraw a PRSA
product if a PRSA provider:
• requests it,
• has stopped trading for more than six months, or
• has failed to meet its statutory obligations.
What happens if my PRSA product is suspended or withdrawn?
Your PRSA provider must write to you informing you that its product is being
suspended or withdrawn. If the product is withdrawn, the PRSA provider must
immediately arrange to transfer your PRSA assets to another provider. You will
continue to pay into your PRSA as normal, but through the new provider.
The Authority must publish a notice of a product’s withdrawal in at least one national
newspaper within 28 days of the withdrawal.
Which employers must offer PRSAs?
All employers are required to enter a contract with a PRSA provider to provide access
to at least one Standard PRSA for all ‘excluded employees’.
An employee is considered an ‘excluded employee’ if:
• their employer does not offer an occupational pension scheme, or
• they are included in an occupational pension scheme for death-in-service
benefits only, or
• they are not eligible to join the company’s occupational pension scheme or
will not become eligible to join the scheme within six months from the date they
began work there, or
• they are included in an occupational pension scheme that does not permit
the payment of additional voluntary contributions (AVCs) by the members.
Does an employer have to contribute to PRSAs on behalf of their
Employers may contribute to employees’ PRSAs but are not obliged to do so.
What must an employer do to provide access to a Standard PRSA?
An employer must:
• enter into a contract with a PRSA provider (there is no charge for doing this) https://www.labrokers.ie/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/Zurich-Letter-Of-Appointment-1.pdf,
• notify ‘excluded employees’ that they have a right to contribute to a Standard
• allow the PRSA provider or intermediary reasonable access to ‘excluded
employees’ at their workplace,
• allow reasonable paid leave of absence, subject to work requirements, so that
‘excluded employees’ can set up a Standard PRSA,
• make deductions from payroll at the request of employees and remit these to
the PRSA provider (employers cannot charge for deducting and remitting
• advise employees in writing (normally on their payslip) at least once a month of
their total contribution including the employer’s contribution, if any.
If an employer has a small workforce of less than five employees, is
access to a Standard PRSA still necessary?
Yes, all employers, regardless of the size of their workforce, must provide access to a
Standard PRSA if those employees fall into the category of ‘excluded employees’.
If an employer has a number of part-time, fixed-term contract and
seasonal employees, is access to a Standard PRSA for these
employees still necessary?
Yes, all employees, whatever their status, must be given access to a Standard PRSA
if they fall into the category of ‘excluded employees’.
Does an employer have to provide access to a PRSA even though
there is an occupational pension scheme in place?
No, provided all employees – including full-time, part-time, seasonal, temporary,
contract or casual employees – are eligible to join the scheme for pension benefits
within six months of joining employment and the scheme permits the payment of
additional voluntary contributions (AVCs).
Even if there is only one excluded employee, the employer must provide them with
access to a Standard PRSA.
What about additional voluntary contributions (AVCs)?
If an employer has an occupational pension scheme that does not allow employees
to make AVCs, they must make a Standard PRSA available, either as part of the
existing occupational pension scheme (this requires an amendment to the scheme
rules) or as a separate AVC scheme.
If an employer enters into a contract with a PRSA provider, must their
employees who want a PRSA take it out with that provider?
No, an employee can go to any authorised PRSA provider, but an employer is not
obliged to make deductions from payroll for that employee. If an employee goes to
another provider, they make their PRSA contributions directly, by direct debit or
Does an employer have to give any advice to employees in relation
No, but the employer must allow their PRSA provider or intermediary reasonable
access to their employees to brief them on PRSAs.
Does an employer have any responsibility for the investment
performance of PRSAs?
If your employer provides you with access to a Standard PRSA, your employer is not
responsible for the investment performance of your PRSA.
Does the on-the-spot fine regime apply to employers?
Yes, employers may be subject to an on-the-spot fine if
(a) they fail to respond to a request by the Authority to furnish information about
their provision of access to a Standard PRSA for ‘excluded employees’, and
(b) they do not provide at least once a month a statement to employees showing
employee contributions deducted and employer contributions paid in the
The Authority has published an employer checklist to help employers ensure that they
do not contravene any of the specified provisions subject to the fines regime. The
‘Trustee and Employer Checklists.
