New Zealand Personal Income Tax

Resident individuals are subject to income tax on worldwide income. Nonresident individuals pay tax on New Zealand-source income only.

Individuals are considered resident in New Zealand for tax pur­poses if they meet either of the following conditions:

  • They have a permanent place of abode in New Zealand, regard­less of whether they also have a permanent place of abode outside New Zealand.
  • They are physically present in New Zealand for more than 183 days in any 12-month period.

Transitional residents’ exemption. Resident individuals arriving for the first time in New Zealand after 1 April 2006, or who have been absent for at least 10 years before returning to New Zealand, are considered to be transitional residents and are eligible for an exemption on certain income arising from sources outside New Zealand for the first 48 months of their residence. However, tran­sitional residents can elect to waive the exemption.

Income subject to tax. The taxation of various types of income is described below.

Employment income. Gross income includes all salaries, wages, bonuses, retirement payments and other compensation. Employer-paid items, including hardship allowances, taxes, meals, perma­nent housing and tuition for dependent children, are generally included in gross income. Payments or reimbursements by employers of some accommodation, meal and other relocation expenses may be excluded from gross income. Employer-provided accommodation for up to three months after arrival as a result of a work-related relocation is specifically exempt from income tax and fringe benefit tax. The rules relating to the valu­ation and taxation of accommodation, meal and certain other allowances have been clarified with general effect from 1 April 2015, but the new rules may apply retroactively (back to 1 January 2011) in some cases. The new rules are more detailed and include specific exemptions for out-of-town secondments, capital projects, multiple-workplace situations, certain mobile or remote workplaces and some shift worker accommodation, while retaining the existing specific rules for work-related relocations.

Other employer-paid items, including automobiles, employees’ education expenses, medical insurance premiums, private or government pension plan contributions, life insurance premiums and imputed interest on below market rate loans, are generally ex cluded from employees’ gross income. However, employers are subject to either withholding tax or fringe benefit tax on pension contributions and to fringe benefit tax on the other items.

Reimbursements for business expenses are not taxable to the employee.

The government has introduced a work-based savings initiative called KiwiSaver. Most employers must make compulsory con­tributions to a KiwiSaver fund or a complying superannuation fund for all eligible employees who have elected to participate. To be eligible, employees must satisfy the following conditions:

  • They must be New Zealand citizens or entitled to live perma­nently in New Zealand.
  • They must normally live in New Zealand.
  • They are under 65 years old.

Employers are subject to withholding tax on all KiwiSaver con­tributions.

Income from personal services (salary and wages) rendered by a nonresident in New Zealand is generally not taxable if the non­resident is physically present in New Zealand for less than 92 days and if the income is taxable in the nonresident individu­al’s country of tax residence. This period is often extended to 183 days by double tax treaties. In general, these rules do not apply to nonresident entertainers or nonresident contractors, who are normally subject to withholding tax on all income unless they have obtained exemption or nil rate certificates. Nonresident contractors may be exempt from withholding tax without obtain­ing exemption certificates if either of the following applies:

  • They are eligible for total relief from tax under a double tax treaty and they are physically present in New Zealand for 92 days or less in any 12-month period.
  • The total amount of contract payments made for the contract activities is NZD15,000 or less in any 12-month period.

Self-employment and business income. The rules discussed for residents and nonresidents under Employment income also apply to self-employed persons.

Self-employed persons are subject to tax on profits derived from any business activity, including the sales of goods, services and commissions.

A partnership must submit an income tax return setting forth the amount of profit or loss shared among the partners, but income tax is not assessed on the partnership. Each partner must file a separate tax return for all income, including his or her share of partnership income. The rules applying to limited partnerships are similar to those applying to general partnerships, but specific provisions may restrict limited partners’ ability to claim deduc­tions in any given year for their shares of the partnership’s expen­diture and losses to their “partner’s basis” amounts.

For income years beginning from 1 April 2011, owners of certain closely held New Zealand resident companies may elect that those companies be treated as look-through companies (LTCs). The income tax treatment of LTCs is generally similar to that for partnerships, with LTC income attributed to owners in proportion to their ownership interests and taxed at their personal tax rates. The owners’ ability to claim deductions for their shares of LTC expenditure and losses in any given year, however, is limited by reference to their “owner’s basis” amounts.

Nonresident entertainers are subject to withholding tax at a rate of 20%. This tax may be treated as a final tax. Nonresident con­tractors are generally subject to withholding tax at a rate of 15% for income from contract services. This tax is neither a minimum nor a final tax and is paid on account of any annual income tax liability.

