Nursing Council changes to competence assessment 

Over the last year, the Nursing Council has been working on a new competence assessment for internationally qualified nurses, and these changes will take effect in December 2023.

This follows our consultation with stakeholders and our communication in September 2022 that outlined the direction of change, incorporating sector feedback into the design and development.

Internationally qualified nurses (IQNs) applying to the Council in December 2023 will, at the direction of the Council, undertake the following objective examinations of competence:

  • an online theoretical exam 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 OSCE (Objective Structured Clinical Examination). The 3-hour OSCE tests clinical and professional skills. The orientation, preparation and OSCE will take place in person in New Zealand at an accredited centre.

How will these changes affect the sector?

The Council anticipates that there will be an 18-month transition period where the new competence examination processes will be implemented, alongside the existing Competence Assessment Programmes (CAP) on offer.

For internationally qualified nurses, these changes will have no immediate effect on you if:

  • you have already applied for registration to the Nursing Council after your documents have been verified (by CGFNS, an external agency)
  • or
  • you are able to apply, once your documents are verified, before the new process is implemented.

For those nurses who are yet to submit their documentation or have not been able to apply to the Nursing Council by December 2023, these changes will affect you.

Internationally qualified nurses can only begin an application to the Council after their documents are verified by CGFNS. Nurses with a current Australian practising certificate undergo a separate process to register.

You can find more information on the Registration for International Nurses section on the website’s home page, and we will continue to provide further updates on our website.