You might be leaving the country for a variety of reasons—career prospects, love, adventure, new opportunities—or you may be returning home. While you’ve probably got a checklist of things to cover off before you leave, spare a thought for any superannuation you might’ve accumulated while working. After all, it is your money, so it’s probably a good idea to keep track of it.
What can you do with your super if…
You’re an Australian citizen or permanent resident leaving the country
Even if you’re leaving the country permanently, if you’re an Australian citizen or permanent resident, your super will remain subject to the same rules. That means you generally won’t be able to access your super until you reach preservation age, which will be between 55 and 60, depending on when you were born.
Meanwhile, if you’re going to continue working for an Australian employer, they may still be required to contribute to your super, so you need a super to receive the contributions from your Australian employer.
You’re a temporary resident leaving the country
If you’re a temporary resident, when you leave the country you may be able to claim what’s called a—departing Australia superannuation payment (DASP)—which means you can take super with you.
To be eligible for a DASP, you need to satisfy the following conditions:
- You are not an Australian or New Zealand citizen, or permanent resident of Australia
- You entered the country on a temporary visa (listed under the Migration Act 1958, excluding sub classes 405 and 410)
- You’ve since departed Australia
- Your visa is no longer valid in Australia.
If you are a temporary resident and you haven’t claimed any of your super benefits within six months of departing Australia, then the super fund may pay the super benefits to the Australian Tax Office (ATO). You then must apply to the ATO for access to your super.
Where ATO-held super comes from
ATO-held super may be made up of super guarantee payments, government super payments or unclaimed super from your lost super fund. A special account is used to hold the amounts that may be owed to you.
Super guarantee is the super your employer must contribute to your super account if you are an eligible employee. If your employer has not paid the right amount of super for you, they have to pay the gap to us and we hold it on your behalf.
If you have a small super account that you want to keep with your super fund, contact your super fund and tell them. This will prevent it from being transferred to ATO as unclaimed super.
You’re bound for New Zealand
If you’re moving to New Zealand, different rules apply for Australian and New Zealand citizens, and permanent residents of Australia. New Zealand citizens and Australian citizens are now able to transfer retirement savings between NZ and Australia, in both directions, subject to meeting special rules.
After you’ve migrated, you can choose to leave your super in Australia or you can transfer it to a New Zealand KiwiSaver account under the Trans-Tasman Retirement Savings Portability scheme. You will need to check:
- That your current and future fund are participants in the arrangement
- That your existing and future fund are compliant with the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority and the New Zealand KiwiSaver scheme
- That your existing fund is not a self-managed super fund
- That you’re aware of New Zealand’s retirement savings rules, as once your savings have been transferred, these rules will generally apply.
You’ve already relocated overseas
- It’s worth checking out what the super or retirement savings situation is in the country you’ve relocated to. Do your research on whether, and on what basis, you can recover or withdraw any contributions you make while you’re away.
- And, if you’re close to preservation age, find out if there are any tax implications for withdrawing your Australian super.
What else do you need to do before moving?
Update your details
Ensure your super fund has all your up-to-date details so they can stay in touch with you. This will also help to avoid any small lost or unclaimed super balances you might have being transferred to the ATO.
Find your lost super
In Australia, lost super money accounts for over $14 billion. If you’ve lost track of your super, you can locate it free of charge. Click on “Lost Super” to know more about how to claim it.
Consolidate your funds
Bringing your accounts together can help you keep track of your super more easily and you’ll pay fees on one, rather than multiple accounts. If you’re thinking of consolidation, do consider the possibility of exit fees and that features like insurance may not be transferable.
Research fees and options
Research what fees your super fund charges and what super investment options are available. A fund with lower fees will have less impact on your balance while you’re gone.
If you’re under 65, or between 65 and 75 and meet work test requirements, you can continue to make personal contributions to your super fund no matter where you live and work. Making contributions however might not be tax effective7, so consider the rules of the country you’re moving to.
If you are a trustee of a self-managed super fund and you intend to travel overseas for an extended period, check before you leave that your fund will continue to meet the definition of an Australian super fund.
Want to know more?
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