Guide for Australians Moving to New Zealand

Guide for Australians Moving to New Zealand
Australia and New Zealand have very close ties. Photo: Adobe Stock.

Australian citizens have the opportunity to live and work in up to 43 other countries with working holiday visas. But Australian citizens and permanent residents don’t even need to apply for a visa to move to New Zealand!

In 1973, Australia and New Zealand signed the Trans-Tasman Travel Arrangement (TTTA) which allows Australians and New Zealanders to move freely between both countries (notwithstanding COVID-19 border restrictions). Just as New Zealanders are welcome to live in Australia, Australians can travel to New Zealand as often as they like and stay as long as they like.

Most Australian citizens and Permanent Residents (PRs) do not need to apply for a visa before travelling to New Zealand. You’ll just need a valid passport and you’ll be granted an Australian Resident Visa automatically on arrival.

Key facts about New Zealand

  • Population: Approx. 5 million
  • Official languages: English, Māori, New Zealand sign language
  • Capital city: Wellington
  • Largest cities: Auckland, Christchurch, Wellington, Hamilton, Dunedin
  • Currency: New Zealand dollar (NZD)
Wellington cable car
Wellington, New Zealand. Photo by Matt Graham.

What does an Australian Resident Visa allow you to do in New Zealand?

Australian citizens & permanent residents are automatically granted a free Australian Resident Visa on arrival into New Zealand. This allows Australians to:

  • Reside in New Zealand indefinitely
  • Work in New Zealand without restrictions
  • Study in New Zealand without restrictions

This makes it very easy for Australians to move to New Zealand. However, there are a few things to note about the Australian Resident Visa:

  • This visa is not available to Australian temporary residents
  • Australian Permanent Residents (but not citizens) also need to apply for a free NZeTA before arrival in New Zealand (the International Visitor Conservation and Tourism Levy (IVL) fee is waived for Australian PRs)
  • Australian citizens/permanent residents who do not meet New Zealand’s character requirements (e.g. due to being sentenced to a year or more in jail during the past 10 years) would still need to apply for a visa before travelling to New Zealand

See the New Zealand Immigration website for more information about this and other visas.

The NZ Immigration website also has a useful guide to moving permanently to New Zealand.

Queenstown
Queenstown, New Zealand. Photo by Matt Graham.

Australia’s reciprocal health care agreement with New Zealand

Australia has signed a reciprocal health care agreement with New Zealand. Under this arrangement, Australians temporarily visiting New Zealand (for up to two years) can access the following health care services in New Zealand if it is considered immediately necessary:

  • Hospital care
  • Maternity services
  • Pharmaceutical services

You would need to show your passport and Australian Medicare card to access these services.

If you’re not an Australian citizen or permanent resident but have lived in Australia for long enough to get a Medicare card, these benefits also apply to you.

This agreement does not cover GP visits, the full cost of medicines prescribed by GPs or ambulance travel. Therefore, it can still be a good idea to purchase travel and/or private health insurance. But this agreement will at least cover emergency situations requiring hospitalisation.

If you’re staying in New Zealand for at least two years

Australian citizens and permanent residents who have been in New Zealand for at least two years, or can demonstrate an intention to remain in New Zealand for two years or more, are eligible for all publicly funded health services. In this case, you’re entitled to enrol with a Primary Health Organisation (PHO) and access the same services as New Zealanders.

For more information, see the New Zealand Ministry of Health website.

Australia’s Double Tax Agreement with New Zealand

Australia has signed a tax treaty with New Zealand. This means Australians living in New Zealand, and vice versa, shouldn’t have to pay income and/or fringe benefits tax twice.

Article 14 of this tax treaty deals with income from employment. In general, income that you earn from working in New Zealand will be taxed in New Zealand. And if you are moving permanently to New Zealand, you would become a New Zealand resident for taxes purposes anyway.

But as an Australian, you might still need to pay tax in Australia on the income you have earned while in New Zealand if the following applies:

  • You are only in New Zealand for less than half of the year (measured as less than 183 days per financial year),
  • You derive income from an Australian employer while in New Zealand, or
  • You are otherwise still considered an Australian resident for tax purposes

In this case, because of the Double Tax Agreement (DTA) between Australia and New Zealand, the Australian government will give you credit for any tax you already paid in New Zealand (this is set out in Article 23 of the tax treaty). This means you’d only pay the Australian government the difference between the tax you already paid in New Zealand, and the tax you would have paid if you had earned the same income in Australia.

For more information about this, see the Australian Tax Office guidance on tax treaties. The New Zealand Tax Accountant website also contains a summary of the main points of the Australia/NZ tax treaty.

Please note that this is not legal or financial advice. Please seek professional advice from an accountant or lawyer.

Can Australians apply for New Zealand citizenship?

If you have a parent who was born in New Zealand or other close ties to the country, you may already be eligible for New Zealand citizenship. In some cases, you could automatically be a New Zealand citizen.

If this does not apply to you, there are other pathways to New Zealand citizenship.

Australian citizens and permanent residents can qualify for permanent residency in New Zealand after holding a Resident Visa in New Zealand for two years continuously. Australians receive this visa each time they travel to New Zealand, however it expires upon leaving the country. If you intend to seek permanent residency, you can apply for a variation of travel conditions so that your visa doesn’t expire whenever you leave New Zealand during that two-year period.

As an Australian, you may be able to then apply for New Zealand citizenship by grant once you have:

  • Lived in New Zealand for at least the last 5 years
  • Have not been outside of New Zealand for longer than 4 months during any 12-month period within the last 5 years
  • You intend to continue living in New Zealand

To become a New Zealand citizen by grant, you would also need to speak English and meet the country’s character requirements. This wouldn’t be a problem for most Aussies.

Matt Graham

Matt Graham

Matt is the founder of Working Holidays for Aussies. Passionate about travel and always looking for great deals, he believes that gap years & working holidays are the perfect opportunity to immerse yourself in another culture and gain invaluable life experience. Originally from Australia, Matt has travelled to over 60 countries and has lived in New Zealand, Germany, Austria and the Netherlands.

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