Moving to Australia from New Zealand?

Get all information you need to make a successful and stress-free move across the ditch.

Do you want to know if you can get a student loan in Australia? Or do you have an NZ student loan and want to know your commitments while living in Australia?

Generally, New Zealanders on an SCV are not able to get an Australia student loan, known as a HELP loan, unless they have been living in Australia for 10 years. Read more below.

Regarding your NZ student loan, if you’re going overseas for 6 months or more your New Zealand student loan won’t be interest-free. Below is all the information you need, including repayment amounts and a student loan repayment calculator.

On this page you will find the below helpful information:

Getting an Australian student loan

New Zealand citizens are eligible to access a CSP but do not meet the eligibility criteria to access a HELP loan.

To be eligible for a HELP loan you must:

  • have a Special Category visa (SCV);
  • meet ALL of the long-term residency requirements (have been living in Australia for 10 years); and
  • be living in Australia while you study.

Long-term residency requirements

Your higher education provider will ask you to supply documentation to assess whether you meet all of the long-term residency requirements. The long-term residency requirements for New Zealand SCV holders are that you:

  • first began living in Australia at least 10 years ago,
  • were a child under the age of 18 with no spouse or de facto partner when you first moved to Australia, and
  • have been in Australia for at least:
    • a total of eight out of the past 10 years (from when you apply for the loan), and
    • a total of 18 months out of the last two years (from when you apply for the loan).

If you do not meet ALL of the above requirements, you cannot get a HELP loan.

Residency requirements during study

As a New Zealand citizen and/or NZ SCV holder, you must be resident in Australia for the duration of your unit(s) to meet the CSP and HELP residency requirements. However, any period of residence outside Australia will be disregarded if:

  • it cannot be reasonably regarded as indicating an intention to reside outside Australia for the duration of the unit, or
  • it is required for the purpose of completing a requirement of that unit.

You can more on the Australian Government website Study Assist

Commonwealth supported places (CSPs)

A Commonwealth supported place (CSP) is a place at a university or higher education provider where the Australian government pays part of your fees. This part is a subsidy, not a loan, and you don’t have to pay it back.

This subsidy does not cover the entire cost of your study. The remaining portion is called the ‘student contribution amount’, the payment for which YOU are liable.

The student contribution amount must be paid by the census date. You will need to organise to pay this amount upfront.

Most CSPs are for undergraduate study. Only some providers offer CSPs at the postgraduate level. If you are a postgraduate student you should check with your provider to see if they offer CSPs in your course.

Being eligible for a CSP does not mean that you will be offered a CSP as each provider and each course can have its own extra entry requirements.

You can view a fact sheet on CSPs here.


Your provider will assess your eligibility for a CSP against the criteria below. If you have any questions, please contact your higher education provider. To get a CSP, you must:

  • be one of the following:
    • be an Australian citizen, who will complete some of your course of study while resident in Australia; or
    • a New Zealand citizen; or an Australian permanent visa holder; or an eligible former permanent humanitarian visa holder; who studies the entire course while living in Australia
    • have a Unique Student Identifier (USI) prior to the first census date
    • have sufficient Student Learning Entitlement available
    • meet the completion rate requirements
    • not undertake more than 2 years’ worth of higher education study within 12 months (unless your provider has approved you to take on more).

How can I get a CSP?

As well as the above residency and citizenship requirements, to get a CSP you must:

  • Check if the course you want to study is a CSP (call and ask your higher education provider or check their website).
  • Apply for the course:
    • through a Tertiary Admissions Centre (TAC); or
    • directly through your chosen higher education provider.
  • Follow the instructions to ‘accept your offer’ in the letter that your provider will send you. The letter will tell you if the place you have been offered is a CSP or not.
  • Complete your CSP  loan application form given to you by your provider by the census date. 

Paying off your NZ student loan while you’re overseas

If you travel outside New Zealand for more than six months the IRD don’t base your repayments on your income, they base the payments on your student loan balance and charge interest to the balance owing.

Repayments you need to make each year

Each year you’re away the IRD will work out your repayment amounts again. Your new repayment amounts will be available after 31 March.

Your minimum annual repayment obligation is as at:

  • 31 March 2014 (if you’re living overseas and left New Zealand on or before this date), or
  • your departure date.

You can make voluntary repayments anytime, but you must meet the instalment dates of 30 September and 31 March.

Instalment date payments are 50% of your repayment obligation. This will only be different if you’ve made other arrangements with the IRD.

Your repayment obligation stays the same if your loan balance decreases. But, if your balance increases your repayment obligation will increase.

You can check what you owe and when your repayments are due in your myIR Secure Online Services account.

How much do you need to pay?

