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. alex

    February 19, 2021 at 2:51 pm

    Hi JJ,
    Trust you are well.

    My question is, if a Kiwi who is living in another country and married a wife over 10 years (she is not a Kiwi); they have 2 kids. Can she move to Australia together with his husband and the kids? If so, what visa will she require to live in Australia?

    Kind regards,

    • JJ Smith

      February 21, 2021 at 9:29 pm

      Hi Alex,
      Thank you for your comment.
      Unfortunately I am not an immigration specialist so cannot advise you.
      I recommend you contact IMMagine, as they will be able to help you:
      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. 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.
      You can also ask them the question for the small fee of AUD$15 and one of the team will be in touch with your answer within 24 hours (usually same day response), but you will need to include more information about your wife than you provided me:
      Please feel free to email me back any further questions you have.
      Good luck with your move.

  2. Caroline

    June 1, 2020 at 11:01 pm

    Hi JJ,
    I hope you are doing well in these challenging times.
    We have moved to Melbourne in January. What a great timing!
    I am looking at working on our resident visa. But I have questions as I am not sure about the points I can claim or not.
    Do you have a reliable immigration agent you can recommend?
    An other question is about the pension should we stay in Australia.
    Is that correct that without a proper resident visa, New Zealanders are not eligible to receive a pension from the Australian government? But then we would not have the NZ one either?
    Thank you,
    Keep safe,

    • JJ Smith

      June 3, 2020 at 11:02 pm

      Hi Caroline,
      That’s great that you moved before Covid-19.
      Check out Immagine Immigration –
      They offer a free Preliminary Evaluations that let you know whether or not you’re a good candidate for migration – and they can answer any questions you have.
      The free evaluation includes:
      – A basic overview of your information.
      – A licensed adviser will contact you to let you know whether they think it’s worth your while to take the next step in defining a strategy for your migration.
      If you’re really serious about moving to Australia then you can complete a full assessment – this option covers all your bases and provides you with a cost, timeline and strategy outline for a potential move.
      Immigration specialists save you a lot of time and give you a better chance of getting an Australia visa.
      Regarding Australia pensions, New Zealanders are eligible to get the pension in Australia. Here is a link to my post ‘Can a NZ citizen get an Australian benefit or pension?’ –

  3. Raymon Raj

    May 4, 2020 at 4:55 am

    Hi JJ how are you? I am from Malaysia and has been living and working in NZ for the past five years. I moved to NZ because my wife received a scholarship to pursue her PhD studies here. She has completed her studies and now working in NZ too. I have been thinking of getting a job in Australia but i don’t have a valid working visa. I have written to companies and recruitment agencies in Australia but they asked me to obtain a working visa first in order to be considered for roles there. I know getting a work visa sponsorship is hard but i don’t know where to start from. Are there anyways or options that i can take to get a working visa? FYI i am 46 and hold an MBA. I am currently waiting for my Permanent Resident status from IMMI NZ which was delayed due to the COVID thingy.

    I would also like to ask if a young student is pursuing a study in Aust, do the person get a working visa after completion of his or her studies? Like in NZ, if you complete a study, you are granted working visa by the govt. Is it the same in Aust? What happens if i pursue a study too? Will i get a work visa also?

    Thanks for your advice.

    • JJ Smith

      May 25, 2020 at 11:26 pm

      Hi Raymon,
      Thank you for your comment, but unfortunately I am unable to help.
      You are going to have to contact an immigration specialist. You can find an immigration specialist on the Australian Government website, Migration Agents Registration Authority ( Search Auckland for advisers specialising in Australia.
      I have never heard of a the Australia government granting working visa’s for this who have studied in Australia and can not find any info online regarding this sorry.
      Sorry I couldn’t be of more help.

  4. Simon

    April 2, 2020 at 3:24 am

    Hi I have been Australia for 6 weeks caught out on an ad for work that was below min rate. And I could not stomach the bore water an got sick an had to leave. What options are there for people here in similar boat if any?

    • JJ Smith

      April 2, 2020 at 3:26 am

      Hi Simon,
      Where are you now?
      Were you employed on the 1 March 2020?
      I don’t know of any Australia Government help other than the JobKeeper, which is government assistance to help businesses to keep people in their jobs and re-start when the Covid-19 crisis is over. For employees, it means they can keep their job and earn an income, even if their hours have been cut.
      I have updated my Covid-19 blog post with further information:
      Regarding COVID-19 in NZ, the New Zealand Government website COVID-19 has everything you need to know, including what help is available:
      Good luck and stay safe.

