Everyone residing in New Zealand enjoys the benefits of a comprehensive healthcare system. Public healthcare is free or at a low cost for residents, citizens, and people with working visas valid for two years. The Kiwi healthcare system is heavily funded by the government. This is the government’s way of giving its people equal and just treatment. There is a complex network of organizations and people delivering health services in New Zealand. One of which is the Ministry of Health which is responsible for maintaining and developing policies, regulations, and strategies for healthcare and disability services. The strategies the organization develops are directed to the improvement of healthcare services provided to the people and community in New Zealand.

New Zealand offers unique and excellent opportunities for healthcare professionals, including local and international nurses. There are around 50,000 registered nurses, enrolled nurses, and nursing practitioners working all around the country. During this pandemic, New Zealand aims to have a 100% vaccination rate, and nurses have been facing a very crucial and important role in New Zealand in achieving this mission. The nurses are of great significance to the country, being the first line of defense and the first people to be called for people seeking assistance or healthcare services. The New Zealand Nurses Organization (NZNO), New Zealand’s largest professional organization representing the nursing profession, has taken action to transform the nursing workforce and develop strategies and actions for the provision of healthcare and nursing services to the people and community, such as health promotion, disease prevention, and whatnot.

With the continuous growth and improvement of New Zealand despite the pandemic happening, the healthcare workforce of registered nurses continues to shoot up and increase. Many registered nurses seek development and comprehensive training/practice in a country that continuously provides outstanding care and opportunities for its healthcare professionals. For further knowledge regarding the nursing workforce and the steps to become a nurse in New Zealand, please read more below.

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Steps to Become a Nurse in New Zealand

1. Get a Language Proficiency Certificate

It is strongly recommended that students or applicants who are non-native English speakers achieve an English Language Proficiency score of 6.5 in an IELTS, TOEFL, or any equivalent in all four categories, namely reading, writing, listening, and speaking. Students whose first language is English no longer need to prove language proficiency upon entering colleges or universities.

2. Complete the Level of Education Required in the Nursing Scope of Practice You Want to Pursue

Of course, this is a crucial step to become a nurse in New Zealand. There are a number of educational institutions accredited by the Nursing Council offering nursing courses or programs that can lead to registration as an enrolled nurse, nurse practitioner, or registered nurse. Each nursing scope of practice has a different required level of education.

If you wish to be an enrolled nurse, you must successfully complete a Nursing Council accredited Diploma in Enrolled Nursing program (level 5 on the New Zealand Qualification Authority framework) from an institute of technology or polytechnic. The duration of taking a diploma in an enrolled nursing program is 18 months. To know more about the Diploma in Enrolled Nursing, please see the attachments in the Enrolled Nurse section of the Nursing Council of New Zealand website.

If you would like to become a registered nurse, you must complete a Nursing Council accredited Bachelor of Nursing or Bachelor of Health Science program (level 5 on the New Zealand Qualification Authority framework), which takes three years to finish. For further details regarding the Bachelor of Nursing, please see the Registered Nurse section of the Nursing Council.

Lastly, if you wish to become a nurse practitioner, you must complete a Nursing Council accredited master’s degree program comprised of a structured program with a clinical focus. Find out more about the nurse practitioner’s scope of practice on the Nurse Practitioner section of the Nursing Council website.

3. Meet the Requirements for Registration of State Final Examination

The State Final Examination is a prescribed qualification for entry to the registered nurse or enrolled nurse scope of practice. At the end of each year, schools and institutions are expected to indicate the expected number of candidates to take the examination. The Nursing Council will provide online applications for registration or examination, and these application forms must be completed by the candidate at least six weeks before the State Final Examination date, and all necessary fees must also be paid. To know more about the schedule of fees, please download Handbook for pre-registration nursing programmes and see Appendix 10 on the Nursing Council website.

4. Pass the State Final Examination

The State Final Examination is an important step to become a nurse in New Zealand and includes questions on the administration of safe and competent nursing care and the legal and ethical responsibilities of the registered or enrolled nurse. The questions are designed to assess the applicant’s knowledge of the theories and safe practice of the profession.

The registered nurse examination is consisted of two papers containing 90 multiple question items each, while the enrolled nurse examination consists of one 90 multiple question items paper. To pass the State Final Examination, the candidate must obtain 60% in each of the four key categories in their respective examination.

5. Wait for the Results of the State Final Examination

The candidates can only either pass or fail the examination. Successful candidates shall be emailed with their results, confirmation of registration, and an annual practicing certificate application form. The Registration Certificates shall be sent out to the candidates within a week from registration. As for the candidates who failed, they will also receive an email indicating the result of their examination. Unsuccessful candidates may apply for analysis of their results.

6. After Registration, Candidate is Already Eligible to Work in New Zealand

After receiving the Registration Certificate, the candidate is already considered a nurse in New Zealand and may now practice the nursing profession in the country.

7. For International Nurses, Apply to The Credentials Verification Service for the Nursing Council of New Zealand (CVS-NCNZ) and Meet the Standards/Requirements

If you are an international or foreign nurse, you must apply to the CVS-NCNZ to get your credentials verified and authenticated. This process is vital to become a nurse in New Zealand. It will assess if your credentials are true and satisfactory. To be eligible to work as a nurse in New Zealand, you must meet all the standards/requirements. The requirements include the following:

  • Identity details
  • Employment history
  • Educational background
  • License validation
  • Language proficiency
  • Registration application fee

To know more about the detailed required documents you need to prepare, please visit The Credentials Verification Service for the Nursing Council of New Zealand.

8. Apply for a Working Visa

After completing the registration requirements, the applicant must get a working visa to be able to enter the country and practice the nursing profession. People who are Australian citizens or residents who hold an Australian return resident visa are not required to get a working visa; however, for other immigrants who wish to work in New Zealand, a working visa is required to get permission to work in the country. To know more about the requirements in getting a working visa, please visit the Immigration of New Zealand website.

9. Get Ready to Work in New Zealand

Once your credentials passed in the CVS-NCNZ have been verified and authenticated and your working visa has already been issued, you are ready to work and render services as a professional nurse in New Zealand.


I hope that you found this article on the steps to become a nurse in New Zealand informative and helpful. Make sure to also check out our Scholarships Page for different information on scholarships and universities across the globe!