Applying for a permission

Pension Schemes


The purpose of this page is to explain the application process for pension schemes.

This section sets out:

  • What an Occupational Pension Scheme is
  • What a Personal Pension Scheme is
  • Requirement for authorisation of IORPs under Part 26 and 27 of the Financial Services Act (the Act)
  • Authorisation Process
  • Additional Information

Occupational Pension Scheme

An occupational Pension is a scheme generated by a company or organisation for the benefit of its employees. An employer, or group of employers, can choose to set up an occupational pension scheme to provide pension and other benefits for their employees when they retire. The type of benefit employers provide usually defines occupational Pension schemes.

There are three main types:

  • Defined Benefit Schemes (sometimes known as 'salary-related' or 'final salary' schemes);
  • Defined Contribution Schemes (sometimes known as 'money purchase' schemes); and
  • Hybrid Schemes (mixture of defined benefit and defined contribution benefits).

Contributions from the employer only (a 'non-contributory scheme') or from both the employer and employee (a 'contributory scheme') can fund each of the three funds. 

Defined Benefit Schemes

Schemes offered by employers that provide pensions for their employees based on the employee's salary and years of service, are sometimes called defined benefit or final salary schemes. The employer contributes to the scheme and there are trustees who look after scheme members' interests. You can only get salary-related pensions through an employer.

Defined Contribution Schemes

Schemes called defined contribution schemes do not provide a pension based on salary or years of service, instead, they build up a pension fund that will convert into an income when individuals retire. Usually, the employer contributes to the scheme and there are trustees who look after scheme members' interests. When individuals retire, the scheme administrator will usually buy an annuity for individuals.

Scheme members should receive an annual statement showing how much pension income members might receive based on the value of the pension fund as of that date.  The statement takes into account future payments into the plan, for example, how the plan might grow, future inflation, and pension income from the fund when members retire. These statements only provide an illustration of potential returns.

Personal Pension Scheme

A Personal Pension Scheme is one of the following:

  • Gibraltar Approved Personal Pension Scheme (GAPPS)
  • Retirement Annuity Contract (RAC) *
  • Individual Personal Pension Plan (IPPP) *
  • Qualifying Recognised Overseas Pension Schemes (QROPS)
  • Qualifying Non-UK Pension Schemes (QNUPS)

* Only one application required

Requirement for authorisation of IORPs under Part 26 and 27 of the Financial Services Act 

Under Section 557 of Part 26, an IORP, the main administration of which is located in Gibraltar, must not operate in or from Gibraltar without an authorisation granted by the GFSC under this Part. The location of the main administration of an IORP is the place where the main strategic decisions of the IORP are made. This requirement does not apply to:

  1. social security or assistance provided by the Government;
  2. any pension scheme provided, administered or guaranteed by the Government;
  3. any regulated firm with permission under Part 7.
  4. institutions which operate on a pay-as-you-go basis;
  5. institutions where employees of the sponsoring undertaking have no legal rights to benefits and where the sponsoring undertaking can redeem the assets at any time and not necessarily meet its obligations for payment of retirement benefits;
  6. companies using book-reserve schemes with a view to paying out retirement benefits to their employees; or
  7. except to the extent stated in section 558(2) or (5), a small institution.

Small institutions refers to an IORP that operates pension schemes that together have fewer than 100 members in total. A small institution that operates pension schemes that together have more than 15 members in total, must comply with specified provisions of regulations made under Section 585 and must be registered under Section 560.

Under Section 595 of Part 27, a regulated firm with permission under Part 7 to carry on the regulated activity of establishing etc. a personal pension scheme may only submit at application to the GFSC for the approval of a personal pension scheme.


Application Process

Applicants should submit an application form with all relevant documents. We will not consider an application complete if there are any outstanding documents.

Pension Scheme Application Form

Please submit this form via E-mail to [email protected] with the following information in the subject field: ‘Name of Pension Scheme’. Paper copies are not required unless indicated by the Authorisation team.

Please note that we accept signed signature copies sent via e-mail and electronic signatures, which must originate from the Scheme’s domain.  

In addition to the Application Form and Application Fee, we require the following documentation for Occupational Pension Schemes: 

  • Business Plan, including information on:
    • The Role of the Trustees;
    • Risk Management; and
    • The scheme’s statement of investment principles.
  • Actuarial Valuation Report (for defined benefit schemes);
  • Sponsor Company’s audited financial statements for the last three years;
  • Any other document the applicant considers the GFSC should take into consideration as part of the application; and
  • Copies of any information material i.e. members guide or employee handbook.


Additional Information

Please ensure that within the application, it is clearly set out how the proposed occupational pension scheme is to be set up, governed and administered. Applicant should also submit a description of the sponsoring undertaking, including its activities, group structure (if applicable) and latest audited financial position.

When considering an application, the GFSC has to be satisfied that the Trustee(s) or any person associated with the management/administration of pension schemes, and its assets/liabilities, is fit and proper to hold that position. The fit and proper criteria includes both technical competence and integrity. We must be satisfied that the pension scheme fulfils the criteria set out in Part 26 of the Financial Services Act. The pension scheme must be adequately and properly governed and administered, and sufficient controls must be in place to reduce the risk of error and fraud. It is mandatory that the pension scheme is set up under a trust and that, in order to protect members and beneficiaries, it should limit its activities to retirement benefit provision.

Role of the Trustees

Trustees must:

  • Ensure Investments are in line with the Statement of Investment Principles;
  • Hold scheme assets securely;
  • Ensure outsourcing is carried out properly;
  • Act in best interest of beneficiaries;
  • Give effect to trust deed and rules;
  • Invest scheme assets or ensure they are invested adequately;
  • Keep records and accounts of contributions to and from the scheme/give information;
  • Collect contributions from the employer and employee;
  • Invest them in accordance with the Statement of Investment Principles, or monitor that the investment advisor is doing so properly;
  • Ensure that funds are protected;
  • Ensure that the correct benefits are paid to the correct people at the correct time; and
  • Report to the relevant authorities on the financial conduct of the scheme.

Risk Management

The application should include details of how the trustees or any other person associated with the management/administration of the pension schemes conducts risk management, and in particular, how the trustees will mitigate the following risks:

  • That monies are misappropriated;
  • That beneficiaries do not receive their full entitlements;
  • That monies are not appropriately invested;
  • That Defined Benefit schemes are not prudently funded to meet liabilities as they fall due;
  • That members are not adequately informed about the scheme and there is lack of transparency;
  • That the administration of the scheme is not effectively undertaken Member understanding/transparency;
  • That trustees are not knowledgeable;
  • That there are conflicts of interest; 
  • That bad advice is received from professionals;
  • That an employer withdraws from a scheme without effective arrangements being put in place to protect the pension scheme;
  • That Scheme assets/money is not adequately segregated;
  • That fees and costs are unnecessarily high;
  • That there is Insufficient Contribution Level; and
  • Investment risk / market risk (potentially having a significant impact on ability to accrue adequate pension benefits).

Statement of Investment Principles

The scheme statement of investment principles must:

  • Make clear who has responsibility for investment decisions;
  • State the Investment objectives of the scheme;
  • Set out the asset allocation strategy (Defined Benefit Scheme only); and
  • Set out the types of investments that will be undertaken.