3.9.4.20 Non-cancellation of Concession Cards for Temporary Overseas Absences

Summary

From 1 January 2013 most concession cards have a limited non-cancellation period while the cardholder is temporarily outside Australia for a period that is consistent with the portability period of the primary payment. This means that a person's concession card will remain current while the person takes a temporary overseas trip. Most cards have a non-cancellation period of 6 weeks. However, there are 2 exceptions:

  • 19 weeks for the CSHC, and
  • 4 weeks in a 12 month period for the PCC (for DSP recipients who do not qualify for indefinite portability).

A card only remains current while overseas if the holder remains qualified for the card. If the card is linked to a payment and the payment is suspended, the card will be cancelled.

The non-cancellation period begins on the date of departure from Australia and ends on the earlier of:

  • the date of the person's return to Australia (if less than the relevant non-cancellation period for the card), or
  • after the non-cancellation period has ended.

The foster child HCC and the ex-CA (child) HCC can remain current if the holder departs Australia temporarily but continues to permanently reside in Australia. (See the legislation for qualification for these cards.)

The non-cancellation period only applies to temporary absences. A person leaving Australia permanently should have their concession card cancelled immediately upon departure.

Act reference: SSAct Part 2A.1 Division 4 Non-cancellation of concession cards for temporary overseas absences, section 1061ZO(5) Qualification for foster child health care card, section 1061ZO(9) Qualification for ex-carer allowance (child) health care card

Policy reference: SS Guide 7.1.2.10 General rules of portability, 7.1.2.20 Application of portability rules (portability table)

Temporary versus permanent absence

A cardholder is considered to be going temporarily overseas if the cardholder permanently resides in Australia. In deciding whether or not a cardholder is residing in Australia, consideration must be given to the nature of: accommodation, family relationships, employment, business or financial ties, as well as the PURPOSE and DURATION of the cardholder's travel outside Australia.

Act reference: SSAct section 7(2) An Australian resident is a person who…, section 7(3) In deciding for the purposes of this Act whether or not a person is residing in Australia…

Policy reference: SS Guide 3.1.1.10 Residence requirements

No extensions to the limited portability period

The Secretary has discretion to extend the limited portability period to recipients of some payments. There is no discretion to extend the non-cancellation period of a concession card. A concession card should be cancelled if the holder is absent from Australia for longer than the relevant non-cancellation period.

Act reference: SSAct section 1061ZUB Non-cancellation of concession cards for temporary overseas absences

Policy reference: SS Guide 7.1.2.10 General rules of portability

Departure - notification obligations

Cardholders must notify Centrelink about both their departure and if known, their expected return date before they leave Australia. On returning to Australia, cardholders must also advise their date of arrival, to ensure their concession entitlement continues.

Relationship to portability provisions of payments

A PCC issued due to a person's qualification for age pension will remain current for no more than 6 weeks overseas, despite the age pension being portable indefinitely.

Act reference: SSAct section 1061ZUB Non-cancellation of concession cards for temporary overseas absences

Policy reference: SS Guide 7.1.2.10 General rules of portability, 7.1.2.20 Application of portability rules (portability table)

What if my card is due to expire while I am overseas?

Any automatic issue concession card, including a PCC that is due to expire while the cardholder is temporarily overseas (for no more than 6 weeks) will receive a replacement card if the person remains qualified for the card.

All cards that require a claim and are due to expire while the cardholder is temporarily overseas will need to be re-claimed when the person returns to Australia.

Act reference: SS(Admin)Act section 240C Issue of replacement card on expiry of automatic issue card

Exceeding the overseas non-cancellation period

Where a person departs Australia and their temporary absence is longer than the allowable portability period, their concession card will be cancelled, regardless of whether the person continues to receive a payment.

All cards that require a claim that are cancelled for exceeding the overseas non-cancellation period will need to be reclaimed upon the person's return to Australia.

Any automatic issue concession card cancelled for exceeding 6 weeks overseas will be replaced upon the person's return to Australia provided the person remains qualified for the card.

Where an extension card is cancelled for exceeding the approved portability period or non-cancellation period and the card has not reached its expiry date, the former holder's entitlement to the card may resume upon their return to Australia. A replacement card can be reissued if the person remains qualified for the card. If it is established that the person remains qualified, the replacement card should commence from the date the person returns to Australia and have the same expiry date as the first card that was cancelled.

Example: Tanya was receiving DSP and her payment was stopped due to an increase in her ordinary income from employment. Tanya is issued with a 52 week retention of her PCC ('extension card'). She then travels overseas for 6 months. Tanya's extension card remains current for 4 weeks of her overseas absence and is then cancelled. Upon her return to Australia it is established that Tanya continues to qualify for the extension card, and she is issued with a replacement card. The replacement card commences on the date she returned to Australia and has the same expiry date as her original extension card that was cancelled.

Last reviewed: 2 January 2015