Directors’ fees. Directors are generally taxed as self-employed persons. No special provisions apply other than a requirement to deduct withholding tax at a rate of 33%.

Attributed income from personal services. Personal services in come earned through an interposed entity, including a company or trust, may be attributed to the individuals performing the ser­vices and taxed at their personal tax rates. This attribution may occur if the individual and interposed entity are associated per­sons and the services are supplied to a single or limited number of clients. Attribution will not apply if both the individual and interposed entity are nonresidents.

Investment income. Dividends received from a New Zealand resident company may have imputation credits attached. The imputation credit represents tax paid by the company on the underlying profit from which the dividends are paid that is passed on to the shareholder. A resident shareholder is assessed on the combined amount of the dividend plus the imputation credit, and receives a tax credit for the amount of the imputation credit. Non residents do not receive a tax credit for the amount of the imputation credit.

Income earned on investments in certain unlisted portfolio invest­ment entities (PIEs) may be allocated and taxed at the fund level at individual investor rates, with a maximum rate of 28% and no further tax on distribution. Listed PIE distributions may also be excluded from gross income.

Dividends (other than PIE distributions) and interest paid by New Zealand resident companies to New Zealand resident individuals are generally subject to an interim tax through a resident with­holding tax (RWT) deduction.

The RWT rate on dividends is 33%, reduced by any imputation credits attached to the dividends.

Certain types of interest are exempt from RWT, including interest payable on trade debts or interest received under a hire-purchase agreement. Other items that are exempt are payments made to entities or persons holding valid certificates of exemption. These may include banks, building societies, money lenders, and local or public authorities, and persons whose total gross income is expected to exceed NZD2 million in the next accounting year.

The rates of RWT on interest are elective rates of 10.5% (for in­dividuals who expect their annual gross income will not exceed NZD14,000 and for trustees of deceased estates), 17.5%, 30% or 33% if the interest recipients supply their tax identification num­bers. The RWT rate on interest paid to companies is generally 28% if the recipients supply their tax identification numbers. The default RWT rate if interest recipients do not supply their tax identification numbers is 33% for all recipients. The recipients include the gross interest and dividends in their gross income and receive a credit for RWT.

Nonresidents are subject to withholding tax at a rate of 30% on dividends. This rate is reduced to 15% to the extent that cash dividends are fully imputed or to the extent that imputation cred­its are passed on through the payment of supplementary divi­dends under the foreign investor tax credit regime. The rate is reduced to 0% to the extent that non-cash dividends are fully imputed.

A 0% rate also applies to fully imputed cash dividends paid to nonresidents if the nonresidents have a direct voting interest of at least 10% or if a tax treaty would reduce the New Zealand tax rate below 15%.

Nonresidents are subject to withholding tax at a rate of 15% for interest and royalties. Certain tax treaties may reduce this rate.

Nonresident withholding tax is a final tax on dividends, cultural royalties and interest paid to non-related persons. It is a minimum tax on non-cultural royalties and on interest paid to related per­sons. Nonresident withholding tax rates may be reduced under New Zealand’s double tax treaties. A 0% rate of nonresident withholding tax may apply to interest paid to unrelated nonresi­dents by transitional residents (see Transitional residents’exemp­tion in section A) in relation to money borrowed while they were nonresidents, so long as the interest does not relate to carrying on a business through a fixed establishment in New Zealand.

As an alternative to nonresident withholding tax on interest, if the borrower and lender are not related persons and if the interest is paid by a person registered as an approved issuer with respect to a registered security, the interest is subject only to an approved issuer levy of 2% of the interest actually paid. The New Zealand government pays the 2% levy on interest paid on its loans from nonresidents that meet these criteria. Nonresident withholding tax and approved issuer levy may be imposed at a rate of 0% on interest paid to nonresident holders of certain widely held corpo­rate bonds and similar securities.

The foreign investor tax credit (FITC) provisions reduce the effec­tive rate of New Zealand tax imposed on dividends received by a nonresident investor from a New Zealand company. To the extent that a New Zealand company is owned by nonresident investors and imputation credits are attached to dividends paid, the com­pany may claim a partial refund or credit of its New Zealand company tax liability. The company then passes on the refund or credit to the nonresident investors through supplementary divi­dends. The effective rate of tax on fully imputed dividends received by nonresident investors with supplementary dividends under the FITC provisions is 28%, which effectively equates the company tax rate on the company’s underlying profits and the extent of the credits passed to resident investors. However, the residents may need to pay further tax, depending on their individual marginal tax rates. Although the same result could be achieved for non­resident investors through a 0% rate of withholding on imputed dividends, the rather complicated FITC mechanism is intended to allow nonresident investors to claim a full tax credit in their home countries for New Zealand nonresident withholding tax.

