2.1.2.30 Temporary Absence from Australia before 1 July 2016

Note: From 1 July 2016, FTB portability reduced from 56 weeks to 6 weeks. Individuals and children who left Australia prior to 1 July 2016 and were still overseas on that date retain the previous 56 weeks portability arrangements (or part thereof remaining) until they return to Australia. Individuals and children who left Australia prior to 1 July 2016 and were overseas for more than 6 weeks retain the previous 56 weeks portability arrangements (or part thereof remaining) until they return to Australia for 6 weeks or more. All subsequent trips will be subject to the 6 week portability rules.

For information about FTB portability where the individual or child depart Australia on or after 1 July 2016 refer to 2.1.2.40.

Summary

This topic explains the concept of a temporary absence from Australia as it applies to FTB, where the departure from Australia was before 1 July 2016, and covers the following:

  • eligibility and entitlement,
  • overview,
  • Australian residence,
  • absences from Australia,
  • effect of prior absence overseas on FTB,
  • extensions to the 56 week portability period,
  • child born overseas,
  • individual and FTB child both overseas,
  • individual overseas prior to having an FTB child,
  • when is an absence temporary,
  • absence is not temporary,
  • temporary absence becomes permanent, and
  • individual employed overseas.

Eligibility & entitlement

The specific distinction between 'eligibility' (1.1.E.17) and 'entitlement' (1.1.E.30) in relation to temporary absence from Australia is that:

  • eligibility refers to the 56 week overseas absence period (after which time an individual is no longer eligible for FTB), and
  • entitlement refers to the rates payable during a temporary absence.

Overview

For departures from Australia prior to 1 July 2016, FTB may continue in some circumstances where the FTB child and/or the individual are temporarily absent from Australia (1.1.A.120) for up to 56 weeks. FTB Part A at greater than the base FTB child rate and FTB Part B can only be paid for the first 6 weeks of an overseas absence.

Note: CCB eligibility is linked with FTB eligibility and therefore temporary absence from Australia provisions apply. Entitlement to CCB may continue for any temporary absence, however, the child care must be provided in Australia. CCB can be paid for initial absence days and additional absence days.

In certain circumstances an extension of eligibility may be approved for up to 3 years temporary absence from Australia. The 6 week period of entitlement to FTB Part A at greater than the base rate and FTB Part B may also be extended in certain circumstances (3.1.1.50). If the individual was receiving RA and FTB continues to be paid at greater than the base rate during a temporary absence, RA may still be paid. Extensions in certain circumstances also apply to CCB.

ES Part A and Part B are generally treated under the same provisions as FTB except for temporary absences from Australia. ES Part A and Part B can only be paid for the first 6 weeks of an overseas absence.

Individuals receiving FTB by instalments must notify Centrelink if they, and/or their child/ren intend to leave Australia, even for a short period. They must also notify Centrelink upon their return to Australia. Details of the trip must be obtained by Centrelink to assess ongoing eligibility.

The following table lists the factors to be considered when determining an individual's entitlement to FTB during an overseas absence:

Factors More information…
Individual and/or FTB child must retain Australian residence This topic
How length of absence affects eligibility for FTB This topic
Absence must be temporary This topic
Extensions that apply to the 56 week temporary absence eligibility rule This topic
The rate of FTB during a temporary absence 3.1.1.50 FTB Payments During Absence from Australia before 1 July 2016
The rate of FTB during extensions in certain circumstances 3.1.1.50 FTB Payments During Absence from Australia before 1 July 2016

Australian residence

The individual must continue to be an Australian resident during any absence overseas to remain eligible for FTB. To remain an FTB child or regular care child, a child who leaves Australia must continue to:

For the individual and/or the FTB child/ren or regular care child/ren to be considered to be Australian residents for FTB purposes, the absence overseas must be temporary, and there must be a clear intention to return to Australia.

For children born overseas refer to Child born overseas later in this topic for more details.

