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(Ad)venture capital: How living overseas could affect your super

Heading overseas is a rite of passage for most Australians, but if you’ve booked a one-way ticket with no plans of when you’ll return, it could come at the expense of your super fund.

After chatting with our good friends at Zuper, we realised how relevant this issue is for our customers. And we thought a few handy tips might help, seeing as with the excitement of making the move overseas, sorting out super probably isn’t high on the to-do list.

What happens to your super account when you go overseas?

Your super fund operates as normal, whether you’re living in Australia or not. Which means it will still generate returns on the money already in the account and you’ll still be charged fees while you’re away. When it comes to contributions, these could change depending on who your employer is.

By law, your employer in Australia has to pay 9.5% of your earnings into a super fund. If you transfer with the same company to an overseas location, but are still employed by the Australian company, these payments will most likely simply carry on. Make sure to clarify this before you leave, so there’s no confusion.

If you end up working for an overseas employer, it’s likely they’ll have no legal obligation to make contributions to your Australian super fund on your behalf. But you can still contribute 9.5% of your overseas income, into your super. Most funds have a direct debit or BPAY transfer option.

Will I be charged fees if I’m not in the country?

Yes. Your super fund doesn't take a holiday or move overseas when you do, so account fees and charges still apply. That means that while you’re globetrotting, your account is slowly burning through its own funds to pay the fees off.

Before you go, do a review of your fund’s fees and charges and how they’re calculated (percentage or flat rate). If the numbers don’t add up, shop around and find a fund that’s more sympathetic to this unique time in your life.


Pro tip: Zuper have
ethically-conscioussuper funds with fees as low as 0.99% if you’re looking for a benchmark.

How should I prepare my super fund for an extended overseas trip? 

Before you pack your bags, there’s a few steps you can take to put your super in the strongest position possible for when you return: 

  1. Consolidate your funds 
    There's a good chance all those random jobs you had in high school paid super into different funds, each with their own individual set of fees.

    It only takes a few minutes to consolidate these into one central fund. That way it’s easier to manage and you only get charged a single set of fees. Zuper make consolidation easy — all you need is your personal details and a tax file number and they’ll take care of the rest. 

    Pro tip: The Zuper app lets you monitor your super wherever you are in the world, perfect for avid travellers. 

  2. Review your insurance
    Most super funds offer some form of insurance (e.g. travel, death, income, and total and permanent disability) but these premiums are paid from your super balance and often don’t cover you once you leave the country. If you know you’re going to be AWOL for a while, it might be worth reducing or cancelling coverage that doesn’t apply if your provider allows it. 

    Pro tip: Zuper lets you opt in or out of any or all of their insurance types, whenever you like. 

  3. Make contributions while you’re out of the country
    If you’re working and earning money, you can make voluntary super contributions as you see fit. The easiest way is to set up a direct debit or lump sum transfer from your Australian bank account to your super fund and regularly transfer foreign funds into it. There are loads of tax benefits in making voluntary contributions (within the contribution cap), and some of these can be backdated up to three years if you’re worried about missing out.


A big trip away should be a #treatyourself affair. These quick steps take hardly any time at all, and could end up saving you thousands in the long run, making those travel brags even sweeter.

 

*Before making a decision in relation to your super you should read the Zuper Super PDS, speak to a licensed financial professional and consider if the information is appropriate to you. Zuper Super is issued by Diversa Trustees Limited (ABN 49 006 421 638), (AFSL No 235153), as trustee of LESF Super (ABN 13 704 288 646).


The information contained in this article is of a general nature only. It doesn’t take account of any person’s objectives, financial situation or needs. Before acting on this information, you should consider whether it is appropriate for your circumstances and seek independent legal, financial, and taxation advice.