The Guides to Social Policy Law is a collection of publications designed to assist decision makers administering social policy law. The information contained in this publication is intended only as a guide to relevant legislation/policy. The information is accurate as at the date listed at the bottom of the page, but may be subject to change. To discuss individual circumstances please contact Services Australia.

1.5.1 Australia's international maintenance arrangements


Arrangements commenced on 1 July 2000 that increased Australia's ability to give effect to its international obligations in relation to maintenance obligations arising from family relationship, parentage or marriage. The arrangements facilitated a change from court-based processes for overseas maintenance cases to predominantly administrative arrangements, and transferred responsibility for most child support matters to the Registrar.

From 1 July 2000, the arrangements modified the operation of the CSA Act and the CSRC Act for cases where 1 parent resides abroad in a reciprocating jurisdiction while the other parent resides in Australia. The modifications were originally contained in regulations for both Acts but have since been incorporated into the primary legislation with effect from 19 July 2007.

The arrangements apply when the child lives with a parent in Australia and also when the child lives with a parent in a reciprocating jurisdiction.

Act references

CSA Act section 29B

CSRC Act section 25, section 30A

CSA Regs section 8

CSRC Regs Schedule 2

Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act section 51

On this page

Summary of the arrangements

The Registrar can:

  • make and continue a child support assessment where the payer resides overseas in a reciprocating jurisdiction, provided that the other parent is a resident of Australia
  • accept an application for assessment from a payee or payer overseas when transmitted through the overseas central authority
  • accept an application for assessment from an overseas central authority applying on behalf of a payee in a reciprocating jurisdiction
  • accept an application for assessment made directly by the payer who is a resident of a reciprocating jurisdiction
  • register and enforce an overseas maintenance assessment
  • register and enforce an overseas maintenance order
  • register and enforce an overseas 'agency reimbursement liability' (3.6.1)
  • register and enforce an overseas maintenance agreement
  • register and enforce arrears that have accumulated under an overseas maintenance liability
  • transmit a request for enforcement of a registered maintenance liability to a reciprocating jurisdiction, either upon application by the payee or at the Registrar's initiative
  • transmit an application for review/variation of a liability made in an overseas country, and
  • assist overseas authorities with location and service requests for parents in Australia.

Reciprocating jurisdictions

Reciprocating jurisdictions are listed in Schedule 2 of the CSRC Regs.

A to G H to N P to Z
Albania Haiti Pakistan
Algeria Holy See, The Papua New Guinea*
Andorra Hong Kong Philippines
Argentina Hungary Poland
Austria India Portugal
Barbados Ireland Republic of North Macedonia
Belarus Israel* Romania
Belgium Italy Samoa*
Bosnia and Herzegovina Kazakhstan Serbia
Brazil Kenya Seychelles
Brunei Darussalam* Kyrgyzstan Sierra Leone
Burkina Faso Liberia Singapore
Canada, the following Provinces and Territories: Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Northwest Territories, Nova Scotia, Nunavut, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Saskatchewan, Yukon* Lithuania Slovakia
Cape Verde Luxembourg Slovenia
Central African Republic Malawi South Africa
Chile Malaysia Spain
Colombia Malta Sri Lanka
Cook Islands* Mexico Suriname
Croatia Moldova Sweden
Cyprus Monaco Switzerland
Czech Republic Montenegro Tanzania (excluding Zanzibar)
Denmark Morocco Trinidad and Tobago
Ecuador Nauru Tunisia
Estonia Netherlands Turkey
Fiji New Zealand Ukraine
Finland Niger United Kingdom (including Alderney, Gibraltar, Guernsey, Isle of Man, Jersey and Sark)
France Niue* United States of America
Germany Norway Uruguay
Greece - Zambia
Guatemala - Zimbabwe

*These are excluded jurisdictions for the purposes of making or continuing a child support assessment where the payee is in Australia but the payer resides in that jurisdiction. A court order under the FL Act is still required.

Overseas authority/central authority

An overseas authority is the judicial or administrative authority in each reciprocating jurisdiction responsible for implementing an overseas agreement or arrangement with Australia for maintenance obligations.

The Registrar is the central authority in Australia for most overseas child support and spousal maintenance matters.

Actions that may be taken by an overseas authority of a reciprocating jurisdiction

An overseas authority can give an application for an administrative assessment of child support to the Registrar and, in some circumstances, can apply for an assessment on behalf of a person. See 2.1.1 for more information.

If an overseas authority gives an application to the Registrar or makes an application on behalf of a person, the overseas authority may take certain prescribed actions for the person.

If an overseas authority gives an application to the Registrar, the overseas authority may take the prescribed actions with the person's consent (CSA Act section 29B(3)).

If an overseas authority makes an application on behalf of a person, the overseas authority may take the prescribed actions without the person's consent (CSA Act section 29B(2)).

Prescribed actions

The following actions are prescribed by CSA Regs section 8:

  • making an election of any kind under the CSA Act
  • applying to the Registrar for a change of assessment
  • filing an application for leave to appeal to a court
  • appealing against a decision to a court
  • applying to court for a departure order
  • lodging an objection to a decision
  • applying to the AAT for review of a decision, and
  • appealing a decision of the AAT.

Frequently asked questions

What assistance does Services Australia provide for parents where the liability is administered overseas?

The Registrar provides assistance to the relevant overseas authority as required (e.g. parent location, service of notices, and collecting the liability). The Registrar will direct enquiries about the administrative issues for an overseas liability to the overseas authority that issued the liability. The Registrar can also assist an Australian parent by transmitting any notifications or objections.

Why are some reciprocating jurisdictions treated differently?

The Registrar cannot make or continue a child support assessment payable by a payer in Brunei Darussalam, Cook Islands, Israel, Niue, Papua New Guinea, the Yukon Territory of Canada and Samoa (previously Western Samoa) despite these countries being reciprocating jurisdictions. These countries have formally advised that under their laws, they can only commence maintenance proceedings on the basis of a court order.

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