Moving to Australia from New Zealand?

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

Find out if and how you can move to Australia from New Zealand with your criminal convictions.

If you are a New Zealander with a criminal history, you will need to get written confirmation from the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) before you travel to Australia. If you have been imprisoned for over a year, you will need to apply for an Australian Visa. Read more below.

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Process for disclosing convictions before you move to Australia

If you are a New Zealand citizen with criminal convictions, no matter how long ago your convictions were or whether they have been removed from government records, you are required to obtain written confirmation from DIBP (Department of Immigration and Border Protection) before you travel to Australia. This will determine whether you would be assessed as a ‘behaviour concern non-citizen’.

Convictions in New Zealand

Download the Consent to Disclosure of Information (NZ Police) Form. This will allow the New Zealand police to provide the Australian High Commission with details of your criminal history and save you time and stress when entering Australia.

Please include a copy of one form of photographic ID, e.g., a Passport or Driver’s Licence, that clearly shows your name and signature (if using your passport, the signature is on page 3). If you do not provide a copy of an ID with your consent form, we will not process your request.

Complete the form and return it to the Australian High Commission via the postal or email address below.

Australian High Commission
72-76 Hobson Street,
Wellington 6011


You will be informed in writing whether or not you may be eligible for a Special Category Visa. If you are assessed as being a behaviour concern non-citizen, you are encouraged to lodge an application for an appropriate visa to enter Australia prior to your expected travel date.

Processing time for Criminal History checks is 25 working days from the date the completed form is received by the High Commission.  Enquiries in relation to the progress of checks will not be responded to if they fall within the 25 working-day period.

The Police will forward the results of your police check directly to the Australian Consulate-General in Auckland. You will then be informed in writing whether or not you need to lodge an application for a visa to enter Australia.

Convictions in any other country

If you have criminal convictions in any other country (including Australia), when you arrive in Australia, you must declare your criminal convictions, regardless of which country or how long ago the convictions occurred. This declaration is made on your incoming passenger card as part of the immigration clearance process. Your declaration will be assessed by an Australian Border Force Officer.

For further information about Australia’s character requirements and the supporting evidence you may be asked to provide, see

Do you need to apply for a Visa to move to Australia?

If a visa application is required, the application form, including a checklist, will be sent to you. If you are required to lodge a visa application, please do so at the Australian Consulate-General in Auckland.

Once the application is received, it will be forwarded to the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) in Melbourne, Australia, for character assessment, while all other processing will occur in Auckland.

You will then be advised of the outcome of your visa application. The time frame for DIAC in Melbourne’s character assessments will vary depending on your circumstances, but it can take several months. 

What criminal convictions will stop you from passing the character assessment?

You may not pass the character requirements in some circumstances. These include if:

  • You have a substantial criminal record that includes a prison sentence of 12 months or more, or sentences that add up to 12 months or more. A suspended sentence is still considered to be a prison sentence.
  • You have been convicted of escaping from immigration detention or convicted for an offence that you committed:
    • while you were in immigration detention
    • during an escape from immigration detention
    • after an escape, but before you were taken into immigration detention again.
  • You are or have been a member of a group or organisation that the Minister reasonably suspects of being involved in criminal conduct.
  • If the Minister reasonably suspects that you have been involved in a crime against humanity, a war crime, people smuggling, people trafficking, genocide, a crime involving torture or slavery, or a crime that is of serious international concern, whether you have been convicted of such an offence or not.
  • Your past and present criminal or general conduct shows that you are not of good character.
  • You have been convicted, found guilty or had a charge proven for sexually based offences involving a child.
  • If there is a risk that while you are in Australia, you would:
    • harass, molest, intimidate or stalk another person
    • engage in criminal conduct
    • incite discord in the Australian community or in a part of it
    • vilify a segment of the Australian community
    • be a danger to the Australian community or a part of it.
  • You are subject to an Interpol notice, from which it is reasonable to infer that you are a direct or indirect risk to the Australian community or a segment of the Australian community.
  • You are subject to an adverse security assessment by the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation.

When applying, make sure you:

  • truthfully answer all questions
  • declare all criminal conduct you have engaged in
  • provide all requested information

Even if you fail the good character test, you may still be able to get a visa. Good behaviour can save the day! The Immigration Department has looked at your behaviour since sentencing. If you think this may help your case, consider providing evidence of your good behaviour. 

Will a drunk driving conviction (DUI) affect your move to Australia?

As above, regardless of the fine, you are required to obtain written confirmation from DIBP (Department of Immigration and Border Protection) before you travel to Australia.

If the DUI is your only conviction, it shouldn’t stop you from moving to Australia. However, make sure you’ve paid the fine.

If you have unpaid court fines or owe reparations payments, you may be stopped from leaving the country at the airport. Remember that parking tickets can become court fines if not paid on time.

Request your own Criminal Conviction History

You can request your criminal conviction history free from the NZ Government Ministry of Justice –

More Information

If you have not found the information you are looking for, visit the Australia High Commission website ‘Travelling with a Criminal Conviction‘.

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  1. SJC

    March 26, 2024 at 10:14 am

    We are in the process of moving to Aus for a few years for work.
    Australia have requested we sign a consent to exchange criminal record check.
    Do you know what that are looking for if we have already submitted clear checks for NZ.

    I also am wondering if Australia share with NZ what info they have on record.

    • JJ Smith

      March 28, 2024 at 5:43 pm

      Thank you for your comment.
      You will need to sign the exchange criminal record check. This is common practice in most employment contracts in Australia.
      Moving to Australia with a criminal record can be worrying.
      Unfortunately, I do not know what information is shared when this form is submitted to NZ. I know Australia and New Zealand don’t share databases, but I don’t know what exactly they do share.
      By including that statement in an employment contract the employer allows themselves the opportunity to be able to check with NZ Police to confirm what they have been provided is correct. It is not a guarantee that they will.
      I don’t know by going direct what further information they get.
      I hope the above helps.


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