3.1.1.50 FTB Payments During Absence from Australia before 1 July 2016

Note: From 1 July 2016, FTB portability reduced from 56 weeks to 6 weeks. 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. All subsequent trips will be subject to the 6 week portability rules.

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

Summary

This topic provides information about the rate of FTB payable when an individual or their FTB child or regular care child leaves Australia (1.1.A.120) before 1 July 2016 and includes the following:

  • eligibility and entitlement,
  • FTB payments cease after leaving Australia permanently,
  • FTB rate during temporary absences from Australia,
  • individual and FTB child both overseas,
  • absent overseas child - FTB child,
  • absent overseas child - regular care child,
  • absent overseas individual,
  • child absence - effect of temporary absence on FTB rate,
  • individual absence - effect of temporary absence on FTB rate,
  • effect of prior absence overseas on FTB entitlement,
  • RA when an individual leaves Australia,
  • effect of certain temporary visa categories on temporary absences,
  • extensions in certain circumstances, and
  • international social security agreements.

This topic discusses the rate of FTB payable during a temporary absence. The effect of a temporary absence on FTB eligibility is discussed in Temporary Absence from Australia before 1 July 2016 (2.1.2.30).

Eligibility & entitlement

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

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

There are other events that may impact FTB eligibility and entitlement while an FTB individual is overseas but the examples in this topic only refer to impacts relating to absence from Australia.

FTB payments cease after leaving Australia permanently

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

Policy reference: FA Guide 2.1.2.10 Residence Requirements

FTB rate during temporary absences from Australia

The rate of FTB Part A and FTB Part B may be affected when the FTB child and/or the individual leave/s Australia temporarily.

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

An individual may be able to continue to be paid an above base rate amount of FTB Part A (except ES) and FTB Part B if they are granted an extension to the 6 week return rule for rates, before the end of that 6 week period.

Individual & FTB child both overseas

Where the individual and the FTB child are both overseas, the 6 week restrictions on entitlement in respect of the individual and FTB child as described in the tables below need to be considered together. Where the individual and FTB child have different departure dates, the 6 week period for the individual in respect of all their FTB children and the 6 week period in respect of the FTB child expire at different times. This means that where the individual is absent overseas before either the FTB child departs overseas or is born overseas, the restriction on the individual's entitlement should have an effect on the entitlement in respect of the FTB child.

Example: Carmel receives FTB for John and Paul. She leaves Australia with John to visit relatives in Ireland. Paul joins his family 3 weeks later. The higher rate of FTB Part A for both children and FTB Part B cease at the end of 6 weeks commencing from Carmel's departure date even though Paul has been absent from Australia for only 3 weeks.

Absent overseas child - FTB child

An FTB child is an 'absent overseas FTB child' if the following applies:

  • an FTB child leaves Australia, or
  • a child born outside Australia is an FTB child at birth, and
  • the child continues to be absent from Australia for more than 6 weeks, and
  • at the end of the 6 week period beginning on the first day of the child's absence, the child is an FTB child.

The child is an absent overseas FTB child for any period that occurs:

  • during the absence from Australia, and
  • beginning on the first day after the end of the 6 weeks of the child's absence, and
  • during the period in which the child continues to be an FTB child.

If an absent overseas FTB child returns to Australia but leaves again after less than 6 weeks they are still considered to be an absent overseas FTB child.

Absent overseas child - regular care child

A child is an 'absent overseas regular care child' if any of the following applies:

  • a regular care child leaves Australia, or
  • a child born outside Australia is a regular care child at birth, and
  • the child continues to be absent from Australia for more than 6 weeks, and
  • at the end of the 6 week period beginning on the first day of the child's absence, the child is a regular care child.

The child is an absent overseas regular care child for any period that occurs:

  • during the absence from Australia, and
  • beginning on the first day after the end of the 6 weeks of the child's absence, and
  • during the period in which the child continues to be a regular care child.

If an absent overseas regular care child returns to Australia but leaves again after less than 6 weeks, they are still considered to be an absent overseas regular care child.

Absent overseas individual

An individual is an 'absent overseas recipient':

  • during any absence from Australia, and
  • after the end of the period of 6 weeks beginning on the first day of that absence.

If an absent overseas individual returns to Australia but leaves again after less than 6 weeks, they are still considered to be absent overseas.

