Are you an international student or backpacker planning to study or work in Australia? If so, it's essential to understand the Australian superannuation system. Superannuation is a significant aspect of working in Australia, and it's vital to be aware of its benefits and how it works. In this blog post, we will provide a comprehensive guide to superannuation in Australia and answer the most common questions international students and backpackers may have.
💰What is Superannuation in Australia?
Superannuation, commonly referred to as "super," is a retirement savings scheme introduced by the Australian government to ensure financial security for citizens and permanent residents during their retirement years. It's similar to a pension or retirement fund and is mandatory for most working individuals in Australia.
📈How Does Superannuation Work in Australia?
When you work in Australia and earn more than AUD $450 in a calendar month, your employer is required by law to contribute a portion of your earnings into a superannuation fund on your behalf. This is known as the Superannuation Guarantee (SG) and is currently set at 11% of your ordinary earnings. These contributions are made regularly, usually quarterly.
Once you leave Australia, you may be able to claim back your superannuation pension as a Departure from Australia Payment (DASP). To do this, you must meet a number of conditions.
👷♀️Who Can Get Superannuation in Australia?
Australian residents who are employed, are 18 years old or over, and who earn $450 or more (before tax) per month are eligible to receive Superannuation Guarantee (SG) contributions from their employer.
Superannuation eligibility is available to anyone working legally in Australia in part-time or full-time employment. If you are a temporary resident working in Australia, you may also be eligible for Superannuation.
By enrolling on an ELICOS course, a VET course, or any other course on a Student Visa, you have the opportunity to work. Then if you find a job you may be entitled to your Superannuation.
To make sure if you are entitled to a superannuation or not, you can use this Government Tool.
📃How to Start Your Superannuation in Australia?
Starting your superannuation is typically an automatic process. Once you begin working, your employer will set up a superannuation account for you and begin making contributions on your behalf. Your employer will choose a default superannuation fund, but you have the option to choose a different fund if you prefer.
How to Choose a Superannuation Fund?
If you prefer to choose your super fund instead of going with the one your employer has, you can request for the Superannuation standard choice form. Employees can use this form to advise employers of their choice of super fund and employers can use it to advise employees of their default super fund.
You can choose between two fund options:
- A fund that manages your Superannuation for you. (RECOMMENDED)
- Set up your own self-managed Super Fund (SMSF).
Choosing the right superannuation fund is important as it can affect the growth of your retirement savings. Consider the following factors when selecting a fund:
Fees and Charges: Compare the fees and charges of different funds. High fees can significantly impact your overall savings over time.
Investment Options: Different funds offer various investment options. Consider your risk tolerance and investment goals before making a decision.
Performance: Review the historical performance of the funds you're considering to gauge their track record.
Insurance Coverage: Some superannuation funds offer insurance benefits. Assess whether you need this coverage and its cost.
✔️Some websites that can help you find the superannuation fund that best suits your needs are:
What Happens If I Don't Choose a Fund?
If you don't choose a specific superannuation fund, your employer will contribute your superannuation payments into their default fund. While this is not necessarily a bad thing, it's essential to review the default fund's features and performance to ensure it aligns with your financial goals.
📄How Do I Apply for Superannuation in Australia?
As an eligible temporary visa holder, you do not need to apply for superannuation separately. Your employer will take care of setting up your superannuation account and making contributions on your behalf once you start working.
Who is eligible for superannuation early release?
Anyone over the age of 18 who has worked in Australia, left Australia and earned at least AUD 450 or more (before tax) in a month during their stay in Australia is eligible to apply.
As an international student or backpacker, you may be eligible to claim your superannuation once you leave Australia. This process is called the Departing Australia Superannuation Payment (DASP). You can lodge a DASP application online after your visa expires or is canceled and you have left Australia.
Applicants must not be Australian or New Zealand citizens or permanent residents of Australia and must not hold a valid Australian visa, including a tourist visa. Once they stop working because their visa runs out and they have to leave the country, they can get back the money they contributed during their working life.
📣How to Claim your Australian Superannuation:
As mentioned above, you can apply for your Superannuation in Australia through the DASP (Departing Australia Superannuation Payment) as long as you meet the following requirements:
- You have worked in Australia legally and on a temporary resident visa (such as a student visa).
- Your visa has been finalised.
- You must not be in Australia at the time you submit your application.
- You must not have been or be a permanent citizen in Australia or New Zealand.
Once your visa has expired and you meet the above requirements, you can apply for the Superannuation free of charge online through the DASP Online Application System.
To start the application to withdraw your Superannuation, you must have the following information available:
- Name and date of birth
- Email address
- Country of passport
- Passport number
- Tax File Number
- Australian Superannuation fund number (SFN)
- Start and finish date of employment
- Employer's details
📅When and How is superannuation paid out?
Usually you will receive payment within 28 days of receipt of your application. It may take longer if your claim is incomplete or if you have to provide additional supporting documents.
Your payment can be made in three different ways:
- Electronic funds transfer (EFT) to an Australian bank account
- Australian dollar cheque
- International Money Transfer (IMT) - for funding requests only.
We strongly recommend to keep your Australian bank account open once you leave the country as Electronic Funds Transfer is usually the most effective payment option.
✍🏻Recommendations about Superannuation in Australia:
Consolidate Your Super: If you work multiple jobs while in Australia, consider consolidating your superannuation accounts to avoid paying multiple sets of fees.
Stay Informed: Keep track of your superannuation and stay updated with changes in regulations. This knowledge will help you make informed decisions about your retirement savings.
How Much Superannuation Do You Get a Year in Australia?
The amount of superannuation you receive each year depends on your earnings and the Superannuation Guarantee rate, which is currently 11% of your ordinary earnings.
Understanding the superannuation system in Australia is crucial for international students and backpackers working in the country. By grasping the fundamentals, you can make informed decisions about your retirement savings. Remember to keep track of your superannuation, consider your options carefully, and seek professional advice when needed.