  5. George

    January 24, 2020 at 12:21 am

    I hold a New Zealand passport and I’m moving to the Gold Coast Broadbeach this year. Probably October. I have signed a purchase agreement for a new apartment in Broadbeach. It should be ready for moving in to by the end of this year. My wife is Canadian. What is the correct visa she should use to enter Australia? We eventually will try to get permanent residence then citizenship.
    We already have opened a bank account in Southport.
    Many thanks,

    • JJ Smith

      January 24, 2020 at 12:22 am

      Hi George,
      Thank you for your message.
      Unfortunately I am unable to help. I am not an immigration specialist and only know about New Zealanders moving to Australia. However, you should be able to figure it out on the Australian Government Department of Home Affairs website:
      Please feel free to email me back any further questions you have.
      Good luck with your move.

  6. Rebecca

    January 15, 2020 at 10:31 pm

    Hi, please could i ask for your help.
    I am a sole parent wanting to move to Melbourne with my 2 children one of which has a disability to start a new life.
    I have just found out that i am not entitled to Family Tax A or accommodation supplement from Centrelink and i am worried i wont be able to make this move.
    I have booked tickets for myself to go to Melbourne on the 28th of January to sort out schools for my children but now wonder how i will be able to cope financially.
    I so want to do this as there is no future for where we live in the country in the middle of nowhere.
    When i phoned Centrelink they did say there is a 1 to 2 year waiting period to receive Family Tax A and this possibly could be waived but it is done on a case by case basis. Have you heard anything about this? If so how could i improve my chances.
    Any information would be greatly appreciated. I am aware i am eligible for family tax B but this is only $55 per week.
    Hopefully hear from you soon
    Kind regards

  7. Rod

    December 13, 2019 at 10:19 pm

    Hi, We are a retired couple contemplating a move back to Queensland due to health reasons,
    We previously lived in Queensland from 1980 to 1987 then again in 2000 to 2001,
    Would we be eligible for a resident return visa or would that even be necessary as we not working
    and would we be able to claim Medicare?
    Thanks Rod

  8. Kenny

    August 12, 2019 at 1:44 am

    Hi ~
    Thanks for helping people who’s moving to Australia.
    I have an NZ citizenship and wish to move to Brisbane shortly.. also I will buy a house and existing cafe business.
    Do I have any restrictions to buy a cafe & running a business in Australia ?
    Thank you
    Kind Regards

    • JJ Smith

      August 12, 2019 at 1:45 am

      Hi Kenny,
      Thanks for your comment.
      There is not a lot of information online regarding New Zealanders owing a business in Australia, so I contacted the Department of Industry Australia (
      They have advised if you are able to work on your Australian Visa, which we are on an SCV, you are able to obtain an ABN and own a business in Australia!
      I am guessing you will be transferring a lot of money to Australia to buy the house and cafe. I highly recommend you read this post as you will want to get the best foreign exchange rate when it’s time:
      Please feel free to email me back any further questions you have.
      Good luck with your move. How exciting for you.

  9. Khamid

    April 8, 2019 at 10:58 pm

    I just want to ask if you know anything about changes to Special Category visa (subclass 444) for Kiwis who want to move to Australia on NZ passport.
    I heard that Australian Government wants to make some changes this year and introduce some restrictions for Special Category visa (subclass 444).

    • JJ Smith

      April 8, 2019 at 11:10 pm

      Hi Khamid,
      Thank you for your email.
      Both the New Zealand and Australian Governments are always in discussions over the SCV. However, no changes have been reported.
      I recommend you subscribe to my monthly newsletter (above right) because I will let you know when any changes get announced. I am constantly looking and reporting on anything that kiwi’s living in Australia need to know.
      Please let me know if you have any further questions.

  10. sandra M hancox

    April 2, 2019 at 1:51 am

    I am on a NZ super gold card holder – am aged 70 – – -I have been told when I am living there to apply for the aust pension – is that correct please ?

