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If you're living, studying or working in New Zealand long-term, you're considered New Zealand-based. This means you're entitled to an interest-free student loan and your loan repayments are based on your income.

If you're outside of New Zealand for around 5 out of 6 months, you might become overseas-based and your student loan will stop being interest free. Your loan repayments will be based on the size of your loan balance and your loan could start getting bigger.

Repaying my student loan when I am overseas-based


Working out exactly when you become overseas-based can get complex, especially if you're travelling a lot. You can use our 'Overseas travel calculator' to find out when your status will change based on your overseas travel.

Overseas travel calculator

Go to 'myIR' < 'Student loan account' < 'I want to...' and then scroll down to 'Travelling overseas'.

You'll find the 'Overseas travel calculator' which lets you enter the dates you expect to leave or return to New Zealand. You can check when your status changes and when your loan will be interest free, based on these dates.

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Working out when you become overseas- or New Zealand-based

For your student loan, we use these timeframes to work out whether you're overseas-based or New Zealand-based.

Leaving New Zealand

When you depart New Zealand, after 184 days, you:

  • become overseas-based if you are out of New Zealand for at least 153 of those 184 days
  • remain New Zealand-based if you are back in New Zealand for at least 32 of those 184 days.

If you become overseas-based, your student loan is no longer interest free. The interest is backdated to the day after you left New Zealand.

Example - Jack leaves for Melbourne

Explanation Action Date Day count
After finishing his degree, Jack takes a break from job hunting to catch up with friends in Melbourne for a couple of weeks. He's also managed to set up a job interview with a great software development company. Departs New Zealand (NZ) 9 April Day 0
His first full day overseas begins the day count. 10 April Day 1
Jack is back in Wellington when he get the call. He starts his new job in 3 weeks. Arrives in NZ 24 April Day 15
Jack packs up his life and makes the big move to Melbourne. Departs NZ 14 May Day 35

It has been 184 days since Jack departed New Zealand. He has been out of New Zealand for 163 of these days.

Jack is now considered overseas-based and interest on his student loan is backdated to the day after he first left New Zealand, 10 April.

10 October Day 184

Returning to New Zealand

When you arrive back in New Zealand, after 183 days, you:

  • become New Zealand-based if you remain in New Zealand for at least 152 of those 183 days
  • remain overseas-based if you are out of New Zealand for at least 32 of those 183 days.

If you become New Zealand-based, your student loan will become interest free. After 183 days, if you've been back in New Zealand for at least 152 of those days, we'll write off any loan interest charged from the day you returned.

Example - Jane returns to New Zealand

Explanation Action Date Day count
Jane arrives back in New Zealand, having lived in London for the past few years. The day she returns begins the day count. Arrives in New Zealand (NZ) 23 July Day 1
She is settling back into life in her home town, Hamilton, and enjoying her new job. Because she has a student loan, Jane makes sure to use the M SL tax code.
Over the Christmas break, Jane spends 3 weeks catching up with friends in Fiji. Departs NZ 21 December Day 152
Jane comes back to New Zealand after catching up with her friends in Fiji. Arrives in NZ 11 January Day 173

It has now been 183 days since Jane arrived back in New Zealand. She has been out of New Zealand for 20 of those days.

Jane is considered New Zealand-based. Any interest charged on her student loan from the day she first returned to New Zealand, 23 July, is written off.

21 January Day 183

Repaying your student loan when you're New Zealand-based

Your student loan will stay interest free. You'll repay it based on the type and amount of income you earn.

Repaying my student loan 

Repaying your student loan when you're overseas-based

Your student loan will stop being interest free. You'll repay it based on the size of your loan.