iAdvice Financial Services | Australian Age Pension Eligibility for New Zealanders
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Australian Age Pension Eligibility for New Zealanders

Australian Age Pension Eligibility for New Zealanders


Australia–New Zealand relations, also referred to as Trans-Tasman relations (“relations across the Tasman Sea”), are extremely close with both sharing British colonial heritage. Under various arrangements since the 1920s, there has been a free flow of people between Australia and New Zealand. An estimated 600,000 New Zealanders live and work in Australia, mostly quite happily, but only when something goes wrong you might get concerned to find out your rights and benefits.

New Zealanders’ access to Australian income support payments

Access to most Australian social security payments changed from 2001. After that date, only New Zealanders moving to Australia who hold a permanent resident visa or have Australian citizenship, and reside in Australia are able to apply for the full range of social security payments. New Zealanders who were in Australia on 26 February 2001 were not affected by the changed arrangements and there were some other limited exceptions.

New Zealanders who travel to Australia without obtaining a permanent resident visa, i.e. on a Special Category Visa can access certain social security payments covered by the Social Security Agreement between Australia and New Zealand.

There is a general agreement between the governments to cover some payments like

  • Age Pension;
  • Disability Support Pension (for the severely disabled); and
  • Carer Payment (for partners of recipients of Disability Support Pension).

The Agreement does not cover workforce age payments such as Parenting Payment (single or partnered), New-start Allowance, Sickness Allowance or Special Benefit. If you are moving from New Zealand to Australia, to obtain these payments you must be:

  • An Australian citizen; or
  • Holder of a permanent visa

A two-year newly arrived resident waiting period also applies to most social security payments.

What are the main features of the Agreement?

The Agreement helps people living in Australia and New Zealand, who have spent part of their working life in the other country, to claim a (part) pension from both countries.

Australian legislation generally requires a person to have a minimum of 10 years’ Australian residence before they can claim an age pension or disability support pension. It also requires the person to be an Australian resident and in Australia on the day the claim for pension is lodged.

As a New Zealand citizen living in Australia you can submit:

  • A claim for Australian pension from any Centrelink Customer Service Centre
  • A claim for New Zealand pension by contacting Centrelink International Services

What documents do you need to make a claim?

When you claim an Australian pension, you will need to complete a claim form and provide documents to prove your identity and periods of residence in Australia.  

Proof of Identity

Some of the acceptable documents to prove your identity are:

  • Birth certificate or extract
  • Current Australian passport
  • Certificate of Australian citizenship

Proof of Australian Residence

Helpful documents that can assist you to do this include:

  • Australian or overseas passport that shows your date of arrival in Australia
  • Entry visa
  • Australian citizenship papers
  • Employment and/or tax records, including group certificates issued by Australian employers.

The above are only a few of the documents that can be used to prove your identity and your Australian residence. The Department of Human Services is able to provide you more detailed information on other acceptable documents to prove your identity and Australian residence.


How much pension will you receive under the Agreement?

Under the Agreement you will be entitled to two pensions – one from New Zealand and one from Australia. Generally, the two pensions, when added together, will equal the amount of pension you would have received if you lived all your life in either Australia or New Zealand.

As you are in Australia, the proportion of your New Zealand pension will normally be based on your periods of residence in New Zealand from age 20 until 65. It may then be ‘topped up’ by Australia to the amount of Australian pension you would be entitled to had you only ever lived in Australia.

However, the amount of New Zealand pension payable in Australia is also limited. You will receive no more than the amount of Australian pension which would otherwise be payable under the income or assets tests. This can mean that only a reduced New Zealand pension is payable or, if no Australian pension is payable under the income or assets tests, then you will get no New Zealand pension.

How does moving between Australia and New Zealand affect your pension

If you receive an Australian pension and you move to New Zealand, you must notify The Department of Human Services. However, you will not need to lodge another claim for Australian pension. The Department of Human Services will advise you how moving to New Zealand will affect your pension.

If you receive a New Zealand pension you must reclaim that pension when you move permanently between Australia and New Zealand. If you live permanently in New Zealand your New Zealand payment may be affected if you travel to Australia.

If you are a New Zealand residents with disability and in receipt of a disability benefit, moving to Australia will not automatically make you eligible to receive Australian DSP when you arrive in Australia. You must undergo an assessment under Australia’s legislation to determine whether you qualify for Australian DSP. The Department of Human Services has more information on this process.

For the Australian Carer Payment, you will only be granted the payment if your partner is receiving Australian DSP. Former New Zealand residents who wish to claim Carer Payment will have to undergo assessment under Australia’s domestic legislation to determine whether they qualify for this payment. You need to contact The Department of Human Services for more information.


If you are a New Zealander living in Australia and need to know more about age pension and other retirement benefits please call us at (03)-8658-8875 or click the button below to book an appointment with our expert financial adviser.

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