Frequently Asked Questions

What is changing?

The Nursing Council is changing the competence assessment requirements for internationally qualified nurses applying for registration in New Zealand.

At the direction of the Council, some applicants will need to successfully complete an assessment of competence.

This assessment will be completed in two parts:

  • an online theoretical examination that tests nursing knowledge, taken at an accredited exam centre, overseas or in New Zealand.
  • and
  • a two-day orientation and preparation course followed by a clinical examination known as an Objective Structured Clinical Exam (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.

What does this mean if I have already applied for registration to the Nursing Council, or I apply to the Nursing Council before the commencement date?

If you currently have an application being assessed by the Nursing Council, or apply before the commencement date and are required to undergo a competence assessment, you may have the opportunity to undertake the existing Competence Assessment Programme.

Why is the Council introducing a new application process?

We are introducing the new process to

  • offer an objective, standardised, and consistent approach to assess competence
  • protect public safety by being objective and fair while requiring knowledge of New Zealand’s unique practice setting
  • uphold the principles of Te Tiriti o Waitangi by requiring culturally safe practice, examined in the OSCE
  • align with other international regulators taking a similar approach.

Will I need to do the two online culturally safe nursing practice courses?

All internationally qualified nurses will need to undertake the online learning courses as advertised on our website. This is in place to provide an overview of culturally safe nursing practice in New Zealand.

What is the theoretical examination?

The theoretical exam tests nursing knowledge, across a range of competencies, including the ethical and legislative requirements to practice in New Zealand, medicine calculations, and the management of nursing care.

It is an online exam taken at a Nursing Council-accredited exam centre, overseas or in New Zealand.

What is the OSCE?

An Objective Structured Clinical Exam (OSCE) tests clinical skills through a series of simulated clinical settings (‘stations’) and is undertaken in person in New Zealand. The OSCE will take on average 3 hours and will involve a range of different clinical scenarios representing clinical skills and management of patient care.

These types of assessments are widely used for assessing health professionals internationally.

Do I have to do my clinical exam (OSCE) in New Zealand?

Yes, you will need to be in New Zealand to be able to take the clinical exam, known as an OSCE, at a Nursing Council-accredited site.

Do I need to undertake the orientation and preparation course as well as the OSCE?

Yes, you do. The orientation and preparation course will assist with your preparation to nurse in New Zealand as well as familiarise you with the basic equipment for the OSCE.

Even if you are familiar with the New Zealand health setting, we still require you to undertake the orientation and preparation course before taking the OSCE.

The orientation, exam preparation and OSCE are scheduled together over a three-day period.

Do all international nurses have to complete the new competence assessment requirements?

The assessment of competence is at the direction of the Council.

Some internationally qualified nurses will not be required to complete the theoretical examination, orientation and preparation course and OSCE.

This requirement will be communicated to you after we have assessed your application.

What happens if I fail either my theoretical or OSCE exams?

You will be given the opportunity to re-sit the theory exam or the practical exam (OSCE) or both.

Does the new system include CGFNS verification of documentation?

Yes, you will need to submit your documents and have them verified by CGFNS before you can begin your application to the Nursing Council for registration. Please click here for further detail on the CGFNS process.

Those who have already applied to CGFNS will continue with the process.

Are the English language assessment requirements changing?

No. There will be no change to the current English language requirements. Further information about the current English language evidence pathways can be found here.

How much will this new application process cost?

We will announce the fee structure soon.

The Council is committed to ensuring the fees for our new processes will not exceed the current average cost of the competence assessment programmes.

Is it the same process for Enrolled Nurses?

The Nursing Council is developing a dedicated pathway to registration for Enrolled Nurses.

We are first rolling out the new application process for Registered Nurses. Enrolled Nurses can continue to apply under the existing system.

What if I am a nurse with an Australian practising certificate?

Nurses with a current Australian practising certificate have a separate process.

Under the TTMR agreement, you would apply to the Nursing Council here.