    I need to know all the steps I will need to take to apply for the equivalent in australia once I have set up my new home there

  11. Eileen

    December 2, 2018 at 11:08 pm

    We have made the decision to relocate from NZ to Brisbane on 5 April 2019.
    I suddenly panicked as wondering if we are supposed to apply for any visas or immigration.
    I would appreciate any guidance if you could please.
    Thank you
    Eileen (Hamilton NZ)

    • JJ Smith

      December 2, 2018 at 11:10 pm

      Hi Eileen,
      Thank you for your comment.
      Brisbane is such a wonderful city. I’m sure you’ll love it.
      Are you an NZ citizen? If you are then you do not need to apply for a Visa, you will automatically receive a Special Category Visa (SCV). The SCV is recorded electronically.
      There are some downfalls to moving on a SCV, which you can read here:
      I will be writting some posts on becoming a Australian PR and citizen, so make sure you join our monthly newsletter, which has great info for New Zealanders moving and living in Australia.
      Good luck with your move.

  12. Tommy

    August 8, 2018 at 8:13 am

    Hi there,

    I’m an NZ citizen. I’m planning to move to Aus, around the Woolongong area, ASAP after Dec this year.

    I have some simple questions that I’m trying to get answered. So far every agency I ask has redirected me to pay a lot per hour to have a migration agent answer my questions.

    Are you able to answer my questions, which are:
    – If I apply for a permanent residency visa (such as the 189 Skilled Independent Visa) does my special category visa (which I have as an NZ citizen) get put on hold? Meaning I wouldn’t be able to visit or move to Aus in the time between when I apply for permanent residence and when it’s confirmed (which could be some time)?
    – In December I will complete a qualification which is listed on the current list of jobs in demand in Aus. If I applied now would they likely decline my application, or would they likely approve it pending my qualification in December? I’m wanting to apply ASAP to reduce the admin time.
    – Does it help that my dad is an Aus citizen?

    • JJ Smith

      September 5, 2018 at 9:39 pm

      Hi Tommy,
      Thank you for your comment. Sorry for the delay in replying. I’ve only just seen your comment because of spam.
      Unfortunately I am not an immigration specialist, so I can only answer with my experience, which is limited.
      Firstly, was your Dad an Australian citizen when you were born?
      For Australian citizenship by descent eligibility you must have been born outside Australia and at least one of your parents must have been an Australian citizen when you were born.
      I will send you further information on the above if this is the case. This would make your life a lot easier and cheaper.
      JJ Smith

  13. Nikki

    November 7, 2015 at 5:03 am

    I am an Australian citizen living in New Zealand, my partner is a New Zealand citizen but was born in Australia after august 1986 (his mother was a NZ citizen living in Australia but moved back to nz when he was one). He lived in aus on and off for about 10 years and has a daughter who is an Australian citizen living in Australia. I would like to move back to Australia but my partner has had criminal convictions here (he hasn’t served any jail time and none are drug related), I was wondering if his ties to Australia through myself and his daughter may still be strong enough for him to be able to move back there.

    • JJ Smith

      November 7, 2015 at 5:03 am

      Hi Nikki,
      Thank you for your comment.
      From the information provided it looks like you will be fine to move back to Australia. Especially since your partner hasn’t severed any jail time.
      However, I do recommend your partner complete the Visa wizard to confirm:
      Good luck with your move.

  14. Steve J

    August 10, 2015 at 5:49 am

    I moved to australia in 1979 from New Zealand. I lived in brisbane, QLD for 23 years until 2002 when I moved back to NZ to care for a sick mother. My children and grandchildren are still in Brisbane and are Australian Citizens now.
    We are going to move back to australia early next year and live there permanently.
    I read that all NZ citizens that were living in Australia on February 2001 were grandfathered as australian permanent residents ?
    Having being out of australia for the last 13 years my question is am I still classed as a full permanent resident of australia once I move back there early next year for medicare and age benefits once I retire there. I am 63 and due to retire in 2 years time..
    I still have current bank a/cs, credit cards, super, tax file number, OZ licence etc.

    • JJ Smith

      August 10, 2015 at 5:50 am

      Hi Steve,
      Thank you for your enquiry.
      Unfortunately I don’t know the answer to this. I recommend calling a Australian immigration specialist and asking them. You can find an immigration specialist on the Australian Government website, Migration Agents Registration Authority ( Search Auckland for advisers specialising in Australia.
      Or you could call the Australian Government, Department of Immigration and Citizenship:
      Good luck with your move.

  15. Paul

    August 4, 2015 at 3:08 pm

    I have been offered a job in aus, do I need any visa to work there? will be ok as long as I have my nz passport?


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