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When can I withdraw from my KiwiSaver?

We breakdown all the circumstances in which you can withdraw from your KiwiSaver, and how you can go about doing it

Even though KiwiSaver is a voluntary scheme, it doesn’t mean that you can just dip into your savings whenever you need some extra cash.

If you want put money aside for a rainy day, you can consider fixed-income investments or putting your cash into high-earning savings account with your bank.

In saying that, there are times when it is possible to withdraw from your KiwiSaver, which we will go into more detail in this guide.

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When you turn 65

First, you can request a retirement withdrawal if you have reached the age of 65. Previously, anyone who entered into KiwiSaver after the age of 60 was put into a lock-in period of five years, but as of 1 July 2019 this no longer applies. If you joined before 1 July 2019, you can now opt-out of the lock-in period to be able to access your funds when you turn 65, but your government and employer contributions may be affected.

If you decide to access your KiwiSaver funds when you turn 65, you can decide to withdraw some or all of the money held.

Withdrawing the full amount from your KiwiSaver usually takes 5-10 working days, but could take as long as 15 working days if final government contributions need to be claimed from IRD.

Alternatively, you can set up regular weekly, fortnightly or monthly withdrawals to boost your retirement income, or withdraw money as you need to. The minimum regular withdrawal amount is currently $100, or $500 for ad-hoc withdrawals. Even if you have retired and have taken out some money, you can continue to make KiwiSaver contributions and keep money invested in the account for as long as you want.

If part of your KiwiSaver funds were transferred over from an Australian superannuation scheme, you are able to draw from these earlier than 65. However, you must have reached the age of 60 and meet the retirement definition in Australian legislation.

If you want to use it for a deposit on a first house

Buying your first home is an exciting time, but with rising house prices and a big chunk of cash needed for the deposit, you may find yourself wanting to dip into your KiwiSaver to help you get the home of your dreams.

It’s possible to withdraw most of your KiwiSaver money if you’re buying your first home – this can be a combination of contributions by you, your employer and the government, as well any interest earned and fees subsidies. You must, however, leave a minimum of $1,000 in your KiwiSaver account, and have been in KiwiSaver for at least three years. You can not withdraw funds that have been transferred from an Australian superannuation scheme.

Other criteria need to be met for a first home withdrawal, which you can learn more about in our guide to using KiwiSaver to buy a home.

If you are experiencing financial hardship

In times of financial hardship, you can apply to withdraw some of your KiwiSaver funds.

Financial hardship can be defined in different ways, but there is a clear definition in the KiwiSaver Act that you can check to see if you are eligible.

You must have looked into all possible options for getting the help that you need during this time, so this is considered a last resort for people that have no other way of coming up with the funds they need.

You can only withdraw enough money to ease your hardship, and the amount that you do withdraw will not include any government contributions.

To apply, you will need to complete an application form and provide a statutory declaration to your provider about your assets and liabilities.

If you are moving permanently to another country

If you are moving to another country, it makes sense to want to withdraw your savings from your KiwiSaver. Thankfully this is possible, but there are different rules depending on where you are going.

If you have decided to move to Australia permanently, you can join a complying Australian superannuation scheme and have your KiwiSaver funds transferred over. Your provider will be able to walk you through the process, but you can expect to be asked for a completed Trans-Tasman withdrawal application, a statutory declaration and proof that you have permanently emigrated to Australia.

If you move to a country other than Australia, it’s possible to withdraw most of your funds as long as you have been out of New Zealand for at least one year. While you can’t take out any government contributions that you have received, you can withdraw your contributions, your employer’s contributions and any interest you have earned. If you got the $1,000 Kickstart and fee subsidies, these can also be withdrawn.

Rather than withdrawing your KiwiSaver funds into your bank account, you can have them transferred to an approved superannuation scheme in the country you are living. Your provider or your financial advisor can guide you through this process.

If you have a serious illness

You may be able to withdraw either some or all of your KiwiSaver funds if you have a serious illness, injury or disability and are unable to work. Your illness may pose a risk of death, or you may have a life-threatening congenital condition that lowers your life expectancy to under 65. To be eligible, you must meet the conditions for a serious illness stated in the KiwiSaver Act.

The amount that you are able to withdraw can include contributions by you, your employer and the government, as well any investment returns.

To apply, you will need to speak with your provider or financial adviser and complete a serious illness withdrawal form. You will also need to provide a statutory declaration and medical proof of your health to your KiwiSaver provider.

If there is a court order

When you separate from your partner or spouse, relationship property is divided between each person, usually in a 50/50 split. As KiwiSaver fall under relationship property, the proportion of money acquired since the start of your relationship is counted towards the funds required to be split.

A court order can be made under section 31 of the Property (Relationships) Act 1976 for a provider to release funds so they can be divided between the two parties. However, if one person that holds a KiwiSaver is able to compensate the other person from other financial assets, for example, proceeds from a home sale, it is not necessary for a court order to be issued.

Further information about withdrawing from KiwiSaver

In many cases, applying to withdraw from your KiwiSaver can be done through your provider. However, in situations where you are withdrawing for financial hardship or serious illness and you have only been a KiwiSaver member for less than two months, you will need to apply directly to the IRD.

While the application requirements tend to be relatively the same when you want to withdraw from your KiwiSaver, it’s worth getting in touch with you provider as soon as possible to find out what information and paperwork they need from you. The earlier you can get your documents in order, the sooner you will be able to access your funds.

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