Where can I get a PRSA?
To get your PRSA, https://www.labrokers.ie/prsas-ireland-personal-retirement-savings-account-pension-plan/zurich-low-cost-prsa/you must enter into a contract with an authorised PRSA provider.
Authorised PRSA providers can include investment firms, insurance companies and
credit institutions. You can get a list of authorised PRSA providers and their approved
PRSA products here and request the relevant brochures from the various PRSA
providers. There is no charge for signing up with a PRSA provider.
If your employer provides access to a PRSA, you could contact your employer for
PRSAs are also available indirectly through agents, typically insurance brokers https://www.labrokers.ie/prsas-ireland-personal-retirement-savings-account-pension-plan/or
financial advisers authorised to sell PRSA products on behalf of the PRSA providers.
Where do I get my PRSA documents?
Your PRSA provider provides you with your documents. If you do not receive all of the
documents outlined below, you should contact your provider and request them. The
documents are listed below and described in more detail in Appendix 1.
• Application form – to apply for a PRSA.
• Contract – outlines the terms and conditions of your PRSA.
• Cooling off notice – cancellation within 30 days.
• Preliminary disclosure certificate – sample benefits that can reasonably be
expected from a PRSA.
• Statement of Reasonable Projection – projection outlining the benefits that you
can reasonably expect from your PRSA, based on certain assumptions.
• PRSA certificate – outlines the contributions you have agreed to pay and the
contribution method you will use.
• Investment report – the investment performance of the funds in which your
PRSA is invested.
• Statement of account – outlines the contributions paid into your PRSA and the
transfer value of your PRSA at the date of the statement.
• Certificate of comparison – if you are a member of an occupational pension
scheme and are transferring your benefits into a PRSA.
• Disclosure declaration – if your new PRSA will replace an existing PRSA
contract or a Retirement Annuity Contract.
• Non-Standard PRSA declaration – if you are investing in a non-Standard PRSA.
Do I need to hold on to my PRSA documents?
Yes, you should retain all PRSA documents for your own records and as evidence of
your contributions. You will need the contract and the PRSA certificate to draw a
pension income from your PRSA. If you are self-employed or paying contributions
directly into your PRSA, you will need the PRSA certificate and a statement of account
to avail of tax relief.
You should also let a solicitor, friend or relative know where you keep your PRSA
documents in case you become seriously ill or die.
Can I cancel my PRSA after signing a contract with a provider?
After you sign a PRSA contract, you have a cooling-off period of 30 days from the date
you are given the statement of reasonable projection. During this time, you can cancel
If you cancel within the cooling-off period, you normally get a full refund of contributions
you made to your PRSA. You may be charged if you paid single contributions and a
loss incurred as a result of investment market volatility during the cooling-off period.
Contributing to my PRSA
Is there a minimum amount that I must contribute to my PRSA?
Yes, but PRSA providers cannot impose a minimum contribution to your PRSA greater
(a) €300 per year, and
(b) €10 per electronic transaction, or
(c) €50 per transaction for other methods of payment.
Is there a maximum amount that I can contribute to my PRSA?
You can contribute as much as you like to your PRSA, as long as you meet the
minimum contribution levels. However, the amount of tax relief you can get on
contributions depends on your age and earnings.
Must I make regular contributions?
No, you do not have to make regular contributions to your PRSA. However, if you are
arranging your PRSA through an employer’s scheme, you will usually make monthly
payments. If you are paying directly into your PRSA, most PRSA providers allow you
to pay monthly, quarterly, half-yearly and yearly. Some PRSA providers allow you to
pay weekly. You can also make additional top-up contributions to a PRSA at any time.
How can I pay my contributions?
This is at the discretion of your PRSA provider. Most PRSA providers accept regular
contributions by direct debit, and lump sum payments or transfers by cheque or
Electronic Funds Transfer. If you are an employee, your employer may arrange to
deduct your monthly contributions from your salary and remit these to the PRSA
provider on your behalf.
How flexible can my contributions be?
You are free to stop, start, increase and decrease your contributions at any time,
although your PRSA provider may require prior notice of a change. You cannot be
charged for changing, stopping or restarting your contributions.
