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Moving to New Zealand from the UK

Are you thinking about moving to New Zealand from the UK? Find out more about your immigration options.

If you need assistance with emigrating from the UK our lawyers can help, get in touch today on 0333 305 9375 to find out more about our services.

Moving to New Zealand

New Zealand is a country known for its stunning landscape with beautiful beaches, mountains and plenty of fresh air. The country offers a healthy lifestyle, has a rich Maori culture and is one of the best countries in the world for its quality of life.

New Zealand is a popular destination for so many brits who are looking to relocate. The country has a growing economy and strong job market with plenty of job opportunities available for UK citizens as well as a great work-life balance. As well as this, English is one of New Zealand’s 3 official languages alongside Maori and New Zealand sign language, this makes moving overseas and settling in an easier process due to the lack of a language barrier.

Moving to New Zealand from the UK is an exciting and life-changing event, but the process can be complex. If you want to join the millions of British expats who have started a new life in New Zealand then it’s important you are aware of the countries immigration requirements before you move.

What Are the Benefits of Living in New Zealand?

As previously mentioned, New Zealand boasts a particularly attractive and unique natural landscape that is easily accessible even from big cities such as Wellington and Auckland. Particular highlights include Milford Sound, Haast Pass, the Waipoua Kauri Forest and the Bay of Islands.

Another significant advantage of New Zealand is how comparatively safe it is to other developed countries. As of the 2023 Global Peace Index, it is ranked 4th in the entire world, which indicates a high level of social safety and security, and low degrees of ongoing domestic or international conflict.

New Zealand is also relatively unique in that many of the rights afforded to citizens are also available to permanent residents. This means that permanent residents can also vote, access public education, and access free public healthcare. This is a significant advantage for those who wish to establish themselves quickly in New Zealand life.

Finally, New Zealand is well-known for its generally relaxed and slow pace of life, which will serve as a useful tonic for those looking to escape from the faster pace of lifestyle in larger UK cities.

Is New Zealand More Expensive Than the UK?

In terms of cost of living, New Zealand can work out to be slightly more expensive than the UK. For instance, the average cost of common grocery items can be as high as 37% more expensive in New Zealand than in the UK – a fact that can be attributed to New Zealand’s relatively isolated location, among other factors.

In addition, the average property price in New Zealand is higher, being around £444,194 compared to £289,824 (as of July 2023).

However, it’s important to note that properties in large cities such as Wellington and Auckland skew these averages, and it is still easy to find affordable homes in smaller towns and rural areas. Additionally, homes in New Zealand are more likely to be larger and come with more outdoor space compared to properties in the UK.

Income tax may also be slightly higher in New Zealand than in the UK, though this is heavily dependent on which tax bracket you fall into. Much like the UK, New Zealand has a sliding scale of income tax where you pay more tax the higher you earn; this system tends to be more lenient towards higher earners in New Zealand than in the UK.

Finally, the average annual salary in New Zealand is around £47,616, while in the UK it is £33,402. However, this may be offset by the generally higher cost of living in New Zealand than the UK.

Visas for New Zealand

UK citizens do not need a visa to visit New Zealand providing they don’t stay longer than 6 months, instead, you will only need New Zealand Electronic Travel Authority (NZeTA) before you visit.

If you plan on living in New Zealand for longer than 6 months, or you intend to work in the country then you must apply for a visa that permits you to do this.

There are various types of New Zealand visas that are open to British citizens including temporary visas as well as residence visas.

Some of the most popular types include the:

  • Working Holiday Visa
  • Essential Skills Work Visa
  • Fee-Paying Student Visa
  • Investment Visa
  • Partner and Children Visa
New Zealand landscape

Work visa types

If you intend to work whilst living in New Zealand then you must hold a visa that permits you to do this. New Zealand has a broad range of work visas that UK citizens can be eligible for, the right one for you will depend on how long you plan to work for and the type of job you plan to do.

Just a few of the New Zealand Work Visas include the:

  • Working Holiday Visa – for young citizens of the UK who wish to work or study whilst on holiday in New Zealand
  • Essential Skills Work Visa – a temporary visa that permits you to work in New Zealand if you have been offered a full-time job and hold the necessary skills and qualifications
  • Long Term Skill Shortage List Visa – A visa for those who have an offer of employment for a role on the Long Term Skill Shortage List, this visa offers a pathway to permanent residency
  • Skilled Migrant Category Visa – A work visa that grants permanent residence to migrants who hold the skills, experience and qualifications that New Zealand needs to grow its economy
  • Recognised Seasonal Employer Limited Visa – A short-term work visa for those who will be working in the horticulture or viticulture industries
  • Post-Study Work Visa – For people who have completed an eligible qualification in New Zealand, this visa allows you to work for any employer in most roles

There is also a range of other work visas including the Work Scheme Exchange visa and visas for specific occupation types such as entertainers, diplomats, domestic workers, religious workers, fishing crew members and more.

Before you start working in New Zealand there are some steps you need to take. You may need to be registered to work in your occupation, you can check whether you need to register here. You will also need to apply for an IRD number to keep track of the tax that you will need to pay. Some New Zealand employers may require you to undergo a criminal records check and you may also need to have your UK qualifications checked by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority.

Family visas

If you have family that you wish to join in New Zealand, or if you wish to take family members with you when moving to New Zealand from the UK, then there are a range of family visas that you could use.

The types of family members that can travel to New Zealand include the children, partners, parents and grandparents of New Zealand residents or eligible visa holders. Parents, partners and children of New Zealand nationals or permanent residents can qualify for a resident visa that allows them to live in the country permanently.

