This is general advice and the information we provide is generic in nature. Each person and family may have different circumstances. For professional assistance refer to the links.


As a New Zealand citizen you can essentially pack your bags now and come to live and work in Australia (unless you have a criminal conviction in which case  you are required to obtain written confirmation from Department of Immigration and Border Protection before you travel to Australia.

There are also a couple of other fishhooks before you travel to Australia such as making sure you have a valid passport and making sure you don’t have any outstanding fines, tax debt or student loans. They can nab you at the airport. Make sure your affairs are all in order before you uplift the anchor.  Check if you have a fine here.

If you are receiving some form of welfare payments from the NZ government then best you let them know of your plans as well. Getting NZ benefits and moving to Australia,

Be warned – New Zealander’s going to live in Australia DON’T have all the same rights as Australian permanent residents (PR) or citizens when it comes to a few things.

You cannot –

  • apply for unemployment or sickness benefits.
  • sponsor family members who want to apply for permanent residency
  • become an Australian citizen.
  • Work a few agencies is restricted such as the defence force or postal service for example (for these cases you MUST be an Australian citizen). The books say ‘cannot work ‘long term’ for the Australian public sector.
  • Possibly your work and education qualifications won’t immediately be recognized and you must jump through some hurdles in order to work in your chosen field. I will provide a personal example here (bottom line is do your homework first on your work qualifications as you don’t want to move only to find out you cant work in your chosen field).

You may not think these things matter much now, but, the Australian government has a habit of changing their minds on immigration issues so it probably would be best to think about a medium to long term plan to at least gain Australian PR which will be discussed below.

So working towards gaining Australian permanent residence has one major advantage in that if the Australian government ever changes their mind on the criteria of New Zealand citizens living in Australia then you will be safe.

I will focus on NEW ARRIVALS to Australia rather than people who have or have been living there; as throughout the years the Australian government has changed the goal posts for NZ citizens living in Australia and gaining permanent residency Australia.

Once you arrive in Australia and are processed at customs, you are automatically granted an electronic Special Category Visa (SCV). The SCV is a temporary visa introduced for New Zealand citizens. Although it says ‘temporary’, you can live and work in Australia indefinitely (or until the Australian government changes the rules again) – as long as you remain a New Zealand citizen.

Again note – as the SCV is not a permanent visa, visa holders do not have the same rights and benefits as Australian citizens or Australian permanent residents as detailed above.


As a New Zealand permanent resident you have to apply for the correct Australian visa(s) before you pack your bags and make the move. You are treated just like any foreign visitor wanting to live in Australia. If you are on a certain passport you can visit Australia by applying online here.


Having permanent residence in Australia means you have a current permanent visa that permits you to live in Australia indefinitely. There are many different types of visas that provide permanent residency in lead up to citizenship application(s). The most common type of PR visa’s are:

  • Skilled work visa (sponsored and non sponsored)
  • Distinguished talent (so for all the Kiwi sports people and musicians this may be you)
  • Investment of business
  • Parent, child or family member
  • Partner or spouse
  • Refugee or Humanitarian

The Australian find a visa tool can help you identify a visa of this type.

Be advised, the visa’s our family are looking at personally are $7000AUD just for the application. I’m guessing the fees are high for 2 reasons –

  1. Prevent everyone from just applying to see if they are granted a visa and,
  2. Prevent an influx of applications, overwhelming the system.

The good news is after the $7000AUD is paid then to apply for citizenship it only costs approx. $285 (as a consolation). Yes, applying for PR is very expensive. As a comparison, the Business Innovation and Investment visa subclass for PR costs about $3000AUD.

 It may be a good idea to at least think about what type of visa you need to go for before moving to Australia. At least you can factor in some future costs. 


You must have Australian PR in order to apply for Australian citizenship. If you have obtained your permanent residence after 1 July 2007, you will need to meet the following requirements to become an Australian citizen:

  • You have lived lawfully in Australia for at least 4 years; and.
  • You have lived in Australia for at least 12 months as a permanent resident.

All applicants for Australian citizenship aged 18 years and over must also satisfy character requirements – so do not be naughty while living in Australia otherwise you may find yourself on a plane back to New Zealand or wherever you came from.

Click here to apply Australian citizenship.