Official advice for New Zealanders living and travelling overseas

Going to Australia?

Immigration information

New Zealanders automatically receive a non-protected Special Category Visa (SCV) when they arrive in Australia provided they meet certain security, character and health requirements.  We encourage you to check your eligibility for entry to Australia by visiting the Australian Government Department of Home Affairs website or by contacting your nearest Australian immigration office to discuss your plan to travel to Australia. 

Getting an arrival stamp in your passport is the only physical evidence that you hold this visa.  If you use SmartGate (an automated border processing system that allows you to self-process through passport control) you are granted an SCV but you do not get an arrival stamp in your passport.  If you wish to obtain a stamp you can do so by asking a Customs and Border Protection Officer.

You can then stay and work in Australia indefinitely as long as you remain of good character, do not present a serious health risk (such as untreated tuberculosis) and retain your New Zealand citizenship.

Non-protected SCV holders do not have the same rights and benefits as Australian citizens or Australian permanent residents.  Australian authorities can also cancel an SCV if a person fails certain character and health requirements, such as committing a crime or untreated TB. 

If your SCV visa is cancelled, you may be placed into an immigration detention centre before being deported from Australia.   If you arrive in Australia and border authorities refuse to grant you a SCV on character grounds, then you may also spend time in detention followed by removal. 

Short-term visits

New Zealanders making short-term visits to Australia should buy comprehensive travel insurance to cover non-emergency health care costs, including repatriation and ambulance costs.

New Zealanders are eligible to receive free emergency hospital treatment under the Reciprocal Health Agreement, but New Zealanders without an Australian Medicare card have to pay the full cost of any non-hospital treatment such as doctors’ visits or pharmaceuticals.

Living in Australia - entitlements

New Zealand citizens who intend to live in Australia long term should apply for a Medicare card on arrival, which enables access to medical and hospital services.  For more information, see the Services Australia website.

If you receive New Zealand Superannuation, Invalid’s Benefit or Veteran’s Pension and intend to live in Australia you may qualify for payment in Australia.  You must advise Work and Income of your plans and apply to the Australian authority (Centrelink) within a set time of arrival.  For more information, see the Work and Income NZ website.

Further information about New Zealand benefit assistance is available from the Work and Income NZ website.

Automatic permanent residence for New Zealanders ceased in 2001.  New Zealanders who arrived in Australia after 26 February 2001 are generally considered to be “non-protected” SCV holders and are considered to be on a ‘temporary visa’ unless they apply for a permanent visa/residency.

Without permanent residency you are not entitled to receive the full range of Australian social security benefits including the unemployment benefit (‘Newstart Allowance/Youth Allowance’), the parenting payment, the special benefit and the sickness allowance. New Zealanders who arrived in Australia after 26 February 2001 must obtain Australian permanent residency to be eligible to receive these benefits.

The only exception are those  SCV holders who have lived in Australia for at least ten continuous years since 26 February 2001, who may be eligible to receive a one-off payment of Newstart Allowance, Youth Allowance or Sickness Allowance for up to six months (see the Services Australia website for more information).

For information on the Special Category Visa or applying for permanent residence in Australia, please see the Australian Government Department of Home Affairs website.

What the New Zealand Government can do

New Zealanders who get into difficulties overseas, including in Australia, are eligible for consular assistance but there are limitations.  See Our Services for more information.

New Zealand Government offices in Australia have no funds to assist New Zealanders in financial difficulty.  New Zealand agencies such as Work and Income NZ are unable to pay emergency benefits to assist people outside New Zealand.

Further information for New Zealanders in Australia is available on the "Living in Australia" page on the New Zealand High Commission website.


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