Centrelink Payments while Travelling Australia

💵 How Do Centrelink Payments Work While Travelling Australia?

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You may be wondering how Centrelink payments while travelling Australia actually work. Some of the payment types will just keep rolling on with no change as you travel, while other benefits can be greatly affected.

Just to be clear, we’re not talking about catching a free ride while you’re on the road. The purpose of this article is to help with your travel planning by looking at how some of the different benefits, pensions and allowances work while you’re travelling Australia.

While there are a huge range of Centrelink benefits available, here we will just cover some of the common payments that travellers may be dealing with.

Remember, to receive any Centrelink payments you must be an Australian citizen or hold a permanent visa, plus be living in Australia.

You may also need a permanent address for Centrelink’s records, although in some cases they will accept ‘No Fixed Address.’ Many people who sell or rent out their house to travel use the address of a friend or family member for the duration of their trip – work it as you will.

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Centrelink & Living in a Caravan

Centrelink couldn’t care less whether you’re living in a caravan or a shoe box. Their main requests are around providing a residential address (if you have one) and declaring your income and assets.

If you live in caravan and pay rent, you may still be eligible for Rent Assistance, which is income tested.

Age Pension and Living in a Caravan

For those who are in the Age Pension category, there is a cap to how much your assets can be worth before your Age Pension begins to be affected.

What’s included in the Age Pension Assets Test:

  • Physical Assets (cars, boats, caravans, household goods)
  • Property Investments
  • Superannuation
  • Life Insurance Policies
  • Financial Investments
  • Businesses

Your primary residence is not included in the Assets Test, which is where the distinction between living in a caravan or a house comes into play.

If your Primary Residence is your House:

If you live in the house you own and go away on holidays in your caravan, then your house is your primary residence. Therefore, your caravan will be included as an asset in the Asset Test.

If your Primary Residence is your Caravan:

If you live permanently in your caravan, then that becomes your primary place of residence, meaning that the caravan is excluded from the Assets Test.

You may be also be eligible for Rent Assistance if you do long-term stints in caravan parks.

However, if you still own a home which earns you rental income, then that income will be included in the Assets Test, just as the profit from selling the house would be.

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Centrelink Payments

Here’s a quick break-down on whether or not the various Centrelink payments are affected by travel within Australia.

As you keep scrolling further below, you’ll find more information for each payment type, their eligibility requirements, plus how that payment is/ isn’t affected by travel in Australia.

Payment TypeAffected by TravelNOT Affected by Travel
Age Pension✔️
Carer Allowances✔️
Disability Support Pension✔️
Family Tax Benefit✔️
Health Care Card✔️
Job Seeker Payment✔️
Parental Leave Pay✔️
Parenting Payment✔️
Pension Card✔️
Rent Assistance✔️
Youth Allowance✔️

Age Pension

The Australian Age Pension is an income support payment for people who have reached Age Pension age and are eligible.

Eligibility Requirements:

  • Age Pension age (66 – 67 years or older)
  • Under the income and asset test limits
  • An Australian resident, normally for at least 10 years

As the Age Pension is income and asset based, travelling around Australia won’t affect your Age Pension payments. However, be aware that travelling outside of Australia for more than 6 weeks may affect your payment.

Getting started with the Age Pension can be a lengthy process of submitting income and asset information. It is recommended that you begin the process 13 weeks before hitting the retirement age so that you start receiving your payments on time.

Read more on Age Pension.


The Austudy benefit provides help for adults who are over 25 years of age and are studying or an Australian apprentice. It is possible to be receiving Austudy while travelling Australia and completing a correspondence course at the same time.

Eligibility Requirements:

  • 25 years or older
  • Full-time student in an approved course
  • or doing a full-time apprenticeship or traineeship with the Australian Apprenticeship Scheme
  • earning under the income test limits

If you’re studying an approved course full-time by Distance Education (with an approved education provider), your payments won’t be affected while travelling Australia.

As most distance education courses are self-paced, you will have to show Centrelink that you’re progressing through your course in a timely manner to keep your payments. They may check assignment submissions with your education provider.

Read more on Austudy.

Carer Allowances

There are a few different Carer Allowances, but generally they offer income support for people who give constant or additional care to someone who has a disability, illness or of a frail age.

Eligibility Requirements:

  • Carer is 16 years or older
  • Meet an income test
  • Care for someone whose care needs score is high enough on the adult or child assessment tools
  • Care for someone who’ll need this for at least 6 – 12 months
  • Both you and the person in care are Australian residents living in Australia

If you continue to be a carer for someone and you both go travelling around Australia (if possible), your payments will not be affected.

Read more on Carer Allowances.

