I'm going overseas for 6 months or more
Find out what to do if you're going overseas for longer.
- When you go overseas
- Interest-free loans while you're overseas
- Repayment holiday
- Making repayments while overseas
- Failing to make repayments while overseas
- Updating your contact details
- Nominate someone to act on your behalf
- We match information with other government agencies
- When you return to New Zealand
You need to let us know if you're going to be overseas for 184 days (about 6 months) or more. The easiest way to do this, if you also want to apply for a repayment holiday, is to complete the form in your myIR Secure Online Services account.
Otherwise send us secure mail through your myIR account or call us on 0800377778 (+64 3 951 2020 from overseas).
You need to include:
- your departure date
- how long you intend to be away, and
- any repayment holiday information.
You'll become an overseas-based borrower if you'll be overseas for 184 days or more. This means you'll have different repayment obligations and your loan will no longer be interest-free. Interest applies to your student loan from the day after you leave New Zealand.
There are certain situations where you may still qualify for an interest-free loan while you're overseas.
- The maximum time you can have a repayment holiday is 365 days.
- You'll need to apply for a repayment holiday.
- You'll need to provide an alternative contact person based in New Zealand.
You can apply for a repayment holiday if you're going overseas for 6 months (184 days or more), which means you won't have an overseas-based repayment obligation to pay for up to the first year (365 days) of being overseas. A repayment holiday is optional but you'll need to apply if you want one.
The following conditions apply to repayment holiday applications:
- You'll need to apply before you leave New Zealand or within the first 183 days (6 months) of being overseas.
- You'll need to provide the name and address of a person based in New Zealand, who is willing to act as an alternative contact person in case we need to get in touch with you about your loan.
If you don't meet these conditions your application may be declined.
Note - Repayment holiday change
From 1 April 2012 the maximum time you can have a repayment holiday, was reduced from 3 years to 365 days.
Apply for a repayment holiday now
You can apply for the repayment holiday through your myIR account by completing the form.
Otherwise send us secure mail through your myIR account or call us on 0800377 778 (+64 3 951 2020 from overseas).
Note - Interest
Repayment holidays don't stop interest on your loan, so it's still a good idea to make voluntary repayments to keep on top of your loan.
New Zealand based repayment obligations due while you're overseas
Repayment holidays don't apply to New Zealand-based repayment obligations so you'll still need to make these repayments when they're due.
You can use your myIR account to check if you have any repayments due:
If you've already had a repayment holiday or you're currently on one
You won't be entitled to another repayment holiday if you've already used up your full entitlement.
When your repayment holiday ends
Your repayment holiday ends the earlier of when you:
- have used your full entitlement or
- return to New Zealand and become New Zealand based.
If you're still overseas when your repayment holiday ends, you'll need to start making repayments for your overseas-based repayment obligations.
Note - If you were already on a repayment holiday before 1 April 2012
If you were overseas before 1 April 2012, you may have qualified for a repayment holiday for up to 3 years.
If you were on a 3-year repayment holiday that started before 1 April 2012 and had more than 365 days left, it would have ended on the earlier of 31 March 2013 or when you became New Zealand based.
Bill had 549 days of his 3-year repayment holiday remaining as at 31 March 2012. The change meant that as at 1 April 2012, Bill was only entitled to another 365 days of this repayment holiday.
If you're not on a repayment holiday, you must make repayments towards your overseas-based repayment obligations. Repayments are based on your loan balance and are payable in two instalments (30 September and 31 March) each year.
Our video How to make a student loan repayment from overseas explains how easy it is to make a fee free student loan repayment to Inland Revenue (IRD) when you're overseas.
Flash video | 1:25 min
If you're on a repayment holiday or want to pay off your loan faster, you can make voluntary repayments.
If you're significantly behind on your repayment obligation and you haven't talked to us recently about your loan repayments, you may be stopped from leaving New Zealand next time you come home for a visit.
If you are uncertain or concerned that this may apply to you, you should contact us as soon as possible. We can work with you to arrange a repayment plan that will suit your situation and get you back on track with your loan.
It's important to keep your contact details up to date so you can receive information on your student loan. You'll need to let us know if you have a change of:
- phone number
- bank account
- alternative contact person's details, or
- alternative contact person.
You can update these details and keep up to date with your student loan online anytime by using your myIR account. You can check your loan balance, repayments, interest charges and/or write offs and contact us using the secure mail service.
You may find it easier to nominate someone else to manage your student loan while you're overseas.
We match information with New Zealand Customs so we’re notified when student loan borrowers who have fallen behind on their repayments are travelling to New Zealand. We use this information to contact the borrower to discuss their student loan and make arrangements to repay their loan arrears, or pursue other collection processes.
The Department of Internal Affairs also shares information with us. DIA shares information from adult passport applications and renewals to help us contact overseas-based borrowers who are in default.
Inland Revenue, Customs and DIA have met the conditions of an information matching programme under the Privacy Act 1993, and have the approval of the Office of the Privacy Commissioner.
It's your right to challenge any information from the information matching with Customs. If you have any concerns or questions about this, please go to our Contact us page.
When you return to New Zealand after being overseas for 184 days (about 6 months) or more, you must let us know so we can update your student loan details and contact information.
Back to Travelling or living overseas
Date published: 16 Mar 2015