Overview: International Social Security Agreements

Background Information

Australia presently has 29 international social security agreements, with several more under negotiation. These agreements are bilateral treaties which close gaps in social security coverage for people who migrate between countries. They do this by overcoming barriers to pension payment in the domestic legislation, such as requirements on:

  • citizenship
  • minimum contributions record
  • past residence record
  • current country of residence

Australia's agreements with Austria, Belgium, Chile, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Finland, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Japan, Korea, Latvia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, the Slovak Republic, Switzerland and the USA also include provisions which regulate the Superannuation Guarantee contributions and contributions to partners' countries social security systems for non-resident workers to avoid double-coverage. More information on the Superannuation Guarantee is available on the Australian Taxation Office website.

Generally, Agreements allow Australian residents to maximise their income by helping them to claim payments from other countries where they have spent part of their working life.

International Social Security Agreements

Information is available on:

Residency Requirements

Australia's social security system is based on residence and financial circumstances. Generally, social security payments are only available to Australian residents who, when assessed against means tests, qualify for income support. There are minimum residence requirements for some payments. More detailed information about pension qualification is available on the Australian Income Support - Residence Criteria page.

Agreements extend the eligibility conditions for people who are unable to receive pensions from either Australia or the agreement countries because they cannot meet the minimum residence requirements or contribution conditions. Also, some countries will only pay their pensions overseas into countries where there is an agreement that provides for this.

Content Updated: 7 June 2013