Act reference: SSAct section 7(3) In deciding for the purposes of this Act whether or not a person is residing in Australia…

Policy reference: FA Guide 2.1.2.10 Residence Requirements

Absences from Australia

For absences from Australia with a departure date on or after 1 July 2014 and prior to 1 July 2016, FTB may continue to be paid where the FTB child, regular care child and/or the individual are temporarily absent from Australia (1.1.A.120) for up to 56 weeks. In certain circumstances, individuals can apply for an extension to the 56 week period for up to 3 years.

The following table explains the effect on FTB eligibility of certain absences of an FTB child, regular care child or individual.

If the… Then…
FTB or regular care child:
  • leaves Australia, or
  • is born outside of Australia and is an FTB or regular care child at birth, and
  • is absent for more than 56 weeks (or extension end date),
  • the child ceases to be an FTB or regular care child on the day after the 56 week period (or extension end date) beginning on the first day of the absence or the DOB.

FTB or regular care child or individual:

  • leaves Australia, and
  • is absent for more than 56 weeks (or extension end date),
  • the child or individual ceases to be eligible for FTB on the day after the 56 week period (or extension end date) beginning on the first day of the absence.
FTB or regular care child or individual:
  • is absent from Australia for more than 6 weeks but less than 56 weeks (or extension end date), and
  • returns to Australia, and
  • leaves after less than 6 weeks,
  • the child or the individual is taken not to have returned to Australia and the 56 week period does not recommence,
  • the child or the individual will cease to be eligible for FTB on the day after the 56 week period (or extension end date) beginning on the first day of the absence or the DOB.

FTB child, regular care child or individual:

  • is absent from Australia for more than 6 weeks but less than 56 weeks (or extension end date), and
  • returns to Australia, and
  • leaves after more than 6 weeks,
  • a new 6 week/56 week period commences.
FTB child or individual:
  • was eligible for FTB, and
  • ceases to be eligible because of an absence of 56 weeks (or extension end date) or more, and
  • returns to Australia, and
  • leaves after less than 6 weeks,
  • they are not eligible for FTB at any time during the latest absence.

Explanation: The return to Australia does not start a new 56 week period of eligibility. This is because the individual or the child have already been absent for 56 week and are leaving again within 6 weeks.

Please refer to the example.

Example: Amanda is receiving FTB for her 2 children. She travels overseas on a 2 year temporary work placement and her children accompany her. After 56 weeks of her absence Amanda ceases to be eligible for FTB and her payments cease. Amanda returns to Australia at the end of her placement with the intention of resuming residence. She applies for and is regranted FTB. Two weeks after returning to Australia Amanda is offered a new overseas placement which she takes up 3 weeks later. Amanda qualifies for FTB for the 5 week period she spends in Australia. However, as Amanda resided in Australia for less than 6 weeks, after losing her eligibility for FTB due to her 2 year absence overseas, FTB is not payable from the day she leaves Australia again for her new work placement.

Example: Kym and Ben have an FTB child, Olivia, for whom Kym receives the FTB and CCB payments. Kym has to work overseas for more than 56 weeks so her FTB would reduce to the base rate after 6 weeks and be cancelled at 56 weeks as she is not eligible. Once Kym's FTB is cancelled CCB entitlement is then automatically cancelled as Olivia is no longer Kym's FTB child. Because Olivia is still attending child care in Australia, CCB and FTB could continue to be paid to Ben for Olivia if he applies for FTB and CCB before Kym goes overseas as Olivia is in his care in Australia.

Effect of prior absence overseas on FTB

The following table explains the FTB eligibility and entitlement rules that apply for a prior overseas absence.

If an individual… Then…
  • becomes eligible for FTB during the temporary absence,

Example: Following the birth of an eligible FTB child.

