Moving to Australia from New Zealand?

Get all information you need to make a successful and stress-free move across the ditch.

Moving to Australia and don’t know if you need a visa?

As a New Zealander, you have a unique opportunity if you’re considering a move to Australia. New Zealand and Australia have a Trans-Tasman Travel Arrangement that allows their citizens to visit, study, live and work in either NZ or Australia for as long or little as they want.

Australia announced on 22 April 2023 a new direct pathway to citizenship for eligible New Zealand citizens who have lived in Australia for at least 4 years immediately before the day you apply.

The changes will come into effect from July 1 this year and be retrospective.

Read more on my direct pathway to citizenship for New Zealanders in Australia post.

As an NZ citizen, you will be automatically granted a non-protected Special Category Visa (SCV) when you process through Australian border control, subject to meeting the health and character requirements. There is no mention of this at border control. It all happens electronically. The SCV is automatically cancelled upon departing Australia.

If you are not an NZ citizen, the process is quite different, as you will need to apply for a visa before you can travel to Australia. For more information on Australian visas, please visit the Australian Government – Department of Immigration and Citizenship website.

In this post, you will find information on the following:

What is an Australian visa?

Visas are legal documents issued by a country that allows those from another country to reside in the issuing country.

In 1973, the Trans-Tasman Travel Arrangement was entered into. This arrangement allows Australian and New Zealand citizens to visit, live, and work in each other’s countries without the need to apply for a visa or authority to enter the other country.

Movement between these two countries is generally dependent upon the current state of jobs and the economy in each country. It is common to find an increase in the number of New Zealanders migrating to Australia when the New Zealand economy is more troubled than the Australian economy.

What Australian visas do New Zealanders need?

As an NZ citizen, you do not need to apply for an Australian visa before you leave NZ. Upon entering Australia, you present your New Zealand passport for immigration clearance. Once done, you are considered to have applied for a visa and, subject to health or character considerations, will automatically receive a non-protected Special Category Visa (SCV). The SCV is recorded electronically.

To be granted an SCV when you enter Australia, you must:

  • complete an Incoming Passenger Card, and
  • show an officer a valid New Zealand passport (or use SmartGate).

If you meet the eligibility requirements (below), you will be granted an SCV.

If you leave Australia, your SCV will cease. The next time you enter, if you meet the eligibility requirements, they will grant you a new SCV.

The SCV is a temporary visa (non-protected). SCV holders do not have the same rights and benefits as Australian citizens or permanent residents.

Note that New Zealand permanent residents are not entitled to the Special Category Visa. You will need to apply for a visa to live and work in Australia. Read on to find out how.

Do you meet the requirements for an SCV?

Of course, there are some restrictions on the SCV for New Zealanders moving to Australia, but only two.

  1. Do you have any criminal convictions?  If you have been imprisoned for more than a year, you must apply for a visa to move to Australia. Find out more here.
  2. Tuberculosis? If you have untreated tuberculosis you may not be allowed to enter Australia. Email for further advice.

Protected vs non-protected Special Category Visa (SCV)

If you arrived in Australia after 26 February 2001 as a New Zealand citizen, you would be considered a non-protected SCV-holder. This means that you are not considered an Australian resident for social security purposes.

NZ citizens on a protected SCV can apply for citizenship, subject to meeting the usual eligibility criteria.

Non-protected SCV holders do not have the same rights and benefits as Australian citizens or Australian permanent residents. Australian authorities can also cancel an SCV if a person fails certain character and health requirements, such as committing a crime or having untreated TB.

Please note that all the content below is for non-protected SCV holders.  

Special Category Visa Exclusions

Unfortunately, an SCV does have a few exclusions that will affect your and your family’s entitlements while living in Australia, and a couple of these are quite big, e.g., not all benefits and no student loans.

There are also wait times until you can receive government help, see below the newly arrived resident’s waiting period.

You can find out more on my SCV exclusions post. 

