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Requirements for New Zealand Citizenship

Click here for Maori language version

(Statement on the use of macrons)

To be granted New Zealand citizenship you must meet the requirements of either the Citizenship Act 1977 or the Citizenship Act (Western Samoa) 1982.

You may meet the requirements of the Citizenship Act 1977 if you are:

You may meet the requirements of the Citizenship Act (Western Samoa) 1982 if you are:

Or you may already be a citizen, and able to register your status as a citizen by descent if you are:

Adult over 18 meeting the general requirements
If you are 18 years or over you can become a New Zealand citizen by meeting the following general requirements:
  • Permanent residence - the New Zealand Immigration Service has allowed you to live here permanently.
  • Ordinary residence - you have made your permanent home base here for the last three years and have had valid immigration permits for all of that time.
  • Character - you are of good character.
  • Knowledge - you know the responsibilities and privileges of New Zealand citizenship.
  • English - you are able to understand and speak English.
  • Intentions - you intend to continue living in New Zealand or to work for a New Zealand organisation overseas.
Successful applicants will need to attend a public
citizenship ceremony where they take the oath or affirmation of allegiance.


Child under 20 years meeting the general requirements
If you are under 20 years old you can become a New Zealand citizen by meeting the following requirements:
  • Permanent residence - the New Zealand Immigration Service has allowed you to live here permanently
  • Ordinary residence - you have made your permanent home base here for the last three years and have had valid immigration permits for all of that time
  • Character - you are of good character
  • Knowledge - you know the responsibilities and privileges of New Zealand citizenship
  • English - you are able to understand and speak English
  • Future - you intend to continue living in New Zealand or to work for a New Zealand organisation overseas.

Consent to apply - Applicants under 18 need the consent of their parent(s) or legal guardian(s) to apply. If the consent of only one parent is available please contact us.

Applicants under 14 years old are not required to meet the English, character and knowledge requirements.

Applicants whose parents are New Zealand citizens (or are about to become New Zealand citizens) are not required to meet the ordinary residence requirement.

Successful applicants, over 14 years old must attend a public citizenship ceremony where they take the oath or affirmation of allegiance. Successful applicants under 14 may attend a ceremony if they wish.

Person married to a New Zealand citizen
If you are or have been married to a New Zealand citizen you can become a New Zealand citizen by meeting the following requirements:
  • Permanent residence - the New Zealand Immigration Service has allowed you to live here permanently
  • Ordinary residence - you have made your permanent home base here for the last two years and have had valid immigration permits for all of that time
  • Character - you are of good character
  • Knowledge - you know the responsibilities and privileges of New Zealand citizenship
  • English - you are able to understand and speak English
  • Association - you have established and will maintain some association with New Zealand other than your marriage.
Successful applicants will need to attend a public
citizenship ceremony where they take the oath or affirmation of allegiance.


Person born outside New Zealand between 1 January 1949 - 1 January 1978 whose mother was a New Zealand citizen otherwise than by descent when they were born

A person born outside New Zealand on or after 1 January 1949 and before 1 January 1978 and whose mother was a New Zealand citizen otherwise than by descent when they were born is eligible for a grant of New Zealand citizenship.

To apply for a grant you need to complete an application form, pay the fee and supply the following original documents:
  • your full birth certificate (showing your parent's names)
  • any change of name documents for you (eg deed poll or marriage certificate)
  • your mother's full New Zealand birth certificate or citizenship certificate
  • any change of name documents for your mother (e.g. deed poll or marriage certificate).

Fees are NZ$460.00 per adult or NZ$230.00 per child (under 16 at date of application).

Adoption Overseas
If you were adopted overseas on or after 1 January 1949 and before 1 January 1978 and your adoptive mother was a New Zealand citizen otherwise than by descent when you were adopted you may also be eligible for a grant of citizenship. Please contact us to discuss your circumstances.

Person born or adopted outside New Zealand to a New Zealand parent
People born or adopted outside New Zealand since 1 January 1978 to a New Zealand parent may be
citizens by descent.

People born or adopted outside New Zealand on or after 1 January 1949 and before 1 January 1978 whose father was a New Zealand citizen otherwise than by descent, may be citizens by descent. Please contact us to discuss your circumstances.

Person in exceptional circumstances
The Minister of Internal Affairs is able to grant citizenship to a person who has exceptional circumstances if the Minister is satisfied it would be in the public interest to do so.

The exceptional circumstances requirement is very difficult to meet. The public interest requirement means that the granting of citizenship must provide some "advantage" or "benefit" to New Zealand.

If you feel your circumstances are exceptional and that your getting citizenship would benefit New Zealand please
contact us to discuss your case.

The Minister may also reduce the ordinary residence requirement or waive the requirement that an applicant be able to speak English in certain situations, including: where an applicant would suffer undue hardship in meeting the requirement. The Minister considers all of these cases on their own merit. The Department recommends that people should not rely on these provisions and should only make an application where they feel they can meet all the requirements of the Act.


Citizen of Samoa
If you are a Samoan citizen, under the terms of the
Citizenship Act (Western Samoa) 1982, you can become a New Zealand citizen if you meet either of the following:
  • you are able to prove that you were in New Zealand on 14 September 1982
  • you legally entered New Zealand after 14 September 1982 and have been granted permanent residence.

Successful applicants will need to attend a public citizenship ceremony where they take the Oath or Affirmation of Allegiance.

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Last updated: 28/10/2003