Most PRSA providers have an indexation option that allows you to increase your
regular contributions in line with inflation each year.
What happens if I don’t pay my contributions?
You can stop your contributions at any time without being charged or penalised for
doing so. However, this will reduce the pension benefits you may expect at retirement.
If you do not pay contributions for two years or more and the value of your PRSA fund
is €650 or less, your PRSA provider can terminate your PRSA and give you a refund
of the value of your account. Your PRSA provider must give you three months’ written
notice before terminating your PRSA.
Are there any rewards or bonuses if I pay my contributions?
Some PRSA providers apply bonus units or lower charges if your contributions are
over a certain level, you consistently meet your monthly contributions, or you retire at
the date initially specified when you signed your contract. If you invest part or all of
your PRSA in certain funds, you may also receive bonuses on and after retirement.
What happens if I change jobs?
If your new job allows you to become a member of an occupational pension scheme,
you may transfer your PRSA into that scheme. Alternatively, if your new job is not
pensionable or you become self-employed, you can continue to contribute to your
What must an employer do with their employees’ PRSA
An employer must, if requested, deduct employees’ contributions from payroll and
send them, along with employer contributions, if any, to the PRSA provider within 21
days of the end of the month in which the contributions were deducted. An employer
cannot make any deduction from this payment.
What information must an employer give regarding PRSA
An employer must advise their employees and the PRSA provider in writing at least
once a month of the total amount deducted from the employee’s salary and, if
appropriate, the total amount paid by the employer on behalf of their employees in the
preceding month. An employer can do this using whatever salary documentation is
normally provided to their employees (for example, a payroll slip).
Can I transfer occupational pension scheme benefits to a PRSA?
You can only transfer your occupational pension scheme benefits to a PRSA if you
have been a member of the scheme for 15 years or less, and the scheme is being
wound up or you are leaving that employment. You cannot transfer your occupational
pension scheme benefits to a PRSA if you have been a member of the scheme for
more than 15 years.
If you have paid AVCs to an occupational pension scheme, those may be
transferred to a PRSA and the above rules do not apply.
Are there disclosure requirements concerning transfers from
occupational pension schemes to PRSAs?
Yes, transfers cannot be accepted by PRSA providers unless the member has been
given a certificate comparing potential benefits from the occupational pension
scheme and the PRSA, and a written statement as to why a transfer to a PRSA would
or would not be in their interest.
There is no discretion in the legislation to waive this requirement for a certificate of
comparison. However, it is exempted in the following cases:
• where the transfer value is under €10,000, or
• represents a refund of contributions, or
• the accrued benefits to a member whose employment related to the
occupational pension scheme is less than two years and who has no
preserved benefit, or
• where the scheme is in wind-up.
The above requirement also applies to transfers from AVCs to PRSAs.
Can refunds from occupational pension schemes be transferred to
Employees who are entitled to a refund of contributions on leaving a job can transfer
the contributions to a PRSA without a tax charge instead of taking the refund.
PRSA tax reliefs
How much tax relief do I get on contributions to a PRSA?
The maximum amount of tax relief you can get depends on your age and your
Age Contribution limits
% of net relevant earnings
Under 30 = 15%
30-39 = 20%
40-49 = 25%
50-54 = 30%
55-59 = 35%
60 or over = 40%
If you are a sports person or a professional who usually retires at an earlier age than
the norm, you can get tax relief on 30% of your net relevant earnings regardless of
your age. Relief is given at your marginal (higher) tax rate, but there is no relief in
respect of PRSI and the Universal Social Charge. Employer PRSA contributions are
added to your actual contributions to determine if the above limits are reached.
For everyone, there is a maximum annual amount of earnings for which tax relief is
given. This is currently €115,000. This figure is adjusted from time to time by the
Minister for Finance.
If you make contributions, but do not get tax relief on them because you exceed the
tax relief limits or are not working, you can apply for tax relief on these contributions in
A taxpayer is entitled to tax relief on a contribution of €1,525 even if this exceeds the
normal income-based limit.
Can employees claim tax relief on their PRSA contributions?
Yes, employee contributions paid to a PRSA are subject to tax relief on the same basis
as outlined above.
What about additional voluntary contributions paid to a PRSA?
