MoneyTalk Member Shayne asks: “Is it possible to withdraw my super early if leaving the country?”

The answer is only yes in very limited circumstances… if you earned super while you were visiting Australia on a temporary visa. In this case, you may be able to claim your super once you leave Australia and your visa has expired or been cancelled.

You can claim your super from your fund within six months of leaving Australia. After that, the fund will transfer the balance to the Australian Taxation Office. You can still claim it back though using the Temporary residents online application or by using the Application for a departing Australia superannuation payment form.
But if you are in one of the categories below, you have the right to retire in Australia, so you aren’t entitled to early release on departure:

  • Australian citizens
  • New Zealand citizens (but you may be able to transfer your super to New Zealand if you are leaving permanently)
  • Permanent Australian residents
  • Retirement visa holders (including investor retirement visa holders)

But there are other grounds for early release that apply to Australian citizens and residents:

  • balances of $200 or less – if you change employer
  • specified compassionate grounds:
    • to pay for medical or dental treatment
    • to prevent your home from being sold by a lender holding a mortgage
    • to modify your home or vehicle to accommodate a severe disability
    • to pay for palliative care in case of a terminal medical condition
    • to pay for expenses associated with a dependent’s death
  • severe financial hardship
  • terminal illness
  • permanent incapacity.

If you think you may be entitled to early release, contact your Super fund.


Illegal Schemes

These usually involve transferring your balance from your existing super fund to a self-managed super fund (SMSF).

SMSF’s are of course totally legal but the promoters of the early access schemes will tell you that you can then access your super to pay off credit card debt, buy a house or car, even go on holiday.

Beware – these schemes are illegal, usually involve high fees and commissions, and may expose you to further fraud and identity theft.


What are your thoughts?

Would you access your super early if you could? Is there more you’d like to know about Superannuation? Join the conversation — leave a comment below and let us know what you’re thoughts are.

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