Centrelink requirements before you go on holiday

Man resting outside his caravan

Now that it’s summer, you might be thinking it’s time to hitch up the caravan and join the grey nomads or take a trip to visit family.

If you’re getting a payment from Services Australia, there are some things you need to consider while you’re traveling in Australia:

  • How do we assess the principal home while you’re away?
  • How do we assess the caravan?

In most cases the principal home is an exempt asset when determining your rate of payments. If you’re travelling for less than 12 months, Services Australia continues to assess you as being a homeowner and doesn’t assess the principal home as an asset.

Your caravan is assessed as an asset though, and you can’t claim rent assistance for site fees you may pay at a caravan park.

Homeowner rules

The situation changes if you’re away for more than a year. You’re still considered a homeowner, but now your caravan is considered the principal home. This means the caravan becomes an exempt asset, and you may be able to claim rent assistance for your site fees.

It also means your former home is now an assessable asset.

When you return to reside in the principal home, it becomes the exempt asset again and the caravan is now assessable.

If you lost your payments while travelling, you should check your eligibility to see if you can reapply now that you’ve returned.

It’s worth noting that the temporary exemption can be extended up to another 12 months if your principal home is lost or damaged.

Also, if you move out of home because you need to be looked after due to a medical condition, or to look after someone else with a medical condition, then your principal home can be exempt for up to two years.

The rules are different if you’re living in rental accommodation before you travel. As a renter, you’ll generally be assessed as a non-homeowner with the higher asset threshold. The caravan would be an assessable asset, and you’d be able to get rent assistance.

When you start travelling, we’ll look at your circumstances and intentions:

  • Are you keeping the rental accommodation while you travel?
  • How long do you plan on travelling?
  • Will you be returning to your previous accommodation?

Renting rules

Rent assistance can only be paid to you for one address.

It’s possible that we’ll assess your caravan as the principal home. This could happen straight away depending on your circumstances.

If the caravan is your principal home, it ceases to be assessed, you have the lower homeowner assets test threshold applied, and you may be able to claim rent assistance for your site fees.

The same rules apply if you’re travelling overseas, but there are other impacts on your pension as well. Anyone getting a payment from Services Australia should look at our website, servicesaustralia.gov.au to see what it means for their payments if they go overseas.

Have you travelled for longer than 12 months while receiving payments from Centrelink? Did it affect your payments? Why not share your experience in the comments section below?

Also read: Explainer: Rent assistance and the Age Pension

Written by Hank Jongen

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