  • the period of the absence prior to eligibility commencing has an effect on eligibility and entitlement.
  • there is no eligibility for FTB after 56 weeks, commencing from the day of the departure.
  • is absent for more than 6 weeks but less than 56 weeks,
  • is not eligible for FTB during the temporary absence from Australia,
  • returns to Australia,
  • becomes eligible for FTB on return to Australia, and
  • leaves again after less than 6 weeks,
  • the individual may be able to receive FTB Part A above the base rate and FTB Part B while they are in Australia.
  • the individual's return to Australia does not affect the 56 week eligibility period, which commences from the day of the initial departure as they stayed in Australia for less than 6 weeks.
  • FTB ceases to be payable when the 56 week period expires.
  • FTB Part A at greater than the base FTB child rate and FTB Part B are payable for the first 6 weeks of the later absence, or up to the day when the 56 week period (beginning from the date of the initial departure) expires, at which point FTB ceases to be payable.
  • is eligible for FTB during a temporary absence,
  • ceases to be eligible for FTB because the temporary absence becomes permanent,
  • returns to Australia temporarily, not intending to stay and
  • leaves Australia again less than 6 weeks after returning,
  • the individual is not eligible for any FTB while temporarily in Australia (as residency requirements are not satisfied), or upon leaving the country again.
  • was absent from Australia for more than 56 weeks,
  • was not eligible for FTB while absent from Australia,
  • returns to Australia,
  • becomes eligible for FTB, and,
  • leaves after more than 6 weeks,
  • the individual is eligible for FTB for a temporary absence of up to 56 weeks from the second departure.

Example 1: Monique leaves Australia to travel temporarily overseas. She gives birth to her first child 2 weeks after her departure and claims FTB. She can receive FTB Part A at the above base rate for the first 4 weeks after her child's birth and then continue on with the base rate up to 56 weeks (or extension end date) from her date of departure.

Example 2: Sharon is temporarily absent from Australia and living in Germany for 41 weeks. Two weeks after returning to Australia, her first child is born. When the child is 3 weeks old, Sharon goes back to Germany for a month.

The 56 week absence period is counted from the day of the initial absence. Sharon is entitled to more than the base rate of FTB Part A and FTB Part B from the date the child was born until 6 weeks after Sharon leaves Australia. She is then entitled to base rate FTB Part A until the 56 week period expires. After the expiry of the 56 week period, which began on the date of her initial departure, Sharon is not eligible to any FTB.

Act reference: FAAct section 24(4) to (6) Maximum period of eligibility for FTB while individual overseas, section 62 Effect on individual's rate of the individual's absence from Australia

Extensions to the 56 week portability period

The Secretary may extend the portability period of 56 weeks to a period of no more than 3 years in certain circumstances. This extension allows FTB Part A to be paid at the base rate past 56 weeks in the following circumstances:

Specified events
  • A serious accident involving the person or a family member of the person.
  • A serious illness of the person or a family member of the person.
  • The hospitalisation of the person or a family member of the person.
  • The death of a family member of the person.
  • The person's involvement in custody proceedings in the country in which the person is located.
  • A legal requirement for the person to remain outside Australia in connection with criminal proceedings (other than criminal proceedings in respect of a crime alleged to have been committed by the person).
  • Robbery or serious crime committed against the person or a family member of the person.
  • A natural disaster in the country in which the person is located.
  • Political or social unrest in the country in which the person is located.
  • Industrial action in the country in which the person is located.
  • A war in the country in which the person is located.
Medical Treatment Overseas Program

The Secretary may extend the 56 week period to a period of no more than 3 years, if financial assistance is payable under the Medical Treatment Overseas Program for an individual or FTB child.

Deployments

The Secretary may also extend the 6 week portability period to a period of no more than 3 years if the individual is:

  • deployed outside Australia as a member of the Defence Force, under conditions specified in a determination made under the Defence Act 1903 that relates to such deployment, or
  • deployed outside Australia, for the purpose of capacity-building or peacekeeping functions, as:
    • a member or a special member of the Australian Federal Police, or
    • a protective service officer within the meaning of the Australian Federal Police Act 1979.