Employees in occupational pension schemes may pay AVCs into a PRSA. The
normal limits for tax relief purposes, as outlined above, apply to the total employee
contribution. Any contributions an employee pays to an occupational pension
scheme need to be taken into account when determining the amount of PRSA
contributions eligible for tax relief. https://www.labrokers.ie/prsas-ireland-personal-retirement-savings-account-pension-plan/zurich-low-cost-prsa-avcs/
How does this work?
When an employer deducts qualifying PRSA contributions from employees, the net
pay arrangement will apply. This means that income tax will be calculated based on
employees’ wages or salaries net of PRSA contributions, so no income tax is paid on
money being paid into the PRSA by the employee (within Revenue limits). An
employer will be able to operate the net pay basis as long as they hold a PRSA net
Does an employer get tax relief on any contributions they make to
an employee’s PRSA?
Yes, contributions paid by employers are fully deductible for corporation tax purposes.
Contributions paid by the employer are treated as a benefit-in-kind. Employees are
entitled to income tax relief on these contributions subject to the limits on tax relief
Does an employer get PRSI relief on any contributions an employee
makes to a PRSA?
No, contributions paid by employees are not deductible for employer PRSI purposes.
Are PRSA investments taxed?
No, tax is not charged on the investment income or capital gains earned by PRSAs.
However, income tax may be levied on pension benefits taken from a PRSA after
Is there a maximum amount of pension fund that can be built up?
Individuals have a maximum lifetime limit on the amount of their retirement benefits
from all sources (except State pensions).
The limit (known as the Standard Fund Threshold (SFT)) is currently €2m, 25% of
which (i.e. €500,000) is the maximum amount an individual can take in cash lump
If an individual exceeds the lifetime limit on the amount of their retirement benefit (and
had not previously applied to Revenue for a higher personal limit), the excess value is
taxed up-front at the top rate of income tax and may, in addition, be subject to income
tax in payment.
More information on the tax rules relating to PRSAs is available on the Revenue
Investing my PRSA
What happens to my contributions once they are put into my PRSA?
contributions are invested in one or more of a range of funds. The value
of your Pension fund can increase or decrease, depending on the performance of these
In what types of assets will my PRSA invest?
Your Pension fund is typically invested in company shares (equities), bonds issued by
governments (sovereign bonds), bonds issued by companies (corporate bonds),
property and cash. Your Pension provider must give you information in relation to the
types of assets in which your Pension is invested.
Who decides how I invest my PRSA?
You do. It is your Pension and you choose the type of funds you want to invest in and/or
the strategy to be followed. All PRSAs must have a default investment strategy. If
you choose not to make an active investment decision your Pension fund will be invested
in accordance with the default investment strategy. Your Pension provider will also
give you a choice of investment funds outside this strategy and you can choose to
invest in any of those instead.
What is a default investment strategy?
A default investment strategy is the automatic strategy that is applied to your PRSA
unless you specify otherwise in writing. It usually involves investing in a collection of
investment funds aimed at meeting the reasonable retirement savings expectations of
a typical contributor. The default investment strategy for each individual Pension is
based on general good investment practice in saving for retirement although, like all
investments, it is not risk free.
Should anything influence the choice of investment funds for my
You (and your investment adviser, if applicable) should consider how long it will be
until you retire, how much you expect in pension income and how much risk you are
prepared to take in relation to your investment. Generally, as you approach retirement,
your investment in higher-risk funds should decrease.
What level of risk is associated with my PRSA?
The level of risk associated with your pension will depend on the type of investment
strategy you choose. This is why it is important to decide on the level of risk you are
comfortable with when taking out your Pension.
In the default investment strategy, most of your PRSA fund is likely to be invested
in higher-risk funds in the early-to-mid years of your working life, moving to middle-risk
funds in later years and lower-risk funds as you near retirement.
Can I change or switch between investment funds after I sign the
contract with my PRSA provider?
Yes, you can transfer between funds or move future contributions into a different fund.
Some Pension providers require a minimum balance in your PRSA before you can
transfer between funds. There may also be a limit on the number of times a year you
can switch between funds without charge.
How do I know how well my investment fund is performing?
Every six months, your PRSA provider must send you an investment report that
outlines the performance of the funds in your Pension.
