Australia and New Zealand - Frequently Asked Questions
This information is intended as a general guide only. If you think you may be entitled to a benefit you should lodge a claim.
Access to most Australian social security payments changed from 26 February 2001. After that date, only New Zealanders moving to Australia who hold a permanent resident visa or have Australian citizenship, and reside in Australia are able to apply for a full range of social security payments. New Zealanders who were in Australia on 26 February 2001 were not affected by the changed arrangements and there were some other limited exceptions. Centrelink is able to provide information on these exceptions.
New Zealanders who travel to Australia without obtaining a permanent resident visa, ie on a Special Category Visa can access certain social security payments covered by the Social Security Agreement between Australia and New Zealand. More information on the Agreement is below.
List of Contents
- When Did The Agreement Start?
- What Does The Agreement Do?
- What Payments Does The Agreement Cover?
- What Are the Main Features of the Agreement?
- What are the most important things to know about the Australian social security system?
- Where and how do I claim a pension?
- What age will I need to be to qualify for an Australian Age Pension or New Zealand Superannuation/Veterans Benefit?
- When can I claim a pension?
- What Documents Do I Need To Make a Claim?
- How Much Pension Will I Receive Under The Agreement?
- How Are Agreement Pensions Paid?
- How Does Moving Between Australia and New Zealand Affect My Pension?
- How Do I Find Out More?
When did the Agreement start?
Australia has a long history of Social Security Agreements with New Zealand starting in 1944. Revised Agreements have been implemented in 1949, 1987, 1989 and 1995.
The current Social Security Agreement with New Zealand began operating on 1 July 2002. This Agreement replaced the 1995 Agreement.
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What does the Agreement do?
The Agreement allows people who enter Australia on a special category visa (SCV) using a New Zealand passport to access certain social security payments. It also helps people affected by the 26 February 2001 changes to obtain payments covered by the Agreement.
Under the Agreement, Australia and New Zealand share responsibility for paying certain benefits, broadly according to the period people have lived in both Australia and New Zealand (between 20 and 65 years of age).
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What Payments Does the Agreement cover?
For Australia, the Agreement covers:
- Age Pension
- Disability Support Pension (for the severely disabled) and
- Carer Payment (for partners of recipients of Disability Support Pension)
For New Zealand, the Agreement covers:
- New Zealand Superannuation
- Veterans Pension and
- Invalids Benefit (for the severely disabled), including married rates of Invalids Benefit
Note: The Agreement does not cover workforce age payments such as parenting payment (single or partnered), newstart allowance, sickness allowance or special benefit. People moving from New Zealand to Australia who wish to obtain these payments must be:
- an Australian citizen
- the holder of a permanent visa or
- a protected SCV holder (generally this applies to SCV holders who were in Australia on 26 February 2001. Some other exceptions also apply).
A two-year newly arrived resident waiting period also applies to most social security payments.
New Zealanders living in Australia who do not fall into any of the above categories and are not covered by the Agreement may however qualify for Family Tax Benefit, Maternity Allowance, Maternity Immunisation Allowance or Child Care Benefit.
Centrelink International Services has more information on Australian social security benefits available to former residents of New Zealand.
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What Are the Main Features of the Agreement?
The Agreement helps people living in Australia and New Zealand, who have spent part of their working life in the other country, to claim a (part) pension from both countries.
Australian legislation generally 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 helps people access specified Australian payments by
- allowing special category visa holders (SCV) to claim an Australian pension
- counting periods of working age residence in New Zealand (between 20 and 65) towards Australia's residency requirements for age and disability support pension
- allowing continued payment (subject to ongoing qualification) of these benefits in New Zealand and
- allowing former Australian residents now living in New Zealand to claim an Australian pension
Note: To use the Agreement to claim an Australian pension while residing in New Zealand, a person must have actually resided in Australia between 20 and 65 years of age for a minimum of 12 months (with 5 years after the age of 50).
Centrelink has information on residency requirements for payments covered by the Agreement.
New Zealandlegislation currently requires a person to have a minimum of 10 years residence in New Zealand, (5 of which must be after the age of 50 and continuous), to be eligible for New Zealand Superannuation. If, for example, a person has only 3 years of residence in New Zealand he/she would be able to count any periods of working age residence in Australia as periods of residence in New Zealand to meet the minimum qualifying period.
The Agreement helps people access specified New Zealand payments by:
- allowing Australians who move to New Zealand to claim a New Zealand pension
- counting periods of working age residence in Australia (between 20 and 65) towards New Zealand's residency requirements for New Zealand Superannuation, Veterans pension and Invalids benefit
- allowing continued payment (subject to ongoing qualification) of New Zealand benefits in Australia and
- allowing former residents of New Zealand living in Australia to claim a New Zealand pension
Note: To use the Agreement to claim a New Zealand pension while residing in Australia, a person must have actually resided in New Zealand between 20 and 65 years of age for a minimum of 12 months.