The FITC provisions generally apply for dividends paid to non­residents only if they hold less than 10% direct voting interests and if the New Zealand tax rate, after any tax treaty relief, is at least 15%.

Attributed income from controlled foreign investments. Under the controlled foreign company (CFC) regime, New Zealand residents may be taxed on passive income attributed to them that is derived by foreign entities in which they hold an interest if either of the following circumstances exists:

  • Five or fewer New Zealand residents own over 50% of the for­eign entity.
  • New Zealand residents have de facto control of the company.

Exemptions from CFC attribution may apply if the CFC is resi­dent in Australia and meets certain criteria or if the CFC’s income meets a 95% active income test.

Under the foreign investment fund (FIF) regime, New Zealand residents may be taxed on income attributed to them that is derived by foreign entities in which they hold an interest not meeting the conditions for the applicability of the CFC regime. The FIF regime may apply to interests in the following:

  • Companies and unit trusts
  • Foreign superannuation schemes (however, new rules apply to such interests, effective from 1 April 2014; see Foreign super­annuation scheme interests)
  • Foreign life insurance policies that have an investment compo­nent

Several exceptions apply, including exemptions for the following:

  • Shares held in certain Australian companies listed on the Australian Stock Exchange.
  • Certain Australian unit trusts or superannuation schemes.
  • Individuals holding FIF investments that cost less than NZD50,000 in total.
  • Certain interests in employment-related foreign superannuation schemes and qualifying foreign private annuities.
  • An exemption period for foreign superannuation and life insur­ance interests held before the individual becomes a New Zealand resident. The exemption period is 48 months, beginning after the month in which the person first became a tax resident.

Investors who own interests of less than 10% in foreign compa­nies, unit trusts, superannuation funds and life insurance policies can calculate their FIF income under the fair dividend rate method (FDR). Under the FDR method investors are taxed on 5% of the market value of investments held at the beginning of the year. Dividends and capital gains are not separately taxed under this method.

An active income exemption and approach, similar in some respects to that applying for interests in CFCs, may apply with respect to direct income interests of at least 10% in FIF compa­nies and unit trusts.

Transitional residents (see Transitional residents’ exemption) are exempt from the attribution of CFC or FIF income.

Foreign superannuation scheme interests. In certain circum­stances, individuals who have applied FIF treatment to foreign

superannuation scheme interests in previous returns of income may continue to apply FIF treatment to those interests. Otherwise, effective from 1 April 2014, the FIF rules do not apply to inter­ests in foreign superannuation schemes that were first acquired by individuals when they were nonresidents. Interests that were first acquired by individuals when they were New Zealand resi­dent remain subject to the FIF rules.

In general, no New Zealand income tax liability arises on lump-sum withdrawals or transfers in the first four years of an indi­vidual’s New Zealand residence. After the end of that period, the extent to which lump-sum withdrawals or transfers to Australian or New Zealand superannuation schemes are taxed in New Zealand under the “schedule method” in the new rules generally depends on how long individuals have been New Zealand resi­dents. Alternatively, individuals may use a “formula method” to determine any New Zealand income tax liability for such lump-sum withdrawals or transfers from defined contribution schemes if they have sufficient information to carry out the required cal­culations. Transfers between foreign superannuation schemes, other than to Australian schemes, are exempt from New Zealand income tax.

The government recognized that the pre-1 April 2014 rules were complex and taxpayers may not have dealt with lump-sum with­drawals or transfers appropriately for New Zealand income tax purposes. Transitional relief provisions allowed taxpayers to pay tax (at their marginal personal income tax rates) in either their 2013-14 or their 2014-15 returns on a flat 15% of the amounts of lump-sum withdrawals or transfers between 1 January 2000 and 31 March 2014 (or on lump sums for which appropriate applica­tions to withdraw or transfer were made by 31 March 2014) if those lump-sum withdrawals or transfers had not been dealt with appropriately in their previous New Zealand income tax returns. Otherwise, any reassessment of their past year treatments is based on the rules that applied for the relevant years, with poten­tial penalty and interest charges for any increased income tax liabilities resulting for those previous years.

