Next steps in addressing identification issues for people born overseas

Update: 5 April 2023

Last year, the Department of Internal Affairs (the Department) consulted with transgender and non-binary people who were born overseas on the challenges they face using identification documents. This followed the Government’s commitment to look for ways to enable people born overseas to officially register their gender.

Feedback from consultation showed the issues are complex

Feedback indicated that the challenges go beyond being able to officially register gender. Key issues included limited access to photo identification with their accurate gender and name. There are also different challenges according to a person’s immigration status. Because of the complexity of the issue, there is no clear solution that we can implement that is widely acceptable across transgender communities in New Zealand.

Planned improvements in the next 12 months

Over the next 12 months, the Department will work on two operational improvements to support transgender people born overseas to use existing forms of identification:

  • enabling citizens to amend the gender on their citizenship record; and
  • work on enabling refugees to amend the gender on their refugee travel document (refugee travel documents are only available to refugees and not asylum seekers).

Work on a process to register gender will be revisited after development of digital identity tools

The Department is deferring further work on developing a process for people born overseas to register their gender. This will allow for time to assess how digital identity tools could contribute to solutions.

Digital identity tools could make a big difference in supporting transgender people born overseas to use their identification information. An example of a tool would be a digital identification credential that people can store on a phone app, like a digital wallet. People could then display their personal information or share personal information digitally to access a service.

Using digital identity tools could reduce the need for someone to share their personal information such as sex or gender information or their deadname when accessing a service, where such information is unnecessary.

Digital identity tools could also provide a more generic medium to share information. For instance, information that would be presented in a physical passport or in a physical refugee travel document, would instead be presented in the same digital format. This would help in addressing issues people face in using certain physical documents that are less widely recognised by service providers.

Next steps

The development of digital identity tools will be supported by ongoing work of the Government on digital identity, including the establishment of the Digital Identity Services Trust Framework. However, exact timeframes are still unclear. The Department will continue to monitor progress in the development of digital identity tools and how this may affect timeframes for supporting transgender people born overseas.

Once the digital identity tools have been developed, the Department will further advise the Minister of Internal Affairs on their impact and what further measures might be needed.

We will provide updates on this webpage on the progress of digital identity tools and on the operational work we are undertaking over the next 12 months.