New Zealanders in Australia

Background

The Australian and New Zealand Governments have had arrangements in place since the 1920s to facilitate a free flow of people between the two countries.

The 1973 Trans-Tasman Travel Arrangement has allowed Australian and New Zealand citizens to enter each other’s country to visit, live and work, without the need to apply for authority to enter the other country before travelling.

The movement of New Zealand citizens to and from Australia depends on a number of factors, for example the economic conditions of both countries. The number of New Zealand citizens in Australia increases in good economic times in Australia relative to New Zealand, and decreases when the economic conditions slow.

At 30 June 2013, an estimated 640 770 New Zealand citizens were present in Australia.

Special Category Visa

Since 1 September 1994, all non-citizens in Australia must hold a visa.

The Special Category visa (SCV) is a temporary visa introduced for New Zealand citizens. A New Zealand citizen wanting to enter Australia needs to present a valid New Zealand passport and incoming passenger card for immigration clearance. By doing so, New Zealand citizens are considered to have applied for a visa and, subject to health or character considerations, will be granted an SCV. This visa is recorded electronically and the person’s passport may be stamped, showing the date of arrival in Australia.

New Zealand citizens with tuberculosis or any criminal convictions (that resulted in imprisonment or a suspended sentence) should approach the nearest Australian immigration office to discuss their entry to Australia before travelling to Australia.

Those who use the SmartGate automated border processing system at airports will be advised they have been granted a visa and can request to have their passport stamped.

People who become New Zealand citizens after their arrival in Australia, or enter on a passport from another country, can apply for an SCV at a departmental office.

In general, New Zealand citizens who were in Australia on 1 September 1994 automatically became SCV holders on that date.

More information about the SCV is available.
See: Special Category Visa

Changes introduced on 26 February 2001

A new bilateral social security arrangement between Australia and New Zealand was announced on 26 February 2001. This agreement sets out arrangements for payment of age pension, disability support pension and carer payment to New Zealand citizens in Australia.

It also recognised the right of each country to determine access to social security benefits not covered by the agreement, and to set related residence and citizenship rules according to the respective country’s national legislative and policy frameworks. In line with that principle Australia introduced a number of supplementary changes.

As a result, the Social Security Act 1991 requires New Zealand citizens who arrived in Australia after 26 February 2001 to apply for and be granted an Australian permanent visa to access certain social security payments (including income support payments) that are not covered by the bilateral agreement.

To support this requirement, changes were also made to citizenship and migration legislation to require New Zealand citizens to become permanent visa holders if they want to obtain Australian citizenship or sponsor their family members for a permanent visa.

Under transitional arrangements, these changes did not affect New Zealand citizens who:

  • were in Australia on 26 February 2001 as SCV holders
  • were outside Australia on 26 February 2001, but were in Australia as an SCV holder for a total of 12 months in the two years prior to that date, and subsequently returned to Australia
  • have a certificate issued under the Social Security Act 1991 stating that they were residing in Australia on a particular date. These certificates are no longer issued.

For more information in relation to the social security entitlements of New Zealand citizens in Australia contact the Department of Human Services.
See:Department of Human Services

Do New Zealand citizens need to apply for a permanent visa?

The SCV is a temporary visa. However, it allows a New Zealand citizen to remain indefinitely and live, work or study in Australia lawfully as long as that person remains a New Zealand citizen.

As the SCV is not a permanent visa, visa holders do not have the same rights and benefits as Australian citizens or Australian permanent residents.

Both Australian permanent residents and SCV holders are generally not able to:

Whether New Zealand citizens apply for an Australian permanent visa is ultimately a decision for each person to make based on their individual circumstances.

All Australian permanent visas have legislated eligibility requirements that must be met. Not all New Zealand citizens will qualify, or continue to qualify, for an Australian permanent visa. This should be taken into account when making the decision whether to settle permanently in Australia.

More information is available about New Zealand citizens entering or living in Australia.
See: New Zealand citizens

Australian citizenship

Applying for citizenship

Those New Zealand citizens covered by the transitional arrangements are able to apply for Australian citizenship without first becoming a permanent visa holder. Those arriving on or after 27 February 2001 must first apply for and be granted a permanent visa.

All applicants for Australian citizenship aged 18 years and over must satisfy character requirements.

New Zealand citizens who apply for Australian citizenship and who do not hold a permanent visa must provide overseas penal clearance certificates to support their application. This is because these clients generally have not provided those certificates prior to becoming resident in Australia.

This applies to New Zealand citizen applicants aged 18 years or over regardless of how long they have resided in Australia.

New Zealand citizens who arrived in Australia before the age of 18 years and have not left Australia since are not required to provide this information.

More information about applying for Australian citizenship is available on the department’s website.
See: New Zealand citizens living in Australia

Citizenship by birth—before 1 September 1994

People born in Australia on or after 26 January 1949 and before 20 August 1986 became an Australian citizen by birth, with the exception of children born to a parent who was living in Australia temporarily as a diplomat or as the holder of a special purpose visa, for example guests of government, air crew or armed forces and their families.

