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New Zealand - Citizenship

There are a few advantages to having New Zealand citizenship. Only citizens of New Zealand are able to stand for public office and there are numerous educational scholarships which are only available to citizens. In addition there are some public sector jobs which are not open to citizens of other countries.

There are a number of basic requirements for those who want to apply for citizenship of New Zealand. You must first of all have the intention of living in the country for the vast majority of your time. You must also have fluency in English and have a good character. You must already have the status of a permanent resident of the country and have lived in New Zealand and kept your residency status for a minimum of five years prior to your application for citizenship. There are additional regulations for those aged below 16 years.

Your intention to remain living in the country after you obtain citizenship must be clear. Alternatively you can either be employed by the New Zealand government or working for an international organisation which counts the New Zealand government as one of its members. If you make the application then are out of the country for any length of time then this will delay your application as it will only be considered while you are in New Zealand.

Language requirements are particularly important as you must be able to demonstrate that you can manage on a day to day basis. This assessment will also take into consideration your education and the type of work that you are involved in. If there is any doubt over your ability to communicate you may be invited to attend an interview.

The good character requirement is essential and those that have been convicted of serious crimes will not be considered, although more minor offences committed years previously may not be taken into consideration. In order to determine your standing on this point, there will be police and background checks carried out. However, the Criminal Records (Clean Slate) Act of 2004 allows applicants to declare that they have no convictions if the offence is more than 7 years old and if they never spent time in prison for it. This act only applies to offences committed in New Zealand. There are certain categories of offences that are not covered by this act and if you are in any doubt you should check with the New Zealand Immigration department.

Permanent residency is one of the main qualifying points of New Zealand citizenship. You must already have been granted this status before you apply for citizenship. For the purposes of citizenship you must have had your permanent residence card for a minimum of 1350 days in the five years prior to your application. Your status as a resident cannot be in any doubt. Children under the age of 16 do not need to meet the minimum stay as a permanent resident and an application can be made for citizenship on their behalf providing that they have this status.

Parents and guardians can make applications for those who are under the age of 16, and those aged below 14 will not be assessed on language, character or the knowledge requirements.

In order to make an application you need to download or request a copy of the application pack. This contains the forms and information you need to make your application. Once you have completed the form you need to send this with your documents and fee to the Citizenship office at the department of Immigration in New Zealand. Documents that may be requested include passports, birth certificates, marriage certificates if applicable, driver’s licences, documents relating to permanent residency and evidence of employment/education. You will also need to include photographs and your fee. Fees will vary depending upon the number of people being included in the application, but details can be obtained from the website of the department of Immigration.

Applications are acknowledged in writing and then you will be informed if your application has been successful. Those that are will be invited to attend a citizenship ceremony where an oath of allegiance is taken.

Those who succeed in obtaining citizenship are not obliged to renounce their original citizenship and dual citizenship is common among expats who obtain New Zealand citizenship status. However, your home country may have other regulations if you decide to take citizenship in New Zealand.

Useful Resources

Immigration New Zealand
PO Box 3705 Wellington
Tel: 09069 100 100 (from UK)
Tel: 09 914 4100 (from Auckland)
Tel: 0508 558 855 (from other parts of New Zealand)

Read more about this country

Expat Health Insurance Partners

Bupa Global

At Bupa we have been helping individuals and families live longer, healthier, happier lives for over 60 years. We are trusted by expats in 190 different countries and have links with healthcare organisations throughout the world. So whether you're moving abroad for a change of career or a change of scene, with our international private health insurance you will always be in safe hands.


Cigna has worked in international health insurance for more than 30 years. Today, Cigna has over 71 million customer relationships around the world. Looking after them is an international workforce of 31,000 people, plus a network of over 1 million hospitals, physicians, clinics and health and wellness specialists worldwide, meaning you have easy access to treatment.