KiwiSaver Q&A: If I go to Australia can I take my KiwiSaver with me?

The KiwiSaver Act gives you the option of taking the money outright, or if you are moving to Australia it can be transferred into an equivalent savings scheme there. Remember workplace savings in Australia are compulsory so you'll be auto enrolled once again when you start work there.

There is, at present, a minor hitch with the savings transfer option. In order to transfer the money into a super scheme across the pond, the Australian government will need to sign off on the Trans Tasman Portability Agreement. New Zealand signed off on its end in 2010, however Australia has yet to do so.

It is expected they will have done so by the end of this year.

How to apply for a permanent emigration withdrawal

Contact your KiwiSaver provider.

If you're applying for this type of withdrawal you must include:

  • a statutory declaration stating you have permanently emigrated from New Zealand, and
  • evidence that you have:
    • departed from New Zealand (for example, your passport records), and
    • lived at an overseas address at some time during the year after your departure from New Zealand.

What happens if you return to New Zealand?

If you return to New Zealand you can rejoin KiwiSaver if you're eligible, but you won't get another $1,000 kick-start.

In terms of how much money you'll get back, it depends on which option you take.

If you take the money and run, you'll get all your contributions, whatever your employer paid into it, the $1,000 kick-start and all the returns it's earned. The member tax credit portion gets withheld. If however, you decided to stay on the savings bandwagon, you'll be rewarded for doing so in that you'll get to keep your member tax credits.

To determine how much in member tax credits are at stake, if your decision is riding on that, you can get a break down of your total contributions from yourself, your employer and the government on the KiwiSaver website. If you are registered as an online user for Inland Revenue's website you can use the same log-in. To read more about tracking your KiwiSaver contribution click here.

And if you're not among the 38,000 plus New Zealanders who left for Australia last year but are thinking about it, check out our "will you be better off calculator" to see whether you'll really be better off? More food for thought.

Do you have a question on KiwiSaver?

Check out our KiwiSaver Q&A section or drop us an email if you can't find your question there.