Consultation on the application fee for nurses from overseas countries (except Australia) applying for registration in New Zealand

Why are we consulting?


The principal purpose of the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act 2003 (the Act) is to protect the health and safety of members of the public by providing for mechanisms to ensure that health practitioners are competent and fit to practise.
The Nursing Council registers nurses from overseas jurisdictions to allow them practise in New Zealand. It must be satisfied that they have the prescribed qualifications and experience, are fit for registration and competent to practise. They must also meet fitness for registration requirements by supplying evidence of good standing with an overseas registration board, a criminal history check, declarations of investigations or disciplinary orders from other jurisdictions and meet English language requirements.

The number of applications from overseas nurses has been increasing steadily and has doubled in the last 5 years. Overseas nurses are now applying from a wide range of countries and it is difficult for the Council to maintain its knowledge about educational and registration bodies in other countries. There is a risk that Council may accept documents which are not from a valid education provider or fraudulent documents. This poses a risk to public safety. It is difficult to maintain the expertise and current databases of education providers, registration authorities and employers.

In 2018 the Council decided to outsource the primary verification of all documents to an organisation that specialises in this activity – CGFNS International. From October 2019 overseas applicants must complete this process with CGFNS before applying to the Nursing Council for registration. The Medical Council of New Zealand introduced a similar requirement for primary source verification in November 2017.

The Council undertook extensive investigation into options for primary source verification. CGFNS has extensive experience in verifying documents for nursing and other health professions in the United States and Canada.

Proposal to lower the application fee


The Council is proposing to lower the application fee for overseas nurse registration from October 2019. This is because it will no longer be checking all of the required documents as this will be outsourced to CGFNS International. The Council will still be assessing applicants’ qualifications, experience, registration information and making decisions on whether an assessment of competence is required.

The Council bases this fee on a cost recovery model that includes direct costs (such as staff time) and indirect costs (overheads). The cost has been estimated on the cost of an individual application. The number of applications from overseas nurses cannot be predicted accurately because of external factors such as employment practices in New Zealand and the changing requirements of other countries that may be preferred by overseas nurse applicants. The Council intends to review this fee again in 2021.

CGFNS International will be charging a fee of US$300 or approximately NZ$450. The applicant may be able to use this primary source verification for registration in other jurisdictions.

The current fee for applications for overseas nurses is $650. The Council is proposing to lower its fee to $485 from October 2019, which is a reduction of more than 20%.

Therefore, the overall cost for overseas nurse applicants will be approximately NZ$935 – a rise of NZ$ $285 from October 2019.

Nurses registered in Australia are not required to complete the same process under the Trans-Tasman Mutual Recognition Act 1997. They have a separate application fee and will not be required to complete the CGFNS process.

How to make a submission


 Consultation on this proposal closed on Thursday 4 July 2019.

Next steps


The Council will consider the outcome of the consultation and expects to publish a new fee by October 2019. The new process will be implemented in October 2019. More information about the new process will be made available to overseas nurses and employers in September 2019. The standards for registration of internationally qualified nurses will remain the same. It is expected that the CGFNS process will add up to 4-6 weeks to the processing timeframe, but this is dependent on nurses and overseas organisations supplying the correct documents.