Special portability arrangement with Pacific Countries

A guide to the portability arrangement New Zealand has with certain Pacific countries for people entitled to NZ Super or Veteran's Pension.

Information

This information is for people who are entitled to either New Zealand Superannuation or Veteran's Pension and intend to reside in a Pacific country for more than 52 weeks.

  • Pacific countries covered by the agreement

    New Zealand has a Special Portability Arrangement which covers:

    • American Samoa
    • Cook Islands
    • Federated States of Micronesia
    • Fiji
    • French Polynesia
    • Guam
    • Kiribati
    • Marshall Islands
    • Nauru
    • New Caledonia
    • Niue
    • Northern Mariana Islands
    • Palau
    • Papua New Guinea
    • Pitcairn Island
    • Samoa
    • Solomon Islands
    • Tokelau
    • Tonga
    • Tuvalu
    • Vanuatu
    • Wallis and Futuna

    The Arrangement means that people who already qualify for, or are entitled to New Zealand Superannuation or Veteran's Pension can continue to receive it if they reside, or are intending to reside for more than 52 weeks in any of the above countries.

    No other New Zealand benefits or pensions are paid under this arrangement.

    Phrases used

    Ordinarily resident in New Zealand describes a person who normally resides in New Zealand and intends to continue doing so. As there are a number of factors that prove "ordinarily resident in New Zealand", Senior Services International/Work and Income decides this on a case by case basis.

    A partner is your spouse, or a person with whom you have a de facto relationship or are in a civil union with.

  • Getting NZ Super or Veteran's Pension in a Pacific country

    International Services uses certain criteria to decide who can receive New Zealand Superannuation or Veteran's Pension in a Pacific country and how much will be paid.

    Can I receive New Zealand Superannuation or Veteran's Pension in a Pacific country?

    You may be able to receive either of these pensions in one of the Pacific countries listed earlier if:

    • you are paid New Zealand Superannuation or Veteran's Pension, or you will be entitled to receive either pension before you leave New Zealand
    • you have lived in New Zealand for more than 10 years since the age of 20, with five years since the age of 50 in New Zealand, the Cook Islands, Niue or Tokelau (or a combination of these)
    • you are living in New Zealand when you apply
    • you are a New Zealand citizen or permanent resident
    • you intend to live in one of the Pacific countries listed earlier for more than 52 weeks
    • you will be living in one of the Pacific countries listed earlier when the payments are made
    • you are 65 or over
    • you have the necessary service and disability qualifications (for Veteran's Pension).

    When we say 'you live' or 'you've lived', we mean you normally live in NZ, the Cook Islands, Niue or Tokelau and that's where your home is.

    Note: You can receive either New Zealand Superannuation or a Veteran's Pension, but not both.

    The living alone rate

    The single living alone rate is not paid to people residing in Pacific countries.

    Partners

    New Zealand Superannuation and Veteran's Pension paid into Pacific countries does not include payments for partners who do not meet the criteria for either pension eg they are under 65 or do not meet the residency criteria.

    Can I receive any other New Zealand benefits in a Pacific country?

    No. Only New Zealand Superannuation and Veteran's Pensions can be paid to people residing in one of the Pacific countries listed earlier. Other New Zealand benefits will usually stop the day after you leave.

    Can I receive extra assistance?

    New Zealand supplementary benefits and allowances (Disability Allowance, Accommodation Supplement and Family Tax Credits) are not paid to people residing outside New Zealand. They will usually stop the day after you leave New Zealand.

    How do I apply for New Zealand pensions?

    You must apply for New Zealand Superannuation or Veteran's Pension before you leave New Zealand.

    At least four weeks before you are due to leave New Zealand, you should call International Services to arrange an interview.

    At the interview, you (and your partner) will need to complete an application form that includes details of your periods of residence in New Zealand. This will help International Services work out how much you should be paid.

    These are the things you need to take to the interview:

    • your passport
    • another form of identification (driver's license or birth certificate, marriage certificate)
    • your travel itinerary or tickets
    • your New Zealand or overseas bank account details so that payments can be made to you (bank book, bank statement or deposit slip)
    • any documentation that shows your intent to reside in one of the Pacific countries listed earlier eg accommodation agreement
    • any other information you think will be helpful.

    You may need to take additional items depending on your situation. You can check this when you call to arrange an interview.

    When do my payments begin?

