How to trace your lost or forgotten pensions

Our pensions experts have curated a list of actions for anyone looking to take control of their miscellaneous pension pots.

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There is currently an estimated £19.4 billion worth of pension funds in the UK that have either been lost or forgotten, meaning millions of people are at risk of missing out on a potentially more secure retirement. National Pension Tracing Day, which is on 31 October, is an initiative set out to encourage people to investigate their personal finances and track down any missing pension pots.

Our pensions experts share their top tips to help people to act over pension pots that have either been lost or forgotten. 

Why trace your pension? 

There are many benefits to tracing lost and forgotten pensions such as potential monetary gain and ease of access in the future. If you have inactive pension pots you could be missing out on thousands of pounds worth of growth over time or paying fees you don’t need to. Alongside this, accessing multiple pension pots in the future can be difficult especially if you have switched jobs or moved home and not notified each pension provider.

How to find old pensions?

When deciding to investigate if you have any inactive previous pension pots there are a number of ways in which you can begin your research:

  • Papertrail - Look through any filed paperwork or email threads to see if you have a papertrail of communications from any possible pension suppliers. 

  • Employment history - If you have access to any old employment contracts or payslips, these documents might offer you an insight into your previous pension schemes. Search for any reference to pension deductions or even the name of the company’s pension scheme provider. If you have no luck, you could contact your previous employer and request details on their scheme.

  • Government Pension Tracing Service - The UK Government has a tracing service that lets employees search thousands of workplace and personal pension scheme databases to find any personal records. 

Contacting your pension provider/s

When you have an idea of which providers your previous pensions are held with you can start by contacting them directly. Prior to your call, it is important to have as much information as possible such as your date of birth, national insurance number, estimated set up dates and if you have it, your plan number.

Prior to contacting your pension provider you might also want to note some of the following questions to discover more about the status of your pension.

  • What is the current value of my pension pot?

  • Are there any deductions or charges as a result of management fees?

  • What benefits does this current scheme offer?

  • Who is the nominated recipient in the instance of death?

  • Are there any costs associated with transferring this pension pot?

  • What age can you access the pot at?

Consolidating pensions and next steps 

Once you have found your lost pensions it could be beneficial to consolidate them into one pot for ease of access in the future and a more simple management process throughout your remaining years before retirement. It also makes sense to put your money somewhere with lower fees. That said there may also be reasons to keep it in one place in order not to lose your entitled special benefits in transfer, such as a guaranteed annuity rate.

The most important thing is to know where your retirement savings are located and keep an eye on your accounts. When you have a handle on these, whether that be a consolidated pot or multiple accounts, you should check up on them regularly and make sure you tell them about any new jobs or changes of address and continue ongoing contributions in order to set yourself up for retirement.


James Andrews, personal finance expert at money.co.uk, comments:

“When planning for the future it is important to stay on top of your savings, including where your pensions are being held. Taking time to track down old pots can be invaluable to your future retirement prospects. 

“That’s because there might be changes since you last looked at them in where the money is being held as well as differences in management fees. Considering you can transfer money between registered pension schemes and keep all your tax benefits, it makes little sense to have some savings being charged higher fees than others.

“It’s also good to know what your money’s invested in - so having all your savings in one place will make life far simpler to both check up on funds as well as move your cash where you want it to be.

“The government's pension tracking service is a great tool to use if you have exhausted all other avenues and it is entirely free to use. By using this tool and undergoing research of your own, you should be in the best position to track down your idle pension pots and inturn provide more options for your future retirement.” 

You can help ensure you have the retirement you want by finding the best personal pension plan to make your money work as hard as it can.