Canadian pensions in New Zealand
Canadian pensions in NZ - FAQs
Common questions and answers
Updated December 2010
Canada has public pension programmes that are generally available to people aged 65 years or older although in some circumstances you may be able to qualify from the age of 60 onwards. The information provided in this document about Canadian pensions should only be used as a guide. For more specific information about Canadian pensions please contact either Service Canada or Régie de rentes Quebec (if enquiring about Quebec pensions).
What retirement pensions are available in Canada?
The Canadian public pension system is made up of two pensions – the Old Age Security (OAS) and the Canada Pension Plan (CPP). If you worked in Quebec, you may be entitled to a pension from the Quebec Pension Plan (QPP).
Canadians are also able to supplement their retirement income through private schemes known as Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSPs). RRSPs are usually administered by a financial institution such as a bank, credit union, trust or insurance company.
Who’s entitled to Canadian Old Age and Retirement pensions?
Entitlement to an OAS pension is based on your age, your legal status and the number of years you have lived in Canada. If you live in Canada, you can qualify at age 65 with a minimum of 10 years of residence in Canada after age 18. However, if you are living outside of Canada, you need to have lived in Canada for at least 20 years after reaching 18 years of age in order to qualify.
Entitlement to a CPP or QPP retirement pension is based on how much, and for how long, you contributed to the plan/s. Most people over 18 in Canada who earn a salary make contributions to the CPP or QPP until either they begin to receive the pension or at 70 years of age, if they are still working. The level of contribution depends on a person’s annual earnings between a set minimum amount and a set maximum amount level.
You normally qualify for CPP or QPP at age 65 but you can qualify for payment at an earlier age (from the age of 60 onwards) if you have stopped working or either earn less than a specified amount (for CPP and QPP) or have signed an agreement with the employer to take a pay reduction of 20% for purposes of phased retirement (QPP). The contribution rate for both CPP and QPP is 4.95% of your earnings (these are matched by your employer). If you are self employed, you are required to pay both the employee and employer contribution. You only pay contributions on annual earnings between a set minimum and set maximum level.
Under the Canadian and New Zealand agreement your residence in New Zealand after the age of 18 (for CPP pension entitlement) and 20 (for OAS pension entitlement) can be used to help you meet the residence or contribution criteria for these pensions, provided that you lived in Canada for a minimum of 12 months since the age of 18.
How do I apply for Canadian pensions?
If you are not already getting an OAS or CPP and you have previously lived in Canada, we need you to apply by filling in an application form/s available from Senior Services. We will forward your applications to Service Canada, the government office that administers the Canadian social security scheme. Service Canada will decide whether you are entitled to an OAS and CPP. Service Canada will tell you what their decision is. This may take a few months.
If you are not getting a QPP retirement pension and you have previously worked in Quebec, we need you to apply for this. As you are living outside Canada, you need to apply to the last Canadian province you lived in. If the last province you lived in was Quebec, application forms for a QPP retirement pension are available online on the Régie de rentes Quebec website:
If you last lived in a Canadian province other than Quebec, CPP retirement pension forms are available from Senior Services whose contact details are:.
New Zealand phone number 0800 777 227 Monday to Friday 8am - 5pm
From Australia 1 800 150 479 Monday to Friday 8am - 5pm
Other international + 64 4 978 1180
You will be required to provide proof of your Canadian residence. If you have not retained the original documentation you will need to apply to Immigration Canada for this information. Please note a fee will apply.
Why do I need to apply for Canadian pensions?
You and your spouse or partner are required to take reasonable steps to apply for any overseas pensions that you may be eligible for under Section 69G of the Social Security Act 1964. If you, or your spouse or partner, do not apply to receive any Canadian pensions you may be eligible for, you risk losing your entitlement to a New Zealand benefit or pension.
How much Canadian pension will I receive?
The amount of OAS pension you can receive depends on the length of time you have lived in Canada, your marital status and your income. You can receive 1/40th of the maximum pension rate for each year of residence in Canada after age 18, up to a maximum of 40 years. If you have a net income above a certain amount (as at December 2010 approximately CAD $66,733 but this amount generally increases each year) you must repay part (or all) of your OAS. The repayment amounts are normally deducted from your monthly payments before these are issued to you.
The CPP and QPP are designed to replace about 25 percent of the earnings on which your contributions were based. Your CPP and QPP retirement pension is based on how much, and for how long, you contributed to the Plan. The age at which you choose to retire also affects the amount you receive
You may qualify for a Canadian tax exemption if your Canadian pension is below a certain amount. Please contact the Canada Revenue Agency (www.cra.gc.ca) for further information.
Will the amount of my Canadian pensions be increased while I live in New Zealand?
Your OAS pension amount is increased in January, April, July and October if there are increases in the cost of living as measured by the Canadian Consumer Price Index. Your CPP or QPP payments are adjusted in January each year if there is an increase in the cost of living as measured by the Canadian Consumer Price Index.
How often will I receive my Canadian pensions?
Your OAS, CPP and QPP pensions are paid on a monthly basis.
Where can I get further information about Canadian pensions?
Further information on OAS and CPP pensions can be obtained from Service Canada. Their website address is:
Further information on QPP pensions can be obtained from:
Will my OAS or CPP/QPP pensions affect the amount of New Zealand Superannuation or Veteran’s Pension I get?
Section 70 of the Social Security Act 1964 requires the rate of New Zealand Superannuation or Veteran’s Pension to be reduced where an overseas pension is:
- part of a programme that provides benefits, pensions and periodical allowances for the same circumstances for which New Zealand benefits and pensions would be paid (for example old age/retirement, invalidity and survivors pensions); and
- administered by, or on behalf of, an overseas government.
