For how long can pensioners stay overseas?

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How long can you go overseas on the Age Pension?
It is possible to get the Age Pension for the whole time you’re overseas, whether you have left Australia on a temporary or permanent basis. There are, however, a number of factors relating to your working life residence in Australia and your residency status before you first applied for the pension that can have an effect on it.

If you come back to live in Australia from another country and start getting the Age Pension, you must remain in Australia for two years or your pension payment will stop altogether. This is also the rule if you received payments under a social security agreement with another country while you lived outside of Australia.

If you leave Australia temporarily but stay an Australian resident, this normally count as part of the two years. If you go to a country that has a social security agreement with Australia, you may still get the Age Pension during the two years.

Do you have to tell Centrelink about your travel plans?
You definitely need to inform Centrelink if you plan on leaving Australia to live in another country.

You also need to inform Centrelink if you are leaving Australia and will be away for more than six weeks, if you receive payments under a social security agreement with another country or if you came back to live in Australia within the past two years and started getting the Age Pension since then.

If your travel doesn’t fall into any of those categories, you do not need to inform Centrelink about your travel plans. Instead, the immigration department will report to Centrelink when you leave the country and when you return.

How do you tell Centrelink about your travel plans?
The easiest way to tell Centrelink about your travel plans is using your Centrelink online account through the myGov portal.

If you are uncomfortable using the online portal, you can visit a Centrelink service centre or call the older Australians line on 132 300.

When does travel affect pension payment rates?
If you leave Australia for less than six weeks, your Age Pension payment rate normally won’t change.

If you leave Australia for more than six weeks, your pension payment will drop to the basic rate and your energy supplement payment will cease.

If you remain outside Australia for longer than 26 weeks, your pension will be reduced to a proportional rate based on your ‘Australian working life residence’ (AWLR). This is the number of years you have resided in Australia since age 16 to Age Pension age.

If you have lived in Australia for 35 years (420 months), then you are paid the full rate of Age Pension to which you are entitled. If, for example, you have only resided in Australia for 20 years, then you will be paid 241/420 of the Age Pension (20 x12 plus an extra month).

If you leave Australia permanently, the rate of Pension Supplement you receive will reduce on departure or, if leaving on a temporary basis, it will be reduced six weeks after departure. The Energy Supplement will cease when you leave Australia to live in another country.

For those who were granted an Age Pension and left Australia prior to 1 July 2014, the 25-year Australian working life residence will be applied. Should you return to Australia and then depart (after 1 July 2014), the new 35-year rule will be applied.

As long as you remain eligible, your Age Pension will continue to be paid fortnightly. If you are moving long term (over 12 months) or permanently, your Age Pension will be paid every four weeks.

Case study
Sarah has been living in Australia for 42 years. Sarah is 72 and started receiving the Age Pension in Australia when she was 65.

Sarah has decided to travel overseas to Finland to live with her family for a few years. Because Sarah has an AWLR of more than 35 years, after 26 weeks overseas she will continue to receive the full amount of Age Pension, for which she is eligible, while living in Finland.

What things should I do before travelling overseas?
If you haven’t already, register for an online account through myGov before you leave Australia. This will allow you to access your letters and other services online while you are away.

If the date you need to report you or your partner’s earnings falls on or after you leave Australia, report on the business day before you leave, otherwise Centrelink may delay your payment.

It’s important to advise Centrelink about any change to your circumstances that would normally affect your payment or concession card.

If you are being paid as a single person because your partner is overseas, and you’re leaving Australia to visit your partner, contact Centrelink before you leave as they may need to review your payment.

If you are considering going overseas permanently, you should contact Centrelink International Services on 131 673 to find out about your entitlements overseas and what you need to do to continue receiving your payments.

What happens to concession cards when I travel?
Your Pensioner Concession Card will remain current for up to six weeks. After that it will cease to be current, but will be restored when you return to Australia and you will continue to be able to access the concessions available. If your card does not restore automatically, you will need to contact Centrelink.

