Guidance

Living in New Zealand

Official information British people moving to and living in New Zealand need to know, including residency, healthcare and driving.

Introduction

This guide sets out essential information for British nationals living in New Zealand, including advice on health, benefits, residence requirements and more. We are unable to provide any guidance on general lifestyle enquiries apart from the information and links listed below. See our information on what consulates can and cannot do for British nationals.

If you can’t find what you need below, and you need urgent help, contact your nearest British embassy or consulate.

Coronavirus

Please refer to our coronavirus specific travel advice if you are seeking information specific to the current COVID-19 pandemic in New Zealand.

For information on getting a COVID-19 vaccine as a UK national in New Zealand, see our coronavirus travel advice.

We are not advising British people who are permanent residents overseas to return to the UK. You should follow the advice of the local authorities in your host country.

British nationals who are resident in New Zealand should consider their own personal circumstances and take into account all of the information available, when making a decision on whether or not to return to the UK. You should consider the following factors:

  • financial support: do you have sufficient funds to support yourself without going back to the UK for an undetermined number of months? Are you eligible for New Zealand government coronavirus support?
  • legal & employment support: do you understand the kind of support available to you in the case of unemployment or economic hardships due to COVID-19? Will these support mechanisms be sufficient for you to support yourself for an undetermined number of months? Check the Legal and Employment section below for more information
  • for students: do you understand the arrangements your host university has in place? Particularly access to medical facilities, accommodation and online learning options. Keep in contact with your UK university too (if applicable) about their advice

Before you go

See our travel advice for New Zealand for up-to-date information on local laws and customs, safety and emergencies.

See moving or retiring abroad.

Get a personalised task list to help you prepare for moving to New Zealand.

Visas and residency

See entry requirements for New Zealand in our travel advice.

See live permanently in New Zealand: apply for a visa.

You can apply for a hospitality 18+ card, an alternative form of photo ID you can use to buy alcohol.

Healthcare

See our travel advice for New Zealand.

New Zealand and the UK have reciprocal healthcare agreements, which means UK nationals who live in the UK and who are on a short-term visit to New Zealand are eligible for prompt medical attention for an acute condition that arose after arrival, or became acute. The agreement will not cover all healthcare needs and does not include primary care visits. Despite this reciprocal agreement and the Accident Compensation Commission you should make sure you have adequate travel health insurance. You should buy comprehensive travel and medical insurance before you enter the country.

The New Zealand Ministry of Health has information on eligibility for publicly funded health services. The NHS has information for people moving abroad.

See list of doctors in New Zealand.

You should also check your prescriptions are legal in New Zealand. See bringing medicines into New Zealand.

Working in New Zealand

See apply for a New Zealand work visa.

You must check if you need to register in your occupation. If New Zealand requires you to register with a professional body, you will need to do this before they will grant your work visa.

You will need to apply for an IRD number before you can start work.

Some jobs may require a UK criminal records check (known as a DBS check).

Depending on your personal circumstances, the New Zealand Qualifications Authority may need to assess your UK qualifications.

Tax

See tax if you leave the UK to live abroad and tax on your UK income if you live abroad.

We recommend you get professional advice on paying tax in New Zealand.

You may be able to pay National Insurance while abroad in order to protect your State Pension and entitlement to other benefits and allowances.

Pensions

See State Pension if you retire abroad and new State Pension.

See social security agreement with the United Kingdom for information on claiming pensions in New Zealand.

Life certificates for UK state pensions

If you get a ‘life certificate’ from the UK Pension Service, you need to respond as soon as possible – your payments may be suspended if you don’t.

Benefits

See claiming benefits if you live, move or travel abroad.

Find out which UK benefits you might be able to get while you’re abroad and how to claim them.

Many income-related benefits such as Pension Credit and Housing Benefit can’t be paid if you’re abroad for more than 4 weeks.

You can only get most New Zealand benefits if you are a permanent resident or New Zealand citizen. Some benefits are available if you’ve held a work visa for more than 2 years. See social security agreement with the United Kingdom.

Driving in New Zealand

See driving abroad and road travel in New Zealand.

See taking a vehicle out of the UK.

Once you’ve been in New Zealand for more than 12 months, you can no longer use your UK driving licence. See how to convert to a New Zealand driving licence.

Voting

See voting when you’re abroad.

British citizens living abroad can vote in some UK elections – you’ll need to register as an overseas voter.

Births

See register a birth abroad.

You can order a New Zealand birth certificate.

Deaths

See what to do after someone dies.

See also:

Getting married

See getting married abroad.

See how to apply for a New Zealand marriage licence.

Renewing passports

See overseas British passports applications and get an emergency travel document (sometimes called an emergency passport).

Pets

You can bring your cat or dog to New Zealand, but they must meet specific health standards, please see NZ Customs Service.

See travelling with pets.

Accommodation and buying property

See buying a property abroad.

See information about renting or buying property in New Zealand.

Emergencies

The main emergency number in New Zealand is 111 – see New Zealand emergency numbers.

If you need urgent help, contact your nearest British embassy or consulate.

Disclaimer

Please note that this information is provided as a guide only. Definitive information should be obtained from the New Zealand authorities. The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office will not be liable for any inaccuracies in this information.

Published 18 December 2013
Last updated 1 April 2021 + show all updates
  1. Reviewed and updated the guidance.

  2. Coronavirus section added with a link to guidance on vaccines.

  3. Complete revision of guidance to ensure it's up to date and accurate.

  4. Updated driving rules

  5. First published.