What’s the Difference between Superannuation in NZ and Australia?

So, one of the main differences between Australia and New Zealand when it comes to retirement is the way in which the word “superannuation” is used.

Australia vs New Zealand

In Australia, superannuation comes from contributions that your employers make throughout your working life – while you are able to make “voluntary” contributions if you wish to save more for your retirement, the bulk of these funds comes from your employers and the Australian government does not contribute to your superannuation in Australia. These funds are “locked” in place until you reach retirement age, and you cannot currently withdraw them unless you experience extreme financial hardship or become severely injured or disabled and can no longer work. This money cannot be used to make a down payment on a home.

In short, Australian superannuation is similar to a KiwiSaver account, but with slightly different rules.  In New Zealand, when you turn 65, you may be eligible for NZ Superannuation – which in Australia would be called a “pension”. For more information about pensions and government benefits you may be eligible for in Australia, check out our GOVERNMENT BENEFITS section, which covers which ones you might be able to claim. They will differ depending on how you’re in Australia – so if you’ve gotten permanent residency, or if you’re on a Protected or Non-Protected SCV. If the differences between those are getting a little fuzzy, check out our VISAS AND RESIDENCY section – it’ll help with understanding the distinctions made between the different types.

Your Super and Returning to NZ

If you return to New Zealand to retire and want to be eligible for NZ Superannuation, you need to have lived in New Zealand for at least *10 years since you turned 20 (with five years of that being between 50 and 65) – don’t worry if you’ve been in Australia long-term, it may still count and you will probably still be eligible!

If you choose to work past the age of 65 in New Zealand, you can receive your NZ Superannuation and your pay at the same time, as well as if you receive a pension from a former employer in another country. However, any pension you get from an overseas government will most likely mean your payments from NZ Superannuation will be decreased.

*This age may change. New Zealand government is currently trying to pass an increase in the eligibility age to receive the pension from 10 years to 20 years.

Moving Your Super to Aus

If you have a KiwiSaver and move to Australia, you can choose to “roll” it into your Australian superannuation fund if you plan to stay long term under an agreement called the Trans-Tasman Portability Scheme. However, this has a few tax implications – check out WA Super’s KiwiSaver Transfers area to get a better idea of what it involves. Keep in mind that you will still only be able to access these funds once you’ve reached New Zealand’s retirement age of 65.

You can also transfer Australian super into a KiwiSaver account if you return home – however, it takes some of the Australian superannuation rules with it – you can’t use it to buy your first house, transfer it to another country, or touch it until you reach the Australian age of retirement.

Another small snag when it comes to moving retirement savings between Australia and New Zealand is that, while it’s definitely possible, it’s not compulsory for funds to accept these roll overs. KiwiSaver will generally accept Australian super funds, not all Australian superannuation funds will accept roll overs from KiwiSaver – With WA Super they make this process easy.


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