3.1.1.20 Residence in External Territories

External territories

Periods of residence in external territories (1.1.E.230) count toward periods of residence for Age, DSP, WidB and BVA. Residence in Australia is NOT interrupted by periods of residence in an external territory.

From 1 July 2016, Norfolk Island ceased to be an external territory for the purposes of social security law. Past periods of residence in the Territory of Norfolk Island can be counted towards periods of residence in Australia for all payments with qualifying residence requirements, newly arrived resident waiting periods and AWLR.

Example: A person:

  • resides in Australia from 1 June 1964,
  • left Australia to reside in the Territory of Norfolk Island on 1 July 1968,
  • returned to Australia on 1 July 1970, and
  • left Australia to reside in the Territory of Norfolk Island on 1 July 1971.

This person is considered to have 7 years and one month Australian residence. This is calculated as follows:

Place of residence Dates Australian residence
Australia 1 June 1964 to 1 July 1968 4 years, 1 month
Norfolk Island 1 July 1968 to 1 July 1970 2 years
Australia 1 July 1970 to 1 July 1971 1 year
  TOTAL RESIDENCE: 7 years, 1 month

Act reference: SSAct section 7(4) For the purposes of:…

Previous external territories

Previously there were other external territories of Australia. The following table lists the territory and the period during which they were considered to be an external territory.

Territory Dates
Papua 1 September 1906 - 16 September 1975
New Guinea 9 May 1921 - 16 September 1975
Nauru 17 December 1920 - 31 December 1968

Residence in these territories during the period when they were considered to be external territories of Australia counts towards periods of Australian residence only for Age, DSP, WidB and BVA. Residence in external territories cannot be used indiscriminately for any social security payment.

Example: A person:

  • was born in Australia on 1 March 1928,
  • left Australia to reside in a non-external territory or non-agreement country on 1 March 1931,
  • resided in Papua from 1 July 1953,
  • returned to Australia to reside permanently on 1 February 1993, and
  • lodges a claim for Age at age 65 on 1 March 1993.

This person is considered to have 25 years, 3 months and 16 days residence in Australia for Age. This is calculated as follows:

Place of residence Date Australian residence
Australia 1 March 1928 to 1 March 1931 3 years
Non-external territory or non-agreement country 1 March 1931 to 1 July 1953 Not counted as Australian residence
Papua 1 July 1953 to 16 September 1975 22 years, 2 months, 16 days
Papua 16 September 1975 to 1 February 1993 Not counted as Australian residence
Australia 1 February 1993 to 1 March 1993 1 month
  TOTAL RESIDENCE 25 years, 3 months, 16 days

This person therefore has 10 years qualifying residence for Age.

Papua New Guinea pensions

If a pension was, immediately before 16 September 1975, payable to a person in Papua New Guinea under Social Services Act (No.2) 1973 section 14, the pension continues to be payable to the person as if the Papua New Guinea area formed part of Australia. However, the pension will be payable only if the person remains in the Papua New Guinea area. In the event the person leaves the Papua New Guinea area, other than to come to Australia, the person would be deemed to have left Australia for purposes of calculating residence.

Residence ONLY in an external territory

If a person has previous residence in an external territory, BUT never previously resided in Australia, the previous residence in the external territory CAN be used to qualify for pension entitlement. This applies regardless of where the person was born, whether in Australia or in an external territory.

Example: The following example shows how entitlement is affected in this case. A person:

  • was born in Papua on 1 March 1928,
  • arrives in Australia for permanent residence on 1 February 1993, AND
  • lodges a claim for Age at age 65 on 1 March 1993.

This person is considered to have 47 years, 7 months and 16 days residence in Australia for Age. This is calculated as follows:

Place of residence Date Australian residence
Papua 1 March 1928 to 16 September 1975 47 years, 6 months, 16 days
Papua 16 September 1975 to 1 February 1993 Not counted as Australian residence
Australia 1 February 1993 to 1 March 1993 1 month
  TOTAL RESIDENCE 47 years, 7 months, 16 days

This person therefore has 10 years qualifying residence for Age.

Current residence in an external territory

Pensions CANNOT be granted to a person currently residing in an external territory, BUT pre-existing payments can continue.

Absences

If a person was absent from an external territory for short periods and these absences were only temporary, the absences do NOT interrupt continuous residence in an external territory.

Qualifying event DSP, WidB or BVA

If the qualifying event for DSP, WidB or BVA occurred when a person was residing in an external territory, it is treated as having occurred in Australia. NO prior period of residence in Australia is required.

Last reviewed: 1 July 2016