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Foreign Pension Transfers to Australia

Pension Transfers and Withdrawals to Australia from Overseas

If you are an Australian expatriate returning to Australia, or a migrant to Australia, you are likely to have accumulated foreign pensions in one or more countries – with common examples appearing in Table below.

While many of these pension funds may be accessible, subject to meeting age and other access requirements, individual advice is required to determine whether the best (and sometimes only) approach available is to leave the funds overseas or withdraw/transfer them to Australia. This will largely be driven by tax considerations, both within Australia and the country in which the funds are located. There are very significant tax risks attaching to simply focusing on the administrative aspects of arranging any transfer.

Country Pension
United Kingdom Occupational and personal pensions including SIPP's
Ireland Occupational and PRSA funds
United States Occupational pensions and 401(k)'s, IRA's and 403(b)'s
Canada Occupational pensions and RRSP's, RSP's and LIRA's
South Africa Occupational pensions and Retirement Annuities (RA's)
Asia Singapore CPF and Hong Kong MPF
Europe Occupational pensions

There is a tendency elsewhere to treat all pensions from individual countries as identical for Australian tax and transfer purposes when this is not the case. For example, Canadian RRSP, LIRA and occupational pension plans may attract very different tax treatment in Australia.

Please note that foreign state pensions are not capable of being transferred as a lump sum to Australia. Many expatriates forget however that they may have an entitlement to a foreign state pension or social security, if they've met the foreign pension eligibility requirements or if Australia's various International Social Security Agreements can assist in meeting eligibility requirements.

Singapore Announces Closure of CPF Accounts for Non-Citizens/Permanent Residents

The Singapore government has announced that it will require members of the Central Provident fund (CPF) who are neither citizens or permanent residents to close their accounts by March 31, 2024.

Note that the CPF is not regarded as a foreign superannuation fund (FSF) for Australian tax purposes, and therefore the entire amount of the fund exceeding employer and employee contributions may be subject to tax at Australian marginal rates on receipt. For individuals tax resident in Australia the required withdrawal may therefore give rise to tax implications, and it may be appropriate to seek tax advice in terms of the extent of any tax exposure and whether this can be reduced by timing withdrawals over the next year and making concessional superannuation contributions.

Services Available

We can generally assist in providing advice with respect to pension transfers as follows:

  • The provision of tax advice with respect to the treatment of any transfers/withdrawals to Australia – whether into a superannuation account or otherwise.
  • Arranging tax advice as required in the pension's country of origin; providing an integrated view of the tax treatment of the withdrawal/transfer in both Australia and overseas and how any transfer might be best structured.
  • The provision of broad financial planning advice where individuals wish to transfer significant amounts into Australian superannuation over period of time, having regard to tax and superannuation constraints.
  • Complete administration of the pension transfer process in many situations, including all transfer documentation, arranging actuarial estimates where required and advising on the clearance of money transfers. Including advice on the establishment of Australian superannuation funds, where appropriate. In situations where significant local processes attach to any transfer, such as in South Africa, we have long-term partners who assist in the process.

Fees and Charges

A wide variety of factors can impact on the tax treatment of individual pensions being considered for transfer or withdrawal and, as a consequence, our approach is to first have an initial discussion with a prospective client to fully understand their circumstances and the scope of advice or work required. No cost or commitment attaches to any initial discussion and clients then receive a fee quotation in advance of any advice or services being provided.

If you would like to arrange professional advice please complete the Inquiry form below providing details and you will be contacted promptly.

IMPORTANT: The material contained in this website and other associated communications is only intended as general, background information and must not be relied upon. No warranty is provided in relation to any material or to the services that may be contracted through It is recommended that individuals seek the advice of qualified professionals before taking any action.