Social security and health insurance

Switzerland has concluded international social security agreements with 44 countries. The main purpose of these agreements is to ensure that citizens of the states parties to the agreements are treated equally, to determine the applicable legislation and to regulate the payment of social security benefits abroad. Switzerland and New Zealand have not signed a social security agreement.

Retirement benefits

If you are 65 or older and have been a permanent resident of New Zealand for 10 years, you can apply for a 'superannuation' (NZ Super) retirement pension. To qualify for NZ Super you must have been present in New Zealand for five of the ten years after your 50th birthday. NZ Super payments are reduced if beneficiaries also receive retirement benefits from another country (e.g. income earned from compulsory contributions into the Swiss OASI pension scheme). Payment of NZ Super is made directly to your bank account every two weeks. Under New Zealand law, you can still be gainfully employed after the age of 65. Everyone over 65 gets NZ Super, regardless of what they are earning from paid employment.

On the Hooker valley track with mountains in the background
Hooker valley track © Unsplash

Health and accident insurance

Foreign nationals with a residence permit can join the state-funded health system and receive a National Health Index (NHI) number at their first visit to a doctor/hospital. New Zealand's public healthcare system provides basic coverage. Many people therefore choose to take out private health insurance as well. To see a medical specialist you usually need a referral from your general practitioner (GP). It's free to enrol with a GP but they may charge a consultation fee each time you go to see them after that. Treatment in public hospitals is free of charge, but prescribed medicines are only partially reimbursed. Most doctors have their own private practice and charge consultation and other fees.

Without a visa that is valid for at least two years, it is difficult to take out private health insurance. You are advised to check your insurance options before entering New Zealand.

New Zealand's accident compensation scheme, administered by the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC), provides 24-hour no-fault personal accident insurance cover. The ACC provides cover for treatment costs and partial compensation for lost income to anyone injured in an accident in New Zealand, regardless of their nationality or residence status. Accidents at home, work or during leisure activities are also covered. Claims can also be submitted to the ACC for injuries caused by medical treatment, sexual violence, and conditions that come on gradually from work.

Occupational pension scheme

Since 2007, all employees who are New Zealand citizens or permanent residents of the country who are under 65 years of age have been automatically enrolled in the KiwiSaver voluntary retirement savings scheme qualifying them for tax credits. 

Unemployment insurance

For information on New Zealand's unemployment insurance system, please consult the 'Redundancy' and 'Fired or left voluntarily' sections of the Ministry of Social Development's website.

Swiss old-age and survivors' insurance (OASI) and invalidity insurance (IV)

Payment of ordinary pensions

Ordinary OASI and IV pension payments (except quarter pensions under the IV scheme) for Swiss nationals can be transferred to their place of residence anywhere in the world. The pension is paid out directly by the Swiss compensation office, generally in the currency of the country of residence. You may also choose to have your pension paid into a personal postal or bank account in Switzerland. Helplessness allowances and supplementary benefits are only paid if you are resident in Switzerland.

Voluntary OASI/IV

Swiss nationals who do not live in an EU/EFTA member state may join the voluntary OASI/IV scheme if they had compulsory insurance cover for at least five consecutive years immediately prior to their departure. Enrolment in the Swiss voluntary OASI/IV system does not exempt you from enrolling in a compulsory insurance system in your country of residence or employment. Employed persons contribute 10.1% of their salary to the pension fund. The minimum annual contribution is CHF 950. The voluntary OASI/IV system offers protection against the risks of old age, disability and death, in particular to persons who are not gainfully employed and who in many cases are not entitled to join a foreign social security scheme.

Special provisions for people employed by a Swiss company

Special provisions apply to persons who live abroad and are employed and on the payroll of an employer based in Switzerland and to their accompanying spouses abroad provided they are not gainfully employed. For further information, please contact your OASI office.

OASI pensioners (1st pillar) and pension fund beneficiaries (2nd pillar)

Make sure that pension payments from your old-age and survivors' insurance (OASI), your pension fund or other insurance policies you have taken out are being properly transferred to you. Whenever you change your address, you must inform the OASI compensation office, your pension fund and insurance provider.

Taxation of pension fund income

Switzerland imposes a withholding tax on pension fund income if the beneficiary resides abroad. Double taxation agreements sometimes allow the withholding tax to be waived or to be reclaimed by the pension recipient in their country of residence.

Social assistance for Swiss citizens abroad

In certain circumstances, the FDFA's Social Assistance Service for the Swiss Abroad (SAS) provides social assistance to Swiss nationals living abroad who have run into financial difficulty. If you find yourself in financial distress, you must first make every effort to manage with your own resources. If you really cannot manage on your own, you should try to get financial help from your family or from friends or acquaintances. You should also find out what social assistance or other support you can receive from the authorities in your country of residence. Support from the SAS should be a measure of last resort.


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