Specific rules apply to interests in certain Australian superannua­tion schemes. Effective from 1 July 2013, taxpayers moving between Australia and New Zealand may elect to transfer their superannuation savings between certain Australian and New Zealand superannuation schemes without tax liabilities arising in either country at that time.

Periodic pensions and annuities arising from foreign superannua­tion scheme interests continue generally to be taxable in full in New Zealand on receipt by residents other than transitional resi­dents (see Transitional residents’ exemption).

Trust income. Trust income is generally taxed in New Zealand if it is sourced in New Zealand or if it is derived by a beneficiary who is resident in New Zealand. Foreign-source income derived by a trustee may generally be taxed in New Zealand if a settlor of the trust (generally any person that provides some benefit to the trust) is a New Zealand resident. If the income is vested in, paid to or applied for the benefit of a beneficiary, the income is taxable to that beneficiary at their applicable marginal tax rate. Otherwise, trust income is taxable to the trustee or, if the trustee is not resident in New Zealand, then to any New Zealand-resident settlor at a rate of 33%. If the income of a trust has not been fully liable to New Zealand income tax, certain distributions to New Zealand benefi­ciaries may be taxable to them at their personal tax rates if the trust is regarded as a “foreign trust” or at a higher rate of 45% if the trust is regarded as a “non-complying trust” even though legally they may be considered distributions of capital. Bene ficiary income derived by New Zealand-resident minors (younger than 16 years of age on the trust’s balance date) is generally taxable at a rate of 33%.

Taxation of employer-provided stock options. In New Zealand, any benefit conferred under an agreement to sell or issue shares to an employee is taxable to the employee as remuneration. The benefit is calculated as the difference between the fair market value of the shares on the day they are acquired and the amount paid for the shares.

Individuals resident in New Zealand who exercise share options are subject to tax on the difference between the strike price and the fair market value of the shares on the date of exercise. The liability arises in the income year in which the options are exercised.

If the employee is a Transitional Resident (see Transitional Resi­dents’ exemption) at the time the options are exercised, the value of the benefit is apportioned based on the ratio of the time employed in New Zealand to the total employment period.

Capital gains and losses. New Zealand has no general capital gains tax, but profits from the sale of real and personal property may be subject to regular income tax in certain circumstances, including the following:

  • The taxpayer’s business consists of dealing in that real or per­sonal property.
  • The taxpayer’s purpose at the time of acquisition was to sell the property at a later date (also, see the next paragraph).

Profits on the disposal of certain residential land (other than a “main home”) acquired from 1 October 2015 may be taxable if sold within a two-year period, regardless of the taxpayer’s purpose for the acquisition.

Under legislation that is in the process of being enacted, a residen­tial land withholding tax (RLWT) would be imposed on sales of residential land located in New Zealand by “offshore RLWT per­sons” from 1 July 2016. An “offshore RLWT person” is defined broadly for individuals and other entities, with reference to citizen­ship, immigration status and physical absence throughout specific time frames for an individual vendor. The proposed RLWT would not be a minimum or final tax but would be deducted on account of any annual income tax liability. Any excess RLWT would be refundable.

An accrual taxation system applies to New Zealand resident indi­viduals who are parties to various types of financial arrangements, including debts and debt instruments. Under the accrual system, foreign-exchange variations related to the financial arrange ments are included in calculations of income and expenditure. A cash-basis system may be adopted by taxpayers deriving income and incurring expenditure of less than NZD100,000 from financial arrangements in an income year and by taxpayers with financial arrangement assets and liabilities with a total absolute value of NZD1 million or less. For the cash basis to apply, the cumulative difference between the actual income and expenditure and the notional income and expenditure on an accrual basis must be less than NZD40,000.

The accrual taxation regime does not apply to nonresidents, unless the transaction involves a business they carry on in New Zealand, or to Transitional Residents if the other parties to an arrangement are nonresidents and if the arrangement is not for the purposes of a business carried on in New Zealand by any of the parties.


Deductible expenses. No deductions are allowed against income from salary or wages, except for tax return preparation fees and premiums for loss of earnings insurance if the insurance proceeds would be taxable.

Personal deductions and allowances. Taxpayers with dependent children may be entitled to weekly amounts of family support and an independent family tax credit if family income does not exceed specified amounts.

An independent earner tax credit (IETC) may apply to taxpayers who have annual income between NZD24,000 and NZD48,000 and who do not directly or indirectly receive family support, income-tested benefits, New Zealand superannuation, certain pensions or other amounts. The IETC is a maximum of NZD520 and abates at 13 cents per dollar earned over NZD44,000.

