The Department of Internal Affairs

The Department of Internal Affairs

Te Tari Taiwhenua

Building a safe, prosperous and respected nation

 

Services › Citizenship › General Requirements for a Grant of New Zealand Citizenship

You can find information below about New Zealand citizenship by grant. This includes:

Citizenship Online Calculation Tool

Using the Citizenship Online Calculation Tool, answer simple questions to help you decide whether you satisfy the requirements for New Zealand citizenship by grant. Please note this is not an application form.


Requirements for a Grant of New Zealand Citizenship

You may be eligible for a grant of New Zealand citizenship if you: Each of these requirements is described below in more detail. Also detailed below are other requirements for applicants aged under 16 years.

Previously, applications could have been assessed under a three year residence requirement, however this no longer exists. For further information please contact us.


Intention

You must intend, if granted New Zealand citizenship, to continue to reside in New Zealand.

Otherwise, you must intend to enter into or continue in one of the following:
  • Crown Service under the New Zealand Government; or
  • Service under an international organisation of which the New Zealand Government is a member; or
  • Service in the employment of a person, company, society or other body of persons resident or established in New Zealand.
How is the requirement assessed?
You must advise the Citizenship Office if you intend to go overseas..

Important things you need to know
If you travel overseas after lodging your application, the processing may not be completed until you return to New Zealand.

English

You must have sufficient knowledge of the English language.

How is the requirement assessed?
You must be able to demonstrate that you can manage independently in everyday situations.

We will be looking at your standard of education, the nature of your employment and any face-to-face communication that you have had with the Citizenship Office.

Important things you need to know
We may require you to attend an English language interview. The purpose of this interview will be to assess your ability to meet the English language requirement.


Good Character

You need to be of good character.

How is the requirement assessed?
To determine whether you are of good character the Minister will consider the answers you have given in your application. We will also complete background checks with the New Zealand Police and other agencies. Things that are taken into account include:
  • criminal convictions;
  • infringements;
  • having an active protection order against you;
  • any other information received from other agencies.
Convictions
Except in very rare circumstances, you will be disqualified from meeting the good character requirement if:
  • you have been in prison for five years or more; or
  • you have been sentenced to an indefinite term of imprisonment capable of running for five years or more; or
  • within the previous seven years you were subject to a sentence of imprisonment of less than five years; or
  • within the previous three years you were convicted of an offence but did not receive a sentence of imprisonment.
Pending charges
If you have committed any offence against the law of New Zealand or another country for which you have not yet been sentenced in court you may not meet the good character requirement.

Infringements and fines
Infringements are offences that are usually dealt with by giving fines, rather than going to court, such as speeding tickets, not having a warrant of fitness for your car, going over the fishing quota, or bringing fruit into New Zealand. If you have infringements this may affect your ability to meet the good character requirement.

Protection orders
Protection orders include non-molestation, protection, police safety or other domestic violence orders. These orders generally mean that you have been told by the Police to stay away from someone. If you have had one of these you may not meet the good character requirement.

Legal action against you by a government agency
If you have ever been investigated, reviewed or had legal action taken against you by certain organisations in New Zealand or any other country please tell us; for example, if you have been investigated by Immigration New Zealand on suspicion of immigration fraud. These agencies are: Police, Customs, Immigration, NZ Transport Agency, Department of Internal Affairs, Passport Issuing Authority, Work and Income, Inland Revenue and Ministry of Justice. The outcome of the investigation may affect your ability to meet the good character requirement.

Terrorism
If you have ever been involved in an activity that may have contributed to terrorism you may not meet the good character requirement. ‘Terrorism’ includes the use or threat of action intended to create fear, and is carried out for an ideological, political and/or religious goal and deliberately targets or disregards the safety of civilians.

Making or using weapons
If you have ever had any involvement in making or using biological, chemical, nuclear or radiological weapons you must tell us.

War crime or a crime against humanity
You must tell us if you have ever committed a war crime or a crime against humanity as this may affect your ability to meet the good character requirement.