Following amendments to the Australian Citizenship Act 1948, a person born in Australia on or after 20 August 1986 and before 1 September 1994 is only an Australian citizen by birth if at least one of their parents was an Australian citizen or permanent resident at the time of the their birth.

This does not include the children of New Zealand citizens who were in Australia as ‘exempt non-citizens’. Children born in Australia to these New Zealand citizens between 20 August 1986 and 31 August 1994 were also ‘exempt non-citizens’. They were not required to hold an entry permit and were regarded as a permanent resident for the period of time they spent in Australia prior to 1 September 1994.

Citizenship by birth—from 1 September 1994 to 26 February 2001

A child born in Australia between 1 September 1994 and 26 February 2001, to a New Zealand citizen parent who held an SCV or a permanent visa is an Australian citizen by birth.

Citizenship by birth—from 27 February 2001

A child born in Australia on or after 27 February 2001 to a New Zealand citizen parent is not an Australian citizen by birth unless the New Zealand citizen parent:

  • held an Australian permanent visa
  • was a dual Australian-New Zealand citizen
  • was covered by the transitional arrangements for the 26 February 2001 changes.

Automatic acquisition of citizenship on 10th birthday

A child born in Australia on or after 20 August 1986 who did not acquire Australian citizenship at birth automatically acquires it on their 10th birthday if they have been residing in Australia since their birth. This provision operates regardless of the parents’ immigration or citizenship status.

Statistical information

Permanent and long-term arrivals and departures

New Zealand citizens are not counted as part of Australia’s annual migration program. They are included in settler arrival and net overseas migration figures (if they are in Australia for 12 months or more over a 16 month period). New Zealand has high immigration in proportion to its population. It also has a high level of emigration, much of which is to Australia.

In the 2012-13 financial year 52 012 New Zealand citizens came to Australia as permanent and long-term arrivals. This represented a decrease of 13.7 per cent on the previous year. Of these 41 230 arrived as permanent settlers and 10 782 were long-term arrivals. This represented a 6.9 per cent decrease on the previous year for permanent arrivals and a 32.6 per cent decrease on the previous year for long-term arrivals.

Permanent departures of New Zealand citizens increased in 2012-13 to 10 875 (up 19.5 per cent from 2011-12) but long-term departures decreased to 5829 (down 15.4 per cent).

This represents a net permanent and long-term increase of New Zealand citizens in Australia during 2012-13 of 35 308, a decrease of 20.3 per cent on the previous year. Of these 20.2 per cent stated they intended to live in New South Wales, 32.6 per cent in Queensland, 23.0 per cent in Victoria and 19.8 per cent in Western Australia. Of those who indicated they had an occupation, 59.2 per cent were skilled, 20.0 per cent were semi-skilled and around 20.7 per cent were unskilled or were believed to be employed but did not provide an adequate description to properly classify their occupation.

New Zealanders in the labour market

New Zealand citizens have a high labour-force participation rate (78.2 per cent at July 2012) compared with those born in Australia (68.0 per cent). At July 2012, people born in New Zealand had an unemployment rate of 4.8 per cent, compared to 4.9 per cent for people born in Australia.

Short-term arrivals

During 2012-13, short-term arrivals of New Zealand citizens totalled 1 051 529, an increase of 0.3 per cent over the previous year.

This is general information only. For case specific advice, please contact the Department.

Moving to New Zealand from Australia

Whether you’re a native-born Aussie, came to Australia from somewhere else, or a Kiwi who has been spending extended time in Australia, this page will help you understand what’s different about life in New Zealand and whether a move across the Tasman is right for you.

Visa options for you and your family

If you are a citizen or permanent resident of Australia you don’t need a visa to live and work in New Zealand.

If you’re in Australia on a temporary visa then you’ll likely need a visa to enter New Zealand. Our visa system is very similar is Australia’s; if you’re offered a skilled job by a New Zealand employer then they may be able to sponsor your temporary work visa application. There are also permanent resident options that allow you to stay indefinitely.

If you are a partner of a New Zealand or Australian citizen or resident, you’ll likely be able to apply for a partner visa based on your relationship.

For more information visit our Visas & Citizenship section.

Living in New Zealand

We speak the same language and share a lot culturally with Australia. You’ll feel very much at home.

The pace of life here is laid back, and we’re fortunate to live in what many people say is the cleanest and most beautiful country in the world.

It’s easy to do things outdoors and you’ll have time for your own interests. Even in the biggest cities you’re only minutes from a beach, native park or mountain biking trail. It’s also a great place for children, with so many healthy recreational activities and a world-class education system that is largely free.

Jumping the Tasman: career & lifestyle (02:13)

Cost of living

Overall, it’ll probably cost slightly less to live in New Zealand than it does in Australia.

Depending where you come from, the cost of living is likely to be cheaper. For example, Sydney is the world’s 31st most expensive city to live in, according to the Mercer’s 2015 Cost of Living survey,

By comparison, Auckland was rather further down the rankings at 61st and Wellington even less expensive at 83rd.

