Frequently Asked Questions

What has changed?

The Nursing Council has changed the competence assessment requirements for internationally qualified nurses applying for registration in New Zealand.

At the direction of the Council, some applicants will need to successfully complete an assessment of competence.

This assessment will be completed in two parts:

  • an online theoretical examination that tests nursing knowledge, taken at an accredited exam centre, overseas or in New Zealand.
  • and
  • a two-day orientation and preparation course followed by a clinical examination known as an Objective Structured Clinical Exam (OSCE). The OSCE takes three hours and tests a nurse’s clinical skills. These will take place in person in New Zealand at an accredited centre. 

Why has the Council introduced a new application process?

We have introduced the new process to

  • offer an objective, standardised, and consistent approach to assess competence
  • protect public safety by being objective and fair while requiring knowledge of New Zealand’s unique practice setting
  • uphold the principles of Te Tiriti o Waitangi by requiring culturally safe practice, examined in the OSCE
  • align with other international regulators taking a similar approach. 

What is the theoretical examination?

The theoretical exam tests nursing knowledge, across a range of competencies, including the ethical and legislative requirements to practice in New Zealand, medicine calculations, and the management of nursing care.

It is an online exam taken at a Nursing Council-accredited exam centre, overseas or in New Zealand.

What is the OSCE?

An Objective Structured Clinical Exam (OSCE) tests clinical skills through a series of simulated clinical settings (‘stations’) and is undertaken in person in New Zealand. The OSCE will take on average 3 hours and will involve a range of different clinical scenarios representing clinical skills and management of patient care.

These types of assessments are widely used for assessing health professionals internationally.

Do I have to do my clinical exam (OSCE) in New Zealand?

Yes, you will need to be in New Zealand to be able to take the clinical exam, known as an OSCE, at a Nursing Council-accredited site.

Do I need to undertake the orientation and preparation course as well as the OSCE?

Yes, you do. The orientation and preparation course will assist with your preparation to nurse in New Zealand as well as familiarise you with the basic equipment for the OSCE.

Even if you are familiar with the New Zealand health setting, we still require you to undertake the orientation and preparation course before taking the OSCE.

The orientation, exam preparation and OSCE are scheduled together over a three-day period.

Do all international nurses have to take the competence assessment exams?

The assessment of competence is at the direction of the Council.

Some internationally qualified nurses will not be required to complete the theoretical examination or the orientation and preparation course/OSCE clinical exam.

This requirement will be communicated to you after we have assessed your application.

What happens if I fail either my theoretical or OSCE exams?

You will be given the opportunity to re-sit the theory exam or the clinical exam (OSCE) or both.

Do I need to take the 'Welcome to Aotearoa New Zealand' online programme?

It is a requirement that internationally qualified nurses complete the ‘Welcome to Aotearoa New Zealand’ online programme prior to registration.

The programme currently consists of two, free online courses that will provide you with an introduction to culturally safe nursing practice in New Zealand and to Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

You can find out more here.

Are the English language assessment requirements changing?

No. There will be no change to the current English language requirements.

Further information about the current English language evidence pathways can be found here.

What does this mean if I have already applied for registration to the Council?

If you currently have an application being assessed by the Nursing Council, and are required to undergo a competence assessment, you may have the opportunity to undertake the existing Competence Assessment Programme.

Is it the same process for Enrolled Nurses?

The Nursing Council is developing a dedicated pathway to registration for Enrolled Nurses and until that is in place, ENs can continue to apply under the existing competence assessment system.

What if I am a nurse with an Australian practising certificate?

Nurses with a current Australian practising certificate have a separate process.

Under the TTMR agreement, you would apply to the Nursing Council here.

How much will this new application process cost?

The Nursing Council fee to process your application is $485 New Zealand dollars.

There are additional costs from external providers:

  • Verification of documents
  • CGFNS is the company that verifies your documentation before you can apply for registration to the Nursing Council. You can find out more about that and the costs here.

  • International criminal history check
  • The Council requires internationally qualified nurses to complete a criminal history check. This is done by our designated provider, Fit2Work. You can find out more here.

  • Competence assessment exams
  • Some internationally qualified nurses will be required to undergo a competence assessment to become registered. We will let you know if this includes you once the Council assesses your application. If you do require a competence assessment, this includes both a theoretical exam and a clinical exam, along with a two-day orientation and preparation course.

    We will announce the fee structure for these shortly.

All fees paid are non-refundable.

Does CGFNS still have to verify my documents?

Yes, you will need to submit your documents and have them verified by CGFNS before you can begin your application to the Nursing Council for registration.

How do I check my CGFNS status?

Log in to your CGFNS applicant portal here.

How do I apply for Council registration?

After your documents have been verified and authenticated by CGFNS, an email will be sent to you from the Nursing Council inviting you to apply for registration.

Do I need to submit my documents to the Nursing Council?

CGFNS will send all the documents you have provided directly to the Nursing Council.

Do I need to complete a criminal record check?

Yes. The Nursing Council will tell you how and when to do this but for more information, click here, and scroll down to the Fitness to Practise requirement.

How long will registration take?

We are receiving high volumes of applications from internationally qualified nurses.

All applications are individually assessed and the length of the process varies depending on what is needed.

If the Council assesses your application and says you require a competence assessment, you will need to successfully complete a theoretical and a clinical examination as part of the registration process.

If we require further documentation from you or documents are missing from the application, the process will take longer as we follow up.

We also require all internationally qualified nurses to take the ‘Welcome to Aotearoa New Zealand’ online programme to introduce you to culturally safe nursing practice in a New Zealand setting, and to Te Tiriti o Waitangi. You then upload your completion certificates.

All IQNs also need to complete a criminal history check, as the Council needs to make sure nurses coming to practise in New Zealand are of good standing. That check needs to be completed before registration occurs.

Check the requirements to complete your application here.

You can track the progress of your application via MyIQN, the Council’s online portal.

Can I withdraw my application

You can withdraw your application at any stage.

However, all fees you have paid are non-refundable.