Where an eligible person is to be deployed; they should contact Centrelink prior to departure and request a portability extension due to their overseas deployment. They may need to provide their deployment letter to confirm they are eligible for this extension. The extension for the deployed member is for the length of their deployment, up to a period of 3 years.

This differs from the extension to the 6 week initial period in that return rules do not apply (3.1.1.50).

Act reference: FAAct section 24 (7) Extension of 56 week period in certain circumstances

Child born overseas

A person can claim FTB for a child who is born overseas while they are outside Australia, subject to other eligibility criteria. The claim must however be lodged within the allowable claim period. The residence requirements for FTB may be satisfied if at least one parent is an Australian resident who is temporarily absent from Australia.

If a person returns to Australia without the child, they may still be eligible for a payment if the child was living with them after the birth. They may also be entitled to FTB if the child is an Australian resident or SCV holder residing in Australia as long as the child is still in their care. For more detail about FTB residency, see 2.1.2.10 Residence Requirements.

Example 1: Sarah and Kate are a couple who leave Australia temporarily for 18 months. Four months after departure, Sarah has a baby and lodges a claim for FTB after the birth. As Sarah and the baby are only temporarily absent from Australia, they may be eligible for FTB for up to 56 weeks after departure from Australia.

Example 2: Jeffrey leaves Australia temporarily to travel overseas. While overseas he marries and shares accommodation with a non-Australian resident who subsequently has his child. Whether Jeffrey may be eligible for FTB for his child will depend on whether Jeffrey continues to be an Australian resident, and whether the existing living arrangement with his wife and child has a degree of permanence or, at least, is ongoing. If Jeffrey will soon return to Australia with his wife and child, he would be eligible. If Jeffrey will soon return to Australia without his wife and child, he may not be eligible. If Jeffrey will remain indefinitely overseas with his wife and child, he would not be eligible.

Act reference: FAAct section 22 When an individual is an FTB child of another individual, section 24 Effect of certain absences of FTB child etc. from Australia

Policy reference: FA Guide 2.1.2.10 Residence Requirements

Individual & FTB child both overseas

Where the individual and the FTB or regular care child are both overseas, the restrictions on entitlement in respect of the individual and the child as described in the table above need to be considered together. If the individual and child have the same departure date, the 56 week period expires simultaneously. Where the individual and the child have different departure dates, the 56 week period expires at different times.

Example: Gayle receives FTB for her 2 children, Simone and Jessica. All 3 will be living overseas for a period of 2 years whilst Jessica completes study in Canada. Jessica departs Australia alone on 1 November 2014. Gayle and Simone depart for Canada a month later on 1 December 2014. Gayle's FTB entitlement for Jessica reduces to the base rate 6 weeks after Jessica's departure and will cease 56 weeks later on 28 November 2015. Gayle's FTB entitlement for Simone reduces to the base rate 6 week after her departure and will cease 56 weeks later on 28 December 2015.

If the child leaves Australia temporarily for up to 56 week, entitlement to CCB may continue until the child returns noting that CCB is only payable for child care provided in Australia.

Act reference: FAAct section 24 Effect of certain absences of FTB child etc. from Australia, section 63A Secretary may extend 6 week period of absence from Australia, section 24(7) Extension of 56 week period in certain circumstances

Individual overseas prior to having an FTB child

If an individual is absent from Australia for more than 6 weeks but less than 56 weeks and is not eligible for FTB at that time, becomes eligible for FTB upon returning to Australia, and then leaves again less than 6 weeks after returning, the 56 week absence period applies from the first day of the initial departure.

Explanation: If the initial absence is more than 6 weeks but less than 56 week and the time in Australia between absences is less than 6 weeks the individual is taken to not have returned to Australia regardless of whether they had been eligible for FTB on the initial departure.

