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What happens to superannuation when leaving Australia?

Superannuation was established to help secure retirement benefits of working Australians through employer salary guarantee and voluntary contributions. The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) has made superannuation early withdrawal illegal, but there is a legal way to access your contributions if you plan to leave Australia for good.

According to the ATO, you may be eligible to legally withdraw all your super contributions by filing a Departing Australia Superannuation Payment (DASP) form. However, DASP may not always apply when migrating – you need to satisfy certain conditions before the ATO approves a withdrawal.

Nest Egg discusses what you need to know about claiming your superannuation when leaving Australia permanently.

DASP for super fund members

If you’re leaving Australia to permanently reside in another country, you can file a DASP with your super fund manager or the ATO. However, there are certain conditions that can affect your eligibility and the amount of money that will be released to you.

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The tax rate that will be applied to super contribution primarily depends on the applicant’s residency status and where they will go.

Are you a citizen or permanent resident?

If you hold an Australian citizenship or have a permanent resident visa, you can’t withdraw your superannuation when moving overseas. If you’re a permanent resident or citizen, not even giving up your residency status or renouncing your Australian citizenship would grant you access to your super.

However, there is a way to take your super with you if you’re moving to New Zealand.

Moving to New Zealand
Citizens and permanent residents are not eligible for DASP, but if you plan to reside in New Zealand permanently, you have two options for your super:

  • Leave your super in Australia and wait until you retire or satisfy a condition of release
  • Transfer your super to a New Zealand KiwiSaver scheme

The second option is allowed under the Trans-Tasman Retirement Savings Portability Scheme, which was enforced beginning 1 July 2013. However, it only permits transfers between an Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) regulated fund and a KiwiSaver Scheme. Self-managed super fund (SMSF) transfers are not permitted.

You must also learn the laws surrounding the KiwiSaver scheme because it follows a different set of rules from the Australian superannuation system.

Temporary residents

Temporary residents refer to those who were employed and contributed to super while holding a temporary Australian visa (i.e. subclass 147, 400, 485, etc). New Zealand citizens and holders of investor retirement visa (subclass 405) and retirement visa (subclass 410) are excluded from this definition.

Temporary residents who are leaving Australia permanently to go back to their home country or elsewhere are eligible for DASP. They may request their funds or the ATO to release their super contributions by filing the necessary forms once they have left Australia.

If you’re a temporary resident, you may file a DASP form with your fund manager.

Working holiday makers (WHM)
Working holiday makers refer to individuals who were granted a subclass 417 and 462 visas, as well as an associated bridging visa.

According to the ATO, the WHM tax rate applies to the entire DASP payment as long as the individual held a WHM visa when they were contributing to their super. This means that, even if they contributed to super under a different type of temporary visa before or after holding a WHM visa, the WHM tax rate will still be applied to the total amount for release.

Is DASP available to SMSF trustees?

Withdrawal or transfer of super contributions is only available to APRA-regulated fund members. It doesn’t apply to SMSFs as they are all trusts under ATO supervision.

SMSF trustees must ensure that the contributions and earnings of a member who is leaving Australia permanently are rolled over to an APRA-regulated fund before they leave because the trust may contravene SMSF rules.

Likewise, citizens and permanent residents who are moving to New Zealand are prohibited from transferring their super from an APRA-regulated fund to an SMSF.

Filing DASP: When can I withdraw my superannuation?

You cannot process the withdrawal of your super while your temporary resident visa is active. This means that you can fill out the DASP online form in preparation for your departure, but you may only submit through the DASP online application system once you have already left Australia.

You may apply for DASP with your super fund within six months from your departure. If you fail to do so and your visa has already expired, your fund will forward your super contributions to ATO as unclaimed super.

You must also submit copies of certified documents, such as copy of your passport identification page and cancelled temporary visa. There are also additional documents required if you have $5,000 or more in your super.

There are certain limitations on who can certify the required documents, so the ATO recommends processing certifications prior to leaving Australia.

Your super will be released within 28 days of lodging a complete DASP application and the required documents that serve as proof that you are overseas.

What are the tax implications on DASP?

The DASP tax rate that will be applied to the taxable element of your super depends on the type of residency or visa you hold.

As of 1 July 2017, the DASP ordinary tax rate of 35 per cent is applied to the taxed element, while the untaxed element is taxed at 45 per cent. For visa subclass 417 and 462 holders, the DASP WHM tax rate of 65 per cent will apply to the entire taxable component of your super, whether taxed or untaxed.

The DASP payment doesn’t form part of your assessable income since it has a separate tax treatment. DASP payments don’t count as part of your assessable income, so make sure that it’s not reflected in your final tax return.

Can a representative file for DASP?

The ATO allows applicants to authorise a representative or tax agent to claim DASP payments on their behalf.

Note that the tax agent must be registered with the Tax Practitioners Board for the purpose of claiming DASP.


This information has been sourced from the Australian Taxation Office and Nest Egg.

What happens to superannuation when leaving Australia?
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