The Commonwealth Seniors Health Card (CSHC) will also be cancelled if a person is outside of Australia for more than 19 weeks. However, this can be restored over the phone if you update your income amounts before travelling overseas and contact Centrelink as soon as possible.

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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 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 Centrelink Financial Information Services officer, financial planner, lawyer or tax agent in relation to any aspects that affect your financial and legal circumstances.

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Written by Ben

27 Comments

Total Comments: 27
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    I was a volunteer in Thailand for a few years and continued to have my basic pension paid into my Australian bank.

    In hindsight, it would have saved me quite a few dollars if my pension was paid directly to my Thai bank, as a telegraphic transfer costs $20 or $30 depending on your bank.

    You do need a form stamped and signed by the overseas bank before giving this to Centrelink.

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      If you want to transfer money from your bank account to an overseas account check out Transferwise. Nowhere near that rate that you paid and I don’t work for them.

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      If you want to transfer money from your bank account to an overseas account check out Transferwise. Nowhere near that rate that you paid and I don’t work for them.

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    I am an Australian born citizen and I worked until I was 68 years when I was injured at work and because of my age and working beyond the legal retirement age of 65. I was given nothing by the employer, insurance company and the courts. Owing to my injury I could not remain in Australia because of the big variation in the climate and the pain from my injury. I moved to Thailand where the temperature is more stable. I used to get my pension paid into my Aus bank account but the fees from both the Aus bank and the Thai bank was over the top and I was losing that much it was not funny. I had contacted CentreLink and advised them that I had left Australia. Human services advised me to open a Thai bank account and have my pension paid direct to that account which would save me heaps in fees. I have now lived in Thailand for the last 6 years and I receive my pension direct into my Thai bank account every 4 weeks and I am saving money from the bank fees. It is easy to move overseas if you do the right thing with CentreLink. The only thing that you lose from your pension is the your supplements for rent and energy

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      Russell, thanks for the advice. Did you have to come to Australia and deal with Centrelink to set up the banking arrangement? I am sure the rent and energy in Thailand are less than in Australia.

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      No jackie, it was all done here in Thailand. There is a form that you can get from Human Services “Change of Bank Account”, “Local Currency Wire Payment”, form #AUS178L.1402 fill in the details of the new bank account and you take it to the Thai bank and they stamp it and sign it and give you a letter certifying that you are a customer and that you maintain an account at that bank then you post it to Human Services in Hobart. I know that the rent and energy are cheaper here than in Aus, what I was showing was that you still get your pension minus any rent and energy supplements

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      Russell, thank you.

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      Good advice mate!!

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      Hardenough In my opinion and for over 7 years of experience travelling in and out from Australia I will never get my pension pay on a foreign bank account because the rate of exchange is very low I use Wester Union (WU) and get super rates and no fees and the AU dollar gets valuated much better than Rupias or Baht so in my opinion is not a good idea to tell the gov. all the info they do not need to know ….. Keep your CL address in Australia and your account in Australia and transfer using WU it is legal and very very safe …. good luck mate

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    The Government should give a bonus to people living overseas because they save a lot of money by being given the basic pension only.

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      The wolf, not if rents and energy costs are less than in Australia.

      Australia has a high cost of living. It surprises me so many from developing nations flock here. It must be to escape overcrowding conditions.

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      Agree wolf. Pensioners moving overseas saves the Australian government heaps in Medicare payments and all the various supplements and concessions we get in Australia.
      They should pay the full rate of pension at the very least to overseas resident pensioners because this government would still be coming out in front.

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      Might save them money one way but you are not taking into account all the gst they collect on everything you purchase in this country.

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      Might save them money one way but you are not taking into account all the gst they collect on everything you purchase in this country.

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      jackie – there are no Centrelink payments in those places, so be not surprised why they come here. The Indonesian president told us to take the sugar off the table, and the flood will stop. He was right me thinks!

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      Cowboy Jim, Unfortunately, the sugar off the table would affect everyone not just them.

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    Agree with DAVE R. about not using up medical and dental costs in Australia. I paid for everything, including the Thai price for medicines, heaps of dental work, knee replacement, doctor, pathology tests, optical tests.

