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.

In this post, you will find helpful information on:

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‘.

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.

Can I help you find something else?

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. Rosie

    October 29, 2023 at 11:05 pm

    Hi JJ,

    I have a couple of convictions from when I was younger (earliest being 12-13 years ago *assault and petty theft* and the lastest being 8-9 years ago *DUI & disqualified while driving* my record is now clean due to the clean slate act. My question is, 1. can I move without disclosing and just risk it? As if I go on holiday anywhere else I don’t want to disclose / have been to the US without disclosing as it was a risk I had to take – getting a visa was going to take too long. And potentially if I disclose to AU I might then have to do for other countries too? 2. If I did disclose it when moving, would potential employers have access to these details when they perform a background check? & what if when I did move, if I just said I was on holiday and instead stayed or would I then need to fill something out to say I’m living there anyway? Thank you 🙂

    • JJ Smith

      October 30, 2023 at 4:28 pm

      Hi Rosie,
      Thanks for getting in touch but unfortunately I can’t give you any recommendations apart from the info that’s in my post.
      I’m not an immigration specialist and I have no idea what the implications will be further down the road for you if you don’t disclose. Especially if you ever want to become an Australian citizen, as I’m sure they would require the info then.
      Sorry I couldn’t be of more help.

  2. Rajan

    June 18, 2023 at 1:55 am

    Hi, I was detained by NZ police and held overnight regarding Assault charges and had a protection order against me. The charges were dismissed by the police and I never went to court, the protection order was dismissed by the Family court and never became Final. Now I’m in Australia applying for a partner visa 461 for my wife, Oz Immi have asked for Consent to exchange Criminal record check information from NZ immigration. What type of information will NZ police provide to the Aus authorities?

    • JJ Smith

      June 19, 2023 at 11:09 am

      Hi Rajan,
      Unfortunately, I am not an immigration specialist and don’t know exactly what your criminal record check will show.
      You can ask the same question to IMMagine and see if they know:
      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:
      Sorry, I couldn’t be of more help.

  3. Kaz

    March 12, 2023 at 7:26 pm

    I have 1 DUI from 20 years ago where I was convicted but but received no penalty because of the circumstances.
    I have another one from 2 years ago where I lost my licence for 6 months.
    Will I still be able to move to Australia to work?

    • JJ Smith

      March 13, 2023 at 11:25 am

      Hi Kaz,
      Thanks for your comment.
      As you haven’t severed any prison time you will be eligible for an SCV and can move to Australia.
      I do recommend completing the Consent to Disclosure of Information (NZ Police) Form so you don’t have any problems processing through customs.
      Please feel free to email me back any further questions you have.
      Good luck with your move.

  4. Rebecca

    October 13, 2022 at 11:57 pm

    Hi there,
    I am wondering how long does the disclosure consent form last once you have received the results back?

    We are looking at moving in the next 3-5 months, if I send off for it nie, will it still be valid in say 4 months time?

    • JJ Smith

      October 17, 2022 at 5:35 pm

      Hi Rebecca,
      Thank you for your comment.
      Unfortunately, I can’t find anywhere online how long the form is valid.
      My only recommendation is that when you email the form to INTEGRITY.WELLINGTON@DFAT.GOV.AU, ask them how long it is valid.
      Sorry I couldn’t be of more help.

  5. SJ

    September 22, 2022 at 5:41 pm

    Hi there,
    I am a New Zealand Citizen. I have been convicted for one charge of drink drive in June this year. The sentencing includes 28 days suspension of driver’s license and use of alcohol interlock device for 12 months and no prison time.
    This is my first and only conviction in my life. Nobody was injured and no damage was done while I drove after consuming alcohol.
    I need to visit Australia in November this year for a week for work to Brisbane and Sydney.
    Do I need to apply and get SCV before departure from Auckland or can I declare conviction at the entry?

    • JJ Smith

      September 23, 2022 at 10:39 am

      Hi SJ,
      Thanks for your comment.
      No, you won’t have to declare your conviction before you leave. You will be able to process through border control with no issues.
      I know this can be stressful, but as you haven’t severed any jail time you shouldn’t have a problem. You also have a return ticket, so border control shouldn’t give you any issues.
      Enjoy your holiday.

  6. Bevan

    September 13, 2022 at 2:21 pm

    Hi there
    I am currently in the process of applying for a SCV to live and work in Australia. I was imprisoned over 10 years ago for 2 years and 9 months for a non-violent crime. I have emailed the Australian High Commission and Integrity Wellington and been told I am a Citizen of Concern and would need a SCV. My problem is that I need to know what SCV to apply for and I’m having real trouble navagating through the Website. Even getting an agent seems to be really tricky to work out. Would you have any links to any agents in NZ or know what visa i should apply for?

  7. James

    September 6, 2022 at 3:02 pm

    The email link has not been done correctly.
    Also, you need to send photo ID
    If you are emailing to submit a Consent to Disclosure of Information Form, please note that we will not process your request without a copy of a form of photographic ID that clearly shows your signature (e.g. a passport or drivers licence).
    Not very thorough.

  8. S

    June 26, 2022 at 12:20 pm

    Hi JJ!

    I am currently living in NSW on the 444 visa and I’m going back to see my family in a few weeks and returning 10days later. Embarrassingly… I have a DUI here in Australia (loss of licence for 3 months no jail term) and I am STRESSED about when I come back into Australia if I will be denied the 444 because of this? Any advice is appreciated – thank you!

    • JJ Smith

      June 30, 2022 at 10:52 am

      Hi S,
      Thanks for your comment.
      Don’t be stressed, you will be fine. As you didn’t spend any time in jail, you will be able to re-enter Australia without a problem.
      I hope I’ve managed to put your mind at ease.

