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Become a Nurse in New Zealand: Updated Requirements and Application Process

Become a Nurse in New Zealand: Updated Requirements and Application Process

Exciting changes are happening for internationally qualified nurses (IQNs) looking to work in New Zealand. The Nursing Council has implemented a new competence assessment procedure, starting from December 4th, 2023.

To ensure that all nurses practicing in New Zealand meet the highest standards of competence and professionalism, the Council now requires applicants to undergo a new assessment process. This includes an online theoretical examination and a clinical examination.

If you’ve already submitted your application before December 4th, 2023, don’t worry – you will continue with your existing competence assessment program (CAP).

It’s crucial for IQNs to understand these changes and how they might impact your application process. The Nursing Council has prepared an 18-month transition period (from 2024 to mid-2025) during which both the existing CAPs and the new competence examination process will be operational.

Initially focusing on Registered Nurses, the roll-out of this new system is set to pave the way for Enrolled Nurses in the near future.

In this blog post, we will provide a comprehensive overview of the new requirements and guide you through the steps needed to meet them. Don’t miss out on this opportunity – start your journey towards becoming a nurse in New Zealand today!

The first step towards registration as a nurse in New Zealand is to have your documents verified and authenticated by the Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools (CGFNS). This applies to all nurses, regardless of their country of origin or level of experience. The CGFNS will review your nursing education, work experience, and language proficiency before issuing a report that you can use when applying for registration with the Nursing Council.

In addition to this initial verification process, all nurses must also complete the Welcome to Aotearoa New Zealand program. This program consists of two free online courses that cover topics such as cultural awareness, professional ethics, and legal requirements for practicing nursing in New Zealand. The only exception to this requirement is Australian nurses who have a different pathway to registration.

For some nurses applying for registration, the Nursing Council may also require an assessment of competence. This assessment includes both a theoretical examination and a clinical competence assessment process. The theoretical examination tests nursing knowledge and can be taken online at an accredited exam center overseas or within New Zealand.

The clinical competence assessment process consists of two parts: a two-day orientation and preparation course followed by a three-hour Objective Structured Clinical Exam (OSCE). The orientation course covers topics such as infection control protocols, communication skills, and medication management specific to New Zealand’s healthcare system. The OSCE is a clinical examination that tests your ability to apply nursing knowledge and skills in a simulated patient care environment. Both the orientation course and the OSCE are completed in person at an accredited center in New Zealand.


In conclusion, the Nursing Council of New Zealand’s updated competence assessment requirements aim to ensure that all nurses practicing in the country meet high standards of professionalism and competence. As an internationally qualified nurse looking to work in New Zealand, it is essential that you understand these new requirements and take steps to meet them.

Ensure that you have your documents verified and authenticated by CGFNS before applying for registration, and complete the Welcome to Aotearoa New Zealand program as required. If you are selected for a competence assessment, be prepared to take both a theoretical examination and a clinical competence assessment process consisting of an orientation course and an OSCE.

By meeting these requirements, you will demonstrate your commitment to excellence in nursing practice and increase your chances of success in obtaining registration with the Nursing Council of New Zealand. Good luck!


The Council has introduced the new process to

  • offer an objective, standardised, and consistent approach to assess competence
  • protect public safety by being objective and fair while requiring knowledge of New Zealand’s unique practice setting
  • uphold the principles of Te Tiriti o Waitangi by requiring culturally safe practice, examined in the OSCE

align with other international regulators taking a similar approach.

It is a  Nursing Council requirement for internationally qualified nurses to complete the ‘Welcome to Aotearoa New Zealand’ online programme prior to becoming registered.

The programme currently consists of two free online courses that will provide you with an introduction to culturally safe nursing practice in New Zealand and to Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

You can find out more by clicking here and scrolling down to 'Welcome to Aotearoa New Zealand programme'.

No. There will be no change to the current English language requirements.

Further information about the current English language evidence pathways can be found here. Once on the page, scroll down to 'English Language'.

If you applied before the new system was put in place, (04 December 2023), and you are required to undergo a competence assessment, you may have the opportunity to take a Competence Assessment Programme.

Find more information here.

The Nursing Council is developing a dedicated pathway to registration for Enrolled Nurses and until that is ready, the following process is in place:

  • Verify your documents through CGFNS, an external company.

Find out more here.

  • Apply for registration to the Council.

You can only apply for registration to the Council AFTER you have had your documents verified by CGFNS. Read about our requirements here.

  • The Council will then let you know what you need to do.

Nurses with a current Australian practising certificate have a separate process.

Under the TTMR agreement, you would apply to the Nursing Council here.

The Nursing Council fee to process your application is $485 (New Zealand).

There are additional costs from external providers. Find out more information here.

All fees paid are non-refundable.

Yes, this is your first step.

CGFNS is the Nursing Council’s only accredited provider of verification services.

You will need to submit your documents and have them verified by CGFNS before you can begin your application to the Nursing Council for registration.

Log in to your CGFNS applicant portal here.


You must first verify your documents with CGFNS before you can begin your application for registration with the Nursing Council.

After your documents have been verified and authenticated by CGFNS, an email will be sent to you from the Nursing Council inviting you to apply for registration.

CGFNS will send all the documents you have provided directly to the Nursing Council.

Yes. The Nursing Council will tell you how and when to do this but for more information, click here, and scroll down to the Fitness to Practise requirement.

All applications are individually assessed and the length of the process varies depending on what is needed.

If the Council assesses your application and says you require a competence assessment, you will need to successfully complete a theoretical and a clinical examination as part of the registration process.

If the Council requires further documentation from you or documents are missing from the application, the process will take longer as we follow up.

The Council also require all internationally qualified nurses to take the ‘Welcome to Aotearoa New Zealand’ online programme to introduce you to culturally safe nursing practice in a New Zealand setting, and to Te Tiriti o Waitangi. You then upload your completion certificates.

All IQNs also need to complete a criminal history check, as the Council needs to make sure nurses coming to practise in New Zealand are of good standing. That check needs to be completed before registration occurs.

Check the requirements to complete your application here.

You can track the progress of your application via MyIQN, the Council’s online portal.

You can withdraw your application at any stage.

However, all fees you have paid are non-refundable.

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