Superannuation (super) is an Australian retirement fund. It is paid out when you retire. However, as a temporary visa holder, you can claim it back when you leave Australia. If you earn $450 or more (before tax) per month, your employer has to pay a value of 10% of your gross salary into your superannuation fund, regardless your residency and visa status. It is an extra amount on top of your salary. You can set up your own fund, for example when you open a bank account, or you can let your employer set up a fund on your behalf. It is recommended that you set up your own fund. If you have multiple jobs, it is beneficial to maintain only one super fund because all funds charge fees and it makes it also easier to claim your super back when you leave Australia.
There are five types of funds:
- Industry funds
- Retail funds
- Public sector funds
- Corporate funds
- Self-managed super funds (SMSFs)
All funds provide different investment options, some with lower and some with higher investment risks. Therefore, you should compare different funds if you want to receive the highest possible earnings on your funds.
You can find more information here on how to choose a super fund.
Claim Super when departing Australia
If you are a temporary visa holder, for example a working holiday maker or a student, and don’t plan to retire in Australia, you can claim your super back when you leave the country. However, there are some requirements that you have to fulfill:
- You must have held an Australian Temporary Resident Visa (except subclasses 405 and 410).
- You must show that your Australian Temporary Resident Visa has expired or has been cancelled. If you leave the country while your visa is still active, you can either wait until it expires or request to cancel your visa for free. You’ll need to fill out this form and lodge it with DIBP via mail to the address on the form or e-mail.
- You must have left Australia.
- You must not be an Australian or New Zealand citizen or a permanent Australian resident. If you are moving to New Zealand, you may be able to transfer your super using the New Zealand KiwiSaver scheme.
The refund is called Departing Australia Superannuation Payment (DASP). You can claim your super directly from your super fund within 6 months of leaving Australia or apply online for free at the ATO.
It is recommended to claim your super within 6 months after your visa has expired or been cancelled. However, you are still able to claim your super after 6 months and even after many years, if you have worked in Australia at any time after 1994. After 6 months, your super will be transferred to the ATO, so you will need to contact ATO directly to claim your super back.
The usual process time to receive your refund after you have claimed your super is 28 days to 12 weeks. However, if more documentation is required, for example if you have more than $5,000 in your fund, it can take longer. It is recommended to leave your Australian bank account open so that the refund can be directly paid to that account. Otherwise, a cheque will be sent to you overseas.
If you claim your super back, you can still come back to Australia on another visa. However, you should only claim your super back if you are really sure that you will not work or live in Australia anymore. If you have claimed your super back and later apply for a permanent visa, this could have a negative impact on your application.
You can’t claim the full amount of your super. A tax will be withheld from your refund. The refund may be made up of two components – a tax-free component, and a taxable component, which may have a taxed element and/or an untaxed element.
If you are a working holiday maker (417 and 462), your refund will be taxed at 65%. However, it is still recommended to claim your super as most working holiday makers receive a refund of around $2,000.
|Payment component||Tax rate for Working Holiday Makers||Tax rate for other visa holders|
|Taxable component – taxed element||65%||35%|
|Taxable component – untaxed element||65%||45%|
If you don’t remember your superannuation fund, it is easiest to ask your employer. Otherwise, you can track down your super by contacting the ATO.
Australian Taxation Office (ATO)
The ATO contact information is given below:
Phone: 113 10 20 / +61 2 6216 1111 (if calling from overseas)
Address: PO Box 3100 Penrith NSW 2740 AUSTRALIA