The below table shows how much you need to pay depending on your loan balance.

When your loan balance is:30 September31 March
under $1,000you need to pay your whole loan balance
$1,000 and up to $15,000
over $15,000 and up to $30,000
over $30,000 and up to $45,000
over $45,000 and up to $60,000
over $60,000

Depending on the size of your loan (over $90,000) your repayments might not be enough to cover your interest.

When you leave New Zealand during the tax year you might have:

  • a New Zealand-based, and
  • an overseas-based part-year repayment obligation. 

Student loan repayment calculator

Use the IRD student loan repayment calculator to work out how much interest will be added to your loan and how long it’ll take to pay it off.

Below is an example using a student loan amount of $10,000:

Student loan repayment calculator

Missed payments

If you’ve missed payments the IRD may charge you late payment interest. If you’re having difficulty repaying your loan contact the IRD. They might be able to offer you some payment options. Talk to them if:

  • you haven’t been making your repayments, and
  • the amount you are behind in paying is significant.

They may stop you from leaving New Zealand next time you travel if this has happened, so make sure you contact them. 

Will your loan stay interest-free?

Short trips (less than 6 months), Interest-free student loans

Your loan will remain interest-free if you’re going overseas for 183 consecutive days or less (about 6 months) and you have been living in New Zealand for at least 183 consecutive days prior to leaving. You’ll still see interest being applied but this is automatically written off.

Please note: if you travel overseas for less than 6 months on a regular basis, your loan will remain interest-free as long you’re back in New Zealand for 32 days or more before you leave again.

Student loan repayments while you’re overseas

If you’ll earn a New Zealand salary or wages while you’re away, you’ll still be required to have student loan repayments deducted from this income.

If you earn any other income from New Zealand and/or overseas income while you’re away, you’ll need to let us know after the end of the tax year (31 March). This is because you’re still a New Zealand- based borrower and your repayments are based on your worldwide income.

If you have any other repayment obligations due while you’re away or would like to make voluntary repayments, there are a number of ways you can make a payment.

Find out more about what payments you have to make to your NZ Student Loan.

Longer trips (6 months or more)

When you go overseas:

You need to let us know if you’re going to be overseas for 184 days (about 6 months) or more. The easiest way to do this, if you also want to apply for a repayment holiday, is to complete the form in your myIR Secure Online Services account.

Otherwise, send us secure mail through your myIR account or call us on 0800377778 (+64 3 951 2020 from overseas).
You need to include:

  • your departure date
  • how long you intend to be away, and
  • any repayment holiday information.

You’ll become an overseas-based borrower if you’ll be overseas for 184 days or more. This means you’ll have different repayment obligations and your loan will no longer be interest-free. Interest applies to your student loan from the day after you leave New Zealand.

Find out more about interest and how it’s calculated.

Are you eligible for an interest-free student loan while you’re overseas?

There are certain situations where you may still qualify for an interest-free loan while you’re overseas.

In most cases, you won’t qualify for an interest-free loan if you go overseas for 184 days (about 6 months) or more. However, you may still qualify for your existing loan to remain interest-free if you meet the conditions for one of the following situations:

There are two additional circumstances where you may still qualify for your existing loan to remain interest-free:


Repayment holiday

You can apply for a repayment holiday if you’re going overseas for 6 months (184 days or more), which means you won’t have an overseas-based repayment obligation to pay for up to the first year (365 days) of being overseas. A repayment holiday is optional but you’ll need to apply if you want one.

The following conditions apply to repayment holiday applications:

  • You’ll need to apply before you leave New Zealand or within the first 183 days (6 months) of being overseas.
  • You’ll need to provide the name and address of a person based in New Zealand, who is willing to act as an alternative contact person in case we need to get in touch with you about your loan.

If you don’t meet these conditions your application may be declined.

Please note:

  • The maximum time you can have a repayment holiday is 365 days.
  • You’ll need to apply for a repayment holiday.
  • You’ll need to provide an alternative contact person based in New Zealand.

Apply for a repayment holiday

You can apply for the repayment holiday through your myIR account by completing the form.

Otherwise, send us secure mail through your myIR account or call us on 0800377 778 (+64 3 951 2020 from overseas).

Please note: Repayment holidays don’t stop interest on your loan, so it’s still a good idea to make voluntary repayments to keep on top of your loan.

When you return to New Zealand

When you return to New Zealand after being overseas for 184 days (about 6 months) or more, you must let us know so we can update your student loan details and contact information. 

What if you haven’t been paying off your NZ student loan?

I get asked, what should I do now that my student loan is huge because I didn’t make any payments since I moved to Australia?