Getting my benefits
When can I take an income from my PRSA?
You can normally start taking your benefits when you are aged between 60 and 75.
You may be able to take your benefits earlier, for example, if you retire from an
employment at age 50 or over, or if you can no longer work because of a serious
illness or disability. However, you cannot use your Pension as security for a loan or
assign it to someone else.
What documentation do I need to get my PRSA benefits?
You will need your PRSA certificate and contract, your birth certificate and Personal
Public Service Number (PPSN). You may also need to provide evidence of ill-health if
you are retiring earlier than normal for medical reasons.
What will my PRSA fund consist of at retirement?
Your PRSA fund at retirement will consist of the total contributions paid by you (and
your employer, if any) and the investment return earned on those contributions, less
the PRSA provider’s charges.
What options do I have at retirement?
You can take a lump sum at retirement of 25% of your PRSA fund’s value. This lump
sum is currently tax free up to a maximum of €200,000 and taxed at 20% between
€200,001 and €500,000 with any balance over this amount taxed at the marginal rate
and subject to the Universal Social Charge.
With the remainder of your PRSA fund, you can:
• use the balance to buy an annuity, or
• leave the remaining funds in your PRSA and withdraw from them at any time
before age 75, subject to Revenue requirements (this is called a vested PRSA),
• transfer the balance to an approved retirement fund (ARF), subject to Revenue
In order to introduce an element of security in retirement, minimum retirement income
requirements exist for those who choose to withdraw from a PRSA from time to time
or transfer to an ARF. If you are under 75, you are required to demonstrate a
guaranteed income of €12,700 per year. This amount can include State pensions. If
you are unable to meet this minimum, you must either transfer €63,500 of your PRSA
fund to an Approved Minimum Retirement Fund (AMRF), or purchase an annuity which
will bring up the level of guaranteed income to the minimum amount.
Do I have to take all my PRSA benefits at retirement?
No, you can take gradual benefits from your PRSA and continue to make PRSA
contributions. However, you must take your PRSA benefits at age 75 and stop any
contributions before that age.
What happens if I die before I retire?
If you die before you retire, your PRSA fund will be transferred to your estate, but your
heir(s) may have to pay inheritance tax before receiving it.
What happens if I die after I start to take my PRSA benefits?
This depends on the pension option you choose at retirement. You can get more
information from the Revenue website at http://www.revenue.ie.
Can I transfer my PRSA fund to another pension arrangement if I
As a PRSA is essentially your personal pension plan, you can normally bring it from
job to job and from employment to self-employment or vice versa. You can transfer
your PRSA benefits to an occupational pension scheme or another PRSA without
What are the charges for Standard PRSAs?
The charges for Standard PRSAs are capped, but the charges can still
vary among PRSA products and different Pension providers. The important point is that
Standard PRSA charges cannot be increased above the upper limits set out in
legislation throughout the lifetime of a Standard PRSA contract. These upper limits
• a maximum charge of 5% of each contribution you pay, and
• a maximum charge of 1% of the value of your PRSA fund each year.
LABrokers have a 0% charge on each contribution you pay, and a maximum charge of 1% of the value of your fund each year. For full details please see https://www.labrokers.ie/prsas-ireland-personal-retirement-savings-account-pension-plan/
What are the charges for Non-Standard PRSAs?
Charges on Non-Standard PRSAs are not capped and vary among Pension products
and Pension providers, often depending on the way in which your money is invested and
the amount of money you invest. There are fewer investment restrictions with Non-Standard Pension policies. The Authority has developed a section ‘Investment: risk and reward’
on its website which you may find useful in deciding how to invest your retirement
Can my PRSA provider change its charges?
Yes, a Pension provider can change its charges provided it is allowed for in its PRSA
contract. The Pension provider must give two months’ notice of any increase in charges
and must also provide you with an updated Statement of Reasonable Projection
outlining these charges within seven days of the changes coming into effect.
Some Pension providers reduce your contribution charge if your contributions are above
a certain level. The annual fund management charge may also be reduced if the value
of your fund exceeds a certain level or you retire on the retirement date initially
specified in your Pension contract.
What services do not incur charges?