BIG LAP Budget Spreadsheet

BIG LAP Budget Spreadsheet

Easily calculate how much money you’ll need to get set up for travel, plus fund your trip.

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Disability Support Pension

The Disability Support Pension offers financial help to those with a permanent physical, intellectual or psychiatric condition that stops you from being able to work.

Eligibility Requirements:

  • Non-medical rules (e.g. age, residence status, income and assets)
  • Medical rules (e.g. medical evidence, length of condition, inability to work at least 15 hours per week)

Depending on the outcome of your Disability Pension claim, there may be some participation requirements to help you find and keep suitable work. The requirements are flexible and set case-by-case. Some of the participation tasks may include attending interviews, work experience or training.

There are some cases where people are exempt from having to participate in the extra requirements. The exemption period is generally for up to 13 weeks.

Exemption Examples:

  • You have temporary incapacity with medical certificate
  • Impacted by natural disaster (flood, bushfire etc.)
  • Experiencing major personal crisis
  • Pregnant and it’s 6 weeks before the expected due date or 6 weeks after birth
  • You’re overseas
  • You’re in psychiatric confinement

The case of being able to travel Australia on a Disability Support Pension will depend entirely on your situation. It’s all determined by whether or not you’re fit to travel and if you have any location-specific requirements that bind you to one place.

Read more on Disability Support Pension.

Family Tax Benefit

Family Tax Benefit (A and B) is a two-part payment designed to help with the cost of raising children.

Eligibility Requirements:

  • Have a dependent child/ children
  • or Full-time secondary student (aged 16 – 19) who isn’t getting a pension, payment or benefit
  • Care for the child at least 35% of the time
  • Meet an income test
  • Be living in Australia with citizenship or permanent visa

As Family Assistance is entirely based on income, travelling Australia won’t affect your Family Tax Benefit payments.

Remember to update your annual estimated income with Centrelink if you stop for work along the way. Come tax time, if you’ve earned more than what has been recored with Centrelink, they would have overpaid you throughout the year and you’ll need to pay them back.

It’s always better to slightly overestimate your income with Centrelink, that way they will end up owing you, rather than you owing them.

Schooling Kids on the Road →

Health Care Card

Health Care Cards are automatically issued annually to people who are already on specific Centrelink payments.

The main benefit of a Health Care Card is cheaper prescription medicines. You may also be able to make use of Bulk Billing for doctor’s appointments, plus concessions on dental and eye care.

Which payments entitle you to a Health Care Card?

  • ABSTUDY Living Allowance
  • Austudy
  • Carer Allowance/ Payment
  • Family Tax Benefit Part A (when receiving maximum rate)
  • Jobseeker Payment
  • Mobility Allowance
  • Partner Allowance
  • Parenting Payment (partnered)
  • Special Benefit
  • Widow Allowance
  • Youth Allowance

As the Health Care Card is mailed out and valid for one 12-month period at a time, as long as you can receive your mail, travelling Australia won’t affect your Health Care Card.

Read more on Health Care Cards.

Getting Your Mail While Travelling Australia →

Jobseeker Payment

The Jobseeker Payment offers financial help for people between 22 and the Age Pension who are looking for work. If can also be for those who are sick or injured and can’t do their usual work or study for a short period of time.

Eligibility Requirements:

  • Between 22-years-old and Age Pension
  • Meet income and asset tests
  • Meet residency rules
  • Unemployed and looking for work
  • or sick/ injured and unable to do usual work or study for a short period of time

When you’re on Jobseeker payments, you need to be actively looking for work (unless you’ve been exempt due to personal circumstances). This will include completing jobseeker tasks such as providing fortnightly information for all jobs you’ve applied for and attending Jobseeker appointments.

You’ll also need to report your income each fortnight online (even if it’s $0), so that your Centrelink payment amount can be adjusted accordingly.

Once you are doing a minimum of 30 hours work per fortnight and earning a minimum of $600 (per fortnight), you won’t be require to actively look for work anymore. However, you will still need to continue reporting your income and you’ll still receive a reduced Jobseeker payment up until earning a certain amount. Once you go over that threshold, then you will stop receiving payments.

~ NOTE ~

If you’re on Jobseeker and move to an area of lower employment, you may be up for a non-payment period of up to 26 weeks.

The term for this clause is called MALEP (Moving to an Area of Lower Employment Prospects).
You are able to ring Centrelink and ask if you will incur a MALEP before changing your address to that location.

More info on MALEP →

Jobseeker Payments while travelling Australia won’t be affected if you’re earning enough where you don’t need to look for additional work. If you need to attend regular Jobseeker appointments, you can be listed with ‘No Fixed Address’ and keep updating your local town, with the intention that you’re travelling to find work.

