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New Zealand Citizenship by Descent

Click here for Maori language version

(Statement on the use of macrons)

If you were born outside New Zealand on or after 1 January 1978, and one of your parents was a New Zealand citizen otherwise than by descent at the time of your birth, then you may have a claim to New Zealand citizenship by descent.

Additional information
  • To register citizenship by descent or as a child born overseas, see details below.
  • If your parents were not married when you were born you may be required to provide extra information. Please see our paternity information for more details.
  • Citizens by descent born before 1978 do not need to register their citizenship. However, you may wish to apply for a Confirmation of New Zealand Citizenship as official evidence that you are a New Zealander. Please contact us for more information.
  • If you were adopted outside New Zealand by a person who was a New Zealand citizen otherwise than by descent then you may be a New Zealand citizen by descent. However the adoption must fit several criteria. Please contact us for more information.

Definition of a New Zealand citizen "otherwise than by descent"
A person is likely to be a New Zealand citizen "otherwise than by descent" if they were born in New Zealand or:
  • were adopted in New Zealand by a New Zealand parent
  • received the grant of New Zealand citizenship
  • were born outside New Zealand on or after 1 January 1978 and one parent was a New Zealand citizen who was on overseas service
  • were a British subject who was :
- ordinarily resident in New Zealand throughout 1948
- naturalised in New Zealand before 1949
- their father was born or naturalised in New Zealand before 1949
- born in Samoa before 1949
- married to a man who automatically became a New Zealand citizen on 1 January 1949.

If you are not sure whether you or your parent(s) are New Zealand citizens otherwise than by descent or you want more information on citizenship otherwise than by descent please contact us.

Establishing Paternity for New Zealand Citizenship Purposes

Establishing paternity is the legal term for determining who is the father of a child under New Zealand law.

If your claim to New Zealand citizenship by descent is through your mother then it is not necessary to establish who is the father. But if paternity is not established then your father's name will not be added to your records.

If your claim to New Zealand citizenship by descent is through your father then we must establish paternity. In general your father is assumed to be the man your mother was married to when you were born.

If you were born in Australia, Fiji or the United Kingdom, and your parents were not married when you were born, paternity is established by your father being named on your birth certificate. If your father is not named on your birth certificate or you were born in another country, paternity is usually established by getting both your parents to complete deeds of paternity.

You can get copies of deeds of paternity by:

Download the appropriate Deed here (.pdf). You need to have Adobe Acrobat Reader installed on your computer, which you can download free at the Adobe site:
  • Dual Deed of Paternity - to be completed by both parents together before a witness
  • Separate Deed of Paternity (father) - to be completed by the father before a solicitor (if it is not possible to complete the Dual Deed of Paternity)
  • Separate Deed of Paternity (mother) - to be completed by the mother before a solicitor (if it is not possible to complete the Dual Deed of Paternity)

You will also need to provide:
  • both your parent's passports
  • a Proof of Identity form
  • two photographs that have been witnessed by the same person who completed the proof of identity form.

How to register citizenship by descent or as a child born overseas
There are five steps:

Provide the required documents: (see form for full details)
  • full birth certificate (of person being registered)
  • full birth certificate (of New Zealand citizen parent)
  • marriage certificate(s) (if applicable)
  • divorce document(s) (if applicable)
  • name change documents (if applicable eg change of name by statutory declaration, deedpoll or adoption papers)
  • evidence your parent was a New Zealand citizen when you were born (eg their New Zealand birth certificate or citizenship certificate)
  • proof of identity form (2 passport size photos required)

Pay the application fee:
Registration of citizenship by descent - NZ$200.00

Payment options:
  • Credit Card - You can use Visa, Bankcard or Mastercard. Some of our application forms do not have a credit card payment section. If there is no credit card section on you application form, please download a credit card payment form and send it in with your application.
  • Personal Cheque - Personal cheques must be in New Zealand dollars drawn against a New Zealand bank account. Make cheques payable to Department of Internal Affairs.
  • Bank Draft - Bank drafts must be in New Zealand dollars drawn against a New Zealand bank. Make bank drafts payable to Department of Internal Affairs.
  • EFTPOS/Cash - We accept EFTPOS and cash if you visit one of our offices.

We recommend that you do not send cash in the mail.

As costs and means of payment at overseas posts may vary, please contact the relevant New Zealand High Commission, Consulate or Embassy.

If you are applying from outside New Zealand and wish us to return your documents by courier please contact us for the current prices.

Questions? Please contact us.

Send your application to one of our offices:

For any queries about citizenship by descent or confirmations of citizenship please contact us by:

staykiwi@dia.govt.nz
Freephone 0800 22 51 51 (New Zealand only)
64 4 474-8123 (from overseas)

PO Box 10-526
47 Boulcott Street
Wellington
Fax + 64 04 474-8006

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Last updated: 27/02/2004