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What happens to my super if I’m a temporary resident working in Australia?

What happens to my super if I’m a temporary resident working in Australia?

Working in Australia means a percentage of your wage or salary must be put aside in a superannuation fund. But what happens if you’re only working in Australia on a temporary basis? Will you be unable to access this money until you retire, or can you access your super early?

In Australia, the law is that a percentage of your income (previously 9.5 per cent, now 10 per cent) from an employer must be deposited into a superannuation fund. This money normally can’t be accessed until you reach your ‘preservation age’ and retire. You may also be able to access money from your super fund early under special circumstances, such as to pay for life-saving medical treatments.

Even if you’re not an Australian citizen, and are only working in the country on a temporary visa, employers are required to pay part of your wage or salary into a super fund – a default super fund if you don’t nominate one yourself. But unless you’re planning to retire in Australia, you may not be able to access a percentage of your earnings as an overseas worker in Australia.

However, it is possible for a temporary resident of Australia to access the money in your super fund. Once your visa expires and you leave the country, you can claim a departing Australia superannuation payment (DASP) from the Australian Taxation Office (ATO).

To claim a DASP, you may need to either apply online, or complete an application form to send to your super fund. If it’s been more than six months since you left the country, your super fund may have passed on your super to be held by the ATO as unclaimed super money, meaning you’ll have to contact the ATO to make your claim.

You can start your DASP application at any time and save it, but you can only submit it after you’ve left Australia and your visa is inactive or cancelled.

Keep in mind that once your application has been processed, your DASP will be taxed before you receive it, at a rate determined by whether or not you were a working holidaymaker in Australia.

Australia’s superannuation rules and regulations may change over time, so it’s important to check with the ATO and/or your super fund before you apply to claim the super you earned while working in Australia.

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This article was reviewed by Personal Finance Editor Alex Ritchie before it was published as part of RateCity's Fact Check process.

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