2.1.2.40 FTB Portability from 1 July 2016

Note: From 1 July 2016, FTB portability was reduced from 56 weeks to 6 weeks. The 6 week portability rules apply to all affected individuals in receipt of FTB and children who travel on or after 1 July 2016. People who are overseas prior to 1 July 2016 retain the previous 56 weeks portability arrangements (or part thereof remaining) until they return to Australia, for 6 weeks or more (3.1.1.50). All subsequent trips will be subject to the 6 week portability rules.

For 56 week FTB portability refer to 3.1.1.50 and 2.1.2.30.

Summary

This topic provides information about the payability of FTB when an individual or their FTB child or regular care child leaves Australia (1.1.A.120) on or after 1 July 2016 and covers the following:

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 6 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

From 1 July 2016, FTB Part A and Part B are generally payable overseas for up to 6 weeks (portability). If the individual or FTB child is overseas for more than 6 weeks, FTB will be stopped. If the individual or FTB child return to Australia within 13 weeks of their payment being stopped, their payment can be recommenced without the need for a new claim. They will not be entitled to be paid for any days they are absent in excess of the allowable portability period.

However, if the person or FTB child remains overseas and does not return within 13 weeks of their payments being stopped, then their FTB payments will be cancelled and they will need to reapply on return to Australia.

Note: CCB eligibility is linked with FTB eligibility and therefore the same temporary absence from Australia provisions apply. Entitlement to CCB may continue for any temporary absence, for up to 6 weeks, however, the child care must be provided in Australia.

In certain circumstances the FTB 6 week portability period can be extended for up to 3 years for a temporary absence from Australia. Extensions in certain circumstances also apply to CCB. If the individual was receiving RA this may also be paid under this extension.

ES Part A and Part B can only be paid overseas for up to 6 weeks.

Individuals receiving FTB by instalments must notify Centrelink if they, and/or their child/ren intend to leave Australia, if this might affect their entitlement. They must also notify Centrelink upon their return to Australia. Details of the trip must be obtained by Centrelink to assess ongoing eligibility.

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:

  • be an Australian resident (1.1.A.130), or
  • live with the individual.

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' 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

From 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 for up to 6 weeks. In certain circumstances, individuals can apply for an extension to the 6 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:

  • is born outside of Australia and is an FTB or regular care child at birth, and
  • is absent for more than 6 weeks (or extension end date),
  • the child ceases to be an FTB or regular care child on the day after the 6 week portability period (or extension end date) beginning on the DOB.

FTB or regular care child or individual:

  • leaves Australia, and
  • is absent for more than 6 weeks (or extension end date),
  • the child or individual ceases to be eligible for FTB on the day after the 6 week portability 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 less than 6 weeks,
  • returns to Australia, and
  • leaves after less than 6 weeks,
  • while the child or individual is in Australia FTB is payable, and a new 6 week period commences from the day of the later departure.

FTB child or individual:

  • was eligible for FTB, and
  • ceases to be eligible because of an absence of 6 weeks (or extension end date) or more, and
  • returns to Australia, and
  • leaves after less than 6 weeks,
  • while the child or individual is in Australia FTB is payable
  • the child or individual is taken not to have returned to Australia and will cease to be eligible from the day of the later departure .

FTB child, regular care child or individual:

  • is absent from Australia for more than 6 weeks (or extension end date), and
  • returns to Australia, and
  • leaves after more than 6 weeks,
  • the child or individual is eligible for a new 6 week portability period.

Example: Amanda is receiving FTB for her 2 children. She travels overseas on a 2 month temporary work placement and her children accompany her. After 6 weeks overseas Amanda's FTB payment stops. Three weeks later Amanda returns to Australia. Centrelink automatically recommences her FTB payments without the need to reclaim. After 5 weeks in Australia Amanda leaves Australia again to take up a job in Singapore. Amanda's FTB payments stop on departure from Australia as she had not returned to Australia for 6 weeks or more.

Example: Kym and Ben have an FTB child, Olivia, for whom Kym receives FTB and CCB payments. Kym has to work overseas for more than 6 weeks so her FTB and CCB stop after 6 weeks. Ben and Olivia remain in Australia. If Kym returns to Australia within 13 weeks of her payments being stopped, her FTB and CCB payments can recommence without having to reclaim. However, Kym will not be entitled to be paid FTB or CCB for any days she was absent in excess of the allowable portability period of 6 weeks. Alternatively, because Olivia is still attending child care in Australia, FTB and CCB for Olivia could be paid to Ben for the full duration of Kym's absence if he applies for FTB and CCB and Olivia is in his care in Australia.

