Home Work in Australia How to claim your superannuation – leaving Australia

How to claim your superannuation – leaving Australia

How to claim your superannuation – leaving Australia

When you are working in Australia, you are entitled to receive super contributions from your employer on top of your salary. Superannuation is a long-term savings plan, which will provide workers with an income when they retire. Those contributions are paid by your employer during your employment, usually every couple of months. As a temporary resident in Australia, you are entitled to receive superannuation and to claim it once you have left the country. Here is all you need to know about Superannuation in Australia from opening an account to claiming it after leaving the country.

What is Superannuation?

Super explained

Superannuation is a way to save for retirement. When you are working in Australia, your employer must pay contributions into your super fund. Superannuation is important, because the more you save, the more money you will have for your retirement. Super funds invest and manage this money for you until you retire or claim it (for temporary residents once you have left the country).

It is important to note that this contribution must be paid on top of your salary. It is not deducted from your salary. So if your employer gives you an hourly rate of $23/hour, the superannuation contribution must be added to this amount.

If you are self-employed (freelance), you are not obliged to contribute. In other words, you are not obliged to pay super into a separate account. For more information: Freelancing in Australia.

Who can benefit from Superannuation?

You are entitled to receive super contributions from an employer if you are at least 18 years old. If you are under 18, you will need to work more than 30 hours per week. In all cases, it doesn’t matter whether you are working full time, part time or casual.

The super contributions paid by your employer must be 11% of your ordinary earnings. It’s scheduled to increase to 11.5% from July 2024.

This money must be paid into an elected super fund. Employers are required to make super contributions on a quarterly basis.

⚠️ All employees must receive payment of their super if they are over 18. It doesn’t matter if you’re a foreigner or an Australian. It also doesn’t matter what your visa is (WHV, student, sponsor etc), you must receive super. Similarly, whether you work full time, part time or casual, you must receive these contributions from your employer.

How to open a Super account?

You can choose the ‘Superannuation account’ of your choice. This is an account in its own, which means that it will not be created automatically when you open your bank account, so remember to create it.

You have several options:

  • You can create a Super account with your bank when you open your everyday account.
  • You can choose to contribute to a specific superfund (UniSuper, AustralianSuper, CBUS, Australian Retirement Trust etc). You will be able to consult and monitor the funds online.
  • If you did not open a superannuation fund before starting your first job, your employer can open one for you.

There are lots of different super funds available and different types of accounts. Most banks such as Westpac, Commonwealth, offer the option to open a Super Account for you when you open you bank account.

We strongly advise you to open just one account and to ask your employers to always pay your money into the same fund. This will make it easier for you to get your money back and limit account management costs. If your employer opens an account for you, remember to ask for the details (name, ABN, member number).

Be aware of the conditions for opening a fund! It is sometimes difficult or expensive to close it. Different organisations (banks or private funds) charge different levels of management fees, so make sure you get the right information before you open an account. You should also check that your money is not automatically placed on the stock market by the super company, as you could lose money without even knowing it.

How does a Superannuation account work?

All Superannuation accounts have a monthly management fee. These fees are charged by the week or by the month, depending on the organisation (expect to pay around $6 to $10 per month). Note that many funds charge extra for premium insurance (often not very useful when you are on a WHV). So remember to check the charges involved when you open your account.

As far as account management is concerned, the money paid into your account by your employer will be invested. This money will work and earn you interest. You can choose to manage these investments yourself, or leave the management to the superfunds. You can choose safe or risky investments. Risky investments are riskier but can earn more money. You can discuss this with your superfund or bank to understand how it works.

Types of funds

There are 5 basic types of funds in Australia:

  • Industry funds, sometimes open to everyone. You can join if you work in a particular industry and your employer signs up with the fund.
  • Retail funds run by financial institutions. They are open to everyone.
  • Public sector funds, open to Commonwealth, state and territory government employees
  • Corporate funds, only open to people working for a particular employer or corporation
  • Self-managed super funds (SMSFs). They work like any other super fund, but the responsibility of managing them, (including their investment decisions and legal responsibilities) rests solely with the trustee (you)

How to find and consolidate superannuation accounts?

Recovering a lost superannuation account

It’s common to loose details of a Super account, especially if it was opened for you by your first employer. So, if you didn’t open your own fund through your bank or a private fund, you’ll need to contact your employer(s) to obtain details of the various accounts into which they paid your contributions.

If you are unable to retrieve the details of your various funds via your employer, you can search for lost funds on the ATO website: find a lost superannuation fund. The process is free.

Merging super accounts

If you have several superannuation accounts and would like to have just one, you can merge your accounts. For example, this will make it easier to recover your super. It can also save you from paying account management fees several times over. To merge accounts, simply choose the superannuation account you want to keep. You then need to contact the superfund you want to stay with. They will provide you with a form to fill in. They will then take all the necessary steps with the other superannuation accounts on your behalf. The process is also free of charge.

When can I claim my superannuation back?

If you are a temporary resident working in Australia, you are entitled to recover the money you have contributed to your pension when you leave the country, or at least part of it.

Contrary to what many people think, it is not possible to recover all the money available in the superannuation fund. Since 2017, the government has deducted 65% of the total amount when the account is closed for WHV makers. If you have a student visa, the rate is 22%. In addition, a management fee will regularly be deducted from your superannuation.

