Skip to Content
MenuClose

myIR, payments and more


Student loans
Ngā pūtea tarewa ākonga

Staying interest-free when you're overseas

If the principal reason you're overseas - or accompanying your partner oveseas - is for study or work, you may be eligible for your student loan to stay interest-free.

What you need when studying overseas

Studying with an overseas provider

You'll need to provide evidence confirming:

  • an Overseas Study Assessment from NZQA verifying that the course is equivalent to levels 7, 8, 9 or 10 on the NZ Qualifications Framework
  • confirmation from the overseas education provider of your full time enrolment for the verified course, and
  • study start and end dates (or expected end date).

You will be required to declare your worldwide income for every tax year that you are granted interest free.

Studying with a New Zealand provider and completing postgraduate study overseas that is unable to be completed in New Zealand

You'll need to provide a letter from your New Zealand provider confirming:

  • your study is equivalent to level 8 or above on the New Zealand Register of Quality Assured Qualifications
  • you're enrolled full time and your study counts towards a New Zealand tertiary qualification
  • your study can't be completed in New Zealand, and
  • the exact start and end dates of your overseas study.

You will be required to declare your worldwide income for every tax year that you are granted interest free.

Studying as part of a formal exchange

You'll need to provide a letter from your New Zealand provider confirming:

You will be required to declare your worldwide income for every tax year that you are granted interest free.

On a Government-funded scholarship for study

This means a qualifying scholarship for full-time study (or part-time internship with part-time study).

Note

A government scholarship refers to partially and fully-funded scholarships provided by government departments and Crown agents.

The government department or agency needs to have a scholarship program in place. A person working for a government agency who just goes overseas for professional development won't meet the definition of undertaking study for a qualifying government scholarship.

You'll need to verify your eligibility with Education New Zealand (ENZ). You'll need to supply ENZ with the following details:

  • Your full name.
  • Name of the scholarship received and the New Zealand government department or agency that administers it.
  • The date the scholarship was awarded.
  • Evidence that you're enrolled for full-time study overseas, or part-time study with a part-time internship.
  • The start and end dates of the scholarship.
  • The start and end dates of the study (and any internship).

You'll then need to provide Inland Revenue with evidence that the scholarship has been assessed by ENZ and meets the criteria for a qualifying government-funded scholarship.

You will be required to declare your worldwide income for every tax year that you are granted interest free.

Back to top

What you need when working overseas

For the New Zealand Government

You'll need to provide a letter from the government agency you're working for stating:

  • your name
  • IRD number
  • the dates that you are required to be overseas, and
  • that your time overseas is for work for the New Zealand Government.

Your agency will need to provide this information on their letterhead.

For a New Zealand employer

If your employment or occupation requires you to be overseas, you'll need to provide a letter from your employer stating:

  • your name
  • IRD number
  • the dates that you are required to be overseas for your job
  • confirmation that you will be receiving PAYE payments in New Zealand or income from a New Zealand-based business, and
  • the reason you're overseas is for your job.

Your employer will need to provide this information on their letterhead.

You'll also need to provide:

As a volunteer for a charitable organisation

You'll need to provide a letter from the charitable organisation you're volunteering for stating:

  • your name
  • IRD number
  • the length of time you'll spend overseas
  • the specific tasks and duties that you are undertaking, to show that your volunteer work is either to relieve poverty, hunger, sickness or the ravages of war or natural disaster, or to improve the economy or raise the educational standards of a country on the OECD list of countries receiving development assistance, and
  • an estimate of what your gross income (if any) will be for the work you'll be doing.

This information will need to be provided on the charitable organisations letterhead.

Charitable organisations

The organisation that you're volunteering for must be on the Charitable Organisations list at the time you're completing the work. A maximum of 24 months interest-free period applies.

You will be required to declare your worldwide income for every tax year that you are granted interest free.

As an intern receiving a Government-funded scholarship

This means a qualifying scholarship for full-time internship (or part-time internship with part-time study).

Note

A government scholarship refers to partially and fully-funded scholarships provided by government departments and Crown agents.

An internship is a short-term, temporary position (up to a maximum of 12 months) with an emphasis on on-the-job training and skills development.

The government department or agency needs to have a scholarship program in place. A person working for a government agency who just goes overseas for professional development won't meet the definition of undertaking work for a qualifying government scholarship.

You'll need to verify your eligibility with Education New Zealand (ENZ). You'll need to supply ENZ with the following details:

  • Your full name.
  • Name of the scholarship received and the New Zealand government department or agency that administers it.
  • The date the scholarship was awarded.
  • Evidence that the internship is full-time (or part-time with study) and is being undertaken overseas.
  • The start and end dates of the scholarship.
  • The start and end dates of the internship (and any study).

You'll then need to provide Inland Revenue with evidence that the scholarship has been assessed by ENZ and meets the criteria for a qualifying government-funded scholarship.

You will be required to declare your worldwide income for every tax year that you are granted interest free.

Back to top

What you need if living in Niue, Cook Islands, Tokelau or Ross Dependency

To be eligible you must meet your repayment obligations on or before the due date.

You'll need to provide the following evidence:

  • information from Customs (from each location you lived in) showing all travel for the period you're requesting an interest-free loan, or
  • a letter from an employer stating:
    • you are/were their employee
    • the date you started your employment
    • the date you ended your employment (if applicable)
    • any dates you may have been away from work
    • your gross income (annually if applicable), and
    • your employer's contact details.

Back to top

If you're accompanying your partner overseas

If the principal reason you are overseas is to accompany your partner for their study or work, you must:

  • remain a New Zealand tax resident
  • provide proof of your relationship, such as a copy of:
    • your marriage or civil union certificate or
    • joint documents such as tenancy agreement, property mortgage, household accounts or bank statements, etc (pertaining to the period before you left New Zealand).

If your partner is overseas for one of the following reasons, you will need to provide the supporting documentation as detailed in the relevant section above:

  • Studying full-time at level 7 or above with an overseas provider.
  • Studying full-time overseas at level 7 or above with a New Zealand provider.
  • On a Government-funded scholarship for overseas study or internship.
  • Working for a New Zealand business overseas.
  • Working for the New Zealand Government overseas.
  • Working as a volunteer overseas.

 

How to apply for an interest-free student loan

To apply for an interest-free exemption your application must be in writing. You'll also need to provide evidence to support your application.

You'll need to determine your New Zealand tax residency by completing a New Zealand tax residence questionnaire (IR886). You only need to include this with your application if you're applying because:

  • your employment or occupation requires you to be overseas, or
  • you're accompanying your partner overseas.

If you'll be away from New Zealand for less than 10 months (325 days), you won't need to complete an IR886 as you'll remain a New Zealand tax resident.

Send your written application and any supporting evidence to us at:

Inland Revenue
PO Box 39010
Wellington Mail Centre
Lower Hutt 5045

Related products, services and links