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International Registration as Nurse in New Zealand 2017

Before you can put on a Nursing Cap in New Zealand, you must pass the CAP - Competency Assessment Programme as part of your registration as an International Nurse in NZ.

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International Registration as Nurse in New Zealand 2017
Written by Crispin Aranda.
Updated November 8, 2017 | New Zealand

Why 2017?

The scope of practice for Registered Nurses and Enrolled Nurses remain the same as 2016.  However, the scope of practice for Nurse Practitioners will change come April 2017.

Nurse practitioner is a legal title for a nurse who has completed advanced education and training in a specific area.

New scope of practice for nurse practitioners from April 2017

Nurse practitioners have advanced education, clinical training and the demonstrated competence and legal authority to practise beyond the level of a registered nurse.  Nurse practitioners work autonomously and in collaborative teams with other health professionals to promote health, prevent disease, and improve access and population health outcomes for a specific patient group or community.  Nurse practitioners manage episodes of care as the lead healthcare provider in partnership with health consumers and their families/whānau. 

Current scope of practice and application process

Nurse practitioners are expert nurses who work within a specific area of practice incorporating advanced knowledge and skills. They practise both independently and in collaboration with other health care professionals to promote health, prevent disease and to diagnose, assess and manage people’s health needs. They provide a wide range of assessment and treatment interventions, including differential diagnoses, ordering, conducting and interpreting diagnostic and laboratory tests, and administrating therapies for the management of potential or actual health needs.

Enrolled Nurse defined by NCNZ

Internationally Qualified Nurses (IQNs) such as Filipino RNs without advanced education and clinical training are generally considered for regisrration under the Enrolled Nurses category. As an EN, they must be registered with an overseas regulatory authority (Profession Regulatory  Commission, PRC); and have an international qualification that is equivalent to a qualification prescribed by the Nursing Council of New Zealand (18-month Diploma of Enrolled Nursing, Level 5 on the New Zealand Qualification Framework (NZQA).

IQNs deemed to have the qualifications, experience, language proficiency fitness and competence to practice move on to become RNs after completing the required Competence Assessment Programme (CAP) and meeting the other requirements under the scope of practice as an RN in NZ.

Until then, Enrolled nurses practice under the direction and delegation of a registered nurse or nurse practitioner to deliver nursing care and health education across the life span to health consumers in community, residential or hospital settings.

This guide provides the steps required for a Filipino/IQN RN to move up the professional ladder from Enrolled Nurse to Registered Nurse.

But first, check the demand for RNs

Before plunging into the registration process, determine first the need and demand for international RNs in the country of intended practice, in this case New Zealand.

First test: check the approved job orders in countries by licensed recruitment agencies by the POEA. See and click the link

The next webpage on your screen would show the available job orders by country, "Available Job Orders by Country" as of  the date and time you checked:

In the box selection, “Select Country” put your cursor and scroll down to the country of your choice: for example, “United States of America” or “New Zealand.”

At time of writing, there were no job orders for RNs in New Zealand.  This is affirmed by a note from the Nursing Council of New Zealand that there are limited places for International RNs to take the CAP and limited demand for RNs.  In fact, Registered Nurses have been taken out of the Long Term Skills Shortage List of NZ.  This means a New Zealand employer intending to hire an international RN with complete requirements and registered with NCNZ must still get an approval in principle to justify recruiting overseas applicants where there is no shortage of RNs in NZ.

In contrast, approved job orders in the US and the UK are plentiful and by the hundreds.  There are “Open” approved job orders meaning, the demand is unlimited. Now, back to documents required to register.

A.  Document Preparation

There are basic and essential documents you need to submit, ensuring that all of them are valid and current, most importantly, no corrections needed. These include:

