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Need help moving your retirement savings to Vanguard?

February 10, 2014

If you have some of your retirement assets invested at Vanguard and some at another financial institution, you may have thought about consolidating all of your savings with us. After all, this can be a great way to simplify your retirement planning and make it easier to manage your portfolio.

Get help from our transfer specialists

While the process of moving your money from one place to another may seem daunting, our specialists can help make it simple. They can:

Ready to get started?

Call us at 800-523-9442 if you need help moving your retirement savings to Vanguard.

Or take action yourself:

Transfer an IRA to Vanguard »

Roll over a 401(k) to Vanguard »

  • Keep things running smoothly and prevent you from feeling confused or overwhelmed by guiding you through each step.
  • Arrange and participate in a conference call with your current financial institution to answer your questions about the process.
  • Help fill out paperwork so that it meets regulatory requirements and protects against errors that could cause the transfer to be considered a taxable event.
  • Explain the investment options for your IRA so that you feel confident in your selections.

Generally speaking, there are two ways to move retirement savings from one investment provider to another: through a workplace retirement plan rollover or an IRA asset transfer. The type of account you're moving determines the type of transfer you'll make.

Retirement plan rollovers

A retirement plan rollover is when you move the savings from a previous employer's plan, like a 401(k) or 403(b), into an IRA.

You may want to consider rolling your retirement plan savings into a Vanguard IRA® if you change jobs, if you still have an account from a former employer, or if you're in the process of retiring. To determine what makes sense for your situation, you can compare options and get more information.

While a rollover is similar to an IRA asset transfer, there are some rules you'll need to follow in order to avoid costly taxes and penalties. The rules depend on the type of rollover. The most straightforward method is a direct rollover to an IRA. In this case, 100% of your rollover distribution will continue to be invested on a tax-deferred basis. However, if you have the distribution paid directly to you, it will be your responsibility to complete the transfer within 60 days of receipt of the assets to avoid potential taxes and early withdrawal penalties.

You'll receive Form 1099-R from the distributing institution. And after the rollover is complete, we'll send you Form 5498, which shows the rollover contribution into the IRA.

Learn more about the process of rolling over your money to Vanguard.

IRA asset transfers

An IRA asset transfer lets you move money from an IRA at one financial institution to another without tax consequences, even if you make multiple transfers in a year. (Vanguard can support any transfer process used by other financial institutions.)

You can initiate the transfer online, by mail, or by calling one of our retirement specialists at 800-523-9442. The online process takes just a few simple steps—and it's even easier when you log on to your account because some of your information will automatically prefill. If you prefer to initiate the transfer by mail, you can use our IRA Asset Transfer Kit. It includes step-by-step instructions for you and your current financial institution, and also explains how we'll move your IRA assets and invest them as you direct.

You'll need to have a few things handy: your Social Security number, your Vanguard account number, the account information from your other financial institution, and any documents the other institution requires you to complete.

Whether you're doing a rollover or an asset transfer, we're here to help. When you're ready to get started, give us a call at 800-523-9442 on business days from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Eastern time.


  • All investing is subject to risk, including the possible loss of the money you invest.
  • Distributions received before you're age 59½ may not be subject to the 10% federal penalty tax if the distribution is due to your disability or death; is distributed by a reservist who was ordered or called to active duty after September 11, 2001, for more than 179 days; or is for a first-time home purchase (lifetime maximum: $10,000), postsecondary education expenses, substantially equal periodic payments taken under IRS guidelines, certain unreimbursed medical expenses, an IRS levy on the IRA, or health insurance premiums (after you've received at least 12 consecutive weeks of unemployment compensation).
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