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Requirements for New Zealand Citizenship

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Citizenship: Frequently Asked Questions

Click here for Maori language version

(Statement on the use of macrons)

For all queries regarding immigrating to New Zealand or obtaining a New Zealand visa or residency, please contact the New Zealand Immigration Service.


How long does a grant of New Zealand Citizenship take to process?
  • It will usually take between five to eight months from the time you send us your form and documents to the time you will become a citizen. This timeframe accounts for application processing, approval from the Minister and attending your ceremony.

Where can I get an application form?

After I apply, when will my documents be returned to me?
  • If you are required to attend an interview, your documents will be returned to you at your interview, which will usually be two to three months after we receive your application.
  • If you are not required to attend a Citizenship interview, your documents will be couriered to you about eight to twelve weeks after we receive your application.
  • If you need you documents returned earlier, you can write to or fax the Citizenship Office stating the reason and date you require your documents returned by.

If I move after I apply, how do I change my address with the Citizenship office?
  • A written and signed request is required to change your address. This must be signed by the applicant if they are 18 years or older, or the consenting parents if the applicant is aged under 18 years. You can either fax or post the request to the Citizenship Office. Please note the following details:
    - your full name/name of applicant(s)
    - your date of birth/applicant(s) date of birth
    - the application number(s) (if known)
    - the new address
    - a contact telephone number
    - your (or both consenting parents for applicants aged under 16 years) signature

Can I apply for citizenship early (ie before the two or three year period of residency is up)?
  • It is unlikely that a grant of New Zealand citizenship would be approved if the applicant has not already met the Ordinary Residency requirements. However, there are some exceptions to this. Please contact the Citizenship Office for more information.

Can I submit photocopies of my documents?
  • The Citizenship Office requires that all documents be originals. These will be returned to you.

Will applying for NZ Citizenship affect my current citizenship?
  • New Zealand allows its citizens to hold multiple citizenships. However, some other countries do not allow this. You should check with the authorities of the country/ies for which you currently hold citizenship before applying for New Zealand citizenship.

Can I leave New Zealand while my application is being processed?
  • Yes, although this may affect the processing of you application, so you must notify the Citizenship Office of your departure date and expected return date before you leave.

Can I apply from overseas?
  • Yes. However, applicants are expected to meet the residency requirements outlined in the application booklet.


How long do I need to have lived in New Zealand for?

How good does my English have to be?
  • To become a New Zealand citizen you are usually expected to know enough English to be able to deal with everyday situations such as shopping or banking.

What does it mean to be 'of good character'?
  • Things such as traffic offences, benefit fraud or any court conviction may affect your eligibility to become a New Zealand citizen. Please contact us for more information.

What are the responsibilities and privileges of New Zealand citizenship?
  • The responsibilities include:
    - obey and promote the laws of New Zealand
    - register to vote
    - meet New Zealand tax obligations
    - not to act in any way that is against the interests of New Zealand.
  • The privileges include:
    - use of a New Zealand passport for foreign travel
    - full access to education
    - ability to stand for public office
    - ability to represent New Zealand in international sport.

What evidence should I provide to 'prove association with New Zealand other than by marriage'?
  • If you are applying for New Zealand citizenship through marriage to a New Zealand citizen, you should submit original documentary evidence of your involvement in the community. Examples of this may be:
    - letters of support from friends
    - club memberships
    - proof of employment
    - proof of educational involvement.

The Interview

Do I have to attend an interview?
  • The Citizenship Office reserves the right to interview all applicants. Most applicants will be interviewed as part of the citizenship process.

Where will the interview be?
  • If you apply from Auckland, Manukau, Wellington or Christchurch, you will be expected to attend an interview at our offices. Applicants living outside of these areas will be contacted by a Citizenship Officer to make other arrangements.

What questions will be asked during the interview?
  • The questions asked will be used to confirm your personal details, and your ability to meet the requirements of New Zealand citizenship.

How long before I will get an interview?
  • Your interview will usually be one to two months after we receive your form, although it may take longer than this for applicants outside the major centres.

How long will the interview take?
  • Citizenship interviews are usually one hour long.

Do I have to bring anything with me?
  • Your Citizenship Officer will contact you if they require you to bring anything to the interview.

Can I bring a friend or family member to my interview?
  • You are welcome to bring a support person to the interview. However, you will be expected to answer all questions yourself.

The Ceremony

Do I have to attend a ceremony?
  • All applicants are required to attend a citizenship ceremony to be granted citizenship. The exception to this, who can choose whether they attend a ceremony are:
    - applicants aged under 14
    - applicants who are already New Zealand citizens by descent.
  • You must attend a ceremony within 12 months of your citizenship being approved, or your citizenship application may lapse and you will have to make a new application.
  • People who are granted New Zealand Citizenship through their mother being a New Zealand citizen, (Section 10 Grant), are not required to attend a citizenship ceremony.

Where will my ceremony be?
  • Applicants are usually required to attend a ceremony in the area that they live.

Benefits of Citizenship by Grant Over Citizenship by Descent

What are the benefits of claiming a Grant of citizenship instead of Citizenship by Descent?
  • Citizens by descent have all the rights of New Zealand Citizenship, except that they cannot pass on their citizenship to any children born overseas.
  • Citizens by descent can receive a grant of New Zealand Citizenship providing they meet all of the normal requirements.

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Last updated: 29/10/2003