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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 now being assessed were submitted in May 2021.

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

COVID-19 update:

Citizenship ceremonies are not currently being held.

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 application timeframes

Application process stages Estimated timeframe
Application allocated to a case officer 11 months
Outcome of application 1 to 2 months
Allocation to a ceremony 1 to 2 months
Total application process 13 to 15 months

Unallocated citizenship applications by month

As at Applications
30 April 2021 21,905
31 May 2021 23,788
24 June 2021 25,348
30 July 2021 26,524
31 August 2021 28,493
30 September 2021 30,896
29 October 2021 32,168
30 November 2021 33,357
24 December 2021 33,284
31 January 2022 34,758
28 February 2022 35,714
31 March 2022 37,089
29 April 2022 36,650

This table records the amount of unallocated citizenship applications as at the last working day of the month where data was available. The most recent figure is the total number of unallocated applications.

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 both new and old systems during this period of transition.

COVID-19 restrictions and reduced staffing capacity have also affected application processing.

Together, these circumstances have led to a backlog of applications waiting to be assessed by a case officer.

Case officers usually assess applications in the order they are submitted. However, the time it takes to process an application can differ depending on the applicant's individual circumstances. Applications that need additional checks or manual processing may take longer.

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

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 began in 2021, and is continuing in 2022.

Further developments to the 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)
  • 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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