How to Become a Nurse in New Zealand (Guide for Foreign Nurses)


A Report by 1NURSE.COM PTE LTD, Sep 2021

An Overview of Nursing in New Zealand:

  1. The Career Pathway

  2. Salary of Nurses in New Zealand

  3. Working Conditions

  4. How to Apply as a Nurse in New Zealand

  5. Documents to Comply in CGFNS

  6. FAQs

Nursing is a rewarding career where you can save lives, and at the same time, be well compensated. As nursing is a skilled profession, it is always in demand globally. Are you a foreign nurse from India, Singapore, China, the Philippines, or any part of the world who wants to live and work as a nurse in New Zealand? 

Are you not sure what are the steps to take and requirements to prepare? Don't worry, here at, we have gathered all the information you need to know if you want to become a nurse in New Zealand. We are here to help you reach your goals. Read further to know more.

In a nutshell, if you're a foreign nurse who wants to work in New Zealand, you must have/be:

  • A nursing degree holder that meets that standard of NCNZ

  • Work experience as a nurse for two years or 2,500 hours (for the past five years)

  • A registered nurse in your country of origin

  • Passed the IELTS/OET 

  • Reasonably physically fit

  • Must finish a Competency Assessment Programme (CAP) in NZ

  • Submit the application via the CGFNS International site

In a nutshell, these are the basic requirements to become a nurse in New Zealand. We will share more information about the specifics of eligibility below. 

As an international nurse, you should meet the requirements set by the Nursing Council of New Zealand (NCNZ). Can you comply with the requirements? Of course, you can. As long as you have the qualifications and meet the standards of NCNZ, you are a step closer to becoming a nurse in New Zealand.

As for registered nurses from Australia who want to work in New Zealand, there is a different process for you. In this post, we'll particularly talk about the requirements of foreign nurses from India, Singapore, China, and the Philippines. 

Section A: The Career Pathway

In New Zealand, there are three scopes of nursing practice. These are Enrolled Nurse, Registered Nurse, and Nurse practitioners. Each scope of nursing has different education requirements, licensing, and scope of practice. However, in this post, we’ll specifically talk about the process for a Registered Nurse. But so you’ll have an idea, here’s what you need to know about the different scope of nursing practices.


1. Enrolled Nurses

Enrolled nurses can provide nursing care in the community, residential, or hospital settings as long as under the delegation or a Registered Nurse or Nurse Practitioner. In some parts of the world, an Enrolled Nurse may be called a Nursing Assistant or Practical Nurse. 

Foreign individuals who want to work as an Enrolled Nurse in New Zealand, need to be registered in the overseas regulatory authority of their country of origin. You need to have an international qualification that meets the standards of the Nursing Council of New Zealand.

2. Registered Nurses

Registered Nurses in New Zealand can work in many areas, this includes: 

  • Aged Care (Nursing Homes)

  • Mental Health & Addiction Treatment Centers

  • Primary Care

  • Intensive Care 

  • Ambulatory Surgical Center

  • Clinics (In-patient/Out-patient)

  • Doctor's Office

  • Dialysis Facilities

  • Imaging and Radiology Centers

  • Orthopaedic Rehabilitation Centers

  • Birth Centers

  • Child & Adolescent Nursing

Registered nurses can also progress into careers in different nursing practices, such as nurse researchers, health management, or teaching in a nursing school. Suppose you're an experienced Registered Nurse in New Zealand and have progressed in your job, even foreign nurses.

In that case, you can be promoted to higher positions such as Clinical Nurse Manager or Clinical Nurse Specialist. Even foreign nurses can pursue post-graduate studies (Masters to Doctorate Degree) to open more opportunities for fulfilling careers. 

Also, with the proper qualifications and specialist services, Registered Nurses can prescribe certain medications for some long-term conditions. This is a part of the efforts of the New Zealand government to improve the patient's access to medicine and proper healthcare. Also, to cope with the growing number of New Zealanders who have chronic illnesses. 

3. Nurse Practitioners

To be called a Nurse Practitioner, you need to have four years of continuous work experience in a specific area and complete a clinically-focused Master's degree related to the field. Nurse practitioners have proven their competence and authority beyond the scope of a Registered Nurse. Thus, depending on the field of speciality may work more than the scope of a Registered Nurse, such as:

  • Differential diagnosis: To order, conduct and interpret diagnostic/laboratory tests

  • Administer therapies to manage potential or actual patient needs

  • Prescribe certain medicines within their field of practice

  • Leadership roles: Consultant, educator, manager, researcher, local and national policy development

Foreign nurses can be Nurse practitioners in New Zealand as long as specific requirements are met as per the standards of the NCNZ. Here is a complete list of academic institutions offering Master of Nursing programs.

Section B: Salary of Nurses in New Zealand

The salary of a Registered Nurse depends on the nurse’s work experience, employer or city where you live in New Zealand. So you can have an idea, here is the estimated annual salary of Registered Nurses in New Zealand, as of 2021.