Family support and related credits are generally not available to nonresidents or transitional residents.

Business deductions. Expenses necessary to produce gross income are deductible. However, only 50% of specified business enter­tainment expenses incurred by self-employed individuals is deductible. Interest deductions may be limited under the “thin capitalization” rules in certain circumstances where nonresidents own or control New Zealand entities or where New Zealand resi­dents hold interests of at least 10% in CFCs or certain types of FIF.

Rates. The rates of tax applied to taxable income for both resident and nonresident individuals are set forth in the following table.

Taxable income
Tax rate


Tax due
Cumulative tax due
First 14,000 10.5 1,470 1,470
Next 34,000 17.5 5,950 7,420
Next 22,000 30 6,600 14,020
Above 70,000 33

Married persons are taxed separately, not jointly, on all types of income.

For withholding tax rates, see Investment income.

Relief for losses. Business losses may be offset against a taxpay­er’s other net income in the year when the loss is sustained. The balance of any loss may be carried forward and offset against future net income of the taxpayer. The use of losses may be restricted when they are derived by limited partners through lim­ited partnerships or by owners through LTCs.

Estate and gift taxes

Estate duty is not levied in New Zealand, and gift duty has been abolished.

Social security

New Zealand does not have a social security system requiring compulsory contributions from employees. However, under the Accident Compensation Act 2001 (previously called the Injury Prevention, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2001), levies are payable by employers, employees and self-employed people to fund the comprehensive no-fault accident compensation scheme, which covers all accidents at home and at work. The levies are payable on employment income of up to NZD120,070 for the year ending 31 March 2016 and up to NZD122,063 for the year ending 31 March 2017. For employers and self-employed per­sons, the rate of the levy depends on the relevant industry clas­sification. For employees, the rate of the levy is 1.39% from 1 April 2016 (previously 1.45%).

New Zealand has entered into reciprocal social security agreements with Australia, Canada, Denmark, Greece, Guernsey, Ireland, Jersey, Malta, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.

Tax filing and payment procedures

The tax year in New Zealand runs from 1 April to 31 March of the following calendar year. Salary and wage earners generally have tax deducted from their salaries at source under the Pay-As­You-Earn (PAYE) system. Income tax on other income is gener­ally due on 7 February (7 April if on a tax agency list) following the end of the fiscal year.

Individuals must file tax returns by 7 July following the end of the income year or the following 31 March if on a tax agency list.

Certain taxpayers must pay advance payments of provisional tax, generally in the 5th, 9th and 13th months following the beginning of their income years. These taxpayers are generally persons whose preceding year’s tax liability on income from which no tax was withheld was greater than NZD2,500. Interest may be imposed if provisional tax paid is less than the final income tax payable for the year.

A nonresident individual must file an income tax return showing all taxable New Zealand-source income, except income subject to a final nonresident withholding tax.

From 1 October 2015, “offshore persons” must generally have a fully functional New Zealand bank account to obtain a tax iden­tification number, which is necessary to meet their tax filing and payment obligations.

Double tax relief and tax treaties

If a New Zealand resident derives income from a foreign jurisdic­tion, foreign income tax paid on that income is allowed as a credit against income tax payable in New Zealand. The credit is limited to the amount of tax payable in New Zealand on the same foreign-source income.

New Zealand has entered into comprehensive double tax treaties with the following jurisdictions.

Australia                      Indonesia                       Samoa

Austria                         Ireland                           Singapore

Belgium                       Italy                               South Africa

Canada                         Japan                             Spain

Chile                            Korea (South)                Sweden

China                           Malaysia                        Switzerland

Czech Republic            Mexico                          Taiwan

Denmark                      Netherlands                   Thailand

Fiji                               Norway                         Turkey

Finland                         Papua New                    United Arab

France                          Guinea                           Emirates

Germany                      Philippines                     United Kingdom

Hong Kong SAR         Poland                           United States

India                             Russian Federation        Vietnam

Temporary visas

Visitors’ visas. In general, all visitors to New Zealand must apply for a visa to enter the country. Some exceptions to the general rule exist. Australian citizens and individuals who hold a current Australian permanent residence visa or a resident return visa do not need to formally apply for a New Zealand visa to enter New Zealand. United Kingdom passport holders who produce evidence of the right to reside permanently in the United Kingdom can be granted a visitor visa for up to six months on arrival in New Zealand. Individuals from certain jurisdictions (see below) who will be in New Zealand for less than three months as a visitor do not need to apply for a visa before traveling to New Zealand. Visitors are not permitted to work in New Zealand. All visitors must provide travel tickets or evidence of onward travel arrange­ments and evidence of funds to support themselves while in New Zealand. The following is the list of the “visa-waiver” jurisdic­tions.