Act reference: FAAct section 62 Effect on individual's rate of the individual's absence from Australia, section 63 Effect on FTB rate of FTB child's absence from Australia, section 63AA Regular care child's absence from Australia-meaning of absent overseas regular care child, section 63A Secretary may extend 6 week period of absence from Australia

FA(Admin)Act section 25 Obligation to notify change of circumstances

Policy reference: FA Guide 3.1.1.50 FTB Payments During Absence from Australia

Child absence - effect of temporary absence on FTB rate

The following table explains the rate of FTB payment to be applied for an FTB child where the FTB child is temporarily absent from Australia with a departure date prior to 1 July 2016. This table does not include ES as it is only payable for the first 6 weeks of a temporary absence from Australia.

If the child… Then…
  • leaves Australia, or
  • is born outside of Australia and is an FTB child at birth,
  • for the first 6 weeks of the absence FTB Part A in respect of the child is payable at greater than the base FTB child rate and FTB Part B is paid in respect of the child.

Note: The absence commences on the day of the child's departure or the day of their birth if born outside Australia.

  • after 6 weeks absence, FTB Part A is only payable at the base rate in respect of the child and FTB Part B is not payable in respect of the child.

Note: FTB Part A is no longer payable after 56 weeks of absence because the child ceases to be an FTB child. Payment may cease earlier if there is evidence the child has left Australia permanently.

  • is absent from Australia for more than 6 weeks but less than 56 weeks,
  • FTB Part A at greater than the base FTB child rate and FTB Part B for that child is payable for the first 6 weeks of an absence commencing on the day of departure, and
  • after 6 weeks of absence the rate of FTB Part A payable is the base rate only, and FTB Part B is no longer payable for that child, and
  • upon returning to Australia, the FTB child is eligible for an above base rate of FTB Part A and FTB Part B.
  • is absent from Australia for less than 6 weeks,
  • returns to Australia, and
  • leaves after less than 6 weeks,
  • while the child is in Australia and for the first 6 weeks of the later absence FTB Part A is payable in respect of the child at greater than the base FTB child rate and FTB Part B is paid in respect of the child,
  • a new 56 week period commences from the day of the later departure.

Note: The FTB child is not an absent overseas FTB child if absent from Australia for less than 6 weeks or the Secretary has granted an extension under FAAct section 63A.

  • is absent from Australia for more than 6 weeks but less than 56 weeks,
  • returns to Australia and
  • leaves after less than 6 weeks,
  • a rate of FTB Part A greater than the base FTB child rate and FTB Part B can be paid for the first 6 weeks of the initial temporary absence,
  • the child then becomes eligible for the base rate of FTB Part A until their return to Australia,
  • the child is payable for a rate of FTB Part A greater than the base rate and FTB Part B when they return to Australia,
  • because the child returns to Australia for less than 6 weeks they continue to be considered an absent overseas FTB child,
  • they continue to be eligible only for the base rate of FTB Part A from their subsequent departure,
  • the child's return to Australia does not affect the 56 week period, which applied from the first day of the initial absence. This is because the child returned to Australia for less than 6 weeks before they went back overseas.
  • is absent for more than 6 weeks but less than 56 weeks,
  • returns to Australia and
  • leaves after more than 6 weeks,
  • a rate of FTB Part A greater than the base FTB child rate and FTB Part B are payable for the first 6 weeks,
  • only the base FTB child rate is payable after 6 weeks, no FTB Part B is payable,
  • because the child returns to Australia for at least 6 weeks they are no longer considered to be an absent overseas FTB child. This means that FTB Part A is payable at greater than the base FTB child rate in respect of the child and FTB Part B can be paid in respect of the child from their date of arrival, and for the first 6 weeks of their subsequent departure.

Note: As the child stayed in Australia for more than 6 weeks a new 56 week period commences from the day of the later departure.

  • is absent from Australia for more than 56 weeks,
  • returns to Australia, and
  • leaves after less than 6 weeks,
  • FTB Part A ceases to be payable in respect of the child after 56 weeks,
  • a rate of FTB Part A greater than the base FTB child rate and FTB Part B can be paid in respect of the child during their return,
  • they are not eligible for FTB Part A or FTB Part B in respect of the child at any time during the later absence.

Note: The 56 week period does not recommence as the child returned for less than 6 weeks.