You may also be eligible for Jobseeker Payment if you’re Homeschooling the children full-time, with the exemption of having to look for work.

Read more on Jobseeker Payment.

How to Make Money on the Road →

Parental Leave Pay

Parental Leave Pay is a payment available for up to 18 weeks while you care for your new child.

Eligibility Requirements:

  • Be the primary carer of a newborn or newly adopted child
  • Have individually earned less than $150,000 in the last financial year
  • Not be working during Paid Parental Leave
  • Need to have worked for 10 out of the 13 months before the birth/ adoption of your child
  • Worked minimum 330 hours, around 1 day per week in that 10 month period
  • Be an Australian citizen or have a permanent Visa

As Parental Leave Pay is not dependent on staying in one location, travelling Australia won’t affect your payment as long as you meet all of the other requirements.

Read more on Parental Leave Pay.

Parenting Payment

Parenting Payment is an income support payment or job seeker payment for the main carer of young children.

Eligibility Requirements:

  • Be under the income and asset test limits
  • Be the principle carer
  • Care for a child under 8 if you’re single, or under 6 if you’re partnered
  • Must be an Australian resident and live in Australia

If your youngest child is under the age or 6 or 8 (depending on whether you’re single or partnered), you will still receive payments while travelling Australia.

Once your youngest child turns 6 or 8, you will have some mutual obligation requirements to continue receiving Parenting Payment. This generally means reporting fortnightly income (if applicable) and participating in a Job Seeker Plan.

Travelling Australia while needing to meet a fortnightly Job Plan could be difficult. You would have to be willing to look for work along the way and stop in various towns when you do find work.

Another point to consider is that quite often with Job Plans, you need to attend regular Job Seeker meetings local to where your listed permanent address is, which obviously just isn’t going to be possible. Unless you’re able to undertake the Job Seeker meetings over the phone, you risk having your Parenting Payment cancelled.

Read more on Parenting Payment.

Pension Card

The Pension Card will automatically be mailed out to you if you receive certain Centrelink payments. Having a Pension Card will give you cheaper health care, medicines and some discounts.

Which payments entitle you to a Pension Card?

  • Age Pension
  • Carer Payment
  • Disability Support Pension
  • Jobseeker Payment or Youth Allowance (if single, caring for dependent child and looking for work)
  • Jobseeker Payment (if over 60 or have partial capacity to work)
  • Parenting Payment
  • Partner Allowance
  • Special Benefit
  • Widow Allowance
  • Youth Allowance (as a job seeker)

Your Pension Card will not be affected by travelling around Australia.

Read more on the Pension Card.

Your Pension or Health Care Card may also entitle you to free Ambulance Cover on the road. Check out the following article to see what the rules are for your home state.

Ambulance Cover while Travelling →

Rent Assistance

Rent Assistance is an extra regular payment you may be eligible for if you already get certain payments from Centrelink.

Which payment benefits are eligible for Rent Assistance?

  • ABSTUDY Living Allowance
  • Age Pension
  • Austudy or Youth Allowance
  • Carer Payment
  • Disability Support Pension
  • Family Tax Benefit
  • Farm Household Allowance
  • Jobseeker Payment
  • Parenting Payment
  • Partner Allowance
  • Special Benefit Allowance
  • Widow Allowance

To receive Rent Assistance you must be on one of the payments listed above AND be paying one of the following:

  1. Rent
  2. Fees in a Retirement Village
  3. Lodging
  4. Board and lodging
  5. Site or mooring fees if your main home is a caravan, relocatable home or a boat.

It is possible to receive Rent Assistance while travelling Australia based on how much you’re paying in Caravan Park fees, but submitting regular information updates/ forms is required.

You will need to get the Manager of each Caravan Park you stay in to sign a Centrelink Rent Form for you. Each fortnight you will need to take your Rent Forms into a nearby Centrelink office.

Alternatively, you may be able to update your rent information over the phone, or via the Centrelink website or App. You may be requested to take photos of the Rent Forms and submit them in the ‘Documents’ section of your myGov account.

Here’s one person’s experience (from the Facebook community) who was claiming Rent Assistance while staying in caravan parks.

Something to remember with claiming this one of the Centrelink payments while travelling Australia, is that it’s not going to be a ‘set and forget’ automated payment like some of the other ones. Unless you’re staying in the same Caravan Park for a long period of time, regularly getting Rent Forms filled out and submitting them fortnightly with Centrelink will certainly take a bit more effort on your part.