    Countered somewhat by having a nice apartment with pool for $100 a week, shop on the ground floor, supermarkets within walking distance. A pity the exchange rate went down by 30% and a need for some heart surgery. Possibly aggravated by 4 months of extreme pollution each summer

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      How you doing mate … long time not hear from you … I am now coming to Thailand more often than Bali and Thailand still a much better place to live that Bali or Laos even with the low exchange rates …
      Take care mate nice to hear UR all Ok

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      About the GST comment. It doesn’t wash. A pensioner in OZ spending it all , allowing for GST exempt purchases , would barely pay more than $30/$40 a week in GST.

      If they’re O/seas they don’t get rent assistance, the energy & base supplement, can’t access Medicare, PBS schemes etc. That’s a lot more than any GST income.

      I recall a Govt minister saying OS pensioners are receiving $770 million a year. WOW..
      Does she know that Australian tourists spend $70 BILLION with credit cards alone Oseas, that’s after buying tours & airfares PRIOR to leaving with usually foreign owned companies & airlines.

      Then ,,the number of foreigner, British , US, Greek , Italian etc living in Australia receiving Foreign pensions dwarfs the number of Aussies living away , about 30+ to 1.

      It’s a poor argument saying Aussie pensioners are draining the budget here.

      How many Australians drive imported cars, homes are full of imported products & holiday OS spending most of their annual savings OS.

      It’s always easy to blame a few tired old pensioners for the budget woes.

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      Quite right Keith – checked my grocery receipts, hardly any GST, certainly would get more in supplementary income than I pay in GST if I stopped drinking my Scotch (I quite liked my Bond 7 and Corio whiskies when they were still made in Australia).
      I am one of the people who get an overseas part pension; a few of us are missing out on that. C/Link will help anyone applying for an overseas pension. If you’ve worked overseas please check it out.

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      Thai Traveller, as a piece of advice which I did when I was working overseas, I went to have 10 of Hyperbaric chamber sessions, it did good to me helps to heal many health problems, especially in countries where pollution is high.

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    Is it possible to.return to Australia for a short time for a short visit to see children and grand children, say a week or two, without invoking having to stay in Australia for 2 years for my pension to continue?

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      if you already receive the pension coming back to Australia to visit family etc will not affect your pension at all. If you are here for say 2 or 3 months you may even re qualify for supplements

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      I became a officially a pensioner about 3 days ago and I do have a plan with me I am selling my house of 7 beds. buy a small house for my wife because she doesn’t want to go to our country of origin where everything is cheap (food, transport, doctors, etc.) and due to my children and grandkids living in here I will be 6 months there and 6 months here, I will be living in my mother 4 storey building with 10 apartments and one penthouse (she live in there), I will be eating what she eats, certainly I will contribute with something but is no much, because I am a Jake of all trade (Mech. Fitter and Mech. Engineer) and I will help with the building maintenance, but the good thing of all this is because in there people know each other they gather every day to chat and have good time which here is all the opposite, I will be travelling to Macchu Picchu, the Amazons, the Andes, etc. is something I have never done before, I just wait for the moment when this start. Seriously, if is about your life and not the others you will be better in another country with the pension money.

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    Why should it matter if you are away from Australia for any length of time, pollies that retire are under no such rules how can that be fair, it is disgusting that the Government had implemented so many rules pertaining to the age pension, its a complete intrusion into our lives, they need voting out big time at the next election as the last time self interest and gullible people voted them back in, very big mistake, we now have to pay for that.

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    Why should it matter if you are away from Australia for any length of time, pollies that retire are under no such rules how can that be fair, it is disgusting that the Government had implemented so many rules pertaining to the age pension, its a complete intrusion into our lives, they need voting out big time at the next election as the last time self interest and gullible people voted them back in, very big mistake, we now have to pay for that.

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    uery….just curious what if my wife go’s overseas for say 3 mnths, and i stay in australia,how would that work with oap payments,supp’s etc


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