Act reference: FAAct section 24(1) to (3) Absence from Australia of FTB or regular care child, section 63 Effect on FTB rate of FTB child's absence from Australia, section 63A Secretary may extend 6 week period of absence from Australia

Individual absence - effect of temporary absence on FTB rate

The following table explains the rate of FTB payment where an individual is temporarily absent from Australia with a departure date prior to 1 July 2016. This table does not include ES as it is only payable for the first 6 weeks of a temporary absence from Australia.

If an individual… Then…
  • leaves Australia temporarily,
  • for the first 6 weeks of an absence commencing on the day of departure FTB Part A at greater than the base rate and FTB Part B are payable,
  • after 6 weeks of the absence FTB Part A at base rate only is payable, FTB Part B is not payable.

Note: FTB Part A ceases after 56 weeks absence. Payment may cease earlier if evidence indicates absence is not temporary.

  • is absent for less than 6 weeks,
  • returns to Australia, and
  • leaves after less than 6 weeks,
  • for the initial absence, while the individual is in Australia and for the first 6 weeks of the later absence FTB Part A at greater than the base FTB child rate and FTB Part B are payable.

Note: A new 56 week period recommences from the day of the later departure.

  • is eligible for FTB while absent from Australia and is absent for more than 6 weeks but less than 56 weeks,
  • returns to Australia, and
  • leaves after less than 6 weeks,
  • for the first 6 weeks of initial absence, a rate of FTB Part A greater than the base rate and FTB Part B are payable,
  • from the day of the later departure from Australia only the base rate of FTB Part A is payable,
  • the individual's return to Australia does not affect the 56 week period. That is, the 56 week period does not recommence as the individual stayed in Australia for less than 6 weeks.
  • is absent for more than 6 weeks but less than 56 weeks,
  • returns to Australia, and
  • leaves after more than 6 weeks,
  • for the first 6 weeks of each absence, and while they are in Australia, a rate of FTB Part A greater than the base rate and FTB Part B are payable.

Note: As the individual stayed in Australia for more than 6 weeks a new 56 week period commences from the day of the later departure.

  • is eligible for FTB while absent from Australia and is then absent from Australia for more than 56 weeks,
  • returns to Australia, and
  • leaves after less than 6 weeks,
  • FTB Part A ceases to be payable to the individual after 56 weeks,
  • a rate of FTB Part A greater than the base FTB child rate and FTB Part B can be paid while the individual is back in Australia,
  • they are not eligible for FTB at any time during the later absence.

Note: The 56 week period does not recommence as the individual stayed in Australia for less than 6 weeks.

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 child.

  • the period of the absence prior to eligibility commencing has an effect on eligibility and entitlement,
  • an individual is considered absent overseas after any 6 week absence from Australia,
  • there is no eligibility for FTB after 56 weeks, commencing from the day of the departure, and
  • FTB Part A at greater than the base FTB child rate and FTB Part B are payable for the balance (if any) of the 6 week period that commenced from the day of the departure,
  • the FTB Part A base rate is paid after 6 weeks.

Example: Monique leaves Australia temporarily to travel overseas. She gives birth to her first child 2 weeks after her departure and claims FTB. She is eligible for the higher rate of FTB Part A and FTB Part B for the remaining 4 weeks of the 6 week period immediately following her departure. After this period, she can receive FTB Part A at the base rate for up to 56 weeks from her date of 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,
  • FTB Part A at greater than the base FTB child rate and FTB Part B are payable for the period when the individual is back in Australia.
  • the individual's return to Australia does not affect the 56 week eligibility period, which commenced from the day of the initial departure, as they stayed for less than 6 weeks.
  • FTB ceases to be payable when the 56 week period expires, and
  • 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.

Example: Sharon was temporarily absent from Australia and living in Germany for 41 weeks. Two weeks after returning to Australia, her first child was born. When the child was 3 weeks old Sharon went 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 for any FTB because she no longer satisfies the residence requirements.