The amount of pension a person can receive will be calculated under the terms of the Agreement. Under the Agreement a person will generally be entitled to two pensions - one from New Zealand and one from Australia. Generally the two pensions, when added together, would equal the amount of pension you would have received had you lived all your life in one country.
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What are the most important things to know about the Australian social security system?
All claimants for Australian pension, including those under the New Zealand Agreement, need to meet other requirements, for example, an income and assets test. Australian pensions are means tested, that is, an income test is applied and then an asset test is applied, and whichever produces the lower rate is used. Centrelink has information about the income and assets tests.
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Where and how do I claim a pension?
People living in Australia can obtain:
- a claim for Australian pension from any Centrelink office
- a claim for New Zealand pension by contacting Centrelink
People living in New Zealand can obtain:
- a claim for New Zealand pension from offices of Work and Income and
- a claim for Australian pension from offices of Work and Income
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What age will I need to be to qualify for an Australian Age Pension or New Zealand Superannuation/Veterans Benefit.
Under the terms of the Agreement, a person needs to be 65 to qualify for either an Australian Age pension or New Zealand Superannuation. This applies to both men and women.
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When can I claim a pension?
If you are currently residing in Australia and have also spent time in New Zealand (between age 20 and 65) you can lodge a claim for Australian pension under the Agreement up to 13 weeks before your 65th birthday.
Generally, claims for New Zealand Superannuation should be lodged 2 weeks before the person qualifies for payment. Claims under the Agreement, however, can be lodged up to 13 weeks in advance. More information on lodging claims for New Zealand benefits is available from Work and Income.
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What documents do I need to make a claim?
When you claim an Australian pension you will 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 or extract
- current Australian passport
- certificate of Australian citizenship
Proof of Australian Residence
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: The above are 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.
Note: Claimants for Australian pension who receive a New Zealand pension generally have had their identity verified by Work and Income New Zealand. Australian residence will still have to be verified.
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How much pension will I receive under the Agreement?
Under the Agreement a person will generally be entitled to two pensions - one from New Zealand and one from Australia. Generally the two pensions, when added together, would equal the amount of pension you would have received had you lived all your life in one country.
If you live in Australia, the proportion of your New Zealand pension will be based on periods of residence in New Zealand between age 20 and 65. It may then be 'topped up' by Australia to the amount of Australian pension you would be entitled to had you only ever lived in Australia.
If you live in New Zealand, the proportion of your Australian pension would be based on periods of residence in Australia between age 20 and 65 and your income and assets. It may then be 'topped up' by New Zealand to the amount of New Zealand pension you would be entitled to had you only ever lived in New Zealand.
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How are pensions paid?
If you are residing in Australia, your Australian pension will be paid into your nominated bank account every 2 weeks. You will need to advise Centrelink of the details. Any New Zealand pension you receive will be paid into your nominated bank account monthly.
If you are residing in New Zealand, any New Zealand pension will be paid into your nominated bank account every 2 weeks. You will need to advise Work and Income of the details. If you receive an Australian pension while residing in New Zealand, you should notify Centrelink of which bank account you wish to have your pension paid into. Your Australian pension will be paid into this account every 4 weeks.
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How does moving between Australia and New Zealand affect my pension?
If you receive an Australian pension and you move to New Zealand, you must notify Centrelink. However, you will not need to lodge another claim for Australian pension. Centrelink will advise you how moving to New Zealand will affect your pension.
If you receive a New Zealand pension you must reclaim that pension when you move permanently between Australia and New Zealand.
If you live permanently in New Zealand your New Zealand payment may be affected if you travel to Australia.
You should contact Work and Income for more information about this.
New Zealand residents in receipt of a Invalid's Benefit who move to Australia will not automatically receive Australian DSP when they arrive in Australia. These people will have to undergo assessment under Australia's domestic legislation to determine whether they qualify for Australian DSP. Centrelink has more information on this process.
Australian Carer Payment will only be granted to former New Zealand residents whose partner receives Australian DSP. Former New Zealand residents who wish to claim Carer Payment will have to undergo assessment under Australia's domestic legislation to determine whether they qualify for this payment. Centrelink has more information on this process.
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How do I find out more about the Agreement with New Zealand?
More information about the Agreement can be obtained from:
- Centrelink International Services
Telephone: 13 1673 from within Australia, Freecall 0800 441 248 from inside New Zealand, or telephone +61 3 6222 3455 if you are overseas. Call your overseas telephone operator to arrange a reverse charge call.
Fax: (03) 6222 2761 from within Australia and +61 3 6222 2761 if you are overseas.
Email: International Service (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Mail: Centrelink International Services at GPO Box 273, Hobart TAS 7001, Australia
More information on New Zealand pensions and the Agreement can be obtained from:
- International Services
PO Box 27 178
Telephone: 1800 150 479 from Australia or 0800 777 227 from within New Zealand
Email: International Service (email@example.com)