A note on Income Management Cards:

If you travel to an area that issues Income Management Cards as a portion of the Centrelink payment (example, some parts of the Northern Territory) and update your address for Rent Assistance, you may find yourself placed on the card system. Being reverted back to the cash payments may not be an easy fix.

Whether or not the financial benefit of claiming Rent Assistance while travelling Australia is worth it for you is entirely your decision.

Read more on Rent Assistance.

Packing Up to Travel Australia (Planner)

Packing Up to Travel Australia

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Youth Allowance

Youth Allowance offers financial help for those who are 24 or younger and are a student or Australian apprentice. It’s also offered to people who are under the age of 21 and looking for work.

Eligibility Requirements:

  • 16 to 21 and looking for full time work
  • 18 to 24 and studying full time
  • 16 to 24 and doing a full time Australian Apprenticeship
  • 16 to 17 and independent or needing to live away from home to study
  • 16 to 17, studying full time and have completed Year 12 or equivalent

As most distance education courses are self-paced, you will have to show Centrelink that you’re progressing through your course in a timely manner to keep your payments. They may check assignment submissions with your education provider.

If you’re studying full-time via an approved Distance Education provider and are between the ages of 18 to 24, travelling Australia won’t affect your Youth Allowance payments. However, if your study or Apprenticeship is location dependent, then you will not be able to travel Australia while claiming Youth Allowance.

Read more on Youth Allowance.

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Words of Experience from the Community

Here are some wise words from the travelling community on Facebook. Hopefully the experiences of those who’ve gone before you will help you better plan your own trip.

Names have been kept anonymous for privacy reasons.

“When you book into a caravan park, record it as a ‘temporary address change’ in the Centrelink app. Rent Assistance is calculated and paid automatically for the temporary address time period. I believe (and from experience), if the temporary address is 2 weeks or less, no forms need to be signed by the caravan park.”

“Just be aware that if travelling in some areas and you update your address for Rent Assistance etc. you could find yourself put on an Income Management Card, especially in Northern Territory where it covers up to pension age. A percentage of income is quarantined that denies cash withdrawals and certain purchases, with spending only allowed at approved establishments. Moving out of the area doesn’t have it removed. Note, visitors are exempt but Centrelink makes it very difficult to get off.”

“Be very careful how you plan your trip, juggling provider appointments in different states and territories isn’t much fun. You will be placed on an Income Management Card in the Northern Territory. It’s doable, but can be a hassle.”

“Nothing changes really. Pension goes into your account and you take it out as needed. I’ve travelled for 4 years and not had a problem anywhere.”

“May I say, be aware that after travelling for a year in our caravan, we received an email saying that our caravan is now classed as our home. Our pension then went from $650 a fortnight down to $358 a fortnight. What a shambles, just as we were in a position to continue and enjoy our travels. 5 years on and it was worth it. This is a beautiful country, enjoy!”

“Just so that you’re aware, if both parents are unemployed, only one gets the Parenting Payment, while the other is on Newstart. Once the youngest turns 8, then both parents are on Newstart. Being on Newstart means they have to attend employment agencies and meet job search requirements or they get cut off. So, even if one parent is on Parenting Payment and the other is on Newstart, it would be extremely difficult to travel as an unemployed couple on Centrelink payments.”

“If a parent is on Newstart Allowance and also homeschooling the children full-time, that can be used as a way to meet the Newstart activity requirements and exempt the parent from having to look for work.”

“We travelled while on Centrelink but picked up jobs along the way. There is plenty of work to be found while travelling Australia.”

“If you’re travelling with no fixed address and always fulfil your job search efforts, you just need to change your no fixed address area to wherever you’re heading to next. Centrelink will change your job network provider to someone in that area. You explain to the job provider that you have a better chance of finding work if you’re able to move around.”

Hopefully this article helps to answer your questions around travelling Australia while managing Centrelink payments. It always pays to ring Centrelink yourself and have the conversation just to ensure that you know where you stand for your own personal situation.

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5 thoughts on “💵 How Do Centrelink Payments Work While Travelling Australia?”

  1. Thanks for explaining how Centrelink payments require one with a permanent address, especially when dealing with age pension. I can imagine how this would be useful for citizens that might need help with aged care placement. Should I know any elderly citizens who might need this, I’ll recommend looking into Centrelink advice providers from our area.

  2. Hi

    With the job seeker payment you can get an exemption from having to job search or attend fortnightly appointment with a registered provider with you are providing education to a child through an approved education system such as distance education home schooling etc you still have to report any income as normal but that is the only requirement to receive the payment once the exemption has been granted

    1. Can one parent be on parenting payment and another be on jobseeker and be the child’s home-schooling person and get the exemption from the fortnightly appointmens?

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