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Citizenship timeframes

Check this page regularly for up-to-date citizenship processing times.

Citizenship by grant application timeframes

This is how long it is currently taking to process citizenship applications, based on reporting data from August 2023.

If your application is processed within these timeframes, the Department of Internal Affairs cannot provide any further information on the status of your application.

The time taken to process an application in the past is no guarantee of how long it may take in future.

Application assessment

The oldest applications now being picked up for assessment were received in July 2022.

Outcome of application

97% of applicants received an outcome within 16 months of submitting their application.

Total application process – including citizenship ceremony

95% of applicants were granted citizenship within 19 months.

Citizenship ceremonies are arranged by local councils.

About citizenship timeframes

How the citizenship process works

All citizenship applications submitted to the Department undergo automated checks as part of a preliminary assessment.

These checks sort applications based on the amount of manual intervention required by a case officer. This preliminary check allows us to process the majority of applications quickly.

Why some applications are processed faster than others

The time it takes to process an application can differ, depending on:

  • the applicant’s individual circumstances
  • how much of their application we can assess using automated checks.

Our online system lets us make automated checks to see if an applicant meets certain requirements for citizenship.

As an example of an automated check, the system matches your application with your Immigration New Zealand record. It then uses this information to calculate if you meet the presence requirement.

This means that some applications can now be processed much more quickly than others because they need fewer checks to be made by a case officer, or they are simpler to process. Applications that need extra manual checks may take longer.

Your application may need extra manual checks if:

  • you changed your name after you migrated to New Zealand
  • you had a gap in your residency status
  • you did not meet the presence requirement the day you applied for citizenship
  • your photo does not meet the required quality standards
  • we cannot automatically match your data from Immigration New Zealand
  • external checks by other government agencies indicate you might not meet the requirements.

To help us process your application as quickly as possible:

  • apply online, if you can
  • make sure you meet the requirements for citizenship before you apply
  • provide all the necessary documents.

Check you meet the requirements for NZ citizenship

When an application is unable to be assessed by automated checks

If part of an application is unable to be assessed by the automated checks, a case officer needs to look at it to understand why.

Once we have looked over the application, we will contact you if we need any additional information. We are otherwise unable to share the results of automated checks.

Urgent applications

Criteria for urgent requests

There is no urgent citizenship service. In rare circumstances we may be able to assess your application out of the standard queue order. However, this does not affect the time required for completing all necessary checks.

A request for urgency is usually only approved if you are in a situation out of your control and unable to get a travel document.

The Citizenship Office will consider whether you need citizenship:

  • to travel for a medical emergency
  • to represent New Zealand
  • for work or deployment
  • to stand for election
  • for humanitarian reasons.

Medical emergencies

You may meet this criterion if you need to leave the country to:

  • help a sick relative, or
  • get medical treatment you cannot get here.

It must be critical, and there must be no other option.

Representing New Zealand

You may meet this criterion if you:

  • are representing New Zealand in sport or another activity, and
  • need citizenship to take part in an upcoming event.

Employment and deployment

You may meet this criterion if you need citizenship to:

  • start a new job, or
  • continue to serve or deploy with the New Zealand Defence Force.

Standing for election

You may meet this criterion if you can provide:

  • confirmation of the election date
  • confirmation of your registration to stand for election
  • evidence of your campaign
  • supporting letters from those nominating you.

Humanitarian reasons

You may meet this criterion if you are in a position you have no control over for humanitarian reasons.

If you meet one of the above criteria

If you meet one of the above criteria, you must:

  • write a letter explaining why you need urgent citizenship
  • include evidence for your reasons (such as medical, employment or travel documents)
  • email the letter and evidence to

Non-essential requests

Requests for urgent processing are not approved for:

  • financial reasons, such as not wanting to pay for a passport from your home country or a visa from another country
  • a preference to travel on a New Zealand passport
  • any other personal preference.

While your application is in process, make sure your current passport or travel document is valid. If it is due to expire within the next year, you may need to renew it in case of urgent travel. This also includes any relevant visas issued by Immigration New Zealand.

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