    If you are already being paid New Zealand Superannuation or a Veteran's Pension, the new payment usually starts from the first payday after you leave New Zealand.

    If you are not already being paid New Zealand Superannuation or Veteran's Pension, payment will usually start from the date of your application or the entitlement date - whichever date is later.

    For more information, contact International Services. See below for contact details.

    What if my circumstances change?

    Even if you are not residing in New Zealand, you must still tell International Services about any changes to your circumstances eg you marry or change address.

    For more information contact International Services. See below for contact details.

    Life certificates

    International Services will send you life certificates every 12 months.

    In some cases a life certificate is issued every six months, eg you use an agent, your New Zealand Superannuation or Veteran's Pension payments are made to a New Zealand bank account, or you are over 80.

    Make sure you return the life certificate to International Services promptly. Your New Zealand Superannuation or Veteran's Pension are suspended if they are not returned within eight weeks and cancelled if they are is still not returned after 16 weeks.

    How much will I be paid?

    The rate you are paid is based on the number of years you have resided in New Zealand since turning 20 and your marital status. New Zealand Superannuation and Veteran's Pension are paid into the Pacific at the gross rate.

    • If you have resided in New Zealand for 10 years since turning 20, you will receive half the maximum gross rate for New Zealand Superannuation or Veteran's Pension.
    • If you have resided in New Zealand for less than 20 years but for 10 years or more since turning 20, you will receive between 50% and 100% of the maximum gross rate based on the number of years you have resided in New Zealand since turning 20.
    • If you have resided in New Zealand for 20 years or more since turning 20, you will receive the maximum gross rate of New Zealand Superannuation or Veteran's Pension.

    The amount you receive will change each month depending on the exchange rate used to convert your payment from New Zealand dollars to the currency of the Pacific country in which you are residing.

    If you are paid a benefit or pension from any country other than New Zealand, this amount will be deducted from the maximum gross rate of your New Zealand payment. It will be deducted before assessing how much you are able to be paid in the Pacific country.

    How are payments made from New Zealand?

    You can choose to have your New Zealand Superannuation or Veteran's Pension payments made:

    • to an overseas bank account every four weeks, or
    • to a New Zealand bank account every fortnight.

    If you choose to have your payment made to an overseas bank account, International Services will pay the initial cost of transferring the funds. You must pay for any other costs that your bank charges.

    If you choose to have your payment made to a New Zealand bank account, you must pay the cost of any transfers overseas.

    What tax will I have to pay?

    You may have to pay tax on New Zealand payments into the Pacific country you choose to reside in. For information contact the tax authorities of the Pacific country you reside in.

    If your New Zealand Superannuation or Veteran's Pension payments are being made into a New Zealand bank account you may need to pay tax to New Zealand Inland Revenue.
    Please contact them for more information, you may find their website address www.ird.govt.nz a useful place to start.

    What happens to my New Zealand pension if I leave the Pacific country?

    If you wish to move to another country, you may be able to continue to receive your New Zealand Superannuation or Veteran's Pension depending on which country you move to.

    If you move from the Pacific country you are in to reside in one of the other Pacific countries listed earlier, your payments may be able to continue.

    If you move to a country with which New Zealand has a social security agreement. New Zealand has social security agreements with Australia, Canada, Greece, Denmark, Jersey and Guernsey, Ireland, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom. You may need to re-apply for your New Zealand payment under the appropriate agreement if you move to any of these countries.

    Note: The Agreement between New Zealand and the United Kingdom does not allow for payment of New Zealand benefits and pensions paid in the United Kingdom. However you may be able to receive a United Kingdom benefit or pension.

    If you move from the Pacific country to reside in a country which New Zealand does not have a social security agreement with, or is not one of the other Pacific countries covered by the Special Portability Arrangement, your New Zealand payments will stop.

    If you visit another country, your payments may be affected, please contact International Services. See below for contact details.

    Contact International Services to discuss how a move or visit to another country will affect your New Zealand Superannuation or Veteran's Pension payments. See below for contact details.

    What happens to my New Zealand pension if I return to New Zealand?

    If you return to New Zealand permanently, you may be paid the full New Zealand rate less any payment that you receive from another country. You will need to tell International Services about your return. See below for contact details.

    If you return to New Zealand for 26 weeks or less, you will receive the same rate of payment that you were getting in the Pacific country.

    For more information on how a return to New Zealand may affect your payment, contact International Services. See below for contact details.

