How is the Age Pension residency rule applied?

A couple isn’t sure if their time overseas will affect their Age Pension eligibility.

Can travel delay Age Pension?

Johan and his wife would like to know how the 10-year residency rule is applied when assessing Age Pension eligibility. Will their previous travel delay their qualification?


Q. Johan
My wife and I migrated permanently to Australia on 15 February 2013, under a contributory parent visa. In 2014, we spent seven months outside of Australia visiting family, and in 2016, we spent another four months doing the same.

We believe we will qualify for Age Pension 10 years after we entered Australia on 15 February 2013. However, we would like to know:

  • Will our overseas visits have any impact on the 10-year residency period (as this was within the first five years)?
  • Are we allowed to exit Australia within our next and final five years?
  • If we are allowed, what will the periods be without being penalised?
  • Do we have to obtain special permission and, if we do, from what Department?

A. During your 10-year residency requirement, you are entitled to travel overseas on holiday. However, given the length of your time overseas, it is possible that it will be counted as time outside of Australia. You will have to consider this when assessing when you will qualify for the 10-year residency, so add 11 months (the time you have spent outside of Australia) on to 15 February 2023. It should be noted that when assessing whether or not you are resident in Australia, Centrelink does consider the following, so you should confirm your status with them:

•   where you live and who you live with

•   if you have family in Australia or overseas

•   your employment, business or financial ties in Australia and overseas

•   your assets in Australia and overseas

•   how often and how long you travel outside Australia, and

•   anything else it thinks is relevant.

Included in the 10-year residency is the requirement to remain within Australia for a continuous period of five years. This is not the first five years or the last five years, but simply a period of five continuous years. Therefore, if Centrelink deems the time you have been out of Australia not to count as residency, then you will have to remain in Australia for the next five years.

You should also be aware that as a measure in the 2017–18 Federal Budget, the Government is looking to enhance the residency rules which are much more onerous than the current rules. This measure is subject to legislation. You can find out more at

It would be beneficial for you to make an appointment with a Centrelink Financial Information Services officer, which you can do by calling 13 2300, to confirm your residency status and when you would qualify for the Age Pension.

If you have a Centrelink question, send it to and we’ll do our best to answer it, or find someone who can.


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    23rd Jul 2018
    Wonder where these people migrated from. At that age they surely would qualify for a pension from their old country with possible top up from the OAP. I came here at the age of 22 and I still get a very small pension for the 2 years I did work in Switzerland. C/Link helps to get the overseas pension, just ask. Do not really know why people expect an Aussie pension after just a few years of living here.
    23rd Jul 2018
    There are thousands of older people who either already came to Australia, when there was a two years waiting period to obtain an age pension here, or people like this couple who will have to wait 10 years for their pension!!!!! These people has NEVER worked here, never paid any cent of tax or contributed to Australian society in any way and are given 100% Australian Pension plus Medicare. This is simply SCANDAL on unprecedented scale in the World!!! No country in the World spends money in such a reckless way as Australia does!!
    23rd Jul 2018
    23rd Jul 2018
    I think you might find the UK haas much the same rules for all the migrants. They are choosing the tax payer millions and clogging up the health system also.
    23rd Jul 2018
    You might have a point, Waldi, nothing was said about them ever had a job just that they were living here. Remember in England I had to buy stamps to glue in my pension book, they were in my pay envelope with my receipt of contribution to the UK pension.
    23rd Jul 2018
    It would have been wiser to enquire BEFORE they made the trips overseas. It is bad enough that taxpayer funds will be used to pay their pensions. They will have to chalk up five continuous years to be eligible. Someone once said, "Australia is the lucky country". Sure, for migrants, certainly not for Australian citizens.
    23rd Jul 2018
    Absolutely right Bobby, to claim a pension from UK if a UK citizen comes here he/ she must have worked a minimum of 10 years and paid NHIS stamps usually.
    We need to extend the time limit and make sure a person has worked and paid tax for a minimum time, ie 10 years.
    23rd Jul 2018
    I worked here from age 16 to 67 and I don't get an aged pension. I paid hundreds of thousands in taxes . Not fair at all. What a crazy situation.
    Mad as Hell
    23rd Jul 2018
    Similar situation to you Rae. The way I see it you don’t have to pay any taxes and still get the full pension if you meet the residency rules. Lucky country for some.
    23rd Jul 2018
    You obviously did not see the change of the political wind Rae. I would have been in the same situation apart from 65 instead of 67. Mediocrity will be rewarded these days, not what we learnt when we were young.
    24th Jul 2018
    I could see a possibility that Hockey would make such huge changes to eligibility Cowboy and completely disallow non concessional contributions nor deem lump sums. None of the advise for the last 40 saw it either. It's why I'll never trust another Australian Government.

    I'm very busy working on replacing that income and doing well. At least I have independence and no fear of welfare cards or restrictions on travel or letters threatening me with prison.

    I can still take a job or run a b&b or any other activity as there is no consequences for making money so I'm really better off in the long run. It was the betrayal that hurt when I'd always done the right thing by my Country.
    24th Jul 2018
    Not could but couldn't...
    24th Jul 2018
    Our mate Hockey has come a long way, Rae. Stuffing everything up and then getting rewarded with a plum job in NY. Not bad for a Lebanese immigrant!

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