Nursing Council Requirements
To be eligible to register there are seven requirements for registration that you must meet to make sure you are safe, competent and prepared to nurse in New Zealand. Documentation required to meet these requirements is described in the CGFNS Applicant Portal here.
You must be able to prove that you are who you say you are.
Applicants must provide notarised/certified colour copies of their passport and one other form of identity documents directly to CGFNS to verify your current name (with no abbreviations).
Acceptable forms of photo identification (ID) are:
- Passports (required)
- Driver’s License(s)
- Other government-issued photo identification
To be acceptable, all photo IDs are required to include a clear photo.
Documents to support a change in name
Applicants must also provide notarised/certified copies of any other names that appear on any of the other documents required to support the application for registration with the Nursing Council.
Other acceptable forms of identification include:
- Birth Certificates
- Marriage Certificates
- Divorce Certificates
- Legal Name Change Affidavits
All identity documents provided in support of the application for registration must be current at the date of application to CGFNS.
English Language Requirements
To register in Aotearoa New Zealand, you must satisfy us that you are able to communicate effectively, and that your ability to communicate in and comprehend English is sufficient to protect the health and safety of the public.
The most common pathway to provide evidence of your English language competence is to pass a Nursing Council approved English language test. The Nursing Council approved English language tests are Occupational English Test (OET) and International English Language Testing System (IELTS) Academic.
For OET you must achieve a minimum score of 350 for reading, listening, and speaking; and a minimum score of 300 for writing.
For IELTS Academic you must achieve a minimum score of 7 for reading, listening, and speaking; and a minimum score of 6.5 for writing.
You can achieve the minimum score in the English language tests over more than one sitting; however, the required score must be met within 12 months of first sitting the test and met within three years of your CGFNS report being transmitted to Nursing Council.
Please note that the Nursing Council of New Zealand does not currently accept online computer-based tests. However, computer-based tests administered in an approved testing centre are accepted (this includes the OET on computer at venue with the speaking sub-test that is hosted online).
English language evidence pathways
Some nurses educated or registered in certain countries can provide evidence of English language competence through their education or registration pathways. Eligibility for these pathways is at the discretion of the Council, but you will always be eligible for the above test-based pathway.
Full information on our English language policy and requirements is available in the guidance document below.
English Language Competence Policy Guidance
You may be invited to apply for an alternate English language evidence pathway by CGFNS if your CGFNS application appears to meet one or more of the following criteria:
Your education that led to registration as a nurse was taught and examined in English in the United Kingdom, Singapore, Ireland, Canada, or the United States of America.
The Council may require you to provide evidence that you completed your nursing education in English, for example, a transcript from your education provider.
You have current nursing registration in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Canada, or the United States of America that required you to pass an English language test.
The Council may require you to provide evidence of this.
Each application for an alternate English language evidence pathway is assessed on an individual basis and will only be granted at the sole discretion of the Council. Additional evidence to support your application may be requested by the Council. Please note that assessing an application for an alternate English language evidence pathway may extend assessment timeframes. If your application is declined, you will be required to demonstrate language proficiency through an approved English language test.
You must hold a current overseas nursing registration. You must provide verification of good standing from all jurisdictions where you have registered and worked within the last 5 years.
Your nursing qualification must be comparable to a Bachelor of Nursing degree in New Zealand.
A Bachelor degree is at level 7 on the New Zealand Qualifications Framework (NZQF).
Level on NZQA
(New Zealand Qualifications Framework)
Level on EQF
Level 5 - 6
Bachelor’s degree, graduate certificate / diploma
Bachelor Honours Degree; Postgraduate certificate / diploma
The New Zealand Qualifications Authority describes Level 7 on the NZQF as having:
- Knowledge: specialised technical or theoretical knowledge with depth in one or more fields of work or study;
- Skills: analyse, generate solutions to unfamiliar and sometimes complex problems; select, adapt and apply a range of processes relevant to the field of work or study;
- Application: advanced generic skills and or specialized knowledge and skills in a professional context or field of study.
Please click here for more information.
