Social Security Agreement between Australia and the Kingdom of Norway - Frequently Asked Questions
Note: The following information is provided as a guide only. People should contact Centrelink International Services on 131 673 for specific information relating to their circumstances.
- When did the Agreement start?
- What does the Agreement do?
- What payments are covered by the Agreement ?
- What are the main features of the Agreement?
- How do seconded workers benefit under the Agreement?
- Where and how can people lodge claims for social security pensions?
- When does payment start?
- How are pensions and benefits paid?
- Who handles claims and questions?
- What documents do I need to make a claim?
- What are the most important things to know about the Australian social security system?
- How much pension will I get if I am paid under the Agreement?
- How do I find out more?
The Agreement started on 1 January 2007.
Under the Agreement, Australia and Norway 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 Norway. It also helps people who could not otherwise claim because they are living abroad.
The social security pensions that will be covered by the Agreement are as follows:
- Age Pension
- Disability Support Pension (for those outside Australia only for the severely disabled)
- old-age pension (including supplements for supported wife or children)
- disability pension (including supplements for supported wife or children)
- rehabilitation benefits
- pensions for survivors.
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 periods of insurance in Norway 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 Norway.
Note: To use the Agreement to claim an Australian pension while residing in Norway, a person must have actually resided in Australia during their working life (Australian working life residence is between age of 16 years and Age Pension age) for a minimum of 12 months.
The Department of Human Services website has information on residence requirements for payments covered by the Agreement.
Norwegian domestic legislation currently requires a person to have at least 3 years of coverage in the Norwegian social security system between the ages of 16 and 66 years to be eligible for a pension. To receive a full pension, a person must normally have 40 years of (insurance coverage). A partial pension is paid to people who have less than 40 years of coverage.
The Agreement allows people to use periods of Australian working life residence in order to meet the minimum periods required to qualify for Norwegian pensions covered by the Agreement.
Note: To use the Agreement to qualify for a Norwegian pension a person must have at least 12 months of employment or three years residence in Norway.
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.
- People living in Australia can lodge claims for Australian and Norwegian pensions with any Centrelink Customer Service Centre.
- People living in Norway can lodge claims for Norwegian and Australian pensions at any NAV National Office for Social Insurance.
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.
If you get an Australian pension in Australia, the Department of Human Services will pay it directly into your bank account every 2 weeks.
If you get an Australian pension in Norway, the Department of Human Services will pay it directly into your bank account usually every 4 weeks. Payments made to customers in Norway are in Norwegian Krone.
If you get a pension from Norway 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 Norway.
Claims and questions relating to the Agreement are handled:
- in Australia, by contacting Centrelink International Services on 13 1673
- Australian pensioners residing in Norway can contact Centrelink International Services on +61 3 6222 3455 (call charges apply)
- in Norway, by contacting the NAV National Office for Social Insurance Abroad:
PO Box 1838 Dep.
Phone: 0011 47 2331 1300
Fax: 0015 47 2331 1301
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;
Note: These 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.
If you are claiming an Australian pension while you are living in Norway, you will still have to provide proof of identity and proof of previous Australian residence to the Norwegian authorities.
The Norwegian authorities can advise you of the documentation you need to provide
All claimants for Australian Agreement pensions need to meet other qualifications (e.g. 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. The Department of Human Services website has information about the current income and assets test limits.
Australian pension for a person not living in Australia
The rate 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. For claims made since 1 July 2014, a person with 35 years Australian working life residence (between age 16 and Age Pension age) can be paid a full age or disability support pension (subject to the means test). With less than 35 years, the rate is worked out on a proportional basis. For example, a person with 20 years Australian working life residence would receive 20/35ths (or 57%) of the means-tested Australian pension.
The income and assets tests also apply, so that a person with 35 years Australian working life residence could still receive a part pension if their income or assets exceed allowable limits. The Department of Human Services website has 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 Norwegian pension they also receive. The Norwegian 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 Norwegian benefit is treated as income in the normal way.
A person who lived in Australia for 20 years during working life (between age 16 and Age Pension age) is now living in Norway and is already receiving a Norwegian old-age pension. This person left Australia before reaching Age Pension age.
- Without the Agreement
Although this person has more than the 10 years Australian residence required to qualify for an 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
Australian Age Pension can be claimed while the person is in Norway. The pension rate will be proportionalised, that is, the person will receive 20/35ths of the means-tested rate.
A 65 year old woman in Norway is already receiving a Norwegian old-age pension. She lived in Australia during her working life (between age 16 and Age Pension age), but only for 9 months.
- Without the Agreement
This woman is entitled to Norwegian pension only. No Australian pension can be paid because she is not an Australian resident and also because she is not living in Australia.
- With the Agreement
No change. This woman will still receive a Norwegian pension but will not be entitled to an Australian pension because the minimum period of Australian working life residence required for the grant of Australian pension under the Agreement to a person living outside Australia is 12 months.
A 65 year old man in Norway has also lived in Australia, as a permanent resident, for 6 years. Apart from that he has a total period of insurance in Norway of 35 years.
- Without the Agreement
The man is entitled to Norwegian pension only. No Australian pension can be paid because of lack of Australian residence and also because the person is not living in Australia.
- With the Agreement
The man can add his 6 years as an Australian resident to the 35 years of insurance in Norway so that he meets the minimum 10 years Australian residence required to qualify for Australian Age Pension. His Australian pension rate will be proportionalised, that is, he will receive 6/35ths of the means-tested rate.
Norway will add periods of working life residence in Australia to periods of insurance in Norway in order to reach the minimum qualifying periods. The Norwegian benefit paid will be based on the period of insurance the person has completed in Norway as a proportion of the combined total of the person's insurance period in Norway and period of Australian working life residence.
For more information on claim procedures and payments:
- Contact Centrelink International Services.
- Visit your local Centrelink Customer Service Centre.
- Department of Human Services Publications - Australia's International Social Security Agreements Factsheets
For more information on how the Agreement will assist seconded workers, contact the Australian Taxation Office.