  • Getting a benefit or pension in New Zealand

    If you are paid a New Zealand benefit or pension, you must apply for any benefit or pension from a country other than New Zealand that you may be able to receive.

    The combined amount of your New Zealand and overseas payments received will be similar to the amount you would have been paid if you spent all your life in New Zealand.

    Generally, you must have permanent residence or New Zealand citizenship to be paid a New Zealand benefit or pension.

  • Getting New Zealand benefits and pensions in New Zealand

    • International Services uses certain criteria to decide who can get a benefit or pension in New Zealand, and how much will be paid.

    Can I receive New Zealand Superannuation or a Veteran's Pension?

    You may be able to receive either of these if:

    • you meet the New Zealand criteria for New Zealand Superannuation or a Veteran's Pension
    • you have been resident and present in New Zealand for more than 10 years since the age of 20, with five years since the age of 50 in New Zealand, the Cook Islands, Niue or Tokelau (or a combination of these)
    • you are ordinarily resident in New Zealand when you apply
    • you have been granted permanent residence in New Zealand by Immigration New Zealand, or you have New Zealand citizenship
    • you intend to reside in New Zealand
    • you are 65 or over (for New Zealand Superannuation)
    • you have the necessary service and disability qualifications (for Veteran's Pension).

    Note: You can receive either New Zealand Superannuation or a Veteran's Pension, but not both.

    For more information about New Zealand Superannuation, refer to:

    For more information about Veteran's Pension, refer to:

    Partners

    You may choose to include your partner if they do not meet the criteria for either pension eg they are under age 65 or they do not meet the residency criteria.

    If you choose to include your partner, the married rate of New Zealand Superannuation or Veteran's Pension will be income tested. This means that the rate you are paid will depend on any income you and your partner have.

    Can I receive extra assistance?

    There are a number of supplementary benefits available in New Zealand. You may qualify for these depending on your circumstances.

    Accommodation Supplement

    The Accommodation Supplement helps with paying rent or board, or owning a home. The rate depends on the area you reside in and your accommodation costs.

    Disability Allowance

    If you have a disability you may be able to receive a Disability Allowance to help towards any extra costs such as regular doctor visits, medicines, extra clothes, food or travel.

    Family Tax Credit

    If you care for dependent children, you may be able to receive Family Tax Credit. This depends on any other income you receive.

    Community Services Card and Super Gold Card

    If you reside in New Zealand and receive a benefit you may be entitled to a Community Services Card to help with health costs.

    If you are returning to New Zealand temporarily and you meet the entitlement criteria, you may be able to get a Temporary Community Services Card.

    If you reside in New Zealand and are 65 years or over, or under 65 and receiving a Veteran's Pension, or you have been included in your partners New Zealand Superannuation or Veteran's Pension, you will be eligible for a Super Gold Card. It gives access to discounts from a wide range of businesses nationwide and facilitates easy access to government entitlements and local authority services and concessions.

    For more information please visit:

    How do I apply for a New Zealand benefit or pension?

    You should apply at a Work and Income office. To find out about applying, contact International Services. See below for contact details.

    When you make an application for a benefit or pension in New Zealand, you need:

    • proof of your identity (passport, birth certificate, marriage certificate or drivers' licence)
    • your bank account details so that payments can be made to you (bank book, bank statement or deposit slip)
    • any other information that you think will be helpful.

    If you live in the Cook Islands, Niue or Tokelau, you may be able to get NZ Super or Veteran's Pension.

    How much will I be paid?

    As a general rule, the amount you are paid is about equal to the New Zealand benefit or pension you would be paid if you had resided all your life in New Zealand.

    International Services decides how much you will be paid based on certain criteria. Any benefit or pension similar to a New Zealand benefit or pension from another country including is usually deducted from your New Zealand payment.

    Other income you have may affect the amount paid to you if you are applying for an income-tested benefit, New Zealand Superannuation (where a non-qualified partner has been included), and Veteran's Pension paid to those under 65 (and where a non-qualified partner has been included).

    What happens to my New Zealand benefit or pension if I leave New Zealand?

    If you leave New Zealand temporarily, you must advise Work and Income. You may continue to receive your benefit or pension but it may be paid at a different rate or not be paid at all depending on the length of time you are away and the country you are in.

    Note: If you only intend to travel overseas temporarily, please refer to the "Retired and Going Overseas" brochure if you are receiving New Zealand Superannuation or a Veteran's Pension, or the "Are You Going Overseas" brochure if you are receiving a benefit.

