How Long Can Australian Pensioners Stay Overseas Without Losing Their Pension?

  • Ashwin RamdasAshwin Ramdas
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    This information has been reviewed by our SMSF Mates before it was published as part of our review process.

The prospect of exploring the world during retirement is certainly enticing. But if you’re an Australian pensioner planning to live or travel internationally, it’s essential to understand how it may impact your age pension overseas. Knowledge about the relevant rules and regulations is key to maintaining your pension, so you can confidently live out your global adventures.

Pension payments can continue uninterrupted for the entire duration of an Australian pensioner’s stay outside Australia, including if they choose to live in another country.

We’ll delve into the intricacies of the Australian Age Pension for those considering a spell overseas, covering aspects such as eligibility, payment processes, tax implications, and key preparations prior to departure. Armed with this knowledge, you’ll be well-equipped to enjoy a worry-free retirement, whether at home or outside Australia.

Understanding the Australian Age Pension

The Australian Age Pension is a fortnightly financial aid programme run by the government, intended to support Australians during their retirement years. It functions as a financial safety net, contributing towards living costs for individuals who have reached the pension age.

To qualify, individuals must fulfil several criteria, including age, residency status, and the income and assets test. Indeed, for eligibility to the age pension, it is required that one has lived as an Australian resident, experiencing the unique lifestyle of Australia for a period of at least ten years.

Financial eligibility isn’t determined solely by your earnings. Rather, it’s a broader approach that also considers the value of any assets you own. This comprehensive review aims to ensure government aid is directed to those who genuinely need it.

Crucially, age pension payments can continue even when beneficiaries are overseas, inclusive of those who have moved abroad permanently. However, the payment procedure might be subject to modifications, depending on the length of a pensioner’s stay outside of Australia. It’s essential for anyone contemplating spending part of their retirement abroad to be well-informed about these potential changes.

How Much is the Australian Pension if You Live Overseas?

The value of the age pension remains constant, whether the recipient lives within Australia or overseas. However, payment schedules may differ based on the length of the stay abroad.

Once a pension recipient departs from Australia, the payment procedure undergoes certain changes.

Up to 12 Months:

For trips abroad lasting up to 12 months, the pension continues to be disbursed fortnightly into an Australian bank account.

Over 12 Months:

For those planning to settle overseas for more than a year, the procedure slightly alters. In these cases, pension payments are arranged on a monthly basis and can be transferred to either an Australian or foreign bank account.

When pension payments are transferred to a bank account outside Australia, there’s a need for currency exchange. This activity is supervised by the Reserve Bank of Australia, which changes the payments into the corresponding local currency or US dollars, based on the current exchange rate. Any charges or banking expenses incurred while accessing funds overseas are the responsibility of the recipient.

Australian Age Pension and Your Overseas Bank Account

The moment your stay overseas crosses the 12-month mark, pension disbursements are slated to be made into a foreign bank account. This denotes a significant alteration in the disbursement procedure, and understanding the subtleties of this change is crucial.

The funds deposited into a foreign account will either be in the form of the local currency or US dollars. The currency exchange from Australian dollars is supervised by the Reserve Bank of Australia, applying the current exchange rate. This conversion procedure ensures that your pension is available in a format that you can effortlessly utilise in your country of residence.

Nevertheless, it’s imperative to remember that any charges or bank fees associated with accessing your funds abroad fall on your shoulders. This encompasses charges related to exchange rates, foreign transaction fees, or any expenses linked to maintaining a foreign bank account. Factoring these potential costs into your financial strategy is vital, as it aids in equipping you to adeptly manage your age pension whilst overseas.

Notifying Authorities about Your Travel Plans

Informing relevant authorities about any changes in your circumstances, particularly those that pertain to overseas travel plans, potential overseas employment income, or issues with being contacted while abroad, is of paramount importance.

In particular, you must notify Services Australia if you intend to live in another country or stay overseas for more than six weeks. Likewise, it’s vital to inform them if you’re planning to receive an age pension under an international social security agreement or if you’re intending to leave Australia within two years of returning and starting your pension.