Overseas police clearance
You may be asked to provide a police clearance from overseas if you have spent a long time outside New Zealand in the past twelve years. Generally, clearances may be requested if you have been settled in a place outside New Zealand for:
  • four or more months during the previous three years; or
  • twelve or more months during the previous four to twelve year period (with New Zealand residency); or
  • four months or more during the processing of your citizenship application; or
  • four months or more after approval and before attending a ceremony.
However, overseas police clearances may still be requested from you even if your situation does not meet the general guidelines above. This will be assessed on a case by case basis.

Ministry of Justice checks
You may need to provide a clearance from the Ministry of Justice depending on your age.

If you...
Then...
Are 14, 15 or 16 years oldYou need to provide a clearance letter from the Ministry of Justice
Are 17, 18, 19, 20, 21or 22 years old, and you were in New Zealand at anytime when you were 14, 15 or 16 years oldYou need to provide a clearance letter from the Ministry of Justice

If you need to provide a clearance you can access the application form 'Priv/F1' from the Ministry of Justice and send it to the address at the top of the page. When you receive the clearance from the Ministry of Justice please lodge it with your application.

Bankruptcy
Having been made bankrupt may affect your ability to meet the character requirement, but generally only if this was related to fraudulent activity.

Important things you need to know


Changes to answers given in the application
If there is any change in your circumstances that affects the answers you give in your application then you must let us know as soon as possible. If you choose not to, your ability to get New Zealand citizenship or your ability to continue to be a New Zealand citizen, if granted, may be affected.

Criminal Records (Clean Slate) Act 2004
Some people with previous criminal convictions in New Zealand may be able to conceal their criminal record under the Criminal Records (Clean Slate) Act 2004. A person may be eligible to conceal their record if they have:
  • had no convictions within the last seven years;
  • never been in prison (or other custodial sentence);
  • never been detained in a mental institution instead of being sentenced;
  • not been convicted of certain specified offences (e.g. relating to sexual offences);
  • paid all fines, costs, compensation and reparation imposed by the court;
  • never been disqualified indefinitely from holding or obtaining a drivers licence.
If you are eligible under the Clean Slate scheme you may answer any question about your criminal record by stating that you do not have a criminal record.

If you are uncertain whether you are able to conceal your record or would like further information please contact the Ministry of Justice.

Please Note: The Clean Slate scheme only applies to convictions in New Zealand. Any conviction you may have received outside New Zealand must be disclosed.

Responsibilities and Privileges

Becoming a New Zealand citizen means you will undertake responsibilities and you will enjoy the same privileges of a person born in New Zealand. You must be aware of these responsibilities and privileges.

Responsibilities


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.

Privileges


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.

Presence

To be eligible for a grant of New Zealand citizenship you must have New Zealand residence.

Residence means that Immigration New Zealand has allowed you to live in New Zealand indefinitely. You are required to have:
  1. Been present in New Zealand;
  2. Fully met any conditions imposed by Immigration New Zealand in regard to your New Zealand residence.

New Zealand residence

‘New Zealand residence’ means you have a residence permit, a residence visa, or a permanent residence visa issued by Immigration New Zealand or you are an Australian citizen or permanent resident.


Please Note: If you can show that there are exceptional circumstances that warrant a reduction, you may be considered as long as you have a minimum presence in New Zealand of 450 days with New Zealand residence in the 20 months before you make your application.
If you are under 16 years of age
If you are under 16 years of age at the time the Minister makes a decision and at least one of your parents is a New Zealand citizen (or has applied and is able to fulfil the requirements for a grant) you do not need to meet the five year presence requirement, although you will need New Zealand residence and will need to live in New Zealand.

If you are under 16 at the time the Minister makes a decision and neither of your parents is a New Zealand citizen (or is able to fulfil the requirements for a grant) you will need to meet the presence requirements.


If you are 16 years of age or over
If you are 16 or over, or turn 16 during the processing of your application, you need to meet the presence requirements yourself.


Other Requirements for Applicants Aged Under 16

Consent to apply
Applicants under 16 years of age need the consent of their parent(s) or legal guardian(s) to apply. If the consent of only one parent is available please contact us.

Applicants under 14 years old are not required to meet the English, character and knowledge requirements.

Successful applicants aged 14 years and over must attend a public citizenship ceremony where they take the oath or affirmation of allegiance. Successful applicants under 14 may attend a ceremony if they wish.