Australian pensions: living and travelling overseas12 Jan 2024 4 min read
After years of COVID lockdowns and restrictions, many Australians are eager to catch up on lost time and travel overseas. Whether you're planning on travelling or living overseas, if you're receiving age pension payments, there are some rules you'll need to know first.
What is the age pension?
The age pension is a fortnightly support payment from the Australian government. Many Australians rely on either part or full pension payments to help pay for basic living expenses during retirement.
To be eligible for the age pension, you generally need to have:
- reached your age pension age (which depends on your date of birth)
- been an Australian resident for at least 10 years1
- met the income and assets test.
Age pension eligibility may also be affected by an individual's Australian Working Life Residency.2 Learn more about the age pension and eligibility on our website, including how it's impacted by your super.
Getting your age pension overseas
Considering a holiday or overseas retirement but want to keep your age pension benefits? To get your pension payment or concession card while outside Australia, you'll need to plan ahead.
Apply for the age pension while you're living in Australia — not while overseas. Before you leave Australia, also make sure your Centrelink account is linked to your myGov account.
Once you start receiving the age pension, you normally need to stay in Australia for at least 2 years before you can go overseas — otherwise, your pension payments may stop while you're travelling. It's best to confirm your conditions with Services Australia before you make any plans.
How long can Australian pensioners stay overseas?
The impacts on your age pension payments will depend on a few things, including how long you plan on being outside Australia. Services Australia outlines the following:
If you’re overseas for up to 6 weeks — Generally, your pension payments will continue as normal if you're travelling for less than 6 weeks.
If you’re overseas for more than 26 weeks — When you reach 26 weeks after leaving Australia your rate will depend on how long you were an Australian resident between 16 and Age Pension age. If you were an Australian resident for:
- 35 years or more, your rate won’t change in most cases
- less than 35 years, you’ll get a lower rate in most cases.
You can learn more at Services Australia.
International social security agreements — how they can help you get payments
Australia has an international social security agreement with over 30 countries to share responsibility for social security coverage. Under these agreements, you may be able to claim your Australian pension overseas if you:
- live in Australia but are visiting an agreement country
- live in an agreement country
- live in an agreement country but are visiting Australia.
An international social security agreement could also help you meet eligibility for the age pension where you haven't been an Australian resident for 10 years, but your time in an agreement country covers the gap. For example, 7 years in Australia plus 3 years in an agreement country may make you eligible for the age pension.
The rules around social security agreements can get complex depending on your personal situation, so it's a good idea to get professional advice from Services Australia if you're thinking about claiming a payment while in an agreement country.
You can learn more at Services Australia.
What could impact your age pension while overseas?
You may get the age pension for the whole time you're outside Australia, even if you're leaving to live in another country. But you'll need to tell Services Australia that you're travelling overseas if you:
- are going to live in another country
- will be gone for more than 6 weeks
- get age pension under a social security agreement with another country
- or your partner are getting income from employment.
Changes like these may have an impact on your eligibility for payment, so it's important you keep Services Australia in the loop.
Frequently asked questions
Can I live overseas and get the age pension?
If eligible, yes. Your payments will be made every 4 weeks instead of fortnightly, and you may be paid less than what you would have in Australia.
Is the age pension taxable?
Yes — the age pension is counted as taxable income. You can ask Services Australia to deduct tax from your payment so you don't need to pay it when you lodge your tax return.
What happens to my Centrelink payments if I go overseas?
Receiving Centrelink payments outside Australia will depend on various factors, like where you're going and for how long. You'll need to contact Centrelink if you plan to leave Australia for more than 6 weeks and receive any of the following:
- Disability Support Pension
- Pension Supplement
- Pensioner Concession Card
- Bereavement Allowance
- Parenting Payment single, and you are widowed
- Carer Payment, and you are caring for a pensioner partner
How long can age pensioners stay overseas?
Australian pensioners can stay up to 6 weeks overseas and receive their Australian pension normally before their return to Australia. If you’re moving overseas or your travel plans exceed 6 weeks, you'll need to let Services Australia know, and your pension payments may be affected.
What happens if I can't return to Australia as planned?
If you stay outside Australia for longer than anticipated, you may find your pension payment or concession card has stopped. However, specific provisions may be granted if you can't return to Australia due to an unforeseen event, such as a serious illness or a disaster. We recommend chatting with Centrelink International Services to find out if your payment can continue.