Skip to main content

Character requirements

You need to show you are of good character to get New Zealand citizenship.


If you are from Samoa or applying for a child, you might not have to meet all the requirements.

Requirements if you are from Samoa

Requirements if you are a child

Traffic offences

You do not need to worry about parking tickets or speed camera fines.

The Citizenship Office will talk to you if a police check shows you have:

  • 100 or more demerit points on your driver licence
  • a recent pattern of other fines or infringements in New Zealand or anywhere else.

Crimes, investigations and other offences

You are very unlikely to get citizenship if you have:

  • charges pending against you in any country
  • been convicted of a crime in the last 3 years
  • spent any time in prison in the last 7 years
  • ever had a prison sentence of more than 5 years
  • an undischarged protection order.

What you need to declare when you apply

You need to declare if you have ever:

  • been convicted of a crime — unless you qualify under the Clean Slate scheme
  • been reviewed, investigated or had legal action taken against you by the New Zealand government
  • had to return money to the New Zealand government
  • been made bankrupt because you committed fraud
  • had a protection order against you
  • been involved in terrorism
  • made or used chemical, biological, nuclear or radiological weapons
  • committed a war crime or crime against humanity.

If any of these things apply to you

Write a letter explaining what happened. Attach it to your application with copies of any records or documents.

If you have been an aggressor in family violence or family harm

Family violence and family harm are serious problems in New Zealand. 

If you are a victim of family violence, this will not affect your citizenship and you do not need to provide any information.

Find help to stop family violence 

If the Citizenship Office receives information from the police that you have been an aggressor in family violence or family harm, they will talk to you about the extra steps you must take to show you meet the character requirement. They may ask you for:

  • your view on whether the information is accurate and fairly reflects what happened
  • your explanation and view of the matter now
  • what you have done to address the behaviour, such as completing a family violence programme, counselling, lifestyle changes, alcohol or drug treatment, and
  • character references from people who know you well and can speak about what you have done to make sure you will not use violence in the future.

You do not need to provide any of the above as part of your application. The Citizenship Office will first assess your application, and then talk with you about what you need to provide.

If you lived overseas while you had an NZ resident visa

You might be asked to get a police clearance from another country, if you lived there for:

  • more than 4 months in the last 3 years, or
  • more than 12 months in the last 12 years.

If you are still not sure what to include

If you are not sure how to show you meet the character requirement, you can:

Freephone: 0800 22 51 51 (New Zealand only)



If you do not tell the Citizenship Office something and they find out later when they do their checks, you may not get citizenship.

If they find out when you already have citizenship, it could be taken away from you.

Utility links and page information

Last updated