Travel outside Australia

There are rules about how long we pay your Disability Support Pension (DSP) while outside Australia.

What the rules are

If you leave to live in another country

If you leave Australia to live in another country, your DSP will stop on departure. This is unless 1 of these apply. You:

  • are terminally ill
  • left Australia before 1 July 2004, we advised we’d pay you indefinitely and you haven’t returned to live in Australia
  • were assessed before leaving and you have a permanent and severe impairment that means you can’t work in the future
  • were assessed before leaving and you meet the manifest medical rules
  • travel to a country Australia has an international social security agreement with and you can get paid under it.

In these situations, while you’re outside Australia, you’ll keep getting Disability Support Pension. But the amount you get may change.

If you leave Australia temporarily

If you leave Australia on a temporary basis for any reason, you can get your Disability Support Pension. You can get it for up to 28 days in a 12 month period. It doesn’t matter if you make a single trip or multiple trips.

Example of a single trip

If you left Australia on 3 March 2019, we’ll pay you for up to 28 days. This is from the date you leave.

If you’re still overseas after 28 days, your payment stops.

If you return and then travel overseas again before 3 March 2020, your payment stops from the day you leave.

Example of multiple trips

If you left Australia on 15 April 2019 for 14 days, we’ll pay you for up to 14 days. This is from the date you leave.

If you return and then travel overseas for 21 days on 17 February 2020, we’ll pay you for 14 days. This is from the day you leave.

Your payment stops at the end of the 14 days.

Exceptions

We may pay you for longer than 28 days in a 12 month period if any of the following apply:

  • you're studying outside Australia as part of a full time Australian course
  • you're severely disabled and depend on, and live with, a family member posted outside Australia temporarily for work.
  • you were assessed before leaving as having a permanent and severe impairment that means you can't work in the future
  • you were assessed before leaving and you meet the manifest medical rules.

If you’ve already travelled overseas for 28 days in 12 months, we may still be able to pay you. We may pay you for up to 28 days per trip. You must be travelling for any one of these reasons. To:

  • attend an acute family crisis – for example to visit a family member who’s critically ill
  • adopt a child or go to a custody hearing
  • appear as a witness in a legal case
  • get eligible medical treatment that you can’t get in Australia
  • attend a memorial service approved by the Australian Government
  • take part in the Paralympic Games
  • take part in a qualification or preparation event 12 months before the Paralympic Games.

If you go to a country with an international social security agreement

We may be able to pay you longer if both of these apply:

To use an international social security agreement, both of these must apply. You:

  • are severely disabled
  • meet all the rules under the agreement.

The international social security agreement decides the amount you’re paid.

When we can’t pay you

Your payment stops if all of the following apply. You:

  • come back to Australia to live
  • start getting Disability Support Pension
  • travel outside Australia during the next 2 years.

If you go to a country Australia has an international social security agreement with, you may get Disability Support Pension. This applies if you meet the agreement’s rules.

When to tell us about your travel

You should always tell us if you’re leaving Australia. Let us know at least 6 weeks before you plan to leave Australia.

This gives us time to arrange a medical review if needed. The review helps decide if you can get your payment while overseas for longer than 28 days in 12 months.

The easiest way to tell us about your travel plans is to use your Centrelink online account through myGov. You can get information on how your travel could affect your payments and concession cards. You may need to call us to discuss your circumstances further.

Learn how to register for an online account if you don’t already have one.

If you can’t use an online account, tell us your travel plans by either:

When you leave

If you’re eligible for Disability Support Pension outside Australia, your rate of payment may change. This depends on how long you’ve been away and your personal situation.

If you travel overseas under an international social security agreement the agreement tells you how much you get.

If you get a Pension Supplement

Your Pension Supplement reduces to the basic rate and your Energy Supplement stops either:

  • on departure, when you leave Australia to live in another country
  • after 6 weeks, if you leave Australia temporarily.

If you’re payable overseas after 26 weeks

We decide your rate using the length of time you were an Australian resident between 16 and Age Pension age.

You’ll get your full means tested rate of pension if you lived in Australia as an Australian resident either:

  • for 35 years between 16 and Age Pension age
  • when your inability to work or manifest medical condition happened.

You’ll get your full rate if you lived in Australia as an Australian resident and all of these apply: You:

  • lived in Australia for 25 years between 16 and Age Pension age
  • were getting Disability Support Pension outside Australia on 1 July 2014
  • haven’t returned and stayed in Australia for 26 weeks since then.

Example of when you get a full means tested rate

You arrived in Australia in June 2005. You were permanently and severely impaired due to an accident in 2012, while an Australian resident.

You get the full means tested rate of Disability Support Pension.

Example of when you don’t get a full means tested rate

You arrived in Australia in June 2005 after you were already permanently and severely impaired. In June 2016 you left Australia after 11 years as an Australian resident.

You get 11/35ths of your full means tested rate of Disability Support Pension.

If you go to New Zealand

The agreement with New Zealand may affect your Disability Support Pension rate if 1 of these apply. You go there:

  • to live
  • on your way to live in another country
  • and you’ll be outside Australia for more than 12 months
  • and you’ve been outside Australia for more than 26 weeks.

How much your payment changes depends on the details of the agreement with New Zealand.

Read more about payments while outside Australia.

Page last updated: 1 September 2020