    If you move to another country, you may be able to continue to receive your New Zealand benefit or pension depending on what type of benefit or pension you are receiving and which country you move to.

    Advise International Services of your plans so there's less chance that you will be overpaid and required to make repayments later.

    Carrying out full-time voluntary humanitarian work

    If you go overseas temporarily to do full-time voluntary humanitarian work, you may be able to receive your New Zealand Superannuation or Veteran's Pension for up to 156 weeks. You need to check with International Services before you go.

    If you are paid NZ Super or Veteran's Pension, you can find out what happens to your benefits and pensions:

  • Frequently Asked Questions

    If my partner is under 65 and is included in my New Zealand Superannuation or Veteran's Pension and we move to a Pacific country, is my rate affected?

    Yes. New Zealand pension payments into Pacific countries do not include payments for partners under 65.

    Will I continue to receive extra assistance from New Zealand (in addition to my benefit or pension) if I move to a Pacific country?

    No. Extra assistance (Accommodation Supplement, Disability Allowance, Family Tax Credits) is only paid to people residing in New Zealand.

    Who decides how much I will be paid?

    International Services in New Zealand decides who can receive a New Zealand benefit or pension and how much will be paid.

    What happens to the information I provide Work and Income?

    International Services/Work and Income may compare information with Inland Revenue, the Ministry of Justice, the Department of Corrections, the New Zealand Customs Service, the Department of Internal Affairs, the Accident Compensation Corporation, Kāinga Ora (used to be Housing New Zealand) and Immigration New Zealand.

    In certain circumstances, Work and Income may approach other governments from whom you may be able to receive a similar pension.

    Under the New Zealand Privacy Act 1993, you have the right to request all information we hold about you and corrections to that information.

    I'm leaving New Zealand to reside in a Pacific country, but would like to travel first. How is my benefit or pension affected?

    In order to receive payment you must be able to prove that you are ordinarily resident in the Pacific country you have chosen to reside in. A person can only be ordinarily resident in one country at a time. In order to assess if someone is ordinarily resident we take several things into account, such as financial ties and whether a person owns or rents a house.

    Can I receive back-dated payments for New Zealand Superannuation or Veteran's Pension?

    No. If you are already being paid a New Zealand pension, then the new payment usually starts from the first payment date after you become entitled to payment in a Pacific country.
    If you are not already being paid a New Zealand pension you will be paid from the date that Work and Income receives your application or your entitlement date - whichever is later.

    I have been travelling through various Pacific countries for more than 26 weeks while receiving payment of New Zealand Superannuation overseas. I had the intention of returning to New Zealand at the end of my travels but have now decided to reside in the Cook Islands, what should I do?

    If your plans ever change you should immediately contact us to make sure you continue to receive your full and correct entitlement. We will then let you know what or if you need to do anything.

    Your payments will probably stay the same but please contact us to ensure you are receiving your correct entitlement.

    I have been residing in a Pacific country and am currently receiving payments of New Zealand Superannuation from International Services. I have decided that I would like to travel overseas for a year. Can I receive my New Zealand Superannuation while I do this?

    If you intend to travel outside the Pacific countries listed earlier for a period longer than 26 weeks, you may not be entitled to any payment of New Zealand Superannuation during your absence. In order to receive payment you must be able to prove that you are ordinarily resident in the Pacific country you have chosen to reside in. A person can only be ordinarily resident in one country at a time. In order to assess where someone is ordinarily resident we take several things into account such as financial ties and whether a person owns or rents a house.

    If you intend to travel within the Pacific countries listed earlier, your payments will continue.

    To travel outside New Zealand for more than 26 weeks without residing in any one country, you must be in New Zealand at the time you apply for payment.

  • Contacts

    Contacting New Zealand

    Post International Services
    Work and Income
    Ministry of Social Development
    P O Box 27-178
    Wellington 6141
    New Zealand
    Calling from New Zealand
    For general benefit enquiries or to arrange a meeting: 0800 559 009
    For enquiries about New Zealand Superannuation 0800 552 002
    For enquiries about Veteran's Pension 0800 650 656
    For specific enquiries about the agreement 0800 777 227
    Calling from overseas
    Phone 0064 4 978 1180
    Fax 0064 4 918 0159
    Email international.services@msd.govt.nz

linksContact us

For more information contact International Services