Some of the services for which you cannot be charged include:
• setting up or closing a PRSA,
• cancelling your PRSA within the cooling-off period (a reduction in value may
apply if you made single contributions and these incurred an investment loss),
• transferring other pension benefits to your PRSA (if a certificate of comparison
is required, a fee may be charged),
• transferring your PRSA to another provider or to an occupational pension
• increasing your contributions,
• decreasing your contributions (although this may depend on the charging
structure of your PRSA), or
• starting, stopping or restarting contributions
What if I have a complaint about my PRSA?
Depending on the type of complaint you have, a number of authorities can help. You
can contact the Pension provider, the Pensions Authority, the Financial Services and
Pensions Ombudsman or the Central Bank of Ireland (see Appendix 2 below for contact
How do I know who to contact?
If you have a complaint about the management of your PRSA, you should initially
contact the Pension provider and try to resolve it directly.
The Pensions Authority
If you are unable to resolve the issue with your pension provider, you should contact the
Pensions Authority, which can assist you in resolving the complaint.
The Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman. The Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman is an officer appointed under the
Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman Act, 2017, whose functions include the
investigation and adjudication of complaints arising from the conduct of a pension
provider involving alleged financial loss by an act of maladministration or any dispute
of fact or law.
If you have followed the internal complaints procedure of your financial services
provider and you are still not satisfied, the Financial Services and Pensions
Ombudsman may be able to help you.
Central Bank of Ireland
The Central Bank of Ireland is responsible for the regulation of all financial services
firms in Ireland. The Central Bank’s role is to protect consumers, to help people make
efficient and effective use of complaint procedures, and to assist and inform
consumers where necessary. If you are unsure of where to go, any of the above
organisations will point you in the right direction.
Quick tips on PRSAs
• By law, your pension provider must give you detailed information in relation to
your Pension. If there is something you are not sure about, contact your Pension
provider and ask them to clarify.
• Take the time to carefully read the information you are given. Don’t be afraid to
ask your Pension provider to explain the material you have been given if you don’t
• When choosing your PRSA provider, shop around for rewards or bonuses for
making contributions https://www.labrokers.ie/prsas-ireland-personal-retirement-savings-account-pension-plan/or retiring on the date initially specified in your contract.
• Be wary of mis-selling. If you are getting a Pension through a broker, intermediary
or other salesperson, ensure they offer a Standard PRSA as well as a non-Standard PRSA. If they propose a non-Standard Pension, make sure they give
you clear reasons, as there is no cap on charges with non-Standard PRSAs.
Seek independent financial advice where possible.
• If you are opting for a non-Standard PRSA, ask your Pension provider for a list of
the cost differences between their non-Standard Pension and Standard PRSA
products. Read and sign the Central Bank of Ireland’s non-Standard Pension
declaration before buying a non-Standard Pension and keep a copy of it.
• Be wary of promises of high investment returns. Past performance is never a
guarantee of future returns and it is difficult, if not impossible, to predict how
well an individual investment fund will perform.
• Be wary of substitution selling. If you are in long-term employment and already
in an occupational pension scheme, you may not need a PRSA unless your
employer is winding up the scheme or you are changing employment and your
new employer doesn’t offer a pension scheme. PRSAs are aimed primarily at
people who have not made any pension provision.
• Occupational pension schemes may offer more benefits than PRSAs as your
employer usually contributes to your scheme. Your employer can contribute to
your PRSA but is not obliged to do so.
• You are free to stop your contributions at any time without being charged or
penalised for doing so. If you do not pay contributions for two years or more
and the value of your pension fund is €650 or less, your pension provider can terminate your pension and give you a refund of the value of your account. Your
Pension provider must give you three months’ written notice before closing your
• Take note of the types of services for which you cannot be charged. If you find
you are being incorrectly charged, contact your pension provider. If the outcome
is unsatisfactory, contact the Pensions Authority, the Financial Services and
Pensions Ombudsman or the Central Bank of Ireland, whichever is appropriate.
• For detailed information on tax relief and PRSAs, you should contact Revenue.
• Keep all your pension documents safely and let a solicitor, friend or relative know
where they are.
Philomena, aged 28, freelance
Philomena McGovern, aged 28, is a freelance journalist who earns €50,000 per year.