  • is eligible for FTB during a temporary absence,
  • ceases to be eligible for FTB because the temporary absence becomes permanent,
  • returns to Australia temporarily, 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 eligible for FTB while absent from Australia,
  • stopped being eligible for FTB while absent from Australia because of the application of the 56 week rule,
  • returns to Australia,
  • becomes eligible for FTB, and
  • leaves Australia temporarily less than 6 weeks later,
  • FTB Part A at greater than the base FTB child rate and FTB Part B are payable while the individual is in Australia.
  • the individual is not eligible for any FTB while overseas - they continue to be regarded absent overseas because they have not remained in Australia for at least 6 weeks.
  • arrives in Australia for the first time,
  • was never eligible for FTB while residing overseas,
  • becomes eligible for FTB, and
  • leaves Australia temporarily less than 6 weeks later,
  • FTB Part A at greater than the base FTB child rate and FTB Part B are payable while the individual is in Australia.
  • FTB Part A at greater than the base rate, and FTB Part B are payable for the first 6 weeks from the date of departure.
  • after 6 weeks, the individual is considered absent overseas and is eligible for the base rate of FTB Part A until the individual has been absent for 56 weeks from the date of departure, after which time FTB eligibility ceases.
  • 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 Australia temporarily more than 6 weeks later,
  • FTB Part A at greater than the base FTB child rate and FTB Part B are payable while the individual is in Australia.
  • FTB Part A at greater than the base rate, and FTB Part B are payable for the first 6 weeks from the date of the later departure.
  • after 6 weeks, the individual is considered absent overseas and is eligible for the base rate of FTB Part A until the individual has been absent for up to 56 weeks from the date of the later departure, after which time FTB eligibility ceases.

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, section 63A Secretary may extend 6 week period of absence from Australia

RA during overseas absence

If FTB Part A is paid at greater than the base FTB child rate during an individual's temporary absence from Australia for up to 6 weeks, then RA may still be included in the rate of FTB Part A.

RA is only payable for accommodation:

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

If FTB Part A is paid at greater than the base FTB child rate during a child's temporary absence from Australia for up to 6 weeks, 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 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.

The Secretary may also extend this period under FAAct section 63A (see '6 week period may be extended').

Act reference: FAAct Section 63A Secretary may extend 6 week period of absence…, section 21(1A) When an individual is eligible for family tax benefit in normal circumstances

SSAct section 729(2)(f)(v) Qualification for special benefit, Part 4.2 Overseas Portability

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

Extensions in certain circumstances

The 6 week period for payment of FTB Part A at more than the base rate, FTB Part B and RA may be extended in certain circumstances where the person is prevented from returning to Australia immediately but would otherwise remain eligible.

FTB Part A can also be extended beyond 56 weeks at the base rate for up to 3 years. This applies both to absences of the FTB child and the individual. However, for ES purposes, an absent overseas individual and an FTB child who is approved for an extended period would be precluded from entitlement to ES Part A and ES Part B.

The circumstances in which the Secretary may approve an extension include:

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 56 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.

If the 6 week period is extended by the Secretary the individual and/or FTB child are not considered to be an absent overseas FTB recipient and/or absent overseas FTB child and/or absent overseas regular care child during a temporary absence until the end of that extension. This allows the individual or FTB child to attract the above base rate of FTB Part A and FTB Part B for a temporary absence of more than 6 weeks, until the end date of the extension.

If the individual and/or child returns to Australia during their extension period and then leave Australia again less than 6 weeks after returning to Australia, the return provisions do not apply in determining their rate of FTB. A new 6 week absent overseas count restarts from their second departure date.

Example: Peter and his FTB child Alex go overseas for a 4 week holiday. Alex becomes ill while overseas and in week 4 of their holiday is admitted into hospital for what looks likely to be 6 weeks. Peter advises Centrelink that they must remain overseas and applies for an extension to their 6 week period. This is granted by the Secretary for another 4 weeks. Alex is released from hospital and Alex and Peter return to Australia during their extension period. Peter and Alex then return overseas 5 weeks later as Peter's mother is ill. As they returned to Australia within the extended period, they should not be considered to have been absent overseas. This means they will receive more than the base rate of FTB for the first 6 weeks of their second departure. Peter will be 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 his initial departure, Peter is not eligible for any FTB because he no longer satisfies the residency requirements.

Where the Secretary extends FTB Part A after the initial 6 week period, and the individual/child return to Australia, the return provisions do apply.

Example: Romy and her FTB child Ben go overseas on a work placement. The rate of FTB Part B cancels after week 6 and FTB Part A drops to base rate. While overseas, a natural disaster occurs in week 55 and they are unable to leave.

Romy advises Centrelink that they must remain overseas and applies for an extension to their 56 week period. This is granted by the Secretary for another 4 weeks. Romy and Ben return to Australia during their extension period. Romy decides to return overseas 5 weeks later to assist with the recovery effort. As their extension was granted following the 6 week period they were initially considered to have been absent overseas and as they were overseas past 56 weeks, their portability period has expired. This means that Romy will have her FTB cancelled from her second departure.

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

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 Social Security Act 1991.

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