New Zealand

Moving to New Zealand?

Connect with fellow expats in New Zealand
Join exciting events and groups
Get information in our New Zealand guides
Exchange tips about expat life in New Zealand

Visa Requirements for New Zealand

Expats moving to New Zealand should know about the different visa requirements.

New Zealand has two different types of immigration documents — visas and residence permits. While a visa is valid only to enter the country, the corresponding residence permits are given out upon arrival in New Zealand. They come in the form of visitor permits, work permits, study permits, and other sorts of residence permits, each involving different rights and duties for the holder.

Visitor and Residence Permits

Depending on your country of origin, you may be able to travel to New Zealand as a temporary visitor without a visa for up to 3 months. You will receive a visitor permit once you have been admitted to the country. On the website of Immigration New Zealand you can check whether you need to apply for a visa or not.

In all other cases, you need to apply for your residence permit beforehand. For a stay of 24 months or more, you are required to undergo health examinations and may be obliged to hand in a police clearance certificate. This process is necessary, regardless of the kind of permit you are applying for.

Work Permits

Taking up any kind of employment requires a work permit. Work permits are usually only granted to applicants who already have a confirmed job offer as well as a work contract signed by a New Zealand employer.

During the application process, the expat-to-be has to provide proof of their qualifications for the job, while the future employer has to show that it was impossible to find a New Zealander for the position in question. Before granting a permit, authorities conduct what is called a Labour Market Test. It, too, examines the possible availability of qualified workers in the local labor market.

Visas for Young Expats

A very popular way for young people to explore New Zealand is the Working Holiday Scheme. Foreign nationals between 18 and 30 years of age can receive a 12-month visa and work permit to travel around the country. They finance their stay by taking up odd jobs along the road. Recently, the government removed existing quotas, granting many more young adventurers this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Those planning to study in New Zealand have to obtain a study permit. In addition to a confirmed place at a higher education institution in the country, applicants have to provide proof of having paid the tuition fee. Study permits are only issued for the exact period for which tuition has been paid in advance. Under certain conditions, holders of study permits can take up part-time employment in New Zealand. Some regulations enable those students who have received a degree in New Zealand to attain a subsequent work permit more easily.

Visas for Highly-Skilled Workers

Finally, each year New Zealand grants a certain number of highly-skilled workers the opportunity to settle in the country as permanent residents. The three basic requirements for permanent residence include good health, what is generally referred to as good character (proven by a police clearance certificate), and good English language skills.

A minimum of three years of professional education or university studies is also required. A point system awards points for English language ability, employability factors, and settlement factors. It is then determined which applicants will be given the possibility to make New Zealand their new long-term home. If you are interested in seeking highly-skilled employment in New Zealand, you can check the Silver Fern visas and their requirements.


We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete. 


Serhat Ahmed

"With all of the information that InterNations provided on Wellington, it made my move from Turkey easier than I could have imagined."

Melanie Rasbery

"Since I knew about the active expat network in New Zealand, InterNations made moving to Wellington more exciting than it had seemed before."

Expat Magazine

Top Articles Expat Guide