Getting an overseas benefit or pension in New Zealand

Who can get overseas government benefits or pensions?

You may be able to get benefits or pensions from us and from overseas countries you have lived in. It's up to the benefit or pension agency of the country making the payment to decide who can get one.

If you get payments from any benefits or pensions you get from overseas you must let us know as it may affect the amount you get from us. This is because overseas benefits and pensions may reduce your New Zealand benefit or pension.

Our International Services team can help you work out what overseas state social security benefits or pensions you may be entitled to, and explain your payment options.

Spouse or partner entitlements

If your spouse or partner is able to get an overseas state social security benefit or pension it may affect your New Zealand benefits or pensions. The rules differ for overseas benefits or pensions depending on whether you both get a New Zealand benefit or pension in your own right, or if a non-qualified partner is included in your benefit or pension.

How much can you get?

Generally, you will get paid the same amount as those who have lived all their lives in New Zealand. This amount may be made up of a combination of your New Zealand and overseas benefit or pension payments – it depends on your circumstances.

Read more about the direct payment method in the Payment options section below.

How to apply

Tell us if you've lived overseas

When you apply for a New Zealand benefit or pension you must tell us if you've lived overseas. If you need help our International Services team can help you check your overseas benefit and pension entitlements.

International Services specialise in international social security. They can help you with your application and explain your payment options.

You must apply for overseas payments

You and your spouse or partner must apply for any overseas state social security benefits or pensions that you may be able to get. If you don't, you may lose your entitlement to a New Zealand benefit or pension.

The rules for getting benefits or pensions are different for each country.

Some countries have social security agreements with New Zealand. These agreements may make it easier for you to get a benefit or pension from that country, from New Zealand or from both. For example, an agreement may allow you to count the time you've spent living in that country towards getting a benefit or pension in New Zealand.

Payment options

There are two payment methods for getting an overseas state social security benefit or pension in New Zealand:

You can choose to be paid using the special banking option if you get a New Zealand benefit or pension and also get a benefit or pension from one of the following countries:

  • Australia
  • The Netherlands
  • The United Kingdom
  • Ireland
  • Jersey and Guernsey

Otherwise you're paid by the direct payment method.

The direct payment method

With the direct payment option:

  • your overseas pension and New Zealand payments are separate
  • you get your full overseas pension
  • your New Zealand benefit or pension is reduced by the amount of your overseas pension (you're paid the difference)
  • your payments will vary with exchange rates
  • the overseas social security agency pays you according to their payment cycle
  • any money you get from us is paid every one or two weeks
  • you're responsible for paying tax in New Zealand on your overseas pension.

 

The special banking option

With the special banking option:

  • your overseas benefit or pension is paid into a special bank account that only Work and Income and the bank can access
  • you get a single payment which is the full amount of the New Zealand benefit or pension, regardless of how much your overseas pension is
  • your payments aren't affected by exchange rates so you know exactly how much you'll get each pay day
  • we deduct tax before we pay you
  • you'll need to pay tax on any payments of your overseas pension that continue to be paid directly to you such as:
    • holiday pay
    • private pensions
    • any portion of your pension based on voluntary contributions.

The special Banking option is not suitable if:

  • your overseas pension is more than the New Zealand pension or benefit as we can't pay more than the full amount of your New Zealand benefit or pension
  • you're entitled to the full amount of your New Zealand pension as well as your overseas pension.

You can find more information in our brochures and factsheets:

Application packs for the special banking option

These packs contain the forms needed to apply for the special banking option. Once the forms have been completed they need to be sent to International Services to be processed.

For more information

Our International Services team specialise in paying New Zealand benefits and pensions overseas. They are the best people to contact for questions about getting your New Zealand Superannuation or Veteran's Pension while travelling or residing overseas. They can explain the rules so you’ll know what to expect.