Character Requirements

If you want to apply for a visa for New Zealand you need to be of good character.

As a general rule Immigration New Zealand carries out character checks on everyone 17 years or over included in residence applications or applying for temporary entry for 24 months or longer.

They may also undertake a character check on anyone else that they consider may not meet the character requirements for New Zealand.


You will probably be refused residence in New Zealand on character grounds if:

  • you have been convicted and sentenced to imprisonment for 5 years or more (this applies even if any of your offences have later been taken off the record)
  • in the past 10 years you were convicted and sentenced to imprisonment for 12 months or more
  • you are subject to a period of prohibition on entry to New Zealand under section 179 or 180 of the Immigration Act 2009
  • you have been deported or removed from New Zealand under any enactment (whether before or after the commencement of the Immigration Act 2009)
  • you are excluded from New Zealand under any enactment
  • you have, at any time, been removed, excluded, or deported from another country
  • you have been involved in terrorist activities, or belonged to or supported any organisation involved in terrorist activities
  • it is believed you are likely to commit – or to assist others to commit – criminal or drug offences, or an act of terrorism, in New Zealand
  • it is believed you are likely – due to any international circumstances – to be a danger to New Zealand’s security or public order
  • it is believed you are associated with an organisation or group that has criminal objectives or is engaged in criminal activities and for that – or any other reason – you’re considered to be a threat to the public interest or public order of New Zealand.


Police Certificates

Resident visa applicants:

To prove that you - and everyone in your family who is 17 years of age and older - meet the character requirements, you will need to provide police certificates from countries you have lived in:

• your country of citizenship and

• any country you have been in for 12 months or more in the last 10 years, whether in one visit or more. 

Temporary entry visa applicants:  

You will need a police certificate from any country you have lived in for 5 or more years since turning 17.


If you have any previous convictions and think that you might have difficulties with demonstrating that you are of acceptable character, please talk to one of our Licensed Immigration Advisers. They are experienced in assisting our clients with applying for character waivers. 

Ask our Licensed Immigration Adviser

If you want to find out more about obtaining the right visa for New Zealand, contact Julia Cooke, Licensed Immigration Adviser at NZIC.

Ask Julia for a Free Assessment