Due to the nature of her job, she is not in pensionable employment and has not made
any pension provision to date.
Philomena decides to take out a Standard PRSA. She initially pays 15% of her salary
(€7,500 for the first year) into her pension, which is the Revenue maximum percentage
for tax relief for an individual under age 30. This means Philomena can get full tax
relief at her marginal rate of tax. Her contributions to her Pension work out at €625 a
month for the first year which, after tax relief, cost her only €375 a month. Pension
charges are deducted from her contributions. Philomena expects her earnings to
increase in the future and chooses an indexation option so that her contributions
automatically increase by 5% each year. By doing so, she hopes that inflation will not
decrease the real value of her pension contributions.
Philomena does not always have a steady income but, with her Pension policy, she can stop,
restart and change her contributions at any time. If she decides to stop freelancing
and work with a company, she can transfer her pension into that company’s
occupational pension scheme (if it has one). If the company does not provide a
pension scheme, she can continue to contribute as normal to her pension.
Stephen, aged 45, self-employed
Stephen Smith, aged 45, is a self-employed IT consultant who earns €110,000 per
year. Stephen would like to start a pension that allows him to invest in high-risk funds.
He opts for a non-Standard Plan as this offers him a greater choice of funds. He
does not choose the default investment strategy. Instead, he gets independent
financial advice and chooses the funds in which he would like to invest.
Before getting the non-Standard product, Stephen asks his pension provider for a list of
cost differences between it and the Standard PRSA product. He also reads and signs
the non-Standard declaration.
Although Stephen can only get tax relief on 25% of his earnings because of his age,
he contributes 30% of his earnings to his PRSA as he has not previously had a pension
and wants to make up for lost time.
He invests his contributions in a number of high-risk funds but intends to change to
low-risk funds about five years before he retires. He hopes that, by doing so, his pension
funds will enjoy the growth that higher-risk funds have the potential to deliver, but he
has the comfort of knowing his funds will be more secure in lower-risk funds as he
Glossary of terms
Additional voluntary contributions (AVCs): Additional contributions paid by a
member of an occupational pension scheme in order to secure benefits over and
above those set out in the rules of the scheme. Where an occupational pension
scheme does not provide access to an AVC facility, a standard PRSA must be offered
for this purpose. https://www.labrokers.ie/prsas-ireland-personal-retirement-savings-account-pension-plan/zurich-low-cost-prsa-avcs/
Annuity: A guaranteed retirement income for life paid at stated intervals until a
particular event (usually the death of the person receiving the annuity). Annuities are
normally purchased from a life assurance company at retirement in return for a lump
sum payment (from your pension fund).
Approved Minimum Retirement Fund (AMRF): An Approved Minimum Retirement
Fund (AMRF) is a post retirement investment fund for individuals under age 75 who
do not meet the specified income amount (currently €12,700 per year) and wish for
their residual retirement funds, after taking a retirement lump sum, to remain invested
after retirement. In this case, the lesser of the residual retirement fund or €63,500 can
be invested in an AMRF. An AMRF can accumulate tax free. A maximum of 4% of
the AMRF value may be withdrawn annually and withdrawals are subject to tax. An
AMRF automatically becomes an ARF (see below) when an individual reaches age 75
or meets the specified income requirement, if earlier.
Approved Retirement Fund (ARF): An Approved Retirement Fund (ARF) is a postretirement investment fund for the proceeds of any:
• defined contribution scheme,
• additional voluntary contributions,
• Personal Retirement Savings Account,
• Retirement Annuity Contract,
• buy-out bond (where the benefits from a defined benefit or defined contribution
scheme were transferred into a buy-out bond), or
• in the case of a 5% Director other retirement benefits that are not taken in the
form of a lump sum or pension on retirement.
Certain qualifying conditions must be met in order for you to be eligible to transfer your
retirement funds to an ARF. You must have a guaranteed income of at least €12,700
per year or you must have set aside at least €63,500 in an Approved Minimum
Retirement Fund (see above). Money is invested with a qualifying fund manager and
may be invested in any manner you choose. ARF funds accumulate tax-free. Income
tax is payable on any withdrawals from an ARF. A minimum withdrawal is assumed
for tax purposes even if no withdrawal is made in any given year.