Entitlements for non-protected SCV holders

You can visit, study, live and work in Australia for as long as you want. A non-protected SCV should entitle you to the following. Please note some government help might still have a waiting period (info below):

  • Medicare – Medicare is Australia’s universal health insurance scheme. It guarantees all Australians (and some overseas visitors) access to a wide range of health and hospital services at low or no cost.
  • Family assistance payments – payments and services to help with the cost of raising a child.
  • Rent assistance – a regular extra payment if you pay rent and get certain payments from us.
  • Age pension – the main income support payment for people who have reached the Age Pension age.
  • Disability support pension – financial help if you have a permanent physical, intellectual or psychiatric condition that stops you from working.
  • Carer payment – is a payment if you give constant care to someone with a severe disability, illness, or an adult who is frail.
  • Student loans – a voluntary loan you can get up to twice a year if you’re an eligible higher education student (after you’ve lived in Australia for 10 years).

The Parliament of Australia website has a quick guide to entitlements.

Please note that most of the above government benefits/support have wait times before you can claim them (see below). 

What you are not entitled to as a temporary visa holder

Temporary visa holders are not entitled to:

You may be able to vote if you were already enrolled on 25 January 1984. The Australian Electoral Commission can tell you this. 

Entitlements for eligible New Zealand citizens

See Eligible New Zealand Citizen for further information.

New Zealand citizens
(or protected SCV holders) may benefit more. These include:

You can contact the relevant department to find out if you are eligible. 

Newly arrived resident’s waiting period

Since the new direct pathway to Australian citizenship has been set up, the benefits and payments New Zealand citizens can get from the Australian government have not changed!

The newly arrived resident’s waiting period (NARWP) is time spent in Australia as an Australian resident. This means that if you travel overseas, the time you’re away from Australia won’t count towards the waiting period.

New residents may have to wait up to 4 years before they can get most Australian government payments or concession and health care cards. A maximum 2-year waiting period applies if you’re the holder of either:

  • an Orphan Relative visa (subclass 117 or 837)
  • a Remaining Relative visa (subclass 115 and 835).

Read more about the waiting periods for newly arrived residents on the Australian government website Services Australia. The waiting periods below are for New Zealand citizens living in Australia on an SCV.

What payments can you get when you hold a SCV?

If you’re a New Zealand citizen living in Australia, you may be eligible to receive Centrelink payments or concession cards. The payments you can claim depend on your visa.

Protected SCV holders

If you live in Australia and you are a protected SCV holder, you can claim any Centrelink payment or concession card.

Non-protected SCV holders

If you live in Australia and you are a non-protected SCV holder, you may be able to claim the following:

If you have served or have an exemption from the newly arrived resident’s waiting period (full list), you may also be able to claim:

If you’ve lived in Australia continuously for at least 10 years, you may be able to get a one-off period of payment. This is a single period of up to 6 months for one of the following payments:

You may also be able to get the Tertiary Access Payment.

The continuous 10-year period of living in Australia needs to be immediately before claiming. 

Your family

If you are a New Zealand citizen and your family members are:

If you have had a New Zealand citizen baby born in Australia, please see if you had a baby for further information.​​ 

Permanent residence and citizenship

To sponsor a family member for Australian permanent residence, you must be​:

If you are a permanent resident or eligible New Zealand citizen and your children were born in Australia, they may already be Australian citizens. You can apply for their proof of citizenship.

For more information, read my post about becoming an Australian permanent resident and then a citizen, or visit the Australian government site ‘Become an Australian citizen ‘.

Is it necessary to apply for a permanent residence visa?

As a New Zealander holding an SCV, applying for or being granted permanent residence in Australia is unnecessary. The SCV allows an NZ citizen to visit, study, live and work in Australia lawfully as long as that person remains an NZ citizen.

If you want to stay in Australia as a permanent visa holder, you can choose to apply for a permanent visa. Becoming an Australian permanent resident by holding a permanent visa may allow you to access extra entitlements. It may also allow you to apply for Australian citizenship.

Read my post about becoming an Australian Permanent Resident and then an Australian Citizen.  

Professional immigration services

Specialist immigration companies save you time, money and stress when applying for a visa. You can research and apply for a visa yourself on the Australian Government – Department of Immigration and Citizenship website.

However, immigration specialists are able to offer you professional advice and assistance when applying for any of the below visas or even deciding what visa is right for you, if any:

  • Permanent Residence
  • Temporary Work Visa
  • Partner Visa
  • Citizenship
  • And help you find the visa that is right for you!

You can find an immigration specialist on the Australian Government website, Migration Agents Registration Authority ( Search Auckland for advisers specialising in Australia.