  •  Evidence of identity.  Passport, birth certificate, alternative documents if birth certificate is not available; evidence of change of name if applicable.
  • English language requirement.  Determine if you need to attend review classes. Remember, you need 7.0 minimum in each of the IELTS band (reading, listening, speaking and writing) or a score of B in the Occupational English Test (OET). The results must be less than 3 years old at time of submission.
  • Educational Equivalence – evaluation of your credentials by the New Zealand Qualification Authority (NZQA) unless your degree or diploma was obtained from a recognized educational institution. In this case, your qualification is considered exempt from assessment.
  • Curriculum vitae. Must have detailed record of your post-registration nursing experience with inclusive dates of employment (name of employers, position(s) held; areas of practice and actual nursing duties. Also need to provide details of your education/qualifications and professional development (training, seminars, continuing education).
  • Current Registration.  Your PRC license must be current. If not, be sure you have it renewed prior to starting your application.
  • Post-licensure/registration experience.  Internationally Qualified Nurses (IQNs) must have at least two (2) years of experience after obtaining the license to practice within the 5 years immediately preceding the application.
  •  Fitness to practice. Not only should your license be current and valid. You must also not have been disciplined by any regulatory authority for your profession or restrictions imposed on your ability to practice.  Fitness to practice also considers your mental or physical condition and finally if you have ever been charged or convicted or any criminal charge in the Philippines, NZ or other countries. All IQN applicants need to complete an International Criminal History Check (ICHC) when advised, from a Council-approved vendor for each country they have lived in, or been primarily based in other than New Zealand for six consecutive months or longer. Applicants will be responsible for paying for their ICHC, a fee of $149.00 Australian Dollars per country.
  • Competence to practice which refers to the need to take the Competence Assessment Programme (CAP). If – after evaluating the other documents and requirements, NCNZ determines that you need to take the CAP, then you would be issued a letter advising you of such need to pursue and complete the 6-8 week course (includes theoretical and clinical components.  You shall be given 24 months from the date of notification to begin the CAP.
  • References: Professional and Character. Professional references must be original, executed and signed by a senior nurse, nursing supervisor, doctor or health professional who supervised your RN practice at current place of employment. These professional referees must also include their own registration number and the issuing regulatory authority.  The statement should include their evaluation of your character and integrity which makes you suitable to be registered as an NZ RN. 
  • The Character Reference does not have to be in the healthcare field but must be executed by a person who has known you for at least two years (must not be a family member)  This reference must include the referees full name and contact details, your full name and date of birth and the circumstances of how the person knows you, your character and integrity.

B.  Start Application

NCNZ encourages IQNs to complete the Council’s online Application. This is the link for the self-assessment, online application, upload and track documents as well as international and local security checks -

Contact info: Nursing Council of New Zealand

                          P. O. Box 24448

                          Manners Street

                          Wellington 6142

                          New Zealand



  1. After evaluating your application for registration, the Nursing Council of New Zealand will determine if you need to take the CAP. If yes, NCNZ will notify you of the need to take the CAP with a list of institutions authorized / approved to offer the course. Click this link for the official, updated info on CAP providers and forms -
  2. Choose the accredited CAP provider in a location where you would have some means of community, professional, organizational, family or friends support.
  3. Pay the course fees. The price range for the 6-8 course is from $8,000 to $12,000. Be sure you have been offered and assured a place for the CAP before applying for the visa.
  4. Apply for the appropriate visa. Remember that the CAP course takes 6 to 10 weeks you may have to give yourself another two weeks before and after completing the course to pursue the next steps.  When you apply for the NZ visa, your two choices would either be to "Visit" or "Study".
  5. As an internationally education nurse (IEN) outside NZ, if you select visit, there are various other options, the first being the Occupational Registraton Visitor Visa. Click this link - The other option is to "Study" in which case you would have to check the "Study" or take up the CAP with an authorized provider or take up a course that would lead to getting the CAP and subsequent registration.
  6. You need to provide written confirmation from the NCNZ that you’re eligible for the New Zealand registration process, and have completed your enrolment requirements. You would need to provide evidence of funds for the duration of your stay and to show that you have enough money to buy a ticket out of NZ.  More good news: this ORVV also allows you to apply for work or resident visa.  Getting that privileged place to take and earn the CAP is great.
  7. Apply for your nursing license with NCNZ.  Now you need to get an employer willing to hire or recruit you as a duly registered IEN in NZ.  That employer would have to get an Approval in Principle since currently (November 2017) Registered Nurses are no longer in the Long Term Skills Shortage List of occupations in NZ.
  8. Now, you are ready, qualified and eligible to apply for that nursing job with a qualified NZ employer.
  9. With the job offer, apply for the work permit.
  10. Apply for permanent residency after meeting the required period of legal employment as a registered nurse with NCNZ.

About the Author

Crispin Aranda

Crispin Aranda

Crispin R. Aranda is an established International Visa Conselor and Immigrant Advocate. He is the president of IVC and is in several migration radio programs.

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