Residency requirements for New Zealand benefits and pensions

A guide to the residency requirements for New Zealand benefits and pensions.

Information

Periods of employment overseas where you were liable to pay income tax in New Zealand can count towards periods spent resident in New Zealand.

To meet the residency requirements for New Zealand Superannuation, Veteran's Pension (New Zealand pensions) and most New Zealand benefits, generally, you must:

  • be lawfully resident, and
  • be present, and
  • be ordinarily resident in New Zealand, and
  • have spent some time living in New Zealand (a period of residence).

This is also necessary when applying for general or special portability of New Zealand pensions (unless you meet specific criteria under the legislation to make an application for general portability while overseas).

Please note: Other criteria also apply to each pension or benefit you apply for.

  • Lawfully resident

    You are considered to be lawfully resident to apply for a benefit or pension if you live in New Zealand and:

    • you are not unlawfully resident in New Zealand or here on a temporary entry class visa or temporary permit*, or
    • you are a New Zealand citizen, or
    • you are an Australian citizen.

    (*Temporary permit includes a visitor's permit, a limited purposes permit, a temporary work permit or a permit to be in New Zealand for the purposes of study at a New Zealand school or tertiary educational establishment)

  • Present

    To be present in New Zealand means to be physically in New Zealand.

  • Ordinarily resident in New Zealand

    Ordinarily resident in New Zealand means someone who is normally and lawfully in New Zealand and intends to stay here, someone that considers New Zealand to be their home. In deciding if someone is ordinarily resident we look at:

    • your intentions towards New Zealand including your reasons for periods of absence and return
    • the length of time you spend in New Zealand on a continual basis
    • property and asset ownership. Do you own a home or any other large assets in New Zealand?
    • the location of your cash assets: investments and bank accounts
    • whether your income is earned in New Zealand or overseas
    • whether you pay taxes in New Zealand
    • whether you still vote in or are still eligible to vote in New Zealand general elections
    • your commitment to New Zealand such as involvement in the community, clubs or other
    • groups.

    All of these factors are considered in relation to each individual's circumstances. More information may be requested or more questions asked in order to be able to consider each of these points.

    Generally, if you leave New Zealand for more than 26 weeks you may not be considered ordinarily resident in New Zealand. If you spend more time outside of New Zealand than inside you are also not considered to be ordinarily resident in New Zealand.

    Please note: a person cannot be ordinarily resident in two places at the same time.

  • Period of residence

    Generally you must also have spent time living in New Zealand to qualify for a benefit or pension.

    The minimum period of residence required varies for particular benefits and pensions.

    There are several situations where absences from New Zealand can count towards your period of presence in New Zealand if you can show you were still ordinarily resident in New Zealand such as:

    • medical treatment or vocational training
    • serving on a ship registered or owned, and trading to or from, New Zealand
    • overseas military service of personnel of any commonwealth country
    • service in connection with any war in which New Zealand forces were involved as a member
    • of any organisation attached to any armed forces
    • service as an accredited Volunteer Services Abroad volunteer
    • missionary work (you do not need to show ordinary residence in New Zealand)

    Periods of employment overseas where you were liable to pay income tax in New Zealand, or where you were with your spouse or partner while they were so employed, can count towards periods spent resident in New Zealand.

  • Social Security Agreements

    • We can also count periods of residence spent in countries that New Zealand has social security agreements with (we can only count periods of residence in Australia if you meet the age criteria for Australian Age Pension).
    • New Zealand has social security agreements with the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Ireland, Jersey, Guernsey, Australia, Greece, Canada and Denmark.
    • These agreements allow you to use residence in these countries to qualify for periods of residence (or contributions) and presence and the ordinary residence criteria.

linksContact us

Our International Services team specialise in overseas pensions.

Contact International Services