Keeping Services Australia updated with your travel plans and changes in your circumstances ensures that your pension payments are accurately calculated and disbursed. This transparency can prevent potential complications down the line and ensure a smoother experience while living or travelling abroad.

International Social Security Agreements

Australia has established social security agreements with over 30 countries, providing added flexibility for age pension recipients planning an overseas stay. These agreements can potentially allow age pension benefits to continue during your stay in an agreement country.

Moreover, these social security agreements can be a valuable resource for those who have not quite met the ten-year Australian residency requirement for the age pension. For instance, if you have resided in Australia for seven years and spent three in a country with an Australian social security agreement, you could still qualify for the age pension.

Being aware of these agreements and understanding how they may apply to your circumstances can provide additional security and peace of mind when considering an overseas retirement. Remember to research your intended destination and check whether a social security agreement is in place.

Returning to Australia after an Overseas Stay

Returning to Australia after an extended overseas stay can come with its own set of regulations and requirements, especially regarding the age pension. There might be instances where your pension payments could pause. Therefore, being aware of the requirements to restart these payments becomes a practical necessity.

Generally, if your pension payment has been discontinued due to an extended stay overseas, it will usually resume upon your return to Australia. However, exceptions may apply in unforeseen circumstances such as severe illness or natural disasters. There may also be specific provisions for those receiving payments in countries with an Australian social security agreement.

Note that if an pension payment or concession card is discontinued while you’re overseas and doesn’t automatically restore upon your return, you should promptly contact the authorities. Similarly, if you’re returning to live in Australia after being abroad, informing the authorities will ensure a smooth transition and re-establishment of your pension benefits.

The Age Pension and Taxation

As an age pension recipient, being cognizant of the tax implications linked with your pension payments is vital. The pension is considered taxable income, which means it can affect your overall tax obligations.

However, the Australian tax system provides options to manage this effectively. You can request Services Australia to deduct tax from your payments. By taking this approach, you can distribute your tax obligations throughout the year rather than face a sizeable lump sum during tax return time, thereby streamlining your finances and ensuring a more predictable, manageable tax contribution.

This is particularly useful for those spending significant time overseas as it simplifies tax obligations and ensures you remain compliant with Australian tax laws. By appropriately managing your tax, you can focus on enjoying your retirement, whether at home or abroad.

Recommended Preparations before Departure

Before embarking on your overseas journey, there are several practical steps to take to ensure seamless management of your age pension. Firstly, it is advisable to link your Centrelink account to myGov. This connection provides access to a host of online services, enabling you to manage your pension payments from anywhere in the world.

In addition, it’s critical to report any income the business day prior to your departure. This timely report helps avoid delays in pension payments, ensuring you have consistent access to your financial resources as you transition to your new location. By taking these preparatory measures, you can help ensure a smooth and hassle-free experience as you embark on your overseas adventure.


The rules tied to the Australian Age Pension and overseas stays carry significant weight for retirees eyeing an international move or extended travel. Each action, from notifying authorities about your travels to managing your tax obligations, contributes significantly to facilitating a smooth transition overseas and the uninterrupted receipt of your age pension payments.

Furthermore, being aware of Australia’s social security agreements with other countries can open up additional possibilities for overseas stays, while also potentially helping to meet residency requirements. Lastly, taking the recommended preparations before departure can help you maintain control over your pension payments from anywhere in the world.

General Advice Warning

Ashwin Ramdas

Eventum Consulting

Ashwin is an accountant and educator based in Perth, Western Australia. He is passionate about helping family owned businesses and startups. He is one of the founders of SMSF Mate and you’ll regularly see him on our podcast!

Ashwin is a managing owner and director of Eventum Consulting, a multidisciplinary firm helping clients with finance, succession planning and their tax needs. He also served as a lecturer in taxation and small business at the Central Institute of Technology, and has worked as an accountant at a number of well-known tax specialists.

Ashwin studied a Diploma of Business Education and a Bachelor of Commerce in Financial Accounting, Managerial Accounting and Corporate Finance, both at Curtin University, WA.

Ashwin is passionate about technology, and sees it as an enabler for his clients to grow truly sustainable and profitable businesses.

You can find out more about Ashwin or connect with him on Linkedin here:

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