Conditions to claim your superannuation

The conditions to claim your super are:

  • You are not an Australian citizen or permanent resident.
  • You must have entered Australia on a temporary visa: all visas such as WHV, student, partner, other than 405 and 410 visas.
  • You must have left Australia: You cannot apply for a super visa if you are still in Australia.
  • Your visa must no longer be valid (expired or cancelled).

You cannot claim your super until retirement if you are an Australian citizen, a New Zealand citizen or a permanent Australian resident.

What do you do if your visa is still valid when you leave Australia?

Your visa must no longer be valid for you to claim your money. If you return to your home country before your visa expires and wish to claim your super, you will have two options:

  • wait until the end of your visa to claim your super,
  • or cancel your visa, which will allow you to apply as soon as your visa has been cancelled.

For working holidays visa makers on a subclass 417 or 462 visa, immigration will not cancel your visa if there is less than 6 months validity left on it. You will therefore have to wait for it to “expire” before applying. Cancellation of your visa by the immigration authorities is free of charge if it is accepted.

If your visa is still valid for more than 6 months, you can apply to cancel it. In this case, you need to fill in Form 1194 (fill in parts A, C and D only) and send it by email to GCN.admin@homeaffairs.gov.au.

Good to know: If you wish to return to Australia with another visa, you can contribute to a new fund. You can claim your super between two visas. The request for super only prohibits you to come back with the same visa under which you earned this super.

How to claim my super: Step by step guide

Once your visa has been cancelled or expired, you need to apply for a DASP (Departing Australia superannuation payment). You can apply for a DASP via either:

Before submitting your DASP application, check with your employer to confirm they have paid all the super they are required to.

Claiming your super is free. However, you cannot get the full amount of your superannuation back. A 65% tax will be deducted when you claim your superannuation. Also a management fee is often deducted.

We recommend you do your DASP online as the process is quicker and free.

The process online

To claim your super, you will need to visit the ATO website. You will need to complete an online form on the ATO website.

When completing the form, you will need to provide:

  • your name, date of birth and other personal details
  • email address
  • your passport number
  • Australian tax file number (TFN)
  • your super account details – including your super fund’s Australian business number (ABN) and your member number. These informations can be found online when accessing your super account.

Most of the time you will need to attach a certified copy of your visa, or any evidence showing that your visa has ceased to be in effect, together with a certified copy of your passport.

You can also choose how to receive payment of your super. It can be either by cheque or via an International money transfer to your financial institution overseas. Note here that if you require a money transfer to your bank overseas, you will be charge additional transfer fees.

Once completed just lodge the form online.

Processing times and payment

The service standard for processing a DASP claim is 28 days from the date you lodged your complete application.

There are three payment options:

  • electronic funds transfer (EFT) to an Australian bank account (most effective payment option)
  • Australian dollar cheque
  • international money transfer (IMT) – only for applications to super funds.

Hiring a tax agent

If you do not feel comfortable doing it yourself, do not panic. You can hire a tax agent who will go through the process for you. They can also assist you in claiming your tax back before or at the end of the financial year. For example, if you are leaving the country in December, you do not have to wait until July to claim your tax back and can do it earlier, together with claiming your super.

How much super will I get refunded?

How much super you will get back depends on how long you worked in Australia, what visa you were on, how much you earned, what contributions your employer made to your super fund, and what kind of fund you had.

Working Holiday Visa holders can expect to get back approximately 33-35% of their super, while other temporary visa holders can recoup 60-62%, after deducting tax and admin fees from the superannuation fund. On average, the refund for superannuation is more than $1,900.

There is a free online calculator here that can help you figure out what you’re owed.

⚠️ Don’t include DASP in your tax return: DASP does not form part of your assessable income for Australian tax purposes.

Don’t confuse Superannuation and Tax Return

Backpackers often mix up Tax Return with Superannuation. But they are two very different things.

Tax Return is income tax. This tax is deducted directly from your salary. Each year, a tax return must be filed at the end of the financial year. The Australian financial year runs from July to June of the following year. The Tax Return can be used to recover taxes overpaid to the government during the year.

Superannuation is the retirement pension for workers in Australia. It is claimed only once by Australians, to recover their superannuation contributions.


Can I claim my super even if I intend to come back to Australia on another visa?

Yes, you can still come back to Australia on another visa, even if you have claimed your super back. However, you cannot come back to Australia under the same visa under which you earned the super you have claimed back.

I left Australia several years ago and never claimed back my super. Is it too late?

No, you can still claim it back. If it’s been 6 months since you left Australia, your super fund will request for the money to be transferred to the Australian Tax Office, who will then hold it for you until you claim it. As long as your visa is no longer valid and you have left the country, you can claim your super. The ATO’s online services can help you keep track of your super, including accounts you may have forgotten or lost touch with.

I have lost my Tax File Number. Can I still claim my super?

If you can’t find your TFN anywhere, you can get in touch with the Australian Tax Office and they should be able to help you.

What is the tax rate on superannuation for Working Holiday Visa holders?

Your super will be taxed at 65% if you are on a Working Holiday Visa and want to claim your money back when leaving Australia. A management fee may also be deducted from your funds.

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Australia Backpackers Guide
The ultimate guide to work and travel around Australia with a Working Holiday Visa! Get all the tips and advice from other backpackers. The first travel guide written by Backpackers for Backpackers in Australia!!!


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