  9. shaun

    June 22, 2022 at 12:03 pm

    hey there i was just wondering if i could get into australia from nz i am born nz with a crimanal conviction its ag rob but i didnt get sentenced to jail i spent 10 months on home detention i have lived and worked in australia before this incedent now im wondering if i could move back or a holiday at least

    • JJ Smith

      July 1, 2022 at 11:02 am

      Hi Shaun,
      Thanks for your comment.
      I know convictions add a lot of stress to a potential move to Australia. However, as you haven’t had jail time you should be fine to move back to Australia if you wish.
      I do recommend you obtain written confirmation from DIBP (Department of Immigration and Border Protection) before you travel to Australia. It gives you peace of mind.
      Please feel free to email me back any further questions you have.
      Good luck with your move.

      • Thomas

        February 17, 2023 at 7:50 am

        I am a resident in Newzealand and I have got a conviction for drunk driving and careless driving that I received a year ago… I am planning to visit Australia for work… I had to pay a fine of $1430 for both charges and I have paid all the fines and I did not have any jail time… Can this affect me in entering Australia?

        • JJ Smith

          February 20, 2023 at 10:24 am

          Hi Thomas,
          Thanks for your comment.
          You should have no problem entering Australia with the conviction you received. Especially as you have paid the fines.
          I wouldn’t even bother with the disclosure of information form.
          I know that it can be stressful travelling with a conviction, but you won’t have any problems.
          Enjoy your trip to Australia.

  10. Kiri Seeley

    June 22, 2022 at 12:56 am

    Hi J J Smith

    I have an enquiry about my daughter. She was convicted of aggravated robbery ( 2 x people involved and DIC 2X. She is serving time now in prison to be released July, August 2022 and has been there since January 2022. She has no initial family in NZ and she grew up in WA. I would like to get her back to Australia as we are permanent residents since 1994. Our daughter done all her schooling here. She went back to NZ with her partner and children then they broke up and her partner returned to Australia and she decided to stay a couple years longer.

    I know you have to apply to the DIBP and that’s fine but what else would she need to do.

    Thank you

    • JJ Smith

      July 1, 2022 at 11:17 am

      Hi Kiri,
      Thank you for your comment.
      As she hasn’t spent a year in prison she should be fine to return to Australia and the DIBP should confirm that, especially as she is an Australia PR.
      Sorry I can’t give you any more advice.
      I hope everything goes well with your daughter’s return.

  11. Mahi

    June 15, 2022 at 3:38 pm

    Hi there
    I’ve got charged with wounding with reckless it’s my first charged and I was wondering if I could go over to Australia with this charger
    I didn’t go to jail I was sentenced to 12 months supervision and I was also ordered to complete 100 hours of community work.

    • JJ Smith

      June 16, 2022 at 12:44 pm

      Hi Mahi,
      Thanks for your comment.
      As stated, if you haven’t severed over 12 months in prison you shouldn’t have a problem.
      I know it can add stress to your move, which is why I recommend obtaining written confirmation from DIBP (Department of Immigration and Border Protection) before you travel to Australia. It gives you peace of mind.
      Please feel free to email me back any further questions you have.
      Good luck with your move.

  12. Alex

    May 19, 2022 at 2:53 pm

    Hey im looking at moving to australia ive downloaded the form you have linked i have had a drink driving charge i just dnt k ow what to put in the type of appication part of the form ne help wpuld be greatly apreciated thanks

    • JJ Smith

      May 20, 2022 at 10:36 am

      Hi Alex,
      Thanks for your comment.
      Type of application is for a Special Category Visa (SCV). And answer yes to the visa question above.
      Please feel free to email me back any further questions you have.
      Good luck with your move.

  13. Phil Green

    May 9, 2022 at 11:49 am

    Hi there.
    Had a conviction 21 years ago where spent 12 months of a 2 year sentence in jail, no convictions since. Do i need to apply for a visa to live and work in Australia if so what Visa?

    • JJ Smith

      May 20, 2022 at 10:54 am

      Hi Phil,
      Thank you for your comment. Sorry for the delay in replying.
      I’m not an immigration specialist, so can only advise from info I’ve found online.
      Firstly, I recommend obtaining written confirmation from DIBP (Department of Immigration and Border Protection) by downloading the consent form on my criminal convictions post and send it in. You will be informed in writing whether or not you may be eligible for a Special Category Visa.
      It’s been a long time since your conviction and they might grant you an SCV.
      They might also advise what visa to apply for if they don’t grant you an SCV.
      Please feel free to email me back any further questions you have.
      Good luck with your move.

  14. Prashant Pandey

    May 25, 2021 at 8:23 am

    Hi JJ,
    I found your website really helpful. a question: I had a drink and drive conviction 6 years back (Reason: emergency in the family) this is the only conviction had ever had. We are New Zealand citizens in Auckland, now planning to move to Melbourne, Australia for a better future. Please advise what I need to do?
    Waiting for your reply.

  15. Paul

    May 7, 2021 at 6:26 am

    Would like to say that this article is fantastic and really clarifies a lot of misconceptions and confusion around the Australia and New Zealand connection.

    In a similar vein, would you happen to know if employers in Australia are privy to criminal records in New Zealand? Both spent and unspent convictions?

    Lovely article JJ.

    • JJ Smith

      May 13, 2021 at 2:48 am

      Hi Paul,
      Thanks for your comment and compliment.
      No, countries don’t have access to each other criminal records and definitely not employers.
      If this is a concern for you, I recommend you request your own Criminal Conviction History for free from NZ Government Ministry of Justice, as this would be the what recruitment companies would possibly request on your behalf:
      Please feel free to email me back any further questions you have.
      Good luck with your move.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.