What Happens to Your Superannuation Once You Leave Australia?

leaving australia what happens to supernanuation

[Updated April 19, 2023]

There are several reasons why you plan to leave Australia. It could be because of your career, love, or adventure. Perhaps there are new opportunities where you want to move. During this time, you may have a long checklist that has all things you need to do. But one thing that you should not forget is your superannuation.

If you worked in the country, you might have accumulated some super. You do not want to forget about it; after all, you earned it, so it is only right that you keep track of it.

Are you an Australian working internationally? Perhaps you have plans to move overseas. If so, this blog is for you.

Leaving Australia could have repercussions for certain things, including your super. Your decision affects your super, whether your leave temporarily or permanently.

The superannuation is still under the same rules, meaning you cannot access it until you have satisfied the conditions of release. The most important rule is for you to reach a certain age first and then retire. The preservation age is between 55 and 60, which will depend on the time when you were born.

If you are overseas and you continue to work for an Australian employer or business, you may still be required to make a contribution. Talk to your employer about it and determine what will happen once you leave. You may also want to contact the ATO if you would like a more precise explanation in case your employer does not know the answer.

Even if you no longer reside in Australia, you are still obligated to check your super regularly. It also helps to combine the accounts that you may not need anymore. The best way to do so is through the Australian Taxation Office’s myGov site. From there, you can merge different super accounts, a tactic that will free you up from paying different sets that come with extra charges.

travelling and moving superannuation country

Frequently Asked Questions about Superannuation

If there are other things that you would like to know about your super account, the following Q&As may help:

  1. What should I do with a small super account?A common issue with super accounts is getting tagged as unclaimed. It typically happens when the account is small. If you are in this situation and you wish to keep your super fund, you need to contact your super fund. Inform them about your case, which will prevent the account from being labelled as unclaimed.
  2. What if I want to move permanently to New Zealand?If you are bound to New Zealand, the rules will change. You have two options if you wish to move indefinitely or permanently to NZ. The first is to simply leave your super in Australia. If you do not want to do that, you can opt to transfer your super to a New Zealand KiwiSaver scheme.Check that the Australian super fund that you have participated in such a system. The KiwiSaver account should be under the Trans-Tasman Retirement Savings Portability scheme. You will then have to confirm that you meet the following requirements:
    • Your current fund, as well as the future fund, is a participant of the Trans-Tasman agreement.
    • You have an existing fund that complies with the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA), along with the New Zealand KiwiSaver scheme. This requirement applies to your future fund, too.
    • You do not have a self-managed super fund.

    You should also be aware of the retirement savings rules in NZ, mainly because they will apply to your savings right away once they are transferred.

  3. What about a self-managed super?Self-managed super fund (SMSF) is a type of superannuation based on the trust structure. Members gain benefits when they retire just like other super funds. The main difference is that SMSFs allow members to become trustees of the fund.If you are a trustee and you plan to travel overseas for a certain period, you need to check your fund before leaving. Make sure that it will continue to keep up with the rules of being a super fund in Australia.
  4. How do you know your super fund complies with the Australian super fund rules?You can only receive tax concessions if the super fund meets the definition of Australian super fund. As a self-managed super fund, it should remain this way at all times throughout the whole financial year. It stops immediately if it no longer satisfies rules in residency. These rules include:
    • The super fund began in Australia, or at least one asset is in the country.
    • The control and central management of the SMSF are in Australia, which includes all duties and activities, such as formulating the strategy for investments.
    • The super fund has active Australian members, with 50% of the assets’ total market value based on super interests.

    If your SMSF does not meet the conditions above, it has specific implications. The biggest is that its assets, along with its income, will be taxed based on the highest marginal rate.

    Also, if the members plan to move or travel overseas and stay there for a long time, you should get professional advice regarding the SMSF’s residency status.

  5. What can you do to your super after relocating overseas?Be sure to check your retirement savings and how the situation will be in the country where you have relocated. It will help you understand how you can withdraw your contributions while you are away.For those who are near their preservation age, it is worth finding out if there are tax implications that may result when you withdraw your Australian super. The funds may be added to your taxes soon after you become eligible to obtain them.

superannuation what happens when you leave country

Can I Pull Out My Super Early?

The ATO allows early access to super only on limited circumstances. You can access your super early on compassionate grounds. These may include cases of medical treatment or medical transport, accommodating a disability for you or a loved one, and palliative care for you or a dependent. You can also access your super early due to extreme financial hardship. In such instances, you will have to contact your super provider to make a request to access your super on financial hardship grounds.

A Note for Temporary Residents

If you are a temporary resident and you worked in the country, you may have earned super. Before you leave Australia, you should know what to do. The critical step is to apply for a Departing Australia Superannuation Payment (DASP). It will allow you to collect your super after you leave.

There are certain criteria that you must meet in order for you to claim your super. Some requirements include:

  • Your super was paid to you while you were in Australia, and you had a temporary visa. These visas include Working Holiday visa subclasses 4717 and 462.
  • You have already left the country to claim.
  • You are a holder of an expired visa. Cancelled visa holders are also accepted.

If you are a citizen of New Zealand, you are not allowed to access your super early, unlike residents of other countries. The reason is that the governments of Australia and New Zealand have agreed to let the super transfer from the Australian super system to New Zealand’s.

Temporary residents who are eligible to claim their super online or by paper can visit the ATO website. Remember one thing before you leave the country: retain all the relevant information you have, especially those required. This way, you have already completed your super application once you are overseas.

Some details that you have to provide include your super account details and visa information when starting your online application or claim via the ATO.

Whether you are a temporary or permanent resident, you may need to update your personal information. It will help the ATO to stay in contact with you if the agency needs specific details about the transfer of your super balances. Making sure your information is correct will also help avoid lost or unclaimed super.

If you need help with your tax return after moving away, we can help. TaxReturn.com.au are experts and can help you with your super claims.


*General Advice Warning – “Any financial advice provided by TaxReturn.com.au is general in nature and is not personal financial advice. It does not take into account your objectives, financial situation, or needs. Before acting on any information, you should consider the appropriateness of it regarding your own objectives, financial situation and needs.”