Energy retrofits are significant in improving the energy efficiency of existing residential buildings (ERB) and mitigating greenhouse gas emissions. While many countries have introduced relevant retrofit policy instruments (RPIs), retrofit rates are still relatively low due to various complications in practical implementation. This study aims to organize the scattered information related to RPIs and their implementation, success, and obstacles across different countries and provide valuable references for retrofit strategy development. This article examined various RPIs for ERB in 11 selected countries. The investigated RPIs were grouped into four categories: direction and command, assessment and disclosure, research and service, and financial incentives. The RPIs implementation approaches in the surveyed countries were summarized and compared. Furthermore, obstacles to the uptake of retrofit schemes were identified. Finally, policy recommendations to overcome the obstacles and improve the penetration of retrofit schemes were proposed. This study can assist policy makers and other stakeholders in gaining a holistic view of RPIs and their implementation in different countries, understanding the barriers to the uptake of retrofit schemes, and developing more efficient RPIs in the future.