Default investment strategy: An automatic investment strategy required by law to be
applied under this type of contract unless the contributor indicates otherwise. The default
investment strategy for each individual product is based on general good
investment practice in saving for retirement and approved by the Insurer actuary.
Trustees of a defined contribution scheme may specify a particular strategy as a
default if they are offering members a choice of alternative strategies or funds.
Net relevant earnings: These are broadly defined as earnings from a trade or
professional employment, less certain allowable expenses.
Occupational pension scheme: A pension scheme set up by an employer to provide
retirement and/or other benefits for employees. It is sometimes called a ‘company
Pension adjustment order: An order made following a decree of judicial separation
or divorce whereby the court adjusts a member’s pension rights in favour of their
spouse/civil partner/qualified cohabitant or a dependent child.
Pooled funds: Also known as managed funds, these are collective investment
schemes in which investors’ money is pooled to buy a portfolio of assets, including
government bonds, deposits, property and stocks.
PRSI: A shortened name for Pay Related Social Insurance, whereby workers earning
an income pay contributions to the Social Insurance Fund. In return, they are covered
for certain benefits, such as a State pension.
Retirement Annuity Contract (RAC): An individual pension policy which can only be
effected by individuals who are in non-pensionable employment or who have taxable
earnings from a self-employed trade or profession. Also known as ‘personal pension
plans’ or ‘personal pension contracts’.
Temporary cash holdings: Short-term deposits that are secure.
Application form: To apply for a policy, request an application form from your chosen
provider. Complete, sign and return it, remembering to provide proof of age and
your Personal Public Service Number (PPSN) with your application form.
Contract: The contract outlines the terms and conditions of your pension. You may need this document when applying for
Cooling off notice: If within 30 days you want to cancel your policy, you must sign a
cancellation notice and return it with your original certificate. The cancellation
notice is usually enclosed with the Statement of Reasonable Projection.
Preliminary disclosure certificate: The preliminary disclosure certificate outlines the
sample benefits that can reasonably be expected, based on a number
of assumptions. It outlines the investment strategy, charges, tax relief
arrangements, cooling-off period, risk factors and expected benefits. You should
receive this before you apply for a pension as it may form part of the contract.
Statement of Reasonable Projection: The statement of reasonable projection
outlines the projected benefits at retirement that you can reasonably expect from your
Pension, based on certain assumptions. You should receive it within seven days after
you sign the contract and once a year after this and on request. You should also
receive this statement if there is an increase in charges.
PRSA certificate: This certificate outlines the contributions you have agreed to pay
and the contribution method you will use. You will receive it after you open your Pension.
If you are self-employed, you will need this certificate to avail of tax relief. If you are
an employee and your contributions are to be deducted from your pay, you should
give this certificate to your employer and keep a copy for yourself. All Pension
contributors will need this certificate to get their benefits.
Investment report: This report outlines the investment performance of the funds in
which your Pension is invested. You should receive an investment report every six
Statement of account: This statement outlines the contributions paid into your Pension
by you (and your employer, where applicable) and the transfer value of your Pension at
the date of the statement. You should receive a statement of account every six months.
This document may be required by your local Inspector of Taxes.
Certificate of comparison: You need a certificate of comparison if you are a member
of an occupational pension scheme and are transferring your benefits into a PRSA.
This certificate compares the possible benefits of your occupational pension
scheme with the possible benefits from the Pension. You should get this certificate
before transferring from an occupational pension scheme to a Pension. You should
also receive a written statement outlining the reasons why such a transfer is in your
best interests. There may be a charge for providing this certificate.
Central Bank of Ireland
PO Box 559
New Wapping Street
North Wall Quay
Tel: (01) 224 6000
LoCall: 1890 77 77 77
Fax: (01) 224 5550
Department of Social Protection
Social Welfare Services
Tel: (071) 915 7100
LoCall: 1890 50 00 00
Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman
Tel: (01) 567 7000
Financial Services (Pensions) Business
Large Cases Division
Office of the Revenue Commissioners
73-79 Lower Mount Street
Tel: (01) 738 3637
The Pensions Authority
28/30 Lower Mount Street
Tel: (01) 613 1900
LoCall: 1890 65 65 65
Fax: (01) 631 8602