Education programme standards
Your nursing qualification(s) will be assessed for comparability with the New Zealand programme standards:
- The programme must identify the expected learning outcomes for each course and how these learning outcomes are met and assessed
- The programme must also show how nursing knowledge and skills are expanded and extended across the duration of the programme
- 50% of the theory hours must have a clear nursing focus.
If your programme does not contain enough theory and clinical experience, or the theory content is not comparable to New Zealand content in specific areas of nursing, then a condition may be added to your scope of practice.
Nursing qualifications gained after registration
We will consider nursing qualifications or papers completed at graduate level when assessing your qualification(s). We are looking to see that you have further developed your knowledge from your initial qualification to be comparable with level 7 or above on the NZQF.
We will also consider evidence of professional development completed post registration that is relevant to nursing practice.
You must be able to provide evidence in the form of a self-declaration that you have practised nursing for at least two years (including 2,500 hours) within the last five years, as defined below.
If you have not worked as a nurse for at least two of the last five years, you may still apply for the credential verification service. However, there is no guarantee that you will be recommended for registration.
NOTE: if you have no post registration experience at all, you are not eligible to apply for registration.
The definition of the registered nurse scope of practice:
Registered nurses utilise nursing knowledge and complex nursing judgment to assess health needs and provide care, and to advise and support people to manage their health. They practise independently and in collaboration with other health professionals, perform general nursing functions, and delegate to and direct enrolled nurses, health care assistants and others. They provide comprehensive assessments to develop, implement, and evaluate an integrated plan of health care, and provide interventions that require substantial scientific and professional knowledge, skills and clinical decision making. This occurs in a range of settings in partnership with individuals, families, whānau and communities.
Registered nurses may practise in a variety of clinical contexts depending on their educational preparation and practice experience. Registered nurses may also use this expertise to manage, teach, evaluate and research nursing practice. Registered nurses are accountable for ensuring all health services they provide are consistent with their education and assessed competence, meet legislative requirements and are supported by appropriate standards.
You must be able to demonstrate you are fit for registration. You will be advised when to apply for your criminal history checks during the application process.
Please note that the Nursing Council has changed the requirements for International Criminal History Checks (ICHC). If you submitted your application to Nursing Council on or after 01 August 2022, we will require you to complete ICHC only for countries that you have lived in for 12 months or more in the last 7 years. If you submitted your application to Nursing Council prior to 01 August 2022, you are still required to complete ICHC for any country that you have lived in for 12 months or longer within the last 10 years.
If you have lived in New Zealand for six months or more, you are required to complete a criminal history check through the Ministry of Justice (MOJ).
You must be able to demonstrate that you are competent to practise in New Zealand.
Many nurses who have been registered overseas will need to have a test of competence before we can grant New Zealand registration.
If you hold current registration in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Singapore, the United States of America or Canada, you may not need to have an assessment of competence prior to registration as a nurse in New Zealand because the role and healthcare context in these countries is similar.
We will advise you if you need to complete a pre-registration test of competence after we assess your application.
Culturally Safe Nursing Practice
To help ensure all nurses in New Zealand have the knowledge and skills to provide culturally safe care, the Nursing Council requires internationally qualified nurses to complete two free online courses prior to registration.
The two courses provide fundamental knowledge for culturally safe nursing practice and introduce Te Tiriti o Waitangi.
Read more information here
Theoretical exam and Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE)
Any internationally qualified nurse who applies to NCNZ for the registered nurse scope of practice from 4th December 2023, and is required to undertake an assessment of competence, will need to successfully complete the following:
- an online theoretical exam that tests nursing knowledge, taken at an accredited exam centre overseas or in New Zealand.
- a two-day orientation and preparation course followed by a clinical examination known as an Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE). The OSCE takes three hours and tests a nurse’s clinical skills. These will take place in person in New Zealand at an accredited centre.
Competence Assessment Programmes (CAPs)
Any internationally qualified nurse who applies to NCNZ before the 4th of December 2023, and is required to undertake an assessment of competence, will need to successfully complete a Competence Assessment Programme (CAP).
The CAP prepares overseas nurses for the nursing role and healthcare context of New Zealand, which is different to many other countries.
CAPs are generally six to twelve weeks long and include theory and clinical components.
You can find out more about Competence Assessment Programmes here.