If you’ve spent time working in Australia, you’ll have most likely contributed to an Australian superannuation fund. The equivalent of KiwiSaver, Australian super can be accessed when you reach Australia’s retirement age, which is the same as NZ’s, 65.
But if you’re settling back down in NZ, you may be wondering if you can bring your Aussie super over here with you. Fortunately, you can! But just because you can, doesn’t necessarily mean you should. There are certain rules, restrictions and factors that need to be considered.
Canstar breaks down how to transfer your Australian super to KiwiSaver, and whether or not you should.
Do I have Aussie super?
If you’ve worked in Australia at any time since 1992, it’s likely you will have contributed to a superannuation fund. Even if you only did a short stint bartending in Melbourne 20 years ago!
If you’ve lost the details of your Australian super provider(s), you’ll need to track them down. Many old inactive accounts, and those of members who have dropped off the radar, are passed to the Australian Tax Office (ATO), which then holds onto the unclaimed funds.
The ATO is a good place to start if you want to unearth details on any Aussie super you might have languishing over the ditch. You can find out more details on the ATO’s website, here.
Should you transfer your Australian super to KiwiSaver? The pros and cons
Just because you can transfer your super, doesn’t mean you should. There are pros and cons. And there are factors to consider that will depend on your circumstances. Some things to consider are:
- Potential to reduce fees – if you have both an Aussie superannuation fund and KiwiSaver, you will be paying two sets of fees. By combining them you will pay just one
- Single fund easier to manage – if your investments are in one place, it’s quicker and easier to check your balance, investments and their performance Having all your money here in Aotearoa also means you don’t have to worry about, or keep up to date with, any changes to the Australian super landscape
- One currency means a clearer understanding of your balance – you don’t have to worry about shifting exchange rates impacting your gains
- There is no entry/exit tax – on super/KiwiSaver funds transferred between AU and NZ
- If you’re thinking of moving to another country – you can withdraw your KiwiSaver balance (less any government contributions). But you can’t take any KiwiSaver funds that were transferred from an Aussie super account. So if you bring over your Australian super and then move abroad (excluding returning to Australia) those funds will have to stay in your KiwiSaver account. Additionally, if you transferred a UK pension over to Australia super, you can’t then bring those funds over to KiwiSaver
- Higher tax – most Australian super contributions are taxed at 15%. In New Zealand, anyone earning over $48,000 has a PIR tax of 28%. So it’s likely your KiwiSaver gains will be taxed at a much higher rate than your Aussie super ones. This is a general rule, but will vary depending on your circumstances. So it may pay to speak to a financial specialist
- Charges – while you won’t have to worry about entry/exit taxes, your super provider may have fees and charges for transferring your funds. Additionally, your KiwiSaver provider may have charges for accepting them. Be sure to check these first
- No first home withdrawal – while you will still be able to use your KiwiSaver for a first-home withdrawal, you won’t be able to withdraw any of the money that was transferred from Australian super. So this portion of your KiwiSaver will remain locked away until retirement
Other things to consider
- Insurance – some Australian super schemes provide benefits such as life insurance. By exiting your Aussie super fund you will also lose this cover
- Investment options – will your KiwiSaver investment options be better or worse than your Aussie super options? Consider the fees, range of funds, investments made, and terms
- Exchange rates – if there is a particularly favourable exchange rate it may be a good time to make the transfer. If the exchange rate is less favourable, it may be worth waiting. Keep in mind that it can take several weeks to complete the process, so the exchange rates at the time of transfer may be wildly different from those when you started the process
- Transfer amounts – you cannot do partial transfers, so if you do wish to transfer your Aussie super, it will have to be the whole amount
- Retirement age – the portion of your KiwiSaver balance that was transferred over from Australian super will remain accessible according to Australia’s retirement/preservation age and requirements. Not New Zealand’s. Currently they are the same. But if either country lifts its retirement age, it will affect access to your funds
Compare Providers with Canstar
If you’re comparing superannuation funds, the comparison table below displays some of the products currently available on Canstar’s database for a KiwiSaver member with a balance of $50,000 in an Aggressive fund, sorted by Star Rating (highest to lowest), followed by company name (alphabetical) – some products may have links to providers’ websites. Use Canstar’s KiwiSaver comparison selector to view a wider range of super funds. Canstar may earn a fee for referrals.
To read more about our latest KiwiSaver Awards, click on the button below.
How to transfer Australian super to KiwiSaver
Under the trans-Tasman “portability rules” introduced in July 2013, Australians migrating to New Zealand can bring their Australian super with them. And vice versa. So the tens of thousands of Kiwis who swap countries each year can happily take their KiwiSaver over, too.
Check with your super providers
To transfer your Australian super into a KiwiSaver fund you must first have a complying Australian Prudential Regulation Authority-regulated superannuation fund. Not all funds allow transfers, so you’ll need to check with your super provider. If they don’t, you may need to change to a complying super provider before making the transfer to KiwiSaver.
And not all KiwiSaver funds accept Aussie super balance transfers. So you’ll need to check your KiwiSaver fund is compatible. If not, you’ll have to switch to one that is.
Request to make the switch
Once you’ve checked that your funds on both sides of the Tasman facilitate balance transfers, you need to ask your super fund provider to make the transfer. Individual providers will have their own processes, but you’ll likely need to provide:
- A request form to transfer your super
- Proof of your identity (ID)
- Proof of residence in New Zealand
- An IRD number
- A signed statutory declaration stating you have permanently emigrated to New Zealand
Do note these documents will need to be certified by one of the following:
- Justice of the peace
- Registered medical doctor
- Registered teacher
- Notary public (there may be a
- Chartered accountant
- Member of the police
Compare KiwiSaver providers with Canstar
Whether or not your KiwiSaver provider accepts super balance transfers isn’t all you should consider. It’s important to first decide which type of fund is right for you. Then, with the help of Canstar, you can easily compare funds based on returns, fees charged, and our expert Star Ratings. To learn more, and to start comparing KiwiSaver funds now, just click the button below:
About the author of this page
This report was written by Canstar Content Producer, Andrew Broadley. Andrew is an experienced writer with a wide range of industry experience. Starting out, he cut his teeth working as a writer for print and online magazines, and he has worked in both journalism and editorial roles. His content has covered lifestyle and culture, marketing and, more recently, finance for Canstar.
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