Working and Living in New Zealand as a Nurse

New Zealand (or ‘Aotearoa’ – Maori for “Land of the long white cloud”) has the benefits of a world-class health system and a fantastic lifestyle to offer. In most cities and towns you are within a few hours drive of beautiful beaches, snow-capped mountains and regional parks where you can explore this land of hidden treasures and unspoilt beauty. New Zealand’s urban centres have all the excitement and convenience you would expect from a thriving city; fabulous food, arts and culture, sports, museums and everything in between. To read more about why New Zealand is one of the best countries to live and work, click here.


If New Zealand is the place you wish to live and work, you must apply to the Nursing Council of New Zealand for admission to the register before being able to practise. 


On initial inquiry an application form is forwarded to you. The letter to applicants describes the registration categories, the process and fees. There are three steps in obtaining your nursing licence in New Zealand. To find further information about the process, click here




Step 1: Professional Document Verification

If you are an Internationally Qualified Nurse who wishes to practice in New Zealand, you must first apply to The Credentials Verification Service for the Nursing Council of New Zealand (CVS-NCNZ) at CGFNS International, Inc.


It’s a secure and direct method for internationally qualified nurses (except for those licensed in Australia) to have their credentials verified and authenticated. The process is designed to determine that you are who you say you are and that your education and work experience are true and satisfy the requirements of the NCNZ.


CGFNS International verifies and authenticates your identity documents, academic and professional credentials, and nursing employment. We then prepare a report, which you must review and authorize before we can send it to the NCNZ. Once the NCNZ receives the report, you will then be invited to apply for registration with the NCNZ.


CGFNS International is an immigration neutral non-profit organization that helps foreign educated healthcare professionals live and work in their country of choice by assessing and validating their academic and professional credentials. They provide foreign students and healthcare professionals with a comprehensive assessment of their academic records to facilitate their successful admission to schools in the US and other countries.

Photo Take On October 2014


English Language Proficiency

As part of the CGFNS process, all overseas nurses (other than Australia) will have to demonstrate their ability to read, write, listen and speak in the English language through the submission of language proficiency test results from an approved testing vendor. The approved testing vendors are:

  • Occupational English Test (OET)- Scoring a B in all categories
  • International English Language Testing System (IELTS)-Academic- Scoring 7 in all categories


You are exempt from the English Language proficiency test if:

  • Your nursing education was conducted in and you are registered to practice in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Canada or the United States of America; or
  • You registered and practiced in the UK, Ireland, Canada or the USA, AND you were required to pass an English language test to gain registration


Find further information, click here.

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[Working and Living in Australia]


Step 2: Request CGFN to Submit the Report to the NZ Nursing Council

Once you have received your report, you need to request CGFNS to send it to the Nursing Council. It will take up to 3 working days to receive your report. You will then receive an email inviting you to apply online for registration.


Step 3: Apply to the NZ Nursing Council

The Nursing Council will assess your application against seven registration standards and make a decision regarding your registration. You will be asked to make a declaration for fitness for registration and to complete a criminal history check. Criminal history checks are valid for six months only.


The Nursing Council assesses each applicant on an individual basis depending on experience and qualifications. The principal considerations to achieve successful registration are:

  • Ability to achieve the Competencies for the Registration of Comprehensive Nurses or the Competencies for the Registration of Midwives in New Zealand or the Standards for Enrolment.
  • Assessment of theory and clinical practice components of nursing or midwifery programme compared with the equivalent New Zealand programme.
  • Post-registration/enrolment experience, including recency of practice.
  • Applicants with English as a second language will be required to produce evidence of ability to speak, write and understand the English language in a nursing or midwifery setting.



Applicants will then receive a Decision letter to either welcome nurses onto the register, require further information or the requirement to undertake additional training via a Competency Assessment Programme (CAP) through an accredited facility in New Zealand.


