Australia and Croatia - Frequently Asked Questions 

Agreement between Australia and the Republic of Croatia on Social Security

How it Works

This information is intended as a guide only. If you think you may be entitled to a benefit you should lodge a claim.



When did the Agreement start?

The Agreement started on 1 July 2004.

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What does the Agreement do?

Under the Agreement, Australia and Croatia share the responsibility for paying pensions to people who would not otherwise be entitled because they do not have enough residence in Australia or sufficient periods of insurance in Croatia. It also helps people who could not otherwise claim because they are living abroad.

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What payments are covered by the Agreement?

The social security pensions that will be covered by the Agreement are as follows:
 

Australia

  • age pension
  • disability support pension for the severely disabled

Croatia

  • old-age pension
  • anticipatory pension
  • disability pension
  • survivor pension
  • all other benefits under the Pension Insurance legislation.

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What are the main features of the Agreement?

Australian legislation requires a person to have a minimum of 10 years Australian residence before they can claim an age pension or disability support pension (this rule changes if the person becomes disabled after they take up permanent residence in Australia). It also requires the person to be an Australian resident and in Australia on the day the claim for pension is lodged.

The Agreement allows people to use Croatian periods of insurance to make up the 10 years Australian residence required to qualify for age pension or disability support pension.

The Agreement also allows a person to claim an Australian pension while residing in Croatia.

Note: To use the Agreement to claim an Australian pension while residing in Croatia, a person must have actually resided in Australia during their working life (Australian working life residence is between 16 years and age pension age) for a minimum of 12 months.

Centrelink has information on residency requirements for payments covered by the Agreement.

Croatian domestic legislation currently requires a person to have at least 17 years of qualifying periods of insurance to be eligible for a retirement pension. If a person has only 10 years of contributions he/she would be able to count any periods of Australian working life residence that they have as periods of contributions to meet the minimum qualifying period.

The Agreement allows people to use periods of Australian working life residence in order to meet the minimum periods of insurance required to qualify for Croatia pensions covered by the Agreement.

Note: To use the Agreement to qualify for a Croatian pension a person must have completed a minimum period of insurance of one year.

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How do seconded workers benefit under the Agreement?

The Agreement contains provisions, which mean that contributions do not have to be made into both countries systems for an employee seconded to work temporarily in the other country. The Australian Taxation Office is responsible for the administration of these provisions. Contact the Australian Taxation Office if you require more information on this aspect of the Agreement.

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Where and how can people lodge claims for social security pensions?

In Australia

  • People living in Australia can lodge claims for Australian and Croatian pensions with any Centrelink office.

In Croatia

  • People living in Croatia can lodge claims for Croatian and Australian pensions at the Croatian Pension Insurance Institute.

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When does payment start?

In Australia's case, payment starts from the date the claim is lodged, or if the claim is lodged early, the date the person qualifies for payment.

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How are pensions and benefits paid?

If you get an Australian pension in Australia, Centrelink will pay it directly into your bank account every 2 weeks.

If you get a pension from Croatia it can be paid to you in Australia.

Some people might get pensions from both countries so they will get two separate payments – one from Australia and one from Croatia.

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Who handles claims and questions?

Claims and questions relating to the Agreement are handled:

  • for Australia, by contacting Centrelink International Services on 13 1673
  • Australian pensioners residing in Croatia can contact Centrelink International Services on +61 3 6222 3455 (reverse charges)
  • in Croatia, by contacting the Central Office of the Croatian Pensions Insurance Institute:

    Hrvastski Zavod za Mirovinsko Osiguranje
    Središnja Služba
    Mihanovica 3
    10000 Zagreb
    Croatia
    Phone: 0011 385 1 45 95 500
    Fax: 0011 385 1 45 95 066

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What documents do I need to make a claim?

Australian Pensions

When you claim an Australian pension you need to complete a claim form and provide documents to prove your identity and periods of residence in Australia.
 

Proof of Identity

Some of the acceptable documents to prove your identity are:

  • birth certificate of extract;
  • current Australian passport;
  • certificate of Australian citizenship.

Helpful documents that can assist you to do this include:

  • Australian or overseas passport that shows your date of arrival in Australia;
  • Entry visa;
  • Australian citizenship papers;
  • Employment and/or tax records, including group certificates issued by Australian employers.

Note: This is only a few of the documents that can be used to prove your identity and your Australian residence. Centrelink is able to provide more information on other acceptable documents to prove your identity and Australian residence.

