New Zealand Superannuation, missionary and humanitarian work overseas

A guide to getting New Zealand Superannuation (NZ Super), Veteran's Pension if you're going overseas to do missionary or humanitarian work.

Information

  • Time spent out of the country doing missionary work overseas may count towards residency requirements of NZ Super.
  • Time spent out of the country doing humanitarian work overseas does not count towards residency requirements of NZ Super.
  • Who can get NZ Super

    To qualify for NZ Super, you need to be aged 65 and meet the general residency criteria.

  • Missionary work overseas

    • If you have spent time overseas doing missionary work, these periods may count towards meeting the residence and presence requirements for New Zealand Superannuation.
    • For missionary work overseas to count towards the presence requirement, you must be carrying out missionary work as a member of (or on behalf of) a religious body.
    • You either have to have been born in New Zealand or have been "ordinarily resident" before you left New Zealand to do missionary work overseas.

    What is missionary work?

    • Missionary work can include the advancement of religion or education and the maintenance, care, or relief, of orphans, or the aged, infirm, sick or needy, by a person or their spouse or partner.

    What does "Ordinarily Resident" mean?

    In deciding ordinary residence we take into account a range of factors. This includes, but is not limited to:

    • whether you normally reside in New Zealand,
    • if you have a close and personal connection to New Zealand through physical presence,
    • if you are absent from New Zealand
    • whether you intend to return to New Zealand to live as your settled place of residence.

    In deciding if someone is ordinarily resident we look at:

    • time spent in New Zealand and your intentions for the future
    • property and assets that you own here
    • which country your bank accounts, cash assets and investments are in
    • whether your income is earned here or overseas
    • whether you pay tax here
    • whether you are eligible to vote here
    • your involvement in the community, clubs and other groups.

    Note: please talk to us if you are unsure about the ordinary residence criteria.

    Getting your NZ Super payments when you're overseas

    If you are already receiving NZ Super and you go overseas to do missionary work, you can continue to receive your New Zealand Superannuation for up to 26 weeks if:

    • your absence does not exceed 30 weeks; or
    • your absence exceeds 30 weeks due to reasons beyond your control that could not have been foreseen by you prior to your departure such as illness.

    Unless there were prior arrangements with us, any payments made when you're overseas for longer than 26 weeks will need to be repaid.

    • If you are going to be overseas for more than 26 weeks, you must apply before you leave New Zealand for payment overseas under the General Portability, Special Portability or Social Security Agreement provisions with other countries.
    • If you become eligible for NZ Super while doing missionary work overseas, it is likely you'll need to return to New Zealand to apply. There are some exceptions, so please contact us to discuss your individual circumstances.
  • Humanitarian work overseas

    • Unlike missionary work, humanitarian work does not count towards qualifying for NZ Super.
    • If you are entitled to receive NZ Super, you can be overseas and continue to be paid your NZ Super for up to 156 weeks if you are doing full time voluntary and unpaid humanitarian work for a recognised aid agency. This does not generally include missionary work.
    • If you are intending to be overseas for more than 156 weeks, your NZ Super payments will stop from the day after your departure from New Zealand.
    • To continue to receive payment for more than 156 weeks, you must apply before you leave New Zealand for payment overseas under the General Portability, Special Portability or Social Security Agreement provisions with other countries.
    • While working for a recognised aid agency overseas, you must continue to meet the ordinarily resident criteria in New Zealand for the whole time that you are away in order to be able to receive your payments.
    • If you become eligible for NZ Super while doing humanitarian work overseas, it is likely you will need to return to New Zealand to apply. There are some exceptions, so please contact us to discuss your individual circumstances.

    Recognised Aid Agency

    • A recognised aid agency is an organisation that has, as its principal function, the giving of aid and assistance to less advantaged communities in one or more other countries.
    • These include organisations such as the Red Cross, United Nations Volunteers, Volunteer Services Abroad and World Vision.

    Determining if an organisation is a recognised aid agency

    • The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) determines whether an organisation meets the criteria to be a recognised aid agency.
    • The more information you can supply on the type of work being done and the functions of the organisation you are working for, the better informed MFAT will be in making its decision.

    What if MFAT determines that an organisation is not a recognised aid agency?

    • You can make a submission to MFAT outlining the reasons why you think they should reconsider their decision, including any information from the organisation you are working for.
    • Please contact the international team at Senior Services about submitting more information.

linksContact us

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 if you want to travel or live overseas.

Contact International Services