Other Australian cities also featured on Mercer’s list; Melbourne came in at 47th, Perth 48th, Canberra 65th, Brisbane 66th, and Adelaide 71st.

Cost of living in New Zealand

Cost of living in New Zealand

Superannuation

Government payments

If you are eligible for the Australian aged-pension, you can claim this in New Zealand as part of the Social Security Agreement between the two countries. The agreement also allows you to add together your periods of Working Age residence in Australia and New Zealand, so you can meet the minimum requirements for the payment.

Alternatively, you may be able to apply directly for the New Zealand scheme (known as New Zealand Super).

Receiving a benefit or pension in New Zealand | WINZ

Pension saving schemes

New Zealand has an innovative and very popular employer and government-subsidised scheme that helps people in work save long term for retirement.

It’s called KiwiSaver and it’s designed to make it easy for people maintain regular savings.

A KiwiSaver account grows from a combination of sources; deductions from your pay or salary at a level you choose: a matching contribution from your employer; and an annual top-up from the government.

If you’re an Australian or New Zealand citizen, or permanent resident and you normally live in New Zealand, you’ll be eligible for KiwiSaver. When you start a new job, if you’re not already a member and are eligible, your employer will enrol you automatically in KiwiSaver.

If you have an Australian retirement savings scheme, it may be possible to transfer your savings to a KiwiSaver scheme. However, not all schemes offer this option, so you should check with the provider.

KiwiSaver in a nut shell | KiwiSaver.org

Transferring your Australian scheme to New Zealand | Inland Revenue

Healthcare

If you’re a returning New Zealander, you should be eligible for publicly funded healthcare if you register with the local Primary Health Organisation (PHO).

For Australians, there are two different eligibility classes.

If you’re an Australian citizen or permanent resident, you are eligible for the full range of publicly funded health care, provided you can demonstrate an intention to stay in New Zealand for at least two years continually. New Zealand doesn’t have a national Medicare system like Australia. Instead, once you are living in New Zealand, you should register with the PHO to receive subsidised healthcare.

If you’re an Australian resident and don’t intend to stay for two years, you’re only eligible for immediately necessary hospital and maternity services and pharmaceuticals. You’ll need to pay the full cost of primary health care consultations (e.g. with a local doctor or nurse), often called the ‘casual’ rate. This is what New Zealanders pay if they choose not to enrol.

New Zealand’s health system | Ministry of Health

Australian access to public health services

Enrolling with a PHO | Ministry of Health

Healthcare in New Zealand
New Zealand has both publicly funded and privately funded healthcare

The differences aren’t as subtle as people think… the culture is quite different, there is less hierarchy and people tend to get on with things more quickly.

Accidents

Most of the costs of injuries from accidents are covered by New Zealand’s unique personal accident compensation scheme which is run by the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC).

ACC provides no-fault insurance cover to everyone in New Zealand for injuries resulting from accidents – everything from car crashes to injuries at work, slips, trips and falls at home or breaking your arm skiing, even if the person who is injured caused the accident.

ACC helps cover medical and treatment fees and rehabilitation costs such as physiotherapy or residential care, although there are part-charges for some treatments. They will also make a payment to families in the case of accidental death, even if the family live outside of New Zealand.

You pay for your ACC cover through a levy on your income and also charges for running your motorcar.

Under New Zealand’s ACC system, you don’t have the right to sue anyone for injuries from an accident.

ACC’s website has more information about what is and isn’t covered, and what happens if you injure yourself.

About ACC

Education

Australian and New Zealand citizens and permanent residents are classified as domestic students in New Zealand so only pay local fees, including tertiary education. The vast majority of our top quality primary and secondary schools are free (although parents are expected to meet some minor costs).

New Zealand citizens are eligible to apply for Student Loans or the Student Allowance when they begin studying. However, New Zealand residents and Australian citizens and permanent residents need to have lived in New Zealand for at least three years before they are eligible.

Learn more in our Education & Schooling section.

NZ is ranked #1 for raising children abroad (Australia is #19)

HSBC Expat Explorer Survey 2014

Housing ownership

An Australian who is a resident in New Zealand may rent or purchase land and property under the same conditions as New Zealanders. No restrictions apply to land value or size.

An Australian who is not actually residing in New Zealand may be classed as an “overseas person” and must obtain consent under New Zealand’s Overseas Investment Regulations to acquire or take control of significant assets in New Zealand.

Income tax

New Zealand and Australian citizens and permanent residents visiting and living in New Zealand are liable for New Zealand income tax on all income derived from New Zealand.

New Zealand tax rates and codes | Inland Revenue

Getting a tax number

If you have previously lived in New Zealand you may already have an IRD number and should use this number when you return. If you don’t know your IRD number, you can find it using the IRD website.

If you’ve never had an IRD number, you should apply for one through Inland Revenue Department (IRD) when you arrive in New Zealand, particularly if you will be working here. You can find the form on the IRD website.

If you do not have an IRD number, tax will be deducted at a no-declaration rate, which is higher than the normal deduction rate.