Questions and answers about overseas pensions

Common questions and answers on overseas pensions

Why does my overseas pension affect the payment of my New Zealand benefit or pension?

The Social Security Act 2018 (sections 187-191) requires the rate of any New Zealand benefit or pension to be reduced by the amount of any overseas benefit or pension that:

  • are administered by or on behalf of an overseas government; and
  • form part of a programme providing 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)
  • the overseas pension or any part if it is not made up of any voluntary contributions made by the person.

The Social Security Act 2018 (sections 187-191) ensures that the amount of the overseas pension and the New Zealand benefit or pension will generally be around the same as if you did not receive an overseas pension.

From 9 November 2020 changes were made on how overseas pensions are deducted from NZ Super and Veterans Pension couples. This included:

  • if the NZ Super or Veteran's Pension partner was not getting any benefit
  • those getting an overseas pension made up of voluntary portion made from contributions is not deducted.
  • Are there any instances where the overseas benefit or pension does not affect the rate of New Zealand benefit or pension?

    There is no provision in New Zealand legislation that allows the amount of an overseas benefit or pension to be disregarded when determining the amount of New Zealand benefit or pension to be paid. The exception to this is where the overseas pension (or part of it) has been earned by an individual’s voluntary contributions. The voluntary pension or part of it isn’t deductible.

    However if you travel or move to a country other than New Zealand for more than 26 weeks, you may be entitled to a proportional amount of New Zealand benefit or pension based on the amount of time that you have lived in New Zealand. When paid this rate of New Zealand benefit or pension you can generally keep your overseas benefit or pension.

    There are some exceptions. For more information about moving or travelling to a third country contact International Services.

  • Part of my overseas retirement pension is from voluntary contributions I made to my country’s national pension scheme. Is this also deductible from my New Zealand benefit or pension?

    Voluntary contributions are extra payments people make into a country's social insurance scheme and can also include voluntary contributions made to their home country's pension scheme when they lived and worked from another country. Not all social insurance schemes allow voluntary payments.

    The voluntary part of the overseas pension is not deducted from a New Zealand pension. However, it is counted as income for income tested assistance, like a benefit or extra help.

  • What options are available for payment of my overseas benefit or pension in New Zealand?

    Generally your overseas benefit or pension is paid direct into your own bank account.

    However if you receive a benefit or pension from The Netherlands, Jersey and Guernsey, United Kingdom or Ireland you can choose to have your overseas benefit or pension paid by the Direct Payment Method or the Special Banking Option.

  • Am I entitled to other payments in addition to a New Zealand benefit or pension?

    You may also be eligible for extra help such as a Disability Allowance for medical costs and an Accommodation Supplement for accommodation expenses.

  • My spouse/partner and I both get an overseas pension and get NZ Super or Veteran’s Pension. How do these affect each other’s payments?

    Couples who both qualify to get NZ Super and Veteran’s Pension and who get overseas pensions in their own right will only have their overseas pension deducted from their own payments - the deduction doesn’t affect their partner.

  • I get an overseas benefit or pension and have a non-qualified partner included. How does this affect our payments?

    As your partner was included before 9 November 2020, there are no changes. Your partner’s payments will still be deducted from your overseas benefit or pension.

  • How does an overseas benefit or pension affect the non-qualified partner rate of NZ Super or Veteran’s Pension?

    Any overseas benefit or pension received by either partner is deducted from the full married rate and the balance is divided and paid to each spouse/partner.

  • I get an overseas benefit or pension and my partner/spouse gets a main benefit from New Zealand. How does this affect our payments?

    Your overseas pension will be deducted from your partner’s benefit. If the overseas pension is more than their benefit the excess amount may affect your partner’s other extra help payments eg an Accommodation Supplement.

  • What tax do I need to pay on my overseas pension?

    We pay tax on your New Zealand Superannuation or Veteran's pension but generally you need to pay tax on your overseas pension.

    If your overseas pension is paid via the Special Banking Option your tax is paid for you.

    If you are paid a New Zealand benefit other than New Zealand Superannuation or Veteran's Pension you may not have to pay tax on your overseas benefit or pension in New Zealand. This is because your gross overseas pension is directly deducted from your net New Zealand entitlement.

    We recommend you discuss your tax liabilities with Inland Revenue (New Zealand).

  • What about bank fees on the transfer of an overseas pension?

    Both the overseas and New Zealand banks may charge fees during the process of transferring your overseas pension amount to New Zealand. The amount of the overseas pension which we deduct is generally the amount after these bank fees have been paid.

    As an example, if your overseas pension is $100 per week and you are charged a bank fee of $5.00, we will only deduct $95.00 from your New Zealand benefit or pension payments.

    However there are some exceptions and you need to discuss this with Senior Services.

  • Why can't I receive an overseas benefit or pension and the full New Zealand benefit or pension?

    The Social Security Act 2018 (sections 187-191) ensures that the amount of the overseas pension and the New Zealand benefit or pension will generally be around the same as if you did not receive an overseas pension.

    For example, it takes 10 years before a person becomes entitled to New Zealand Superannuation or Veteran's pension. So if you were to receive a partial overseas benefit or 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.

  • Does the way my overseas benefit or pension is treated change if I leave New Zealand?

    If you have an overseas benefit or pension deducted from your New Zealand payment and you leave New Zealand temporarily, your overseas benefit or pension will continue to be deducted. If the rate of overseas pension you are paid changes while you are away, please let us know.

    New Zealand Superannuation or Veteran's Pension

    If you leave New Zealand for more than 26 weeks, whether your overseas pension continues to be deducted depends on where you are going. If you are travelling through one or more countries, your overseas pension may not be deducted. If you move to one of the social security agreement countries, how your overseas pension is treated will depend on which country you move to. In some cases it may continue to be deducted, in others, it may be disregarded. If you are moving to a country covered by the Special Portability Arrangement with Specified Pacific Countries, your overseas pension will continue to be deducted.

    If you are leaving New Zealand for longer than 26 weeks and you're overseas pension is paid via the Special Banking Option you will need to make arrangements with the overseas agency that pays your pension to make payments direct to you. This is because we cannot continue to receive payments into your special bank account while you are not in New Zealand so that account will be closed.

    If you are going to Australia to live permanently special conditions apply and you need to contact the International Services team.

    For more information, please contact Senior Services:

  • How do I apply for an overseas benefit or pension?

    If you have previously lived in a country other than New Zealand and you are not already getting an overseas benefit or pension, you need to contact Senior Services International Services team. They will help you to apply for an overseas benefit or pension.

linksContact us

Contact International Services for more information about overseas pensions.