The Department of Internal Affairs

The Department of Internal Affairs

Te Tari Taiwhenua

Building a safe, prosperous and respected nation


Services › Citizenship › Citizenship by Grant: Frequently Asked Questions

For all queries regarding immigrating to New Zealand or obtaining New Zealand visas or residency, please contact New Zealand Immigration.


How long does a grant of New Zealand citizenship take to process?

  • It will usually take approximately four months from the time you send us your application to the time you are advised of the outcome of your application.
Where can I get an application form? What happens once you have received my application?
  • Once your application has been received it will be assigned to a case officer who will contact you.
When will you require my documents?
  • The Citizenship Office requires your documents when you submit your application. Documents will be returned by courier or at the interview (if required). Please contact us if you require your documents to be returned earlier.
After I apply, when will my documents be returned to me?
  • If you lodge your application in one of our offices during an appointment, we will usually return your documents to you during the apppointment.
  • If you lodge your application by mail, or by dropping it off our one of our offices and are required to attend an interview, your documents will be returned to you at your interview, which will usually be soon after we receive your application.
  • If you are not required to attend a citizenship interview, your documents will be couriered to you when the processing of your application is completed.
  • If you need your documents returned earlier the request may be made by phone or email by the applicant, consenting parent or agent. Please contact us with the following information:
    • Your full name/name of applicant(s)
    • Your date of birth/applicant(s) date of birth
    • Application number(s) (if known)
    • Courier address (for return of documents)
    • Date the documents are required
    • Reason for the early return of documents
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If I move house after I apply, how do I change my address with the Citizenship Office?
  • A change of address for a citizenship by grant application may be made by phone or email by the applicant, consenting parent or agent. Please contact us with the following information:
    • Your full name/name of applicant(s)
    • Your date of birth/applicant(s) date of birth
    • Application number(s) (if known
    • New address
    • New phone number (if applicable)
    • Date of move/intended move
Can I apply for citizenship early (i.e. before the five year period of residency is up)?
  • It is unlikely that a grant of New Zealand citizenship would be approved if the applicant has not already met the residence requirements. However, there are some exceptions to this. Please contact the Citizenship Office for more information.
Can I submit photocopies of my documents?
  • No. The Citizenship Office requires that all documents be originals. These will be returned to you.
Will applying for New Zealand citizenship affect my current citizenship?
  • New Zealand allows its citizens to hold multiple citizenships. However, some other countries do not allow this. You should check with the authorities of the country(ies) for which you currently hold citizenship before applying for New Zealand citizenship.
Can I leave New Zealand while my application is being processed?
  • Yes, although this may affect the processing of your application, so you must notify the Citizenship Office of your departure date and expected return date before you leave.
Can I apply from overseas?
  • Yes. However, applicants are expected to meet the residency requirements outlined in the application guide.
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How long do I need to have lived in New Zealand for? How good does my English have to be?
  • To become a New Zealand citizen you are usually expected to know enough English to be able to deal with everyday situations such as shopping or banking.
What does it mean to be 'of good character'?
  • Things such as traffic offences, benefit fraud or any court conviction may affect your good character eligibility to become a New Zealand citizen. Please contact us for more information.
What are the responsibilities and privileges of New Zealand citizenship?
Things that you must do:
  • Obey and promote the laws of New Zealand.
  • Not to act in a way that is against the interests of New Zealand.
  • Register to vote.
  • Pay tax.
  • Behave as a responsible New Zealander.

Things you have the right to do:
  • The right to live in New Zealand indefinitely.
  • Travel overseas and return to New Zealand on a New Zealand passport.
  • Stand for Parliament or local government.
  • Have full access to education.
  • Have full economic rights.
  • Represent New Zealand in many international sports.Back to top

The Interview

Do I have to attend an interview?
  • The Citizenship Office reserves the right to interview all applicants. Most applicants will not be interviewed as part of the citizenship process.
Where will the interview be?
  • If you apply from Auckland, Manukau, Wellington or Christchurch, you will be expected to attend an interview at our office. Applicants living outside of these areas will be contacted by a citizenship officer to make other arrangements.
What questions will be asked during the interview?
  • The questions asked will be used to confirm your personal details and your ability to meet the requirements of New Zealand citizenship.
How long will the interview take?
  • Citizenship interviews are usually one hour long.
Do I have to bring anything with me?
  • Your case officer will contact you if they require you to bring anything to the interview.
Can I bring a friend or family member to my interview?
  • You are welcome to bring a support person to the interview. However, you will be expected to answer all questions yourself.
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The Citizenship Ceremony

Do I have to attend a ceremony?
  • All applicants are required to attend a citizenship ceremony to be granted citizenship. The exception to this, who can choose whether they attend a ceremony are:
    • Applicants aged under 14.
    • Applicants who are already New Zealand citizens by descent.
    • People who are granted New Zealand citizenship through their mother being a New Zealand citizen.
When will my ceremony be?
  • You will be contacted in writing by the Citizenship Office once you have been placed in a ceremony. This is usually 3 to 4 months after your application is approved. You must attend a ceremony within twelve months of your citizenship being approved, or your citizenship application may lapse and you will have to make a new application.
  • All people approved for citizenship are required to attend a citizenship ceremony and take the oath or affirmation of allegiance before they become New Zealand citizens. Citizenship ceremonies are organised by the local authorities where you live, so it will depend on when ceremonies are next scheduled by your local authority, and how many other approved applicants are waiting. The Department of Internal Affairs will place you on a waiting list for a ceremony run by your local authority.
Where will my ceremony be?
  • Applicants are usually required to attend a ceremony in the area that they live.

Benefits of Citizenship by Grant Over Citizenship by Descent

What are the benefits of claiming a grant of citizenship instead of citizenship by descent?
  • Citizens by descent have all the rights of New Zealand citizenship, except that they cannot pass on their citizenship to any children born overseas.
  • Citizens by descent can receive a grant of New Zealand citizenship providing they meet all of the general requirements.

How can I get my application processed urgently as I have special circumstances?

In fairness to other applicants the Citizenship Office is reluctant to process applications out of the order in which they are received. The Citizenship Office does not have an official urgent service. However, the Citizenship Office does urgently process applications on humanitarian grounds or in cases where citizenship urgency is required in order to represent New Zealand (e.g. serving in the armed forces, sports representative etc.). Applicants in these situations must provide evidence to support the need for urgency and additionally New Zealand citizenship must be the only option available in their situation.

The Citizenship Office does not generally consider that the need for a New Zealand passport to travel a sufficient reason for an application to be processed urgently and we suggest that you make arrangements to travel on your current passport.

If you would like to explore this matter further please put your request in writing, along with original evidence, to the Citizenship General Manager, PO Box 10680, Wellington 6143.

Where can I get further information about my application?

Further information is available by contacting us. A language line service providing interpreting services in foreign languages is available on request.
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