The Spinoff has a great post on what happens when you have a student loan and leave NZ. Moving overseas post-graduation? Be prepared for your friendly interest-free student loan to become an out-of-control debt monster, writes Chelle Fitzgerald.

If you have a student loan in New Zealand but then leave the country, the loan will continue to accrue interest even if you don’t make any payments. You will still be responsible for repaying the loan, and any overdue payments will continue to accrue interest and penalties.

What will happen to your NZ student loan while you’re living in Australia? You either pay it off and you get peace of mind, or it gets considerably bigger and is a continual stress. The larger it gets, the more likely it becomes that the IRD might take action.

The most serious action Inland Revenue could take against an overseas-based borrower is to apply for garnishee orders on overseas income, initiate bankruptcy procedures in an overseas court or commence an arrest warrant process if the borrower crosses the New Zealand border.

However, these are very much options of last resort after all other attempts to negotiate with the borrower have failed. Basically, they can take away some of your income before you even see the money, force bankruptcy upon you, or put a warrant out for your arrest.

Here is an article on the Taxation (Residential Land Withholding Tax, GST on Online Services, and Student Loans) Bill that was passed in May 2016. The bill was to make it easier for NZ to chase defaulters in Australia.

You may also have a problem if you ever want to return to NZ for a holiday. Here is a post from the Citizens Advice Bureau about what factors could prevent you from leaving New Zealand.

You might also be interested in…

The below posts might interest you:

Still, got unanswered questions?

If you’ve read the above content and the answer to your question isn’t there, please write a comment below and I’ll research the answer for you. Please note, if the answer to your question is in the content above, I will not reply. Sorry, I just get too many questions these days and I can’t keep up.

Can I help you find something else?

If you need advice on moving to Australia from New Zealand, I’ve created a helpful little questionnaire to point you in the right direction. It takes less than 30 seconds, so give it a go!


  1. Miri

    July 14, 2022 at 4:10 am

    Hi JJ,
    Is it possible work between Australia and New Zealand while still maintaining an interest-free student loan?
    In other words, can I work in Australia for 5 months then come back to New Zealand and work for 32 days (or more), then go back to Australia?

    • JJ Smith

      July 21, 2022 at 1:54 pm

      Hi Miri,
      Thank you for your comment.
      You can work it so that your loan will remain interest free. The IRD uses the following time frames to work out whether you’re overseas-based or New Zealand-based.
      When you depart New Zealand, after 184 days, you:
      – become overseas-based if you are out of New Zealand for at least 153 of those 184 days
      – remain New Zealand-based if you are back in New Zealand for at least 32 of those 184 days.
      Therefore you would need to return to NZ for at least 32 days twice a year.
      This post on the IRD website explains the above further and has a link to an overseas travel calculator:
      Please feel free to email me back any further questions you have.
      Good luck with your move.

  2. Ken

    May 25, 2022 at 9:40 am

    Hi there can u tell me what happens to your student loan if u go bankrupt ?
    How long can student loan debt collectors chase u for ?

    • JJ Smith

      June 13, 2022 at 3:13 pm

      Hi Ken,
      Thank you for your comment and sorry for the large delay in replying.
      If you have a student loan, it will be included in your bankruptcy debts and you won’t need to make any repayments. You can’t apply for a new student loan until your bankruptcy is discharged or annulled.
      The IRD could chase you for your whole life.
      Your student loan would not be interest free if you’re living in Australia for more than 6 months.
      Sorry my advice wasn’t more positive.

  3. Karen

    July 20, 2020 at 12:15 am

    Hi JJ,
    Do you know if there is a reciprocal payment system through government agencies for a New Zealand student loan for someone who is now based in Australia? I’m curious as to why there seems to be a reciprocal system for some social welfare payments but I cannot find any information on student loan repayments between Australia and New Zealand.

    • JJ Smith

      July 20, 2020 at 11:26 pm

      Hi Karen,
      Thank you for your comment.
      Unfortunately there is no reciprocal system for student loans between NZ and Australia.
      NZ will only give you an interest free loan while you live in New Zealand and Australia will not give you a student loan unless you are a Australia Citizen.
      You would have read the info on the student loan page, so you will know how to repay your loan and work out how much it will cost you wile living in Australia.
      Please feel free to email me back any further questions you have.

  4. Sam

    June 14, 2020 at 11:03 am

    My son is a NZ citizen, moved to Australia in 2014. He is still studying fr his Bachelors degree in Australia and working part time. After moving to Australia my son got into a relationship with an Australian Citizen and has two daughters born here in Australia (who are Australian citizens). My son is facing financial hardship and not in a position to pay off his NZ student loan which has ballooned to over $35K and incurring interest. He is not in a position to pay off his NZ Student loan and has no assets. What are his options and the pros and cons of options he has in his situation?

