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Application timeframes

There are currently processing delays to New Zealand citizenship applications. Check this page regularly for up-to-date timeframes.

The oldest applications currently being processed were submitted in January.

The timeframes below are estimates only. Some applications may have further delays due to external checks with other government agencies.

COVID-19 update:

Due to limits on mass gatherings, citizenship ceremonies will not be held under Alert Levels 2, 3 or 4.

Instead, the Citizenship Office will send your citizenship certificate by courier post within 2 months.

If you asked to attend a citizenship ceremony in a group, we will let each person in your group know whether their application has been approved before we send your certificates.

Citizenship by grant application timeframes

Application process stages Estimated timeframe
Application allocated to a case officer 10 to 11 months
Outcome of application 1 to 2 months
Allocation to a ceremony 1 to 2 months
Total application process 12 to 15 months

About the application processing delays

Cause of the delays

The Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) is transitioning from a paper-based citizenship application system to an online system. This means staff have to learn the new system and work in the new and old systems during this transition.

COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions have also affected application processing. Working from home is not possible in Levels 3 and 4 for privacy and security reasons, and DIA is following Ministry of Health COVID-19 guidelines – including physical distancing – which limits the number of staff who can physically be present in our offices. 

These circumstances have led to a backlog of applications waiting to be assessed by a case officer.

How processing times are being improved

The Citizenship Office has brought in a team of temporary staff to process the applications left in the old system, freeing up permanent staff to increase proficiency and speed in the new system.

An increase of staff numbers and extra training in citizenship application processing has begun, and will continue in early 2022.

Further developments to the new online system will likely see a positive impact in reducing processing timeframes.

When processing times will reduce

The Citizenship Office expects waiting times to reduce by mid-2022.

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
  • 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
  • join or deploy with the New Zealand Defence Force.

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), and
  • email the letter and evidence to

Non-essential requests

Requests for urgent processing are not approved:

  • 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. While your citizenship 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.
  • Any other personal preference.

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