Act reference: FAAct section 24(1) to (3) Absence from Australia of FTB or regular care child

Effect of prior absence overseas on FTB

The following table explains the FTB portability rules that apply for a prior overseas absence.

If an individual... Then...
  • becomes eligible for FTB during a 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 for the individual after 6 weeks, commencing from the day of the departure, even though the child is an FTB child up to 6 weeks from birth.
  • 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 residence requirements are not satisfied), or upon leaving the country again.
  • was absent from Australia for more than 6 weeks,
  • was not eligible for FTB while absent from Australia,
  • returns to Australia,
  • becomes eligible for FTB, and
  • leaves Australia again either before or after 6 weeks of returning,
  • the individual's FTB is portable for up to 6 weeks from the second departure.

Example: 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 and Part B for the first 4 weeks after her child's birth. FTB payments stop for Monique at the end of the 6 weeks (or extension end date) from her date of departure.

Act reference: FAAct section 24(4) to (6) Maximum period of eligibility for FTB while individual overseas

RA during overseas absence

If FTB is paid during an individual's temporary absence from Australia for up to 6 weeks, (or for an approved extension), then RA may still be paid with FTB.

RA is only payable for accommodation:

  • rented in Australia before departure, and
  • continuing to be rented by the individual while overseas.

If FTB is paid during a child's temporary absence from Australia for up to 6 weeks, (or for an approved extension), then the child is still a RA child in calculating the amount of RA payable.

Act reference: FAAct Schedule 1 Part 5 Division 2B Subdivision A Rent assistance

Policy reference: FA Guide 2.1.2.30 Temporary Absence from Australia before 1 July 2016

Effect of certain temporary visa categories on temporary absences

An individual who has qualified for FTB, due to satisfying the SpB eligibility criteria, as they are the holder of an eligible temporary visa made under SSAct section 729(2)(f)(v) can only be paid FTB for up to 6 weeks of any temporary absence, and only if the absence is for:

  • an acute family crisis (e.g. to visit an immediate family member who is critically ill),
  • for humanitarian reasons (e.g. to adopt a child or attend custody proceedings), or
  • eligible medical treatment that is not available in Australia.

The individual must provide evidence of the need to travel overseas.

Act reference: FAAct Section 21(1A) When an individual is eligible for FTB in normal circumstances

SSAct section 729(2)(f)(v) Qualification for SpB, Part 4.2 Overseas portability

Extensions to the 6 week portability period

The Secretary may grant an extension to the 6 week portability period, up to a period of no more than 3 years in certain circumstances. FTB payments may be paid overseas for more than 6 weeks in the following circumstances:

Events that prevent the individual or child from returning to Australia
  • 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 Programme The Secretary may grant an extension to the 6 week portability period, to a period of no more than 3 years, if financial assistance is payable under the Medical Treatment Overseas Programme for an individual or FTB child.
Deployments

The Secretary may grant an extension to 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.

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

Child born overseas

An individual 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 an individual returns to Australia without the child, they may still be eligible for a payment if the child is still considered to be in their care. 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.

Example: Sarah and Kate are a couple who leave Australia temporarily for 3 weeks. One week 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, she may be eligible for FTB from the baby's birth for the remainder of the 6 weeks after Sarah's departure from Australia.

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 portability 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 6 week period expires simultaneously. Where the individual and the child have different departure dates, the 6 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 2016. Gayle and Simone depart for Canada a month later on 1 December 2016. Gayle's FTB payments for Jessica stop 6 weeks after Jessica's departure. Gayle's FTB payments for Simone stop 6 weeks after they depart Australia.

If the child leaves Australia temporarily for up to 6 weeks or less, CCB may continue to be payable 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 24(7) Extension of 6 week period in certain circumstances

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 leave from his job, but he returns to Australia after 4 weeks. 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 she will be eligible for FTB for up to 6 weeks or for a longer period if she meets the requirements for an extension.

Absence is not temporary

FTB payments cease if an individual or FTB child leaves Australia permanently, as they are no longer considered Australian residents (1.1.A.130) for FTB purposes.

If the absence is permanent, 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.

Policy reference: FA Guide 2.1.2.10 Residence Requirements

Individuals 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 an extension to the 6 week portability rule.

Note: This provision applies to deployments only, not overseas postings.

International social security agreements

FTB is not included under international social security agreements. Instead, from 1 July 2000, 'additional child amount' is in the portability (1.1.P.90) rate calculator of the SSAct.

The additional child amount is a fixed amount based on the family allowance and guardian allowance rates applicable at 30 June 2000. The payment is indexed in January each year according to the family allowance indexation rules. These indexation rules continue to apply after 1 July 2000 and only apply to this payment.

Act reference:SS(IntAgree)Act section 13 Overall calculation process

Last reviewed: 1 July 2016