Job / Experience / Title

Estimated Annual Salary (as of 2021)

Median (Average) Salary


Salary Range

NZ$53,248 to NZ$128,300

New graduate registered nurses in a district health board (DHB)


Designated senior registered nurses (Levels 1 to 8)

NZ$77,000 and $126,000

Nurse Practitioner


Mental Health Nurse


Plunket Nurse


Enrolled Nurse


Section C: Working Conditions

If you work as a Registered Nurse, Enrolled Nurse, or Nurse Practitioner in New Zealand, here’s what you can expect from the working conditions:

  • Hospital Equipment: Modern and well-equipped hospitals

  • Working Atmosphere: Friendly and positive working atmosphere

  • Shifting: Shifts can be 8-12 hours long. This may include nights, weekends, and public holidays just like other nurses globally. 

  • Immigrant-friendly: New Zealanders are very friendly and hospitable. As of now, 27% of the nurses in the workforce are Internationally Qualified Nurses.

  • Patient Safety: The patient safety standards of New Zealand is very high. The Health Quality & Safety Commission reported New Zealand for having high standards for patient safety. This is through first-hand patient experiences and surveys. 

  • Other things to know about the working conditions: You may travel locally to visit some clients, nurses may be on-call (must report to work on short notice), work-life balance. 

Section D: How to Apply as a Nurse in New Zealand

For Internationally Qualified Nurses who wish to work in New Zealand, the first step is to apply the Credentials Verification Service for the Nursing Council of New Zealand (CVS-NCNZ) at CGFNS International, Inc. 

The CGFNS is a secure and direct method for foreign nurses to check if they are eligible and have their requirements verified. The CGFNS then verifies and authenticates all your submitted documents if they satisfy the requirements to become a nurse in New Zealand. 

As soon as all your requirements are verified and authenticated by the CGFNS, the applicant review and authorizes the documents for submission to the NCNZ, it is endorsed to the NCNZ for review. 

Once the NCNZ reviews your eligibility, you are invited to register in the Nursing Council of New Zealand, otherwise known as the Credentials Verification Service for the Nursing Council of New Zealand (CVS–NCNZ).

Remember that application for registration at CVS–NCNZ is required for all foreign nurses educated and licensed outside of New Zealand (except Australia). 

Fees are as follows and what to remember when it comes to payments:

  • CGFNS Fee: $300 (USD)

  • NCNZ Registration Application Fee: NZ $485 

  • CVS Re-activation Order: $120.00 (USD) (If your initial application is not complete within 12 months, your application may expire. You need to reactivate your order.)

  • Document Translation: $85 USD (per page). All your documents need to be in English. If your documents are not written in English, you may request CGFNS to facilitate the translation of all your documents to English.

  • Payment method accepted: Credit card payment (MasterCard, Visa, Discover) 

  • Note: CGFNS has a no-refund policy. Once your registration is confirmed and payments have been made, the CGFNS does not issue refunds.

To Begin Your Application in CGFNS, click here.

Section E: Documents to Comply in CGFNS

1. Identity Documents (IDs)

You need to submit proof of identity (two valid IDs), one of which must be your passport. So make sure before you apply at CGFNS, you have your passport prepared. You need to submit two clear, scanned, and coloured copies of your ID, which must be notarised, and your IDs must not be expired. The identity documents accepted are:

  • Passport (required)

  • Driver’s License(s)

  • Government-issued ID (with photo)

  • Birth Certificate

  • Marriage Certificate

  • Divorce/Annulment Certificate

2. Employment History / Work Experience

As for your work experience, you should have worked as a nurse for at least two years (or 2,500 hours) for the last five years prior to your registration. If you have not worked for at least two years in the last five years, you can still apply. However, the NCNZ will assess your registration, and this will be subject to approval. 

To increase your chances of approval, it is best to have employment experience in a clinical setting of at least two years. If you haven’t worked as a nurse, unfortunately, you can’t apply to the CVS-NCNZ. You need to request your certificate of employment from your previous and present employer.

3. Education History

You need to submit the records of your education documents (e.g. transcripts, diploma, course description, clinical hours). As you gain access at CVS-NCNZ, you need to download and print the forms that need to be accomplished by your academic institution. Submit all your nursing-related education documents; this may include:

  • Associates Degree in Nursing

  • Diploma in Nursing

  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing

  • Post-Entry Level Nursing Education (RN to BSN Programs)

  • Master’s Degree Programs in Nursing (or Nursing Specialty)

  • Doctoral/Ph.D. Programs in Nursing (or Nursing Specialty)

  • Post-Graduate Specialty Nursing Programs (e.g. Nursing Leadership, Palliative Care, Cardiac Nursing)

  • Nursing-Related Tertiary Level Education (Ex. Nurse Anesthetists, Nurse Midwives, and Nurse Practitioners)

  • Non-Nursing Education with transfer credit

4. License Validation

To apply as a nurse in New Zealand, you need to be a licensed or registered nurse in the country of your education. You need to have an active license from your country’s Nursing governing body such as:

5. Language Proficiency

Since New Zealand is an English-speaking country, you need to prove your reading, writing, listening, and English speaking skills. You need to pass an English proficiency test; either of these two tests should be taken in less than two years and 11 months. You can take either of these tests with the minimum scores: 

  • Occupational English Test (OET): Minimum score of 350 each (for reading, writing, listening, and speaking)

  • International English Language Testing System (IELTS)-Academic Module Only:Minimum of 6.5 for each band (reading, writing, listening, and speaking)

However, there is an exemption. Suppose you studied, practised, or have nursing licenses in countries like the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Canada, or Ireland; in that case, you are exempted from taking the tests mentioned above. You can ask for a waiver of English Language Proficiency Requirements in the CGFNS. This is upon the approval of NCNZ if you don’t need to take English Proficiency tests.

6. Competency Assessment Programme (CAP)

Once you have registered and approved by the NCNZ, you need to complete a Competency Assessment Programme (CAP) in New Zealand before applying for a job. The next step is to apply for a Fee-Paying Student Visa. Under this type of visa, you need to have an offer in place, which in this case is from the NCNZ. You will be paying the full cost of the CAP.

With CAP, you need to prove that you are competent or have the right skills to work as a nurse in New Zealand.  This is a compulsory requirement consisting of 8-12 weeks of theory and clinical courses. CAPs are offered by accredited nursing schools, district health boards, or district health service providers. 

Here is the updated list of Competence Assessment Programmes (CAP) Approved by the Nursing Council of New Zealand:

Reference: Competence Assessment Programmes June 2021.pdf

School/ Institute Name

Location/Postal Code

Website / Contact Number

Ara Institute of Canterbury

Christchurch, 8140

Tel: 0800 24 24 76

Avatar Institute of Learning

Fitzroy, New Plymouth

Tel: (06) 755 0558

Eastern Institute of Technology

Napier, 4142

Tel: (06) 974 8000

Lonsdale Education Centre

Foxton, 4814

Tel: (06) 363 8498

Manukau Institute of Technology

Auckland, 2241

Tel: (09) 968 8736

Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology

Nelson, 7042

Tel: (03) 546 2472

Northland Polytechnic

Whangarei, 0140

Tel: (09) 470 3555

Oceania Group

Wesley Institute of Learning

Auckland, 1149

Tel: (09) 630 5173

Otago Polytechnic

Dunedin, 9054

Tel: (03) 477 3014

Rannerdale Veterans’ Care

Christchurch, 8041

[email protected]

Tel: (03) 348 7128

Rosebank Residential Homes

Ashburton, 7700

[email protected]

Tel: (03) 308 0111

Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology

Rotorua, 3046

Tel: (07) 346 8999

UCOL Universal College of Learning

Palmerston North, 4442

Tel: (09) 849 4180

Waikato Institute of Technology

Hamilton, 3240

Tel: (07) 834 8888

Waitemata District Health Board

Takapuna, 0740

Tel: (09) 486 8900

Western Institute of Technology Taranaki

New Plymouth, 4342

Tel: 0800 948 869

Whitireia New Zealand 

Porirua 5022, (Wellington)

Tel: (04) 237 3100

7. Other Requirements

Other requirements may be asked of you, so it’s better to be prepared rather than cramming at the last second. Here are other requirements you can expect to be asked of you: 

  • Cover Letter (Written statement of your experience and skills)

  • Updated Curriculum Vitae or resume (Summarized information of your personal information, educational attainment, qualifications, work experience, skills, at least two reference persons) 

  • Health declaration (immunization status, COVID-19 vaccination)

  • Police clearance from your country of origin or Criminal History Check (ICHC)

Section F: FAQs

Do I Also Need to Submit My Documents to the NCNZ if I Passed Them to the CGFNS?

No, if you passed your requirements to the CFGNS, you don’t need to pass your documents to the NCNZ. The CGFNS verifies, authenticates, and can endorse your documents (upon your approval) to the NCNZ. The NCNZ will not accept the documents if not verified or authenticated by the CGFNS.

Can I Apply Directly to the NCNZ?

If you’re a foreign nurse from the Philippines, Singapore, China, India, or any other country (except Australia), you can’t directly apply to the NCNZ. All Internationally Qualified Nurses must complete the application process of CVS-NCNZ first via the CGFNS. The reports of CGFNS must verify, authenticate and endorse your application to the NCNZ. 

Does CGFNS Decide if I Can Register as a Nurse in New Zealand?

No, CGFNS verifies and authenticates your documents. CGFNS issues a report to the NCNZ and endorses your application. The NCNZ decides if you are an Internationally Qualified Nurse that can work in New Zealand. 

Are You Ready to Work and Live in New Zealand?

Now that you’re aware of the requirements to work as a Registered Nurse in New Zealand, are you ready to change your life? Taking the first step will be the first day of the rest of your life. New Zealand is a beautiful country to live in, work in, start a family, and bring your family. To begin the process, click this link



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