Note: An FTB applicant who has previously been temporarily absent from Australia need not have been eligible for FTB during that absence for the 56 week absence to apply from the first day of that absence.

Act reference: FAAct section 24(5) If an individual who has been absent from Australia…

When is an absence temporary?

The individual must intend that they or their FTB child or regular care child will return to Australia for the absence to be regarded as temporary. Whether an absence will be temporary may be apparent from the purpose of the overseas absence. The reason for the absence should be consistent with the intended duration.

The following factors should also be considered:

  • commitment to any overseas home, and
  • evidence of continuing ties with Australia such as:
    • retaining a home, bank account or employment in Australia,
    • whether the person has immediate or extended family still living in Australia, and
    • the length of residence in Australia before departure.

Example: Bruno and Pina are Australian citizens. Pina is receiving FTB for their children. Bruno has a good job, and they own their own home in Australia, as well as 2 units that they rent out. The family has visited Italy once for a short holiday to visit relatives since they migrated to Australia. Pina's parent in Italy becomes terminally ill, so the family decides to return to Italy to spend time with Pina's parent. Bruno takes long service leave from his job, but he returns to Australia after 3 months. Pina and the children remain in Italy, living with relatives. Pina states that the absence is temporary, as she will return to Australia after her parent's funeral. Pina and the children continue to be Australian residents. Their family home is in Australia, and Bruno has already returned to Australia. Their investment properties are in Australia. If Pina is overseas for more than 6 weeks, her rate of FTB will be affected, however she will continue to be eligible for FTB for up to 56 weeks.

Absence is not temporary

If the absence is not temporary, eligibility does not continue. If the individual is going overseas permanently, FTB is cancelled from the date of departure. If the FTB or regular care child is going overseas permanently, they cease to be an FTB or regular care child from the date of departure and the individual's FTB must be reassessed.

Example: Joan receives FTB for her 3 children. Joan and her partner Lloyd own their home in Australia. They originally migrated from England, and their extended family live in England and Scotland. Lloyd is offered a 1 year contract of employment in England. Joan notifies Centrelink that she and the children will accompany Lloyd to England. Joan and Lloyd sell their house and furniture before they leave for England. They do not purchase return tickets for their trip. Even though the term of Lloyd's employment is only 1 year, they cease to be Australian residents. They have ended their financial ties with Australia and have no personal ties. The fact that they are returning to their original homeland with personal, employment and financial ties there indicates that they do not intend to reside permanently in Australia.

Temporary absence becomes permanent

If the absence is initially regarded as temporary, but the individual advises that the absence has become permanent, FTB must be reassessed from the date the individual becomes aware that the absence is permanent.

Example: Sally is a sole parent who receives FTB for her child. She travels overseas for a 1 month holiday in the USA, and her FTB continues as the absence is temporary. However, while she is overseas she meets someone and decides to get married and live in the USA. She notifies Centrelink once she makes the decision not to return to Australia. Her eligibility to FTB ceases from the date that she makes her decision.

Individual employed overseas

The same provisions apply to all individuals, including those who are:

  • missionaries,
  • foreign aid projects personnel,
  • members of the defence forces who are posted overseas, and
  • Australian Government employees who are posted overseas.

If a person travels to Australia to train as a missionary before being posted overseas, payment of FTB during their posting can only be granted if:

  • the residence requirements have been met, and
  • Centrelink is satisfied that the person intends to return to Australia rather than their country of origin.

This may be determined by:

  • the nature of property and assets held in Australia and/or the country of origin, and
  • establishing to which country the person has the greater commitment.

While members of the defence forces are generally subject to these provisions, members of the defence forces who are deployed overseas may be able to apply for extensions to the 56 week eligibility rule and/or 6 week rate rule, see Extensions to the 56 week portability period and 3.1.1.50.

Last reviewed: 1 July 2016