OAS and CPP/QPP pensions fit within the requirements in section 70 because:
- these pensions are part of the Canadian social security programme which provides Canadian benefits and pensions for similar types of circumstances for which New Zealand benefits and pensions would be paid. For example, retirement pensions under the OAS and CPP/QPP schemes and New Zealand Superannuation provide pensions for people who are over 65 or, in the instance of CPP, are aged between 60 and 65 years and over and retired); and
- both the OAS and CPP schemes are administered by Service Canada, a branch of the Department of Human Resources and Skills Development. The QPP scheme is administered by Régie de rentes Quebec on behalf of the Quebec government.
This means that if you are entitled to an OAS or CPP/QPP pension it will be deducted dollar for dollar from your New Zealand Superannuation or Veteran’s Pension payments.
Does my RRSP pension affect the rate of my New Zealand Superannuation and Veteran’s Pension?
Pensions arising from RRSP schemes do not affect the rate of New Zealand Superannuation or Veteran’s Pension because they don’t meet both of the requirements of section 70 of the Social Security Act 1964. RRSPs are not administered by or on behalf of the Canadian government but by private scheme providers so they are regarded as being private savings.
Why can’t I receive my OAS and CPP/QPP pensions and the full amount of New Zealand Superannuation or Veteran’s Pension?
This is to ensure that the combined amount you receive from your New Zealand Superannuation or Veteran’s Pension and any overseas pension is equivalent to the amount you would receive if you only received New Zealand Superannuation or Veteran’s Pension.
It takes 40 years to become entitled to the full amount of an OAS pension and to qualify for the maximum rate of CPP and QPP, generally a person must have paid the maximum level of contributions for about 85% of their working life from age 18 to the time that the pension begins to be paid. However, periods of low earnings where people are raising children under age seven and periods while in receipt of a CPP or QPP disability benefit do not adversely affect the amount of the CPP or QPP pension.
In comparison it takes 10 years before a person becomes entitled to the full rate of New Zealand Superannuation or Veteran’s Pension. So if you were to receive a partial Canadian pension as well as the full amount of New Zealand Superannuation or Veteran’s Pension, you would receive more state retirement pension than those superannuitants who have lived all their lives in New Zealand and who have contributed to the funding of New Zealand Superannuation for a longer period of time through paying their taxes.
Are there any circumstances where the OAS and CPP/QPP pensions do not affect the rate of New Zealand Superannuation and Veteran’s Pension?
There is no provision in New Zealand legislation that would allow the amount of OAS and CPP/QPP pensions to be disregarded when determining the amount of New Zealand Superannuation and Veteran’s Pension to be paid.
However if you travel or move to a country that New Zealand does not have an agreement with you will be entitled to a proportional amount of New Zealand Superannuation/Veteran’s Pension based on the amount of time that you have lived in New Zealand. When paid this rate of New Zealand Superannuation/Veteran’s Pension you can keep your overseas pension.
How much New Zealand Superannuation or Veteran’s Pension will I get paid?
The amount paid depends on marital status and living arrangements. There are currently two basic rates which are generally referred to as: the married rate and the single sharing rate. These two rates are not subject to an income or asset test.
A qualifying superannuitant can choose to receive an alternative married rate which includes payment for a spouse or partner who is under 65 years of age (the spouse or partner included rate). This rate is subject to an income test.
Generally, New Zealand superannuitants and veteran’s pensioners who receive a Canadian pension receive a rate of New Zealand payment which is lower than the rate they would otherwise qualify for if they did not have a Canadian pension. If your Canadian pension exceeds the amount of New Zealand Superannuation or Veteran’s Pension you would have received if your New Zealand payment was your only pension source, then you will continue to only receive your Canadian pension(s).
Am I entitled to other payments in addition to New Zealand Superannuation or Veteran’s Pension?
You may also be eligible for extra help such as a Disability Allowance for medical costs and an Accommodation Supplement for accommodation expenses from Work and Income. We encourage you to contact Work and Income to check whether you are entitled to extra help.
Does my Canadian Pension affect my spouse or partner’s New Zealand Superannuation or Veteran’s Pension entitlement?
This depends on the amount of OAS and CPP/QPP pension you receive. If the amount of OAS and CPP/QPP pension you receive is less than your New Zealand Superannuation or Veteran’s Pension entitlement, the amount of your spouse or partner’s New Zealand Superannuation or Veteran’s Pension is not affected. If the amount of OAS or CPP/QPP you receive is greater than the rate of New Zealand Superannuation or Veteran’s Pension, the amount of Canadian pension/s that exceeds the amount of your New Zealand Superannuation or Veteran’s Pension entitlement will be deducted from your spouse or partner’s New Zealand Superannuation or Veteran's Pension.
If you receive New Zealand Superannuation or a Veteran's Pension and your spouse or partner does not, any OAS or CPP/QPP that your spouse or partner receives will be a direct deduction on your New Zealand Superannuation or Veteran's Pension.
If a person is receiving the spouse or partner included rate, the amount of OAS or CPP/QPP pension will be deducted from this rate and the remaining New Zealand Superannuation or Veteran’s Pension amount will be divided equally between the two of you.
What options are available for payment of my Canadian pension in New Zealand?
Canadian pensions can be made by direct deposit into New Zealand bank accounts.
Do similar pensions from other overseas countries also affect payment of New Zealand Superannuation of Veterans Pensions?
Yes, where the requirements of section 70 of the Social Security Act 1964 apply, people who have lived in other overseas countries and who are also eligible for an overseas pension will have their overseas pension directly deducted from their New Zealand Superannuation or Veteran's Pension in the same way.
How do I find out about my own individual situation?
The rules around international agreements are complex. You should speak with us to clarify your own individual situation.
For more information, contact International Services