Frequently asked questions

Self-identification, including children and young people categories

What is “self-identification”?

A self-identification process for amending the sex on a birth certificate is a simple administrative process that requires a statutory declaration. It is based on how a person identifies, rather than eligibility criteria such as medical treatment.

Why are sex markers being changed when the issue is about gender?

Sex markers have been changed to helptakatāpui, transgender, non-binary, and intersex New Zealanders have an identity document that aligns with who they are.The presentation of both sex and gender fields could show a person has amended their birth certificate and lead to them experiencing discrimination.

When will gender self-identification come into effect?

The self-identification process will replace the Family Court process by mid-2023.

What happens if I’ve already amended the sex on my birth certificate and would like to amend it again via self-identification?

People who have already amended the sex on their birth certificate will be able to apply again under the self-identification process when it comes into force. These individuals’ first application under the self-identification process will be exempt from the additional requirements that may be required when a person applies more than once.

How much will it cost to amend a birth certificate via self-identification?

The fees will be reviewed. It currently costs $55 and a further $33 - $35 for a new birth certificate. A name change costs $170.

Will children and young people have access to the self-identification process?

Children and young people will have access to the self-identification process with some support from guardians and/or suitably qualified third parties.

16 and 17 year olds will need the consent of either their guardians or support from a suitably qualified third party. Guardians will apply on behalf of children under 16, with the child’s consent, and will require support from a suitably qualified third party.

What will be done to ensure that children and young people are not disadvantaged by unsupportive parents or guardians?

Where 16 and 17 year olds have unsupportive guardians, they have the option of using a third party. The intention is to have an accessible pool of third parties, so the requirements will not be overly restrictive.

The risk of children not being able to access the process due to unsupportive guardians has been balanced against recognising a guardian’s responsibilities to help their child make important decisions.

Why are the requirements different for children and young people?

The requirements for 16 and 17 year olds reflect that they have greater competency than children, but are not yet legal adults and could still make or be pressured into a decision they regret later.

The requirements for children recognise a guardian’s responsibility to help their child make important decisions. While some children have the capacity to make decisions on their own, not all children do. This is demonstrated in healthcare settings where a child’s competency is determined by a case by case assessment. Replicating this assessment in an administrative process is not possible.

Questions about overseas born people

Do people born overseas have access to the process to amend their registered sex in New Zealand?

The new legislation does not include a process for overseas born people to register their gender. The self-identification provisions updated the way people born in New Zealand amend the sex recorded on their birth certificate. People born overseas do not have a New Zealand birth certificate and the Department of Internal Affairs cannot alter a birth certificate issued overseas.

Can people born overseas still go to the Family Court?

Under the 1995 legislation, anyone seeking to amend the sex on their birth certificate had to go to the Family Court for a Declaration as to Sex. People born in New Zealand used the Family Court’s Declaration to apply to the Registrar-General of Births, Deaths and Marriages to amend the sex recorded on their birth certificate.

People born overseas do not have a birth certificate issued in New Zealand, so this cannot be updated.

Instead, people born overseas have used the Family Court process to get the Declaration to use as proof of their sex or gender.

Once the self-identification changes come into effect in 2023, the Family Court process won’t exist anymore, and people born overseas will not be able to get a Declaration as to Sex from the Family Court. Applications which are received by the Family Court before the self-identification changes come into effect on 15 June 2023 will continue to be processed.

Questions about the implications of self-identification for service providers

What does the new law say about how service providers should consider birth certificates as evidence of sex or gender?

The new legislation clarifies how birth certificates can be used as evidence of sex or gender. Where service providers need to determine someone’s sex or gender, other factors can be considered over and above the sex listed on a birth certificate. This reflects the fact that birth certificates are not intended to be considered evidence of a person’s identity (usually birth certificates are provided with other documents such as a driver licence or passports to prove identity).

What will self-identification mean for single sex spaces and activities such as changing rooms and sports teams?

The self-identification process should not affect how access to single sex spaces or sports is determined. Birth certificates are not usually used to determine a person’s right to access single sex services or spaces.

Organisations and individuals can continue to rely on their own policies rather than birth certificates. For example, it is still up to individual governing bodies to determine how sex and gender are determined in sport. It is also still up to individual schools to discuss with learners, parents, caregivers and whānau what name and gender learners use, regardless of the details on their birth certificates. 

How will self-identification affect the placement of people in prison?

The self-identification process should not affect the placement of people in prison. Corrections is exploring a policy change to ensure birth certificates are not an overriding consideration in placement decisions. Any changes will come into force alongside the self-identification process.