If you made the move from overseas and have been living and working in Australia, it’s likely your employer has been allocating funds to a superannuation account on your behalf, to support your eventual retirement.

But if you decide to leave Australia, what happens to that money?

Taking your superannuation with you depends on one thing - whether you become a permanent Australian resident/citizen or not during your time here.


If you’re an Australian citizen or Australian permanent resident

If you take the required steps to become an Australian citizen or permanent resident, your superannuation is locked in place until you meet a condition of release (eg retire after attaining preservation age) – regardless of whether you stay in Australia or not.

There are exceptions

If you experience events like permanent incapacity, severe financial hardship or a terminal medical condition, you may be allowed to access your super sooner. But there are criteria you must satisfy.

If you’re moving to New Zealand you may be able to transfer your super from a participating super fund in Australia using the New Zealand KiwiSaver scheme. 

It’s a good idea to get in touch with your super fund or a self-managed super fund (SMSF) specialist to find out more.

If you’re a temporary resident in Australia

Millions in unclaimed super is lost every year by people leaving the country unaware they can claim their contributions when they leave. If you’re a temporary resident you can claim payment of your superannuation money if all of the following conditions are met.

  • you entered Australia on a temporary visa (excluding subclasses 405 and 410)
  • your visa is no longer in effect
  • you have departed Australia
  • you are not an Australian or New Zealand citizen, or a permanent resident of Australia.

When you’re planning your permanent departure from Australia, it’s important to remember your super may be able to move with you.  You should open a myGov online account before you leave Australia so you can keep track of your super accounts and any super the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) holds on your behalf.

Planning ahead and being prepared is the key to making sure you get your super. You’ll need to make sure the correct forms are completed and lodged in the right order.

What you need to do

You may only claim your super directly from your super fund within six months of leaving Australia. After six months of you departing Australia or your visa ceasing to be in effect (whichever is longer), your fund may be required to transfer the money to the ATO. The ATO will hold your super until you claim it from them.

To claim your super directly from your super fund, fill out a Departing Australia Superannuation Payment (DASP) application form online.

You can save your application any time but only submit it once you’ve left Australia. Your visa must be inactive or cancelled in order to apply.

You’ll need the following info handy:

  • Passport number
  • Australian Tax File Number (TFN)
  • All the details for each super fund including each super fund’s Australian Business Number (ABN)
  • Details of the bank account you’re now using overseas

You may also need to provide either:

i) A certified copy of your visa or evidence you’ve held a temporary resident visa that’s expired or been cancelled, a certified copy of your passport photograph page showing your ID and departure stamp.  It’s probably a good idea to get these sorted before you leave as finding someone to certify these after you’ve left may be tricky.

ii) Confirmation you’ve lodged a Certification of Immigration Status and/or a request to cancel a temporary resident visa (Form 1194) with the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP).

To claim your super from the ATO, further information can be found on the ATO website.

What’s next?

Once you’ve submitted your DASP form, the request will be forwarded to your super fund and the ATO. Please check DASP tax rates as tax of up to 65% may be deducted from your super payment, which also means you’ll not have to include the withdrawal on your tax return.

You can view the applicable tax rates on DASP withdrawals here.

If your visa is still active but you’ve left Australia, further information can be found on the ATO website.

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Things you should know

This article is intended to provide general information only and does not take into account your individual objectives, financial situation or needs. Taxation considerations are general and based on present taxation laws and may be subject to change. You should seek independent, professional tax advice before making any decision based on this information. The Commonwealth Bank is also not a registered tax (financial) adviser under the Tax Agent Services Act 2009 and you should seek tax advice from a registered tax agent or a registered tax (financial) adviser if you intend to rely on this information to satisfy the liabilities or obligations or claim entitlements that arise, or could arise, under a taxation law. Information in this article is up to date as at the date of publication.