Andorra                Hong Kong SAR (c).           Oman

Argentina                     Hungary                        Poland

Austria                         Iceland                           Portugal (e)

Bahrain                        Ireland                           Qatar

Belgium                       Israel                              Romania

Brazil                           Italy                               San Marino

Brunei                          Japan                             Saudi Arabia

Darussalam                  Korea (South)                Singapore

Bulgaria                       Kuwait                           Slovak Republic

Canada                         Latvia (a)                       Slovenia

Chile                            Liechtenstein                  South Africa

Croatia                         Lithuania (a)                  Spain

Cyprus                         Luxembourg                  Sweden

Czech Republic            Macau SAR (d)             Switzerland

Denmark                    Malaysia                           Taiwan (f)

Estonia (a)                  Malta                                 United Arab

Finland                       Mexico                              Emirates

France                        Monaco                             United States (g)

Germany                    Netherlands                       Uruguay

Greece (b)                  Norway                             Vatican City

a) The visa waiver does not apply to persons traveling on an alien’s (non-citizen’s) passport issued by the respective countries.

b) The visa waiver applies to Greek passport holders whose passports were issued on or after 1 January 2006. Greek passports issued before 1 January 2006 are not acceptable for travel after 1 January 2007.

c) The visa waiver applies to residents of the Hong Kong Special SAR traveling on Hong Kong SAR or British National (Overseas) passports.

d) The visa waiver applies to residents of the Macau SAR traveling on SAR passports.

e) Portuguese passport holders must also have the right to live permanently in Portugal.

f) The visa waiver applies to permanent residents of Taiwan traveling on Taiwan passports. A personal identity number printed within the visible section of the biographical page of the Taiwan passport demonstrates that the holder is a permanent resident of Taiwan.

g) The visa waiver includes nationals of the United States.

Business visitors’ visas. Business visitors who are from Australia, United Kingdom or the visa-waiver countries mentioned above are not required to formally apply for business visitors’ visas before traveling to New Zealand. They are granted business visitors’ visas on arrival in New Zealand for no more than three months only if they are undertaking one of the following activities:

  • A representative on official trade missions recognized by the New Zealand government
  • A sales representative from an overseas company
  • An overseas buyer of New Zealand goods or services
  • A person undertaking business consultations or negotiations in New Zealand with respect to the establishment, expansion or winding up of a business enterprise in New Zealand involving the authorized representatives of an overseas company

Business visitors must not undertake work in New Zealand regardless of where or how they are remunerated. If an individu­al will be in New Zealand for periods totaling more than three months in any one year or if he or she is not undertaking one of the activities noted above, he or she must apply for a work visa.

Student visas. Student visas are issued to foreign nationals who intend to undertake studies in New Zealand. The duration of the visa depends on the length of the study program. In general, students are permitted to work part time while studying in

New Zealand after seeking authorization from Immigration New Zealand.

Working holiday visas. Working holiday schemes are open to citi­zens from the following jurisdictions who satisfy certain condi­tions.

Argentina                   Hong Kong SAR              Philippines

Austria                       Hungary                            Poland

Belgium                      Ireland                               Singapore

Brazil                          Israel                                 Slovak Republic

Canada                       Italy                                   Slovenia

Chile                           Japan                                 Spain

China                          Korea (South)                   Sweden

Croatia                        Latvia                                Taiwan

Czech Republic          Malaysia                           Thailand

Denmark                    Malta                                 Turkey

Estonia                       Mexico                              United Kingdom

Finland                       Netherlands                       United States

France                        Norway                             Uruguay

Germany                    Peru                                  Vietnam

To qualify for a visa under a working holiday scheme, the appli­cant must satisfy the following conditions:

  • He or she must be aged between 18 and 30 (or 35 in some cases).
  • He or she may not bring children.
  • He or she must hold a return ticket or sufficient funds to pur­chase such a ticket.
  • He or she must have available funds to meet living costs while in New Zealand, as prescribed by the scheme under which the individual is applying.
  • He or she must meet health and character requirements.
  • He or she must hold medical and comprehensive hospitalization insurance for the length of the stay if required by the scheme under which the individual is applying.
  • He or she must be the holder of a valid temporary visa if applying in New Zealand.
  • He or she must not have been previously approved for a visa under a working holiday scheme.