If you are claiming an Australian pension while you are living in Croatia, you will still have to provide proof of identity and proof of previous Australian residence to the Croatian authorities.



Croatian Benefits

The Croatian authorities can advise you of the documentation you need to provide.

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What are the most important things to know about the Australian social security system?

All claimants for Australian Agreement pensions need to meet other qualifications (eg age limits, income or assets test) required for that pension under Australia's social security laws. Australian pensions are means tested, that is, an assets test is applied and then an income test is applied, and whichever produces the lower rate is used for assessment. Centrelink has information about the current income and assets test limits.
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How much pension will I get if I am paid under the Agreement?

Australian pension for a person not living in Australia

The rates of Australian pension payable outside of Australia is affected by two things:

  • the length of Australian working life residence; and
  • the amount of income and assets in excess of specified limits.

Australian pensions paid overseas are paid at a proportional rate reflecting the length of Australian working life residence. A person with 25 years Australian working life residence (between 16 and age pension age) could be paid a full age or disability support pension (subject to the means test). With less than 25 years, the rate is worked out on a proportional basis. For example, a person with 20 years Australian working life residence would receive 20/25ths (or 80%) of an Australian pension.

The income and assets tests also apply, so that a person with 25 years Australian working life residence could still receive a part pension if their income or assets exceed allowable limits. Centrelink had more information about the current income and assets tests.
 

Australian pension for a person living in Australia

When a person is granted a pension in Australia under the Agreement (because the person does not meet the minimum residence requirements), the person receives the normal means tested pension less the amount of any Croatian pension they also receive. The Croatian pension is 'topped up' to the rate of Australian pension the person would get if all they received were an Australian pension.

Once a person qualifies for an Australian pension in his or her own right (without needing the Agreement) any Croatian benefit is treated as income in the normal way.

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Examples

Example 1

A person who lived in Australia for 20 years during working life (between 16 and age pension age) is now living in Croatia and is already receiving a Croatian old-age pension. This person left Australia before reaching age pension age.

Entitlement

  • Without the Agreement

    Although this person has more than the 10 years Australian residence required to qualify for Australian age pension, they do not qualify for payment because the person is not an Australian resident and physically present in Australia.
  • With the Agreement

    This person can claim an Australian benefit without the need to return to Australia to live permanently. The Australian pension rate will be proportionalised based on their Australian working life residence, that is, the person will receive 20/25ths of the means tested rate.

Example 2

A woman aged 65 living in Croatia has also lived and worked in Australia for 9 years during her working life (between 16 years and Age Pension age). She has completed a period of 14 years of insurance in Croatia.

Entitlement

  • Without the Agreement

    She does not qualify for Australian pension because she is not living in Australia and nor does she have the minimum 10 years of Australian residence required to qualify for Australian Age pension. Also, she would not qualify for Croatian old-age pension as she has not completed the minimum period of insurance required (currently 17 years) to qualify for payment.
  • With the Agreement

    She can claim and qualify for an Australian Age pension in Croatia because her 9 years Australian residence plus the periods of insurance in Croatia add up to more than the 10 years required for an Australian pension. Her rate of payment would be 9/25ths of the full rate, subject to the income and assets test.

    She would also qualify for a Croatian pension because she can add her 9 years of Australian working life residence to the 14 years of insurance in Croatia to meet the minimum period of insurance (currently 17 years) that is required to qualify for payment.

Example 3

A 65 year old man in Croatia has the minimum period of insurance in Croatia to qualify for old-age pension. He has lived in Australia for 9 months during his working life.

Entitlement

  • Without the Agreement

    This person is entitled to Croatian pension only. No Australian pension can be paid because he only has 9 months Australian residence (12 months minimum required).
  • With the Agreement

    This person will continue to receive Croatian pension. However, he is still not entitled to Australian pension because he only has 9 months Australian residence (12 months minimum required).

Example 4

A person is aged 65 and has lived in Australia for 6 years. Before moving to Australia he lived in Croatia and completed a period of insurance in a Croatian social insurance system for 35 years. He now wishes to claim an Australian pension.

Entitlement

  • Without the Agreement

    He could not get an Australian Age pension because he has not lived in Australia for more than 10 years.
  • With the Agreement

    The person can add his 6 years as an Australian resident to the 35 years periods of insurance completed in Croatia so that he meets the minimum 10 years Australian residence required to qualify for an Australian Age pension.

    Also, Centrelink can assist him in claiming any Croatian pension he may be entitled to.

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How do I find out more?

For more information, please contact International Branch.

For information on claim procedures and payments, please contact Centrelink International Services.

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