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 and be granted 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 allows Australian and New Zealand citizens to enter each other’s country to visit, live and work, without the need to apply for a visa/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 a valid New Zealand passport to an officer (or use SmartGate).

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

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

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 will need to 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 ttsauckland@ttepl.com 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.

Protected SCVs can already 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, all below content is for non-protected SCV holders.  

Special Category Visa Exclusions

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

There are also wait times until you can receive government help, see below 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 below. 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 – a payment if you give constant care to someone who has a severe disability, illness, or an adult who is frail aged.
  • 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. You can find out from the Australian Electoral Commission

Entitlements for eligible New Zealand citizens

See Eligible New Zealand Citizen for further information.


Eligible
New Zealand citizens
(or protected SCV holders) may be entitled to more benefits. 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, 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 newly arrived resident’s waiting periods on the Australian government website Services Australia. The below newly arrived residents’ waiting periods 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 get Centrelink payments or concession cards. Which payments you can claim depends on the visa you have.

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 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.

Read my post becoming an Australian permanent resident and then citizen for more information 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, it is not necessary to apply for or be granted permanent residence in Australia. 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 become 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 are able to 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 (https://www.mara.gov.au/). Search Auckland for advisers specialising in Australia.

I don’t currently have an immigration specialist partner, however, I recommend you check out IMMagine: http://www.immigration.co.nz/. They 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. The 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 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 to move and settle in these two great countries.

They have delivered residence of both countries to close to 30,000 people since 1990, 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 to the Australian or New Zealand government in the most professional manner and 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: http://www.immigration.co.nz/assessments/free-evaluation/.

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). This service is designed for people who need quick access to accurate information, but don’t want to trawl through 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: https://www.movingtoaustralia.co.nz/are-you-wanting-to-move-to-australia-but-have-a-criminal-conviction/

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. Please note, if the answer to your question is in the content above, I will not reply. Sorry, I just get too many questions these days and I can’t keep up.

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!

101 Comments

  1. Dillen Hans

    August 1, 2015 at 2:54 am

    Hello hello… I wonder if you can help me. I want a migration agent if maybe you can give me a number for them? It would really help me a lot. And I’m from South Africa. Thanks a lot…

    Reply
  2. John

    July 5, 2015 at 1:42 pm

    I am a NZer living in Asia. I am considering taking a job in Australia. I have a Thai partner of 9 years (same sex) and want to know if there is any way we to get a visa for him?

    Reply
    • JJ Smith

      July 6, 2015 at 5:04 am

      Hi John,
      Thank you for your enquiry.
      Have you followed my recommendations on the Visa page, e.g. completed the Visa Wizard?
      If you have and still aren’t sure about your partners Visa eligibility then you will need to contact a Immigration Specialist. You can find an immigration specialist on the Australian Government website, Migration Agents Registration Authority (https://www.mara.gov.au/).
      Please let me know how you get on and if I can be of further assistance.

      Reply
  3. Eben

    November 6, 2014 at 7:31 am

    Hi there
    As a New Zealand Citizen,and holding a SCV holder, are you entitled to the same benefits as all other permanent residents in Australia, like help with childcare and can you buy a house there on a SCVisa, Also do you pay normal school fees or do you have to pay international fees.
    Thanks for all your advise.

    Reply
    • JJ Smith

      November 6, 2014 at 7:31 am

      Hi Eben,
      Thank you for your enquiry.
      Please read the below article which lists the SCV exclusions: https://www.movingtoaustralia.co.nz/visas/scv-visa-exclusions.html.
      The above is all I am able to find on the internet. Most entitlements are based on your individual circumstances and I recommend you contact the appropriate Australian Government department and ask them. It’s always worth a try.
      Good luck. Sorry I can not be of more assistance.

      Reply
  4. Isabelle

    August 26, 2014 at 7:35 am

    Hi,
    Can you buy a business if you are NZ citizen?
    Regard
    Isabelle

    Reply
    • JJ Smith

      August 27, 2014 at 7:23 am

      Hi Isabelle,
      Thank you for your enquiry.
      Sorry but I am not 100% on this and cannot find a definitive answer on the web. However, I don’t think kiwi’s can.
      I recommend calling the Australian High Commission New Zealand (04) 473 6411, as they will be able to give you an answered or point you in the right direction.
      Good luck.

      Reply
  5. sam_nav

    February 19, 2014 at 12:19 pm

    Hi i have drink driving conviction in NZ. I’m NZ citizen and conviction will be till end of may this year. Just wondering will this effect to get me SCV in Australia. As i want to move there with my family.