I don’t currently have an immigration specialist partner. However, I recommend you check out IMMagine: They offer a free preliminary evaluation to establish which Visa category may suit you and whether it’s worth your while to order a comprehensive full assessment. Not many immigration companies do this. The next step is a full assessment, during which IMMagine will develop your detailed strategy, timeline, and pricing structure in person or on Skype. Naturally, a small cost applies to this full and comprehensive assessment.

About IMMagine

For nearly 30 years, IMMagine Australia and New Zealand have assisted migrants from all over the globe in moving to and settling in these two great countries.

Since 1990, they have delivered residence in both countries to close to 30,000 people, with a success rate of more than 99 per cent, and are acknowledged as leaders in this profession on both sides of the Tasman Sea.

They understand the process of migration at a personal level and are not in the business of simply telling you what forms to fill in and lodge; they go beyond that. They become your allies and advocates and represent you professionally to the Australian or New Zealand government, leaving nothing to chance.

Complete a free preliminary evaluation and establish which Visa category may suit you and whether your dream of moving to Australia can become reality:

Ask an immigration question to a specialist

For a small fee (AUD$15.00), you can post your question online, and one of the IMMagine team will contact you with your answer within 24 hours (usually same-day response). This service is designed for people who need quick access to accurate information but don’t want to trawl the internet to find the answers or commit to anything just yet. Most importantly, your questions are answered by licensed advisers living in New Zealand or Australia.

Criminal conviction?

If you are moving to Australia and have been in court for anything, please read this page and all the comments:

Australia government websites

There are a lot of ways to get Australian visa and citizenship information and help on the internet. A few of the links are below:

You might be interested in…

The below posts might interest you:

Still got unanswered questions?

If you’ve read the above content and the answer to your question isn’t there, please write a comment below and I’ll research the answer for you.

Is there something else you want to know about?

If you need advice on moving to Australia from New Zealand, I’ve created a helpful little questionnaire to point you in the right direction. It takes less than 30 seconds, so give it a go!


  1. Geoffrey

    January 30, 2024 at 12:36 pm

    Hi JJ!
    First of all I love your blog it has been super helpful and love all the insightful articles on here.
    My question is I am a NZ Citizen but have been living in Australia since June 2021, however due to my job I had to go to the UK on secondment for 6 months and will be back in Sydney end of Feb. I’m wanting to eventually apply for Aus Citizenship under the new scheme for NZers (4 years living in Aus), so just wondering will the time in the UK carry through in the calculation of how long I have “lived” in Australia? or does it reset?
    Additionally, on a side note I have also lived on and off in Aus and NZ as a child, would that also go into the calculation?
    Appreciate any answers or suggestions.
    Many thanks

    • JJ Smith

      February 8, 2024 at 2:27 pm

      Hi Geoffrey,
      To get citizenship by conferral, you must have been living in Australia on a valid visa for 4 years immediately before the day you apply and you must not have been absent from Australia for more than 12 months in total in the past 4 years, including no more than 90 days in total in the 12 months immediately before applying.
      Therefore you have used up 6 months of your available 12 months absent period and you have 6 months remaining that you could spend overseas.
      However, you need to also make sure you do not leave Australia for more than 90 days during June 2024 and June 2025.
      Your time in Australia as a child does not count, as it is not immediately before applying.
      Hope the above helps.

  2. Rex

    June 13, 2023 at 12:52 pm

    Good morning from a cool Newcastle. I am a New Zealander been living in Australia for a number of years and am now happily retired. I get a portable Pension from NZ/AU my question is from July 1 do I become a permanent resident or do I still have to apply for that? You mention we become permanent residents for citizenship, so does that apply if you don’t want to become a citizen?
    Thanks for your great work.

    • JJ Smith

      June 15, 2023 at 11:50 am

      Hi Rex,
      Thanks for your message.
      It looks like the PR is only in relation to becoming an Australian citizen:
      With effect from 1 July 2023:
      – All New Zealand citizens holding an SCV will be considered Australian permanent residents for citizenship purposes.
      – New Zealand citizens granted an SCV before 1 July 2022 will have their period of permanent residence for citizenship purposes backdated to 1 July 2022.
      If you don’t want to become a citizen, then I’m not sure if you have to apply to be a PR or not sorry.

