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Become a New Zealand Citizen

Do you want to become a New Zealand Citizen? 


In New Zealand the terms 'residence' and 'citizenship' are used differently to other countries. 


Wikipedia states: "Citizenship is the status of a person recognized under the custom or law as being a legal member of a sovereign state or part of a nation."

In New Zealand, if you are granted residence, you retain your original citizenship and you can also apply for New Zealand citizenship.


Does this sound confusing? 

The bottom line is: If you want to live in New Zealand longterm, you will apply for residence (not citizenship).



Permanent Residence in New Zealand

In recent years the number of citizens wanting to move to New Zealand from all over the world has increased considerably. If you are interested in moving to New Zealand, you are probably looking for a relaxed pace of life in an unspoiled country, where people are friendly and look out for each other.

If you want to move to New Zealand and live here permanently, you will become a permanent resident.



A Resident Visa will give you full residence status and comprehensive Public Service entitlements.

There are a number of visa policies you can choose from when applying for your permanent resident visa. 

Find out if you will be eligible for a permanent resident visa and become a permanent resident in New Zealand.


Citizenship in New Zealand 

Citizenship is a technical term used in New Zealand for a specific status that can be obtained by permanent residents after they have lived in New Zealand for a number of years.

In comparison to the resident visa it will give you limited additional rights:  Once you are a New Zealand citizen, you can live in New Zealand indefinitely, travel on a New Zealand passport and stand for parliament. 

Other than that however, a resident visa will be the right visa for you when you start your life in New Zealand. It will give you comprehensive cover and full entitlement to live in New Zealand. 



There are four ways of becoming a New Zealand citizen, only one of them is relevant for migrants: Citizenship by Grant.

1.Citizenship by birth in New Zealand

You are a New Zealand citizen by birth if you were born in New Zealand before 1 January 2006. If you are born here on or after 1 January 2006, you are a citizen only if at least one parent is a New Zealand citizen or permanent resident.

2.Citizenship by descent

You are a New Zealand citizen if you are born overseas to a mother or father who is a New Zealand citizen otherwise than by descent, or if a mother or father is a New Zealand citizen by descent and you would otherwise by stateless.


You are a New Zealand citizen if you are legally adopted by a New Zealand citizen.

4.Citizenship by grant

As immigrant to New Zealand you can apply to the New Zealand government to be granted citizenship.



Become an New Zealand citizen by grant

You will have to meet the following criteria to be granted citizenship:

  • you already have the right to be in NZ indefinitely (you're a permanent resident of NZ or Australia, or you’re Australian)
  • you’ve lived here for at least the last 5 years
  • you intend to keep living here
  • you speak English, and
  • you're of good character

Please note that citizenship is different to permanent residence.  You can ask our Licensed Immigration Advisers if you are unsure about the process of becoming a New Zealand citizen. 


Citizenship ceremony

If your application for citizenship is successful, you will need to attend a citizenship ceremony and take an oath or affirmation in English, at the ceremony you will get  your certificate of citizenship.


New Zealand passport

You don't automatically get a New Zealand passport when you are made a citizen, but you can apply for one after you have received your citizenship certificate.


Can you have dual citizenship?

Dual citizenship is available in New Zealand, but whether or not it is applicable in your particular case will depend on the law of your home country.

If you are a German citizen and want to apply for New Zealand citizenship you might lose your German citizenship.  A Beibehaltungsgenehmigung has to be obtained from the German state before an application for New Zealand citizenship can be lodged, to ensure that you will be allowed to remain a German citizen. Ask us how we can help you with your Beibehaltungsgenehmigung: Email Dr.Carsten Hallwass.



Read more about becoming a New Zealand citizen through the Skilled Migrant Category:

Find out more about working in New Zealand:

Find out about our proven track record: Happy Clients!


Ask our Licensed Immigration Advisers

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