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If you’re moving permanently or indefinitely to another country, what happens to your super?
Even if you’ve only worked in Australia as a temporary resident, it’s likely you’ve received super contributions. According to the Australia Taxation Office (ATO), the rules for what you can do with your super when you leave the country depend on your citizenship or residency status. This article explains the general rules regarding your super if you move overseas, but your circumstances may be different; it’s always a good idea to seek independent financial advice for your specific situation.
The ATO advises that if you’re an Australian citizen or a permanent resident, you probably won’t be able to access your super just because you’re going overseas, even if you’re moving away permanently. Your super will remain subject to the same rules as when you resided in Australia, accessible when you reach the preservation age and retire or if you meet one of the other conditions of release.
But while you can’t access it early, your super will still be there, generating returns for when you do retire. If you’re moving overseas but working for an Australian employer, your employer may still need to make super contributions into your account on your behalf.
There is one exception to be aware of that may allow you to access your Australian super fund. If you’re moving to New Zealand you may be able to take advantage of the Trans-Tasman portability scheme, allowing you to transfer your super to a KiwiSaver account. This means you may be able to move your Australian super to the equivalent New Zealand scheme without having to retire or meet one of the other conditions for release, although your money will be subject to New Zealand laws. As the ATO points out, there are a number of rules to comply with, you may have to pay exit fees for your current fund and you can only transfer from a fund regulated by the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority, not from others such as a self-managed super fund.
If you were only a temporary resident of Australia and you are now leaving, you might be eligible for a departing Australia superannuation payment (DASP). To do so, the ATO indicates you need to have left Australia, had your visa expire or be cancelled and not be a citizen of Australia or New Zealand.
If this is the case, either you or an authorised representative could be able to contact your super fund trustee and request the release of your super.
Within 28 days after receiving your application you should receive your payout by electronic funds transfer or cheque, minus the applicable taxes. According to the ATO, the current rate is a flat 65% for anyone who was a working holiday maker or a 35% rate for the taxed portion and 45% for the untaxed portion for everyone else. Usually, there is no tax levied on the tax-free component.