  3. Bomi

    February 12, 2023 at 2:37 am

    Good Morning Ms JJ Smith,
    Am a New Zealand Citizen having a valid New Zealand Passport with a chip.
    Due to personal reasons, I have been currently living in India for the past 9 years.
    Now I have decided to relocate to Australia, hence may I ask if I am eligible to work and live in Australia for an indefinite period?
    Am aware that a Special Category Visa (SCV) is issued to a New Zealand Citizen having a valid New Zealand Passport upon arrival at any airport in Australia.
    Can you please let me know if there were anymore requirements in terms of the eligibility criteria?
    Awaiting your reply at the earliest.
    Thank you

    • JJ Smith

      February 27, 2023 at 2:13 pm

      Good morning Bomi,
      Thank you for your email.
      You are correct about the SCV. The only other requirement is that you don’t have a criminal conviction where you have been imprisoned for more than a year and if you have untreated tuberculosis you may not be allowed to enter Australia. You can read more here:
      Please feel free to email me back any further questions you have.
      Good luck with your move.

  4. Dayan

    May 10, 2022 at 10:41 am

    HI, I am planning on moving to Gold Coast and wanted to buy a house and was informed by some Kiwi friends that I can only buy a new home or land to build a home as a new migrant or NZ citizen of Australia. I was planning on buying an older home as I cannot afford a new house. Is this correct as I have read so many different things on this. Thanks and heaps.

  5. Carolyn

    April 6, 2022 at 8:19 pm

    Hi JJ,
    My husband and I are in the process of moving back to Australia in 3 months time.
    We lived In Australia from 1988 – 2012, when we moved back to NZ for Family reasons. We didn’t take out Citizenship before we came back.
    We still have our Superannuation and Australian Bank accounts.
    Can you tell us if we can still move back under the original conditions or under the new Visa requirements?
    Many thanks

    • JJ Smith

      April 7, 2022 at 1:35 am

      Hi Carolyn,
      Thank you for your email.
      If you never applied for PR then you will be allocated a new SCV when you return.
      However, you will easily be able to apply for a Resident Return visa (subclasses 155 and 157):
      Australia Government description of the returning resident visa: if you leave Australia after your travel validity expires, or it expires when you are outside Australia, you will not be able to return to Australia as a permanent resident. This visa allows you to return as a permanent resident.
      This visa costs AUD$375 if you apply online, AUD$455 for each applicant if you apply on paper. While it is unlikely for this visa, you might have to pay other costs for health checks, police certificates and biometrics. We will advise you if these are required in your case.
      It takes between 2 days and 67 days to process. Generally, applications that meet the residence requirements will be processed within 5 working days from lodgement.
      Please note, that I am not an immigration specialist and can only advise from the information you have given me and what I can find online.
      Please feel free to email me back any further questions you have.
      Good luck with your move.

  6. Worried Mum

    March 21, 2022 at 6:50 am

    Hi there,
    I came across your website and found the information extremely informative. I am currently looking at moving to Australia for a better life for me and my one-year-old daughter. I have a partner who stays in Brisbane looking for a house for us to rent and we will be moving in with him which makes things easier!
    I guess I was wondering if you’re able to help me find out or have any advice around NZ parents moving to Australia and whether there is any financial help, we’re able to get! My current living situation isn’t the greatest and so we’re kind of wanting to move in the next month which is a super short time frame so any help would be appreciated!
    Thank you for your time and hopefully I hear from you soon!

