Qualifying as a nurse was the proudest day of my life. As was the moment I stood in Manchester airport in 2018, waiting to take off to travel 10,000 miles to the other side of the world. Becoming a nurse and travelling to Australia were my two biggest milestones in my life and now that I’ve made both happen I’m making more and more of my dreams come true.
Australia was just the start of my travelling adventures and unbeknown to me it would only be the start of my travel nursing adventure too. A year later I’m now exploring the majestic island of New Zealand and of course, I’m keeping my career on track too.
You’ll know if you’ve been following my blog for a while then I’m a huge advocate for travelling whilst nursing at the same time! Before I took the plunge I thought it would be so hard to get registered in other countries. I thought the processes would be long and expensive. Whilst in some respects that is true, it’s all 100% worth it in my eyes! I create these posts about getting registered do help nurses like you feel a little reassured that whilst these processes can be daunting they really aren’t that bad!
In this particular post, I’m giving some insight into my experience of the New Zealand nursing registration for international nurses process.
Disclosure: Please note that this post is my personal experience only. This is not immigration advice. This information was correct at my time of application and may differ from the current requirements. This is simply the experience I had when applying for nursing registration in New Zealand.
Why Register as a Nurse in New Zealand?
After travelling to Australia whilst nursing for a year I didn’t want to start travelling again and leave my career behind. Right now, I can’t imagine doing anything other than nursing so, I try to take it everywhere I can. Since the requirements are similar to the UK and Australia and they speak English in New Zealand I figured that I’d get my registration in New Zealand too. Getting my nursing registration in New Zealand was actually the simplest process I’ve ever been through when it comes to nursing. If you’re a fellow nurse reading this then you’ll know how much paperwork we often find ourselves filling out!
Luckily getting my registration as an international nurse in New Zealand was straight forward. But that’s because I’m already registered with AHPRA in Australia. For my guide on getting registered with AHPRA as an international nurse check out this post. If you are registered as a nurse in Australia you can apply for registration in New Zealand via the Trans-Tasman Mutual Recognition Act 1997.
What is the Trans-Tasman Mutual Recognition Act for international nurses?
The Trans Tasman Mutual Recognition Act is an agreement that the New Zealand Nursing Council have with AHPRA. If you’re registered as a nurse in Australia then you can become registered in New Zealand through this mutual agreement between the two countries. This agreement is for anyone who is registered in Australia not, just international nurses. Bear in mind that you have to be on active on the AHPRA register. So, you need to keep paying AHPRA registration for as long as you want to be a registered international nurse in New Zealand. In the rest of this post, I’m going to give some tips on applying for New Zealand Registration as an International Nurse via the Trans-Tasman agreement and applying for a work visa.
Before You Apply for New Zealand Nursing Registration as an International Nurse
Before applying for your registration in New Zealand is always good to do some research first. Nursing in New Zealand is different compared to Australia. Australia uses agency nurses a lot in most big cities. This allows nurses to have a lot of flexibility and seeing the country as well. In New Zealand, they don’t use agency nursing very much, not in the same way they do in Australia anyway. So its good to do some research on what jobs are available around New Zealand. It’s wise to do so before spending time and money to get registered. It’s also good to do some reading on the New Zealand Nursing Council website to ensure you meet the requirements of becoming a registered nurse in New Zealand.
Here are some useful links to consider taking a look at before applying for registration:
- New Zealand Nursing Council
- New Zealand Nursing Code of Conduct
- International Qualified Nurses in New Zealand
How to Apply for New Zealand Nursing Registration for International Nurses via The Trans-Tasman Mutual Recognition Act
To apply for New Zealand nursing registration as an international nurse you’ll need to create an account on the nursing council website. You can apply for the registration online which makes the process super quick. After completing the registration form the processing time for gaining registration in New Zealand via the Mutual Recognition is 5-10 working days. You’ll need to get some documents certifying before sending off the application form. The documents I needed to get certified were:
- Copy of Passport Certified
- Certified Copy of Original Nursing Qualification – original nursing certificate from the university you attended.
- Certified Copy of AHPRA Registration – it is acceptable to use the downloaded copy from AHPRA online. You’ll need to print it out to show the Justice of the Peace but you can show the original on your phone.
These are the documents that I had to get certified as of August 2019. The documents differ depending on your application for example if you’ve changed your name. So make sure you go through the application form before getting anything certified.
Once the documents are certified simply upload them online to the application form and send it off. It’s really simple and my registration only took 6 days to come back.
Certifying Documents in New Zealand and Australia
Getting documents certified in New Zealand and Australia is free, unlike the UK where it does cost. It cost me 70 GBP for six items certifying when I first applied for my AHPRA registration. You can Google the nearest Justice of the Peace or Notary of the Public for times closest to you. If you’re in Australia and want to start working in New Zealand as soon as you land then make sure you complete the application form in Australia.
How Much Does the New Zealand Nursing Registration for International Nurses Cost?
Nursing registration in New Zealand for international nurses does cost like everything else in life. The fee to apply for the registration through the Trans Tasman Recognition Act is a non-refundable $340. I don’t know if that means no refund if they don’t accept your registration application, you’ll have to some research into that. But if you’re registered in Australia there shouldn’t be a problem for you, hopefully.
Annual Practising Certificate for International Nurses in New Zealand
After your registrations as an international nurse has been approved, you’ll then need an Annual Practising Certificate (APC) in New Zealand to be able to practise. This is essentially like paying your registration fee every year in the UK or Australia. This keeps you on the registration for another year. It threw me off slightly after paying for the registration as I was unaware I’d need to do this as well. It’s really simple once your registration has been approved online you’ll be taken the page where you pay for your APC. For one year it cost me $137.50 and your renewal date will be the month that your birthday falls.
So altogether the cost of registering in New Zealand as an international nurse for me was $477.50 or 239 GBP. It is expensive but it’s so rewarding to be able to travel the world whilst keeping a nursing career. New Zealand has been an easy country to transition to as a Neonatal Intensive Care Nurse (NICU) as it is very similar to Australia. So far I haven’t noticed a big difference in any drugs or main practices. Australia and New Zealand work very closely together in terms of evidence-based practice.
After paying for the APC you should be able to nurse in New Zealand. The New Zealand Nursing Council may request some Certificates of Good Standing from other nursing bodies you’ve worked under. But it will be different for each individual application. As a UK and Australian registered nurse, I didn’t need to provide any extra documentation.
Applying for a Work Visa in New Zealand
A question that I often get asked is if you need a visa before applying for nursing registration is if you need a visa first. I guess that’s entirely up to you. You don’t need to show proof of a current visa when applying for nursing registration via the Trans Tasman agreement but I think it’s always sensible to get a visa first. To be able to work in New Zealand you need a work visa. So there isn’t much point in applying for registration if you aren’t eligible to work in the country. The process of getting a Working Holiday Visa for New Zealand is quite straight forward if you’re eligible. I can’t speak for any other work visas here in New Zealand as I’ve personally only applied for a Working Holiday Visa.
I hope you enjoyed this post on applying for New Zealand nursing registration for international nurses and I really hope you found it helpful. It is relatively straight forward to apply via the Trans-Tasman agreement. If you are applying for registration straight to New Zealand then the process will be a lot more complex.
I’ve got a whole post on gaining AHPRA registration in Australia which you will find useful if you’re heading out to Australia first! I can’t recommend nursing in Australia more, the pay is great and opportunities are everywhere. I wrote a post on my experience of nursing in Australia here too which you might find helpful.
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