Can you access the Age Pension while living overseas?

Kevin is living overseas and wants to know if he is eligible for the Age Pension. He is separated from his wife, cares for his daughter full time and cannot move back to Australia.


Q. Kevin

I am 64 and turn 65 in December. I have worked in Australia for over 35 years and I am an Australian citizen and still do a yearly tax return.

I have been living full time in Thailand now since 2016 and I am separated from my Thai wife.

We have a 10-year-old daughter who is an Australian citizen whom I take care of as my ex-wife works 12 hours away in a family business.

I do everything that a father would do for his daughter such as cook, clean and look after her education.

The problem is Services Australia tells me I have to return to Australia for two years to qualify for the Age Pension.

My ex-wife will not let my daughter move to Australia.

So my problem is who is going to take care of my 10-year-old daughter – feed her, clothe her and educate her – when I am in Australia for two years as my former wife cannot and will not due to the family business?

I am returning to Australia in July to see Centrelink and put my case to them then, but I know there are not too many dads out there aged 65 with a 10-year-old who have to return to Australia to be granted the Aged Pension. I am hoping there may be some kind of compassionate grounds or provisions in the law that may apply to my circumstance.

A. This is a tricky one, because Australia does not have a pension agreement with Thailand. The only Asian countries that have reciprocal agreements with Australia are India, Japan and Korea.

We reached out to Services Australia, and received the following advice.

“We understand planning for retirement and getting ready to claim [the] Age Pension can be a complex time, especially for people who are living overseas,” a Services Australia spokesperson said.

“That’s why we have specialist staff in Services Australia’s international services team who can help people who are living overseas and planning to claim a payment, such as Age Pension.”

To be eligible for Age Pension people need to be Age Pension age and meet some rules, including rules about residency:

  • For people born on or after 1 January 1957, they will reach Age Pension age at 67. This will be the Age Pension age from 1 July 2023.
  • On the day a person claims the Age Pension generally they must be an Australian resident and physically in Australia.

“Services Australia doesn’t have the flexibility to make decisions outside the strict criteria set out in legislation,” the spokesperson said.

“We know family breakdowns can be complex and we can help if you need support. People can call Services Australia and ask to speak to a social worker for support and information.”

For information about Service Australia’s social work visit here

For information about how Services Australia decides if you are ‘living in Australia’, read more here.

“If you return to Australia after having lived overseas, and are granted an Age Pension, you need to live in Australia for two years before you can take your pension overseas,” the spokesperson said.

“If you leave Australia during that two years your Age Pension will stop on departure.

“There are no allowable reasons under the legislation to get paid overseas during that two-year period.”

Check your eligibility for Age Pension online here

Are you planning to move overseas? Would the above rules influence your decision? We’d love to hear your opinion in the comments section below.

Also read: Will renting out a room affect your pension?

Disclaimer: All content on YourLifeChoices website is of a general nature and has been prepared without taking into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. It has been prepared with due care but no guarantees are provided for the ongoing accuracy or relevance. Before making a decision based on this information, you should consider its appropriateness in regard to your own circumstances. You should seek professional advice from a financial planner, lawyer or tax agent in relation to any aspects that affect your financial and legal circumstances.


  1. Apart from not being Age eligible at the moment,,,if he’s 64 now , he’ll need to wait until 67 under current policy.
    Given that current policy is a 2 year waiting period prior to pension becoming portable , Centrelink do allow short trips away (unpaid) during that time .

    However, it’s a grey area , but I understand that the 2 year period can be qualified either before OR after granting of pension,,and since he’s still got 2 years to wait, maybe return to Australia , find work , get cashed up & during that time visit his daughter in Thailand , or bring her to Australia by negotiation with the mother.
    I’m assuming the 2 year wait for pension portability means that If you do return overseas,,,your payments STOP & won’t resume until that 2 year period expires.
    If that’s the case….I’ve yet to see clarification from Centrelink on that.
    But if it is….and he’s got an income to support himself & daughter in Thailand , then simply wait the 2 years.
    After all…it’s cheaper for Australia to have pensioners live elsewhere & receive less pension, No rental assistance & health costs on Medicare & PBS….not to mention aged care facilities.

  2. I think you’ll find it’s not just a case of getting off the plane, claiming pension(at age 67) then staying for 2 years and leaving with a pension.
    You can be a citizen but you also have to be a resident and Centrelink will look at what ties you have to Australia so no guarantee they will pay Kevin

  3. The first thing I noticed was that he still has at least a 2 year 7 month wait to get the aged pension. He obviously has not been keeping up to date with what has been happening for the last decade or so with aged pension qualifying age.
    For myself I have just got onto the aged pension, for me I have almost always been in Australia for all my working age, the only out of country was 20 months in the Philippines about 10 years ago.
    Centrelink do say that if you go on trips overseas you must let them know where you are going and for how long, because if you hit a certain length of time overseas it seems you will start to be paid monthly instead of fortnightly and lose some additional benefits (PBS, Energy, Rental, etc) that you would need to reapply for on return to Australia.
    I am seriously considering a permanent move back to the Philippines in the next 12 to 24 months and that does not seem to be a problem … but I would also check before doing it to make sure you are meeting all the criteria and any guidelines.

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