CPF Withdrawals - What Every Australian Expat Needs to Know

If you're an Australian expat residing in Singapore, you've likely heard about the Central Provident Fund (CPF). It's a comprehensive social security savings plan that has been instrumental in securing the financial futures of many Singaporeans.

But as an Aussie expat, you might be wondering how this system applies to you, especially when it comes to CPF withdrawals. This latest blog post aims to shed light on this crucial topic, and provide you with some peace of mind, particularly when it comes to your repatriation planning for Australia.

Understanding CPF

The CPF is a mandatory savings scheme for working Singaporeans and Permanent Residents (PRs), including Australian expats. It's designed to provide financial security in retirement, housing, healthcare, and family protection. Your CPF account is split into three parts: Ordinary Account (OA), Special Account (SA), and Medisave Account (MA). Each serves a different purpose, but all contribute to your overall financial stability. In short, it’s Singapore’s answer to superannuation.

Tax Treatment for Retirement in Singapore

Singapore is renowned for its friendly tax environment, particularly when it comes to retirement. One of the most significant advantages is that CPF withdrawals at the age of 55 and above are tax-exempt. This means that you can enjoy your hard-earned savings without worrying about a significant tax bite. This tax exemption applies to both Singaporeans and PRs, including Australian expats.

This tax treatment is part of Singapore's broader approach to encourage savings and financial security in retirement. It's a key advantage for Australian expats, as it allows you to maximise your retirement funds. However, it's essential to understand that while CPF withdrawals may be tax-free in Singapore, they may not be tax-free when you return to Australia, which brings us to the next point.

Returning to Australia with CPF

Deciding to return to Australia after a stint in Singapore brings up several considerations, one of which is what happens to your CPF savings. The good news is, you can withdraw your CPF savings in full if you renounce your Singapore PR status. This is a significant benefit, as it allows you to take your savings with you when you leave.

However, it's crucial to understand the tax implications in Australia. Australia has a worldwide taxation system, which means it taxes its residents on their global income. This includes foreign pension or annuity payments, which your CPF withdrawals would typically be classified as. Therefore, your CPF withdrawals might be subject to tax in Australia, even though they were tax-free in Singapore.

The tax rate will depend on several factors, including your total income and tax residency status. It's advisable to consult with a tax professional to understand your obligations and plan accordingly. This will help you avoid any unpleasant surprises and ensure you can make the most of your CPF savings.

Withdrawing CPF by Revoking PR in Singapore

Revoking your PR status in Singapore is a significant decision with substantial financial implications. If you choose to do so, you can withdraw your CPF savings in full. The process involves submitting an application to the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA) and the CPF Board. Once your application is approved, your CPF savings will be paid out to you.

However, it's important to note that revoking your PR status is irreversible. You should consider your long-term plans and weigh the benefits against potential drawbacks before making this decision. For instance, if you plan to return to Singapore in the future, you might find it challenging to regain your PR status. Additionally, you should consider the tax implications in Australia, as discussed in the previous section.

Withdrawing CPF for Retirement

When you reach 55, a Retirement Account (RA) is created, and savings from your OA and SA are transferred to your RA up to the Full Retirement Sum (FRS). The FRS for 2023 is S$198,800, and it's adjusted yearly to account for inflation and rising living standards.

You can withdraw the remaining balance in your OA and SA after setting aside your FRS. If your total CPF savings are less than the Basic Retirement Sum (BRS), which is half of the FRS, you can withdraw your savings down to the BRS. This ensures that you have a minimum level of savings for your retirement.

It is worth also noting that your Medisave account has a Basic Healthcare Sum, which is the maximum amount you can have in your MediSave account. The current limit is S$68,500, so if you have in excess of this at age 55, the excess can often be withdrawn, however any amount up to this would be retained in your MediSave account.

From 65, you can start receiving monthly payouts from your RA. You can also defer your payouts up to 70 to receive higher monthly payouts. According to a DollarsAndSense.sg report, more Singaporeans are keeping their money in their CPF accounts for longer, possibly to benefit from the attractive interest rates. This is a strategy you might want to consider, depending on your financial situation and retirement goals.

If you’re an Australian expat and considering the Full Retirement Sum, you’ll want to consider the tax treatment of this income back in Australia.

The Full Retirement Sum for CPF

The FRS is a crucial component of your CPF savings. It's the sum of money that you need in your RA when you turn 55 to provide a steady stream of income during retirement. If you have at least the FRS in your RA, you can withdraw the excess when you turn 55.

The FRS provides a retirement annuity, ensuring you receive monthly payouts for life from your payout eligibility age. This is a significant advantage, as it provides a safety net for your retirement years. The amount of your monthly payouts will depend on the amount you have in your RA and the duration of your payout period.

It's worth noting that the FRS is adjusted each year to account for inflation and changes in living standards. This ensures that your retirement savings remain relevant and adequate for your needs. However, it also means that you need to keep track of these changes and adjust your savings plan accordingly.


Understanding CPF withdrawal is crucial for Australian expats in Singapore. It's a complex system with many variables, but with careful planning, it can provide significant financial benefits. Whether you're planning to retire in Singapore or return to Australia, it's essential to understand your CPF options and make informed decisions.


To Your Financial Success!


Jarrad Brown is an Australian-trained and qualified Fee-Based Financial Planner Global Financial Consultants Pte Ltd providing specialist financial advice and portfolio management services to Australian professionals in Singapore. Jarrad Brown is an Authorised Representative of Global Financial Consultants Pte Ltd - No: 200305462G | MAS License No: FA100035-3

To learn more about how we may be able to help you, please contact us:

✆         +65 8282 5702
✉         jarrad.brown@gfcadvice.com
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General Information Only: The information on this site is of a general nature only. It does not take into account your individual financial situation, objectives or needs. You should consider your own financial position and requirements before making a decision.

*Please note that Jarrad Brown is not a tax agent or accountant and none of the content outlined here should be taken as personal advice. You should consult your tax agent and financial adviser to review your current personal finances and financial goals to consider whether this strategy is appropriate for you.

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