Applicants for a working holiday visa are not required to provide evidence of a job offer. If a scheme has an “ordinarily resident” requirement, the applicant’s usual place of permanent residence must be that country. This requirement is considered to be met if the applicant has not been absent from that country for more than two years immediately preceding the application. Successful applicants must not undertake permanent employment unless they apply for, and obtain, a work visa that allows such employ­ment. Successful applicants may also enroll in one or more courses of training or study of up to six months’ duration in total during their visit to New Zealand.

Work visas. All work visa applicants must meet the generic tem­porary entry instructions. This includes health and character requirements.

The Essential Skills instructions generally apply to an applicant who has been offered full-time employment with a New Zealand employer. An applicant must provide evidence that he or she is suitably qualified by training and experience to perform the job offered to him or her, and the employer must provide evidence that no suitably qualified New Zealanders can perform the job offered to the applicant (that is, a labor-market test). Work visas under the Essential Skills instructions are generally valid for up to three years but may be granted for up to five years if the job requires a high skill level and if the annual salary is above NZD55,000.

The Work to Residence (Accredited Employer) instructions apply if an applicant has a job offer from an accredited employer. The job offer must be for a full-time position (at least 30 hours) for 2 years or longer, the annual salary must be at least NZD55,000, and the applicant must be 55 years of age or younger. Work visas under the Work to Residence (Accredited Employer) instructions are valid for 30 months from the applicant’s first date of entry into New Zealand. The applicant becomes eligible to apply for a residence visa after he or she has worked for an accredited employer for two years and if he or she meets the residence instructions. The two other types of Work to Residence categories are Long Term Skill Shortage (for those earning at least NZD45,000 per year and meeting the requirements in an occupa­tion listed on the current Long Term Skill Shortage List) and Arts, Culture and Sport (for those demonstrating an international reputation in a declared field of arts, culture or sports and meet­ing all other requirements).

The Specific Purpose or Event instructions apply if the applicant is entering New Zealand for a specific purpose or event (for example, a short-term intercompany secondment) for which the applicant has demonstrated skills, expertise or attributes that are likely to benefit individuals and/or New Zealand and if no risk of a negative impact on opportunities for New Zealand citizens or residents exists. Under these instructions, a labor market test is not required, but the employer is required to provide either a sup­port letter or a copy of the job offer. Work visas under the Specific Purpose or Event instructions are generally valid for the duration of the activity in New Zealand.

Special rules exist for certain categories of applicants, including partners of New Zealand citizens and residents, partners of work visa holders, entertainers, athletes and professional coaches.

In certain cases, applicants may not be granted a visa until they meet the necessary New Zealand registration requirements if New Zealand registration is required by law to undertake employment. Professionals are advised to contact individual pro­fessional bodies for information on required registration criteria.

The processing time for a work visa varies with each application, but the process generally takes two to six weeks from the date of filing if no medical or character issues exist. Immigration New Zealand prioritizes the processing of Work to Residence visa applications over other work visa applications.

Health and character requirements for all visa applicants. All indi­viduals who enter New Zealand must meet applicable good health and character requirements. If an applicant is not from a low-tuberculosis incidence country and intends to be in New Zealand for more than six months, he or she must obtain a chest X-ray certificate from a panel radiologist. If an applicant intends to be in New Zealand for longer than 12 months, he or she must obtain full medical and chest X-ray certificates from a panel physician. The panel physician and/or panel radiologist submits electronically the medical and chest X-ray certificates directly to Immigration New Zealand. Once the medical and chest X-ray certificates are submitted electronically, the applicant has three months to file his or her visa application with Immigration New Zealand. If an applicant is applying for a temporary visa and intends to be in New Zealand for 24 months or longer, he or she must also obtain a police clearance certificate from his or her country or countries of citizenship and any country in which he or she has lived for five years or more since the age of 17. If an applicant is applying for a residence visa, he or she must obtain a police clearance certificate from his or her country or countries of citizenship and any country in which he or she has lived for 12 months or more in the last 10 years. Police clearance certifi­cates are only valid for filing within six months after the date of issuance.

General requirements for all temporary visitors (work and holiday) to New Zealand. An applicant coming to New Zealand to work must provide evidence of qualifications and/or work experience, and a job offer. Applicants coming for a visit must provide evi­dence that they plan on leaving New Zealand and that they have funds to support themselves while in New Zealand. All appli­cants must also hold a valid passport for the duration of their intended stay.

