New Zealand Nursing Council Standards & Requirements For Overseas Nurses

Here are the standards and requirements for joining the NZ healthcare sector as an Nurse.

The New Zealand Nursing Council (NZNC) is the governing body that regulates and sets standards for nurses in New Zealand. They are responsible for ensuring that all overseas nurses meet the same standards of practice, qualifications and competency as their New Zealand counterparts by setting rigorous requirements, such as English language proficiency and registration with the NZNC.

Here is what you should know as an overseas Nurse that wishes to join New Zealand Workforce

To ensure that you can nurse safely, competently, and diligently in New Zealand, seven qualifications must be met before registration is approved.

1. Identity

Submit notarized copies of two forms of identification (one being a passport) directly to CGFNS that verify your current name, with no abbreviations. In addition, you must submit additional identity documents to verify any other names that you once held that may appear on any documents CGFNS will receive from your educational institutions, license/registration authorities, employers or language testing vendors.

  • Acceptable forms of photo identification (ID) are:
  • Passports (required)
  • Driver’s License(s)
  • Other government-issued photo identification
  • Other acceptable forms of identification include:
  • Birth Certificates
  • Marriage Certificates
  • Divorce Certificates
  • Legal Name Change Affidavits

For a photo ID to be accepted, it must include your current and clear likeness (color copies are preferred) and not have expired by the time CGFNS receives it.

It is your responsibility to cover the fees related to having all of your notarized documents prepared. If any paperwork you submit was written in a language other than English, it must be officially translated by an accredited translator.

CGFNS will not accept original identity documents; however, they do acknowledge notarized copies of the originals. These must be signed, dated and stamped by a licensed individual authorised to authenticate documentation- such as a notary public or lawyer.

It is imperative that you are present when the notary copies and attests to your original documents - for any kind of identity document, a statement must be made by the notary verifying that they have seen the actual documents and affirming that it is indeed an accurate duplicate (unless it’s a legal name affidavit which itself serves as an authentic record).

2. English Language Requirements

To be successfully registered in New Zealand, you must demonstrate your excellent proficiency with the English language. This will ensure that our citizens are safe from any potential communication-related risks or dangers.

The most reliable way to demonstrate your English language proficiency is by taking and passing a Nursing Council-endorsed test. The two available options, which have been approved by the Nursing Council, are the Occupational English Test (OET) or International English Language Testing System (IELTS) Academic exam.

In order to pass the OET, a minimum score of 350 is necessary for reading, listening, and speaking; whereas writing requires only a 300.

To successfully pass the IELTS Academic exam, you must attain a minimum score of 7 for reading, listening and speaking; as well as 6.5 on writing.

If you need to pass the English language tests, you can take them more than once over 12 months and within three years of your CGFNS report being sent out. However, it is essential that you secure a minimum score each time before the expiration date passes.

Please be aware that the Nursing Council of New Zealand does not currently accept computer-based tests conducted online. Nevertheless, computer-based exams taken at an accredited testing centre are accepted (this comprises the OET on a computer in a certain venue with its speaking subtest hosted online).

English Language Evidence Pathways

If you're a nurse educated or registered in certain countries, there are specific pathways that provide evidence of your English language competence. The eligibility for these routes is decided by the Council, but regardless - everyone is eligible to use test-based pathway as an option.

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:

Nursing Qualification

If you are a nurse who completed their education in English in the United Kingdom, Singapore, Ireland, Canada or the United States of America and have been officially registered to practise nursing then congratulations -- you can now proudly call yourself a global citizen!

The Council may ask that you provide substantial evidence to demonstrate the completion of your nursing education conducted in English, like a transcript from your educational provider.


Nursing Registration

If you are a nurse registered in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Canada or the United States of America and have previously passed an English language test as part of your registration process - then this requirement is fulfilled.

The Council may require that you present supporting evidence.

The Council will carefully assess each application for an alternate English language evidence pathway on a case-by-case basis, and any decisions made are at the sole discretion of the Council. Furthermore, they may request additional evidence to support your application if needed.

Keep in mind that if you're requesting an alternate English language evidence pathway, the processing time might be increased. If your application is denied, you'll need to show proof of fluency by taking a certified English language exam.

3. Current Registration

In order to be considered a nurse, you must have current registration in either the country in which your nursing education was obtained or another one. You will also need to provide confirmation of good standing from all countries that you are and have been registered with.

4. Nursing Qualifications

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).

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.

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

As part of the assessment process for your qualification(s), authorities are looking to ascertain that your knowledge has far exceeded what you learned from your initial qualification and is now at level 7 or above on the New Zealand Qualifications Framework. Nursing qualifications completed on a graduate level will be taken into consideration when making our decisions.

Furthermore, you will be evaluated for any evidence of post-registration professional development that is related to nursing practice.

5. Post Registration Qualification

To be eligible, you must provide evidence that you have practised nursing for two or more years (totaling 2,500 hours) in the past five years.

Even if you haven't worked as a nurse for two of the past five years, you are still eligible to apply for Credential Verification Service. Although approval is not guaranteed, it's worth applying in order to gain access and reap its benefits.

Unfortunately, those who lack any registration experience are ineligible for application.

The definition of the registered nurse scope of practice:

Drawing from their extensive nursing knowledge and expertise, Registered Nurses evaluate health care needs and provide high-quality treatment to patients. They work independently as well as alongside other healthcare professionals; executing general nurse duties, delegating tasks to enrolled nurses, health assistants and more. With their sharp judgement and compassionate caregiving abilities, RN's are true pillars in the medical field! By providing comprehensive assessments and an integrated plan of healthcare, they are able to provide interventions that require considerable professional knowledge, skills and clinical judgement. They collaborate with people, families, whānau and communities in many settings to develop this plan.

Registered nurses have the opportunity to cultivate their abilities in a variety of clinical settings and preceptorships, as well as use this experience to foster management strategies, teach other medical professionals, evaluate health care delivery systems and conduct research. Registered nurses are obligated to ensure all healthcare services they provide adhere to their training and observed proficiency, abide by legislative regulations, and fall in line with applicable standards.

6. Fitness To Practise

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 the 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 the 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).

7. Competent To Practise

To practise in New Zealand, you must prove that you possess the required expertise.

Competence Assessment Programmes (CAPs)

Before authorities can grant New Zealand registration to overseas registered nurses, they must first complete a Competency Assessment Programme (CAP). This program equips these individuals with the knowledge and skills needed for them to effectively transition into their new roles as RNs in an unfamiliar healthcare system. With this comprehensive preparation, international nurses are ready to tackle any challenge that comes their way!

If you are currently registered as a nurse in the UK, Ireland, Australia, Singapore, US or Canada then you won't need to complete a Competency Assessment Programme (CAP) as the nursing role and healthcare system is comparable here in New Zealand. After assessing your application, we will let you know if a competence assessment program is necessary for you.

CAPs are generally held for a duration of six to twelve weeks and offer both theoretical knowledge as well as practical application. Those selected will have two years from the date they receive notification to begin their CAP program.

Professional Visa Solutions Can Help

At Professional Visa Solutions, we understand how challenging it can be to navigate the registration process for international nurses. Here at PVS, we are committed to helping you every step of the way! From compiling the necessary documents to making sure your application is complete and accurate, our team of experienced professionals will guide you in every aspect of a successful application journey. So, why wait? Start your journey today and get ready to become a registered nurse in New Zealand! Contact us for more information.

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