    Reply
  6. Se

    February 11, 2014 at 3:12 am

    Hi
    Im a NZ citizen and looking to move to Australia, im planning to move there by myself and apply for university, if i only have an SCV does that mean i cant get a student loan, be elligable for government support allowances ect? Also, what visas would i have to have to apply for australian citizenship?
    Im also planning to get a a part time job and was wondering if qualifications i get in NZ such as NCEA/NZQA , would they still be valid once i move to Australia?
    Also im going to be living with one of my friends , and she is a an australian resident, would that make any difference?. Sorry for the load of questions !
    Thanks. x

    Reply
    • JJ Smith

      February 11, 2014 at 3:13 am

      Hi Se,
      Thank you for your comment.
      You will not be able to get a student loan or government assistance with an SCV. You would need to apply for PR (Permanent Residency). I recommend going through the Citizenship Wizard (http://www.citizenship.gov.au/citizenshipwizard/) and if you want/need further help fill in the Endeavour Immigration form on the right of the below page. They will be able to help you apply for PR, saving you time and stress:
      https://www.movingtoaustral ia.co.nz/australian-visa/australian-visa-application
      Regarding NZ qualifications crossing over to Australia, I recommend reading the below information on the New Zealand Qualifications Authority website on entrance into Australian Universities:
      http://www.nzqa.govt.nz/qualifications-standards/awards/university-entrance/entrance-to-australian-universities/.
      Good luck with your move and please do post another comment on movingtoaustralia.co.nz if you find anything other visitors would be interested in knowing.
      Thanks

      Reply
  7. Jacqueline

    December 17, 2013 at 1:15 am

    My daughter, who is a New Zealand citizen, is traveling to Brisbane on a one way ticket. She has no job to go to, very little money and no plan as to when she will return to new Zealand. Her plan is to find work when she gets there. Is there a chance she will be prevented from entering Australia?
    Jacques

    Reply
    • JJ Smith

      December 17, 2013 at 4:45 am

      Good morning,
      Thank you for your comment.
      Unless she has a criminal record she will not be disallowed to enter Australia. They are still granting New Zealand citizens with a SCV Visa automatically when they enter Australia.
      I would recommend that she sets up a bank account before she goes, as when you try from Australia the banks want a lot more paper work, which she will not have for a few months.
      She can setup a bank account with Commonwealth Bank by following the below link:
      https://www1.commbank.com.au/eforms/MovingToAustralia/?id=85
      Thanks

      Reply
  8. Shanna

    November 8, 2013 at 12:43 pm

    Hi there, Im asking on behalf of my Brother. He’s a New Zealand Citizen and wanting to move to Australia. He has a criminal record though. He has been in jail twice but only 6 months, and the last time he was in jail was 8 years ago. I looked up how he can go by moving over, He has to full in a CONSENT OF DISCLOSURE form and send it to DIBP- Immigration. And they respond back to him telling him whether of not he needs to apply for a Visa? My question is can he be denied from DIBP-Immigration just from the consent of disclosure? Saying he cant apply for a visa? And if so what could he do for them to let him apply for a visa to let him move to australia? Please help, Thanks a lot for your time 🙂

    Reply
    • JJ Smith

      November 12, 2013 at 2:10 am

      Hi Shanna,
      Thank you for your comment.
      In his situation I would definitely recommend getting help from Allister an immigration specialist so that he is able to move to Australia.
      Please email the answers to the below questions to allister@endeavourimmigration.co.nz stating that you have been referred by MovingtoAustralia.co.nz:
      – Name
      – Current Visa status
      – Address
      – Phone
      – Email
      – Highest Qualification
      – Occupation
      – Number of years experience
      – Any family in Australia or New Zealand
      Endeavour Immigration provides professional immigration advice and assistance for Visa applications to Australia. Whether it is for permanent residence, a temporary work visa or partners of New Zealand Citizens. Immigration Adviser Allister Simpson has provided the professional assistance that can make it happen since 2005 and has an in depth knowledge of the strict requirements for skills assessments, state nomination and Australian Immigration policy.
      Allister will be able to advise what you will need to do from here.
      Good luck.

      Reply
  9. Jude

    September 9, 2013 at 5:03 am

    Hi, Im moving to aussie in Mid Oct. Do i need to apply for a working visa? I have a NZ passport and my intentions are to move to gain work in australia.
    I have a Australian bank account and have housing sorted, the only grey area in my move is the visa, as i have been told that i need a visa and i do not need a visa.
    can you please clarify the facts of my move to australia as to the visa prior to my move.
    Thank you 🙂

    Reply
    • JJ Smith

      September 9, 2013 at 10:01 am

      Hi Jude,
      Thank you for your comment.
      I recommend that you get the advice of a immigration specialist.
      Please fill in the attached form and email it either back to me or straight to allister@endeavourimmigration.co.nz stating that you have been referred by MovingtoAustralia.co.nz.
      Endeavour Immigration provides professional immigration advice and assistance for Visa applications to Australia. Whether it is for permanent residence, a temporary work visa or partners of New Zealand Citizens. Immigration Adviser Allister Simpson has provided the professional assistance that can make it happen since 2005 and has an in depth knowledge of the strict requirements for skills assessments, state nomination and Australian Immigration policy.
      Allister will be able to advise what you will need to do from here.
      Good luck with your move.