Registration Fees

  • CGFNS credentials verification service fee- $300 USD
  • Nursing Council application and processing fee- $485 NZD


Other related costs (set by each provider) may include:

  • Translation of original documents into English (if required)
  • Competence Assessment Programme fees (if required)
  • International Criminal History Check fee: $149 (AUD)

All fees paid are non-refundable.




Additional Training (CAP)

Applicants who do not meet the requirements for nursing registration will be required to undergo further experience with instruction through a Department of Nursing within a New Zealand educational institution. The period of additional experience required to meet registration will be determined by the Nursing Council depending on previous training and experience. It is up to you to arrange this additional training, and inform the Nursing Council about your plans.


You may be required to complete a Competence Assessment Programme (CAP) prior to registration. Please click here for more information. To find an accredited training provider, click here.


Those requiring to undertake the competency assessment programme can only apply once they meet their selection criteria, this usually includes:

  • English Proficiency- IELTS with a score of 7 in all categories or OET with a score of B in all categories.
  • Have obtained a New Zealand Nursing Council ‘Decision Letter’ stipulating the requirement to complete a competency based integrated theory practice programme.
  • To have immunity and serology testing as part of the application process for acceptance into the programme.


Once you are registered, you will be asked to apply for an Annual Practising Certificate. This entitles you to practise as a nurse in New Zealand.


Canada 5

[Living and Working in Canada as a Nurse]


Applying for Jobs in New Zealand

Once you have obtained your New Zealand Nursing Licence, you can choose to apply for jobs either through a recruitment agency or with employers directly. If you are required to complete additional training prior to receiving your Nursing Licence, most employers will not support your application until you have obtained your nursing licence. Whilst undertaking the Competency Assessment Programme (CAP) you will also be exposed of employers and most likely approached directly by recruitment agents offering ongoing employment opportunities:

  • To find recruitment agents that deploy nurses to New Zealand, Click Here.
  • To find employers currently recruiting in New Zealand, Click Here.
  • To search for jobs through Kiwihealthjobs in which all District Health Boards support, Click Here.


View From My Home


Work Visas/Permits

If you are not a New Zealand Citizen or Resident, then you must have a visa to work in New Zealand. You do not need a work visa to work in New Zealand if you are an Australian citizen, or the holder of a current Australian permanent residence visa including a current Australian resident return visa. (If there are conditions on your residence visa/resident return visa, then you will require a work visa.)


There are a number of different visas you could apply for depending on whether you want to live in New Zealand permanently or on a temporary basis. To work and live in New Zealand permanently, you could apply under the Skilled Migrant Category. Many health professionals come to New Zealand as skilled migrants.


As there are shortages in certain professions, gaining a visa may be more straight-forward if you are able to obtain professional registration in New Zealand.The Work to Residence visa allow you to apply for a temporary work visa as a step towards gaining permanent residence. Alternatively, if you want to come to New Zealand to work temporarily, you will probably need to apply for a work visa.


For more information about the requirements needed to get a work visa go to Immigration New Zealand. The following links provide further information about your visa options for living and working in New Zealand.




What is it Like Working in New Zealand

New Zealand has an excellent public health system. Twenty District Health Boards (DHBs) of varying sizes are responsible to provide or fund the provision of health services both in hospitals and the community. Each year the health sector works to achieve national health targets, which means there is a continual need for skilled professionals.


Right now, there are many opportunities for experienced nursing staff to join our teams across the country – from the winterless north through to the beautiful south. If a work-life balance is important to you, New Zealand could be the perfect place to further your career.


Salaries do range depending if you are working in the public or private sector or acute and age care sector, as a permanent member of staff or through any agency, it is therefore important to do your homework. Salaries range between, $60,000 NZD to £100,000 NZD depending on your role, level of responsibility and sector. Vacation also ranges slightly, however most employers offer 3 weeks paid holiday.



Extra info:

The following sites have got various forms of information which may help you out in your search and understanding on Nursing in New Zealand.


Accredited Competency Assessment Programmes:


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