Five things to know about Australian Superannuation

When can I access my Australian superannuation?

When you reach your so-called "preservation age"

Before July 1, 1960
55 years
July 1, 1960 - June 30, 1961
56 years
July 1, 1961 - June 30, 1962
57 years
July 1, 1962 - June 30, 1963
58 years
July 1, 1963 - June 30, 1964
59 years
After June 30, 1964
60 years


BUT, as you probably expect, there are some more conditions that must be met. The most common are:

  • You have permanently retired from the workforce
  • You have reached your preservation age but want to keep working but withdraw super (Transition to Retirement pensions")
  • You have reached 65 years of age.

Please refer to SimplyRetirement for detailed information in terms of when, and on what basis, you can Australian access superannuation.

Some comments to note, particularly for expats:

  1. "Many years ago" you could withdraw your Australian superannuation if it was your intention permanently move or reside overseas. That flexibility no longer exists and expatriates and emigrants are subject to the same rules in terms of accessibility (see above) as Australian residents. Whether this is a balanced approach, is arguable. There are circumstances where countries such as the UK and Ireland allow the transfer of pensions without tax applying as long as the receiving pension scheme has basically the same constraints on access as apply in the UK/Ireland.
  2. There are situations where individuals may gain access to their superannuation funds in times of severe hardship. However, these are very restrictive and the amounts concerned will be limited. The superannuation funds are not required by law to provide early access and some of the pre-conditions, such as receiving Social Security for six months prior to any claim, may be difficult to expatriates to meet.
  3. Superannuation payments made to an Australian resident over aged 60 are normally exempt from Australian tax unless they come from an untaxed fund (generally a public service fund). However, superannuation payments received by individuals overseas may be subject to tax in their country of residency - the Australian taxation approach has no bearing on the ability of individual countries to levy tax on these payments. Note that individuals who are US citizens or green card orders are taxable on a worldwide basis by the US government - so, even if resident in Australia their superannuation may be subject to US tax.
  4. Returning expats should note that payments into superannuation after age 64 becomes subject to a "work test". Meeting the test requirements is not daunting, but there already exist annual caps on contributions and it just stresses the need for any planning around superannuation to commence well before your 65th birthday.

Recent years have seen the Government introduce considerably more complexity into superannuation and we strongly recommend professional advice for most expatriates - contact Exfin directly in that regards.