      Reply
  10. Cameron

    June 13, 2013 at 5:32 am

    Hi there, I am planning to go to Melbourne early August. I have been told by some people that I need a working visa and others have said I do not need one. I am a NZ citizen and will be working in Melbourne full time in the hospitality industry. Unsure of how long i will be there for but due to the date coming up very shortly I am needing some proper answers. Please help
    Cheers

    Reply
    • JJ Smith

      June 14, 2013 at 6:17 am

      Hi Cameron,
      Thanks for your enquiry.
      There has been a lot of talk of late regarding the automatic SCV changing for New Zealanders moving to Australia, but as yet nothing has changed.
      Therefore you are still free to move and work in Australia under the electronic SCV that is given to you on entry into Australia.
      Please continue to check back on the site, as if anything does change I will add it to the site. I am continuously checking New Zealand and Australian embassy, immigration and news websites.
      Good luck with your move.

      Reply
  11. David

    June 12, 2013 at 9:50 pm

    Hello,
    I arrived in Australia on 8 Dec 2000 so before the 26 February 2001 change. I left in 2005 to travel overseas for 3 years. I have now since returned to Australia. Am I classed as holding a Protected SCV or just a SCV? Having arrived before 26 Feb 2001 some websites say I am protected but they don’t give anymore information. Does the fact that I left Australia after 5 years cause any issue?
    Also is there a way to get written proof? I can’t find the passport I entered Australia on in December 2000. Is this a problem or would it show up electronically that I entered on that date?
    I would appreciate your advice.
    Kind regards
    David

    Reply
    • JJ Smith

      June 12, 2013 at 10:00 pm

      Hi David,
      Thank you for your enquiry. However, it is way out of my scope.
      You will need to contact either the Australian Government – Department of Immigration and Citizenship (http://www.immi.gov.au) or an immigration specialist. I recommend Endeavour Immigration (http://endeavourimmigration.co.nz/).
      Good luck.

      Reply
  12. Sunny

    June 4, 2013 at 9:54 am

    Hi,
    My girlfriend is Nz citizen and we are getting married on 14 june 2013 in Auckland and I am neither Australian nor Nz Resident, we both would like to move to Australia for better prospects in life. She is about to leave by 15 august 2013 to go to perth and find jobs there. I would like to know would I be eligible to get visa, As of now I am more concerned of living with her in Australia, If I am eligible then whats the visa fee & duration and shall I apply after getting married?? Where should I go and find out more in Auckland? Any help would be highly appreciated.
    Regards

    Reply
    • JJ Smith

      June 5, 2013 at 9:21 am

      Hi Sunny,
      Thanks for your enquiry.
      Firstly, have you completed the Australia Visa Wizard (http://www.immi.gov.au/visawizard/). The Visa Wizard can help you find the Australian visa most likely to meet your specific circumstances.
      Otherwise you will need to contact an immigration specialist. I recommend Endeavour Immigration (http://endeavourimmigration.co.nz/). They are based in Auckland and specialise in Australian permanent residency, state sponsored visas, employer nomination, temporary work visas and family visas.
      Endeavour Immigration will be able to help you find the correct visa for you, visa fees and durations. Also let you know when the best time for you to apply is, e.g. after your married.
      Good luck.

      Reply
  13. Stella

    May 23, 2013 at 4:57 am

    Hi there,
    My mum and brother are looking to make the move over to work and live in Australia. They’re both NZ Citizens but we’ve heard that there will be a law change whereby if you arrive after the 1st of July 2013 you will no longer be able to work automatically but must first apply for an Australian working visa.
    Can you please confirm if this is correct or are they still fine to move over and get an SCV that still allows them to work there as NZ Citizens?
    Stella

    Reply
    • JJ Smith

      May 15, 2013 at 6:31 am

      Hi Stella,
      Thank you for your enquiry.
      I have still not been able to find any proof that changes are going to be made to New Zealanders automatic SCV’s.
      I will post any news on the site if and when anything is made official.
      Thanks

      Reply
  14. Carmen

    May 15, 2013 at 4:24 pm

    My baby and I are Australia citizens, but my partner is a New Zealand citizen. We want to go back to Australia but my partner has a criminal record. Can we go?

    Reply
  15. Charmaine

    May 15, 2013 at 6:47 am

    Hi there, me an my partner an 3 year old son are looking at moving over to Australia to live an I’m unsure of the changes that have come up with New Zealanders moving to Australia, was wondering what we have to apply for when moving over eg visas (which one do we have to apply for) Medicare cards ( do we have to apply for those to)? What are Medicare cards?
    Thank you very much

    Reply
    • JJ Smith

      May 15, 2013 at 7:00 am

      Hi Charmaine,
      Thank you for your enquiry.
      I have still not been able to find any proof that changes are going to be made to New Zealanders automatic SCV’s. I will post any news on the site if and when anything is made official. Therefore you do not need to apply for any visa’s if you are a New Zealand citizen.
      For information on Medicare and how to apply, please read our page health information page: https://www.movingtoaustralia.co.nz/health/health.html.
      Good luck with your move.

      Reply

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