    • JJ Smith

      June 17, 2020 at 1:09 am

      Hi Sam,
      Thanks for your comment.
      I haven’t got any good advice for him apart from start paying off your student loan! His loan is going to keep gaining interest until it is paid off.
      He needs to call the IRD! They will be able to talk him through his options and may be able to offer him some payment options. IRD phone for overseas based customers calling from Australia: 1800 559 653.
      They may stop him leaving New Zealand next time he travel’s, so make sure he contacts them.
      The loan isn’t going to disappear, only get worse.
      However, he should setup an account with either XE or OFX so he isn’t charged fees on the money he transfers to NZ to pay the IRD. More info here:
      Sorry I couldn’t be of more help.

  5. Beth

    May 25, 2020 at 8:18 pm

    In terms of moving to Australia and coming back. Once i come move back to nz will i still earn intrest or will it go back to intrest free?

  6. Bill

    April 2, 2019 at 2:37 am

    Hi My daughter has moved to Australia, Brisbane with full time employment. She completed her 4 years at Massey last year. We are wanting to know how she can do this from Australia. Does NZ have an agreement with Australian Tax Office to repay the student loan?

    • JJ Smith

      April 9, 2019 at 12:00 am

      Hi Bill,
      Thank you for your comment.
      Unfortunately once your daughter moves to Australia her loan won’t be interest free.
      Repayments will be based on her student loan balance and charge interest to the balance owing. Each year she’s away the IRD will work out her repayment amounts again. Her new repayment amounts will be available after 31 March.
      I highly recommend she calls the IRD and discusses her situation with them.
      She can use the IRD student loan repayment calculator to work out how much interest will be added to her loan and how long it’ll take to pay it off.
      Wish I could have had a more positive answer for you.

  7. Eric

    November 22, 2018 at 9:34 am

    I have student loan in NZ, and will move to Australia next month.
    I’m wondering if I need to pay back the whole amount at once to avoid any interest on the loan.
    Is there any “discount” if the whole amount is repaid in one go?

    • JJ Smith

      December 2, 2018 at 10:59 pm

      Hi Eric,
      Thank you for your comment.
      I have updated the above student loan post with all the latest information, including a repayment calculator.
      You will need to pay your loan off if you want to stay interest-free. But you do have 6 months before interest is added.
      I can’t find any information on a discount for prompt/full payment, but I do recommend you call them, as they are there to help you out.
      Good luck with your move.

  8. Alex Vico

    October 29, 2018 at 12:29 am

    Hi JJ
    I have a New Zealand student loan and have been living overseas for about 10 years now (currently residing in Australia).
    I am both a New Zealand and Australian citizen (I was born in Australia). I am wondering if there are different laws regarding student loan repayment / interest charges if I am a dual citizen?

    • JJ Smith

      October 29, 2018 at 1:30 am

      Hi Alex,
      Thank you for your comment.
      I don’t know if there are different laws regarding citizenship.
      I don’t think it makes a difference to repayments or interest though as no matter what you are a over-seas borrower.
      Sorry I can’t be of more help. Please let me know if I wrong regarding the above.
      JJ Smith

  9. Sarah Smith

    September 3, 2018 at 1:06 am

    If I’m Australian born, but my child is born in NZ and I want to move back to Australia, is my child an Aussy or a Kiwi? Will my child be able to get a student loan in Australia for study at university?

    • JJ Smith

      September 4, 2018 at 12:51 am

      Hi Sarah,
      Thank you for your comment.
      Since your child in NZ born, they will have an NZ passport and will be an NZ citizen. So they will not be able to apply for an NZ loan at this stage.
      However, as you are a Australia citizen you can apply for your child to become a Australian citizen too.
      For Australian citizenship by descent eligibility you must have been born outside Australia and at least one of your parents must have been an Australian citizen when you were born.
      Get your identity documents, evidence that one of your parents was an Australian citizen at the time of your birth and, if you are 18 years of age or over, good character documents.
      Here is where to register your child born outside Australia as a citizen: The fee for this application is AUD 230. The fee for the second and subsequent siblings applying at the same time is AUD 95 per applicant.
      Please feel free to ask further questions.

  10. Jordan

    July 1, 2014 at 7:48 am

    What are the terms of having a current student loan in New Zealand and moving to Australia will i have to pay extra tax on top of it?

    • JJ Smith

      July 1, 2014 at 7:49 am

      Hi Jordon,
      Thank you for your enquiry.
      If you’re going overseas for 6 months or more your student loan won’t be interest free, which means you may end up paying more interest. However, you will not have to pay more tax.
      For more information please read the information on the IRD website:
      Good luck with your move.


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