Entrepreneur and Investor category visas

Experienced businesspersons who wish to obtain a work visa to enter New Zealand to establish and operate a business can apply under the Entrepreneur work visa category. If certain conditions are met, the applicant can eventually obtain New Zealand resi­dence under the Entrepreneur residence visa category. To apply for an Entrepreneur work visa, in addition to meeting health and character requirements, applicants must satisfy the following requirements:

  • They must have a minimum capital investment of NZD100,000.
  • They must meet or exceed the pass mark on a scale that awards points for factors relating to the likely success of the proposed business and its value to New Zealand.

The Investor categories are open to applicants who wish to obtain residence in New Zealand through investment. Under the Investor Plus category, an applicant must invest NZD10 million for three years in New Zealand. No age, English language, busi­ness experience or settlement funds requirements are imposed. Applicants who wish to invest between NZD5 million and NZD9,750,000 must satisfy the following requirements:

  • They must be 65 years old or younger.
  • They must have at least three years of recognized business experience.
  • They must have a minimum of NZD1 million in net assets to be used as settlement funds in addition to investment funds (although these assets do not need to be transferred to New Zealand).
  • They must be competent users of English.

Under both categories, the required amounts must be invested into acceptable investments, as prescribed by Immigration New Zealand.

Like all visa categories, all applicants in the above categories must also meet New Zealand’s health and character requirements. Investor applicants must also be physically present in New Zealand for prescribed time periods for each of the investment years.

Residence visas

Residence visas and permanent residence visas are issued to for­eign nationals who intend to establish permanent residence in New Zealand. Various paths and policies to gain residency are available. Some of the most common paths are through skilled employment, the investor categories or working for an accredited employer for at least two years. Although the holder of a resi­dence visa can stay in New Zealand indefinitely, residence visas are subject to travel conditions, which allow the holder to travel in and out of New Zealand for 24 months. After 24 months, a residence visa holder can apply for a permanent residence visa by demonstrating his or her commitment to New Zealand. Permanent residence visas do not have travel conditions and allow the holder to stay and travel in and out of New Zealand indefinitely.

Family and personal considerations

Family members. The partner or spouse of a work visa holder must apply for his or her own visa to enter New Zealand. If the primary applicant will be holding or holds a work visa that is valid for more than six months, his or her partner is eligible for an “open” work visa for the same time period as the primary applicant if the relevant partnership requirements are met. This visa allows the partner or spouse to work for any employer in New Zealand. If the primary applicant will be holding or holds a work visa that is valid for less than six months, his or her partner is eligible for a visitor visa that is valid for the same time period as the primary applicant if the relevant partnership requirements are met. A partner holding a visitor visa cannot work in New Zealand. Dependent children of a work visa holder are granted either a student or visitor visa, depending on their age, and may attend primary and secondary schools in New Zealand as domes­tic students.

Driver’s permits. Foreign nationals may drive legally using their home country driver’s licenses for up to 12 months. Visitors whose licenses or permits are not in English must carry an accu­rate translation. Visitors holding international driver’s licenses may also drive in New Zealand for up to 12 months. Visitors without overseas or international driver’s licenses must apply for a New Zealand license before driving in New Zealand.

Foreign nationals in New Zealand must obtain New Zealand driver’s licenses within a year.

Applicants are required to pass a theoretical test and take a prac­tical driving test to obtain a New Zealand driver’s license. Applicants with valid driver’s licenses from certain European Union (EU) countries, Australia, Canada, Norway, South Africa, Switzerland or the United States may be exempt from the theo­retical and the practical test. In general, a physical examination is not required, but eyesight is checked.

Other matters

Publicly funded health entitlements. The length of a person’s visa determines whether they are entitled to publicly funded health in New Zealand. In general, a person who holds a work visa that entitles the person to remain in New Zealand for two years or more is eligible for publicly funded health and disability services. Eligibility for all publicly funded health and disability services is determined by the Ministry of Health and not Immigration New Zealand.

Licensed immigration advisers. Anyone who provides immigra­tion advice, both onshore and offshore, must be licensed or exempt from licensing. Immigration advice is defined as “using, or purporting to use, knowledge of or experience in immigration to advise, direct, assist or represent another person in regard to an immigration matter relating to New Zealand, whether directly or indirectly and whether or not for gain or reward.” The Immigration Advisers Authority regulates the provision of immigration advice. Immigration New Zealand no longer accepts applications from representatives of applicants, unless they are licensed or exempt.

A person who provides immigration advice who is not licensed or exempt from licensing is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding seven years or a fine not exceeding NZD100,000, or both.