    • JJ Smith

      March 21, 2022 at 10:58 pm

      Hi Neitjah,
      Thank you for your email.
      I’m sorry to hear your current situation isn’t the best. I hope Australia works out for you and your daughter.
      New Zealand citizens (on non-protected Special Category Visas) are entitled to family payments, including Family Tax Benefit, Newborn Upfront Payment and Newborn Supplement, Child Care Subsidy and Parental Leave Pay, and medical care under Medicare.
      However, there are waiting periods depending on your residence status.
      If you got your permanent residence visa or Special Category Visa (SCV) holder on or after 1 January 2019, the following waiting periods apply.
      There’s a 4 year waiting period for the following payments and concessions:
      – Austudy
      – Commonwealth Seniors Health Card
      – Ex-Carer Allowance (Child) Health Care Card
      – Farm Household Allowance
      – JobSeeker Payment
      – Low Income Health Care Card
      – Mobility Allowance
      – Parenting Payment single and partnered
      – Pensioner Education Supplement
      – Special Benefit
      – Youth Allowance.
      There’s a 2 year waiting period for the following payments:
      – Carer Payment
      – Dad and Partner Pay
      – Parental Leave Pay.
      There’s a 1 year waiting period for:
      – Carer Allowance
      – Family Tax benefit Part A.
      There’s no waiting period for Family Tax Benefit Part B.
      It looks like you are eligible for the Child Care Subsidy, which is assistance to help you with the cost of child care:
      The Australian government does not help support New Zealanders when they first move over. You will have to make sure you can afford to live there before you move.
      I’m sorry I couldn’t give you a more positive answer to your question.
      Please feel free to email me back any further questions you have.
      Good luck with your move.

  7. Abhy

    February 13, 2022 at 9:40 am

    We are planning to move to Aussies this year end. We three are NZ citizens, but my husband hold Permanent residence. What visa he need to take to travel there.?? What type visa he needa to work in Aussies. I heard of 461visa… Can he apply for that immediately after arriving there. Any criterias for this visa….TIA

  8. Lizy T

    May 8, 2021 at 12:33 pm

    Good afternoon,
    I am enquiring to see you are able to offer any advise as I am struggling to get the answers from Immegration lawyers (mainly because they won’t reply and are not taking face to face meetings due to covid!) below is the last email I drafted to our lawyer which has all the questions I am looking for answers for:
    I am enquiring to see what the possibilities are for my family and I to move to Australia this year
    My two sons and I are New Zealand Citizens and my partner (and father of second son) is a permanent resident of NZ (uk citizen) he does have a historic drink driving conviction from 2012 which we understand we may have to take into account too although I have been told by AU Immegration that the charge should not deem him of bad character so shouldn’t be an issue?
    We have found the below visa online and read that we can apply for it when we arrive and that he would be eligible to live and stay whilst we await the visa to be granted (12-24months) but we of course want to be 100% sure that this is actually the case or if there will be any restrictions? If all is good then will a holiday visa be sufficient for him to enter in on and then we apply for the below once we arrive? Then use a bridging visa until we are granted the below? Is there any reason to think that he wouldn’t be granted the visa?
    In addition to this I have just been offered a transfer from nz based role to New South Wales and can start in July/august so pressure is on now to sort this out .
    Thanks and kind regards,
    Lizy T

    • JJ Smith

      May 13, 2021 at 10:16 pm

      Hi Lizzy,
      Thank you for your comment.
      Unfortunately I am not an immigration specialist, so recommend you ask your question directly to IMMagine: For a small fee (AUD$15.00) you can post your question online and one of the IMMagine team will be in touch with your answer within 24 hours (usually same day response).
      Or you can get your partner to complete a free preliminary evaluation that will establish which Visa category may suit and whether it’s worth completing a full assessment:
      I hope the above has helped. Please feel free to email me back any further questions you have.

  9. Jeremy

    March 14, 2021 at 11:07 pm


    I am a New Zealand citizen and my Lithuanian partner has just been approved NZ residency.
    We are looking at our options of moving to Australia, but can you advise will she be able to work and live in Australia or will she be required to be a permanent resident first to get the SCV?
    Any info you could send would be appreciated thanks.

    • JJ Smith

      March 22, 2021 at 1:05 am

      Hi Jeremy,
      Thank you for your comment.
      Your partner would need to become a NZ Citizen before she would be eligible for an Special Category Visa (SCV) to enter Australia.
      New Zealand permanent resident’s need to apply for a visa if they want to visit Australia or move there. New Zealand residents or permanent residents do not qualify for a Special Category Visa.
      I recommend you contact IMMagine: They will be able to help you with the best path for you and your partner. Unfortunately I am not an immigration specialist.
      IMMagine offer a free preliminary evaluation to establish which Visa category may suit you and whether it’s worth your while ordering a comprehensive full assessment. Not many immigration companies do this. Next step is a full assessment where IMMagine will develop your detailed strategy, timeline and pricing structure in-person or on Skype. Naturally, a small cost applies for this full and comprehensive assessment.
      Please feel free to email me back any further questions you have.


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