Partners and children of work and student visa holders can also qualify for a visitor visa that usually allows them to live in New Zealand for the duration of their partners or parents stay. There is also a visa available for the parents and grandparents of visa holders that allows them to visit for up to 18 months in a 3-year period.

If you have an adult child who is a citizen or resident in New Zealand another type of family visa that you could be eligible for is the Parent Retirement Resident Visa. This grants you permanent residency, however, to apply you must have an annual income of at least NZ $60,000 as well as NZ $1 million for investment over 4 years and a further NZ $500,000 to live off.

Family members of refugees or protected persons in New Zealand can also be eligible to join them using the Refugee Family Support Resident Visa.


Study visas

New Zealand is quickly becoming one of the top destinations for UK students who are looking to study abroad and New Zealand offers a variety of student visas for international students.

The most common visa for students is the Fee-Paying Student Visa, this visa allows you to study full-time in New Zealand for up to 4 years and also permits you to work for up to 20 hours per week whilst in the country. To be eligible for this visa you will need to enrol with an approved educational institution and pay the full cost of your course.

There is also a range of other types of visas that permit you to study in New Zealand, they include the:

  • Working Holiday Visa
  • Exchange student visa
  • Student and Trainee Work Visa
  • Vocational Trainee Student Visa
  • Pathway Student Visa

Working Holiday Visa and Fee-Paying Student Visa applicants must agree to get health insurance when applying.

Get in touch with our expert immigration lawyers to receive assistance with moving to New Zealand.

Business visas

As mentioned above, New Zealand’s economy is growing and the country is full of opportunities for entrepreneurs and investor’s. There are a number of business visas that allow those who can contribute to the economy of New Zealand to live in the country. You could be eligible for a New Zealand business visa if you are able to invest in a New Zealand business or government or if you are an experienced business person who can buy or set up your own business in New Zealand.

If you plan to start or run a business in New Zealand then you could be eligible for the following visas:

  • Global Impact Work Visa – For entrepreneurs or investors selected by the Edmund Hillary Fellowship to join their 3-year programme. Applicants must have NZ$36,000 maintenance funds during the first year.
  • Entrepreneur Work Visa – For experienced business people who plan to set up or buy a business in New Zealand. Applicants must make a capital investment of at least NZ$100,000, provide a business plan and score 120 points on the Entrepreneur Work Visa points scale.
  • Entrepreneur Resident Visa -This grants permanent residence to those who are already in New Zealand on an Entrepreneur visa and who have been self-employed for at least 6 months. Applicants applying after less than two years of self-employment must have invested at least NZ $500,000 and created 3 new jobs.
  • Global Impact Permanent Residence Visa – This visa grants permanent residency for those who have held a Global Impact Visa for at least 30 months and continue to have the support of the Edmund Hillary Fellowship.

The Global Impact Work Visa and Global Impact Permanent Residence Visa can also be used by those who wish to invest in New Zealand, however, there are also two other visas designated to investors.

The Investor 1 Visa, also known as the Investor Plus Visa grants residency to applicants who can keep at least NZ $10 million invested in New Zealand for 3 years. Applicants must also spend 44 days in each of the last 2 of the 3 years in New Zealand.

The Investor 2 Visa grants residency to those who have at least NZ $3 million to invest in New Zealand over a 4 year period. To be eligible you must also have at least 3 years of business experience and submit an expression of interest (EOI).

Becoming a permanent resident

If you want to make New Zealand your permanent home then you can do so by applying for a Permanent Residence Visa. This visa will allow you to live, work and study in New Zealand indefinitely. Permanent residents can also travel freely to and from New Zealand and bring their partner and eligible children to New Zealand.

To be eligible for permanent residence you must hold a New Zealand residence visa and must have lived in the country for at least two years.

If you are not eligible for this visa, there are also a range of other residence visas that allow you to live in New Zealand permanently. A full list of the resident visas available can be found on the New Zealand government website.

New Zealand citizenship

Becoming a New Zealand citizen is also another way to make the country your permanent home. As well as granting you the right to live, work and study in New Zealand permanently, obtaining citizenship also comes with several other benefits.

As a citizen of New Zealand, you will have the right to a New Zealand passport that can be used to travel to 182 countries without a visa, you will also have full access to the economic rights of any other citizen as well as access to educational scholarships and awards for New Zealanders.

There are several routes to becoming a New Zealand citizen including by birth, descent or grant. Most UK nationals wishing to become a citizen of New Zealand do so through the grant route. To be eligible for citizenship by grant you will usually need to have lived in New Zealand for at least 5 years as well as meeting certain language and character requirements.

How can IAS help

Moving abroad is always a difficult task and can be overwhelming to go through alone. Our lawyers are experts when it comes to emigration and can be there to support you throughout your journey.

We offer advice sessions in which one of our lawyers will speak with you about your circumstances and goals and can offer reliable legal advice about your emigration options including the visa types available to you and information about how to meet the requirements.

Once you have decided which type of New Zealand visa you would like to apply for, our lawyers can guide you through the application process. We will ensure that all necessary paperwork is filled in accurately and can help you to gather all of the supporting evidence and documents that you will need. If you have any questions about emigrating to New Zealand, our lawyers will be happy to help.

For more information about our emigration services, get in touch today on 0333 305 9375.

We offer immigration advice sessions as face to face appointments at all of our UK offices, or via the phone.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, there are many immigration routes that allow a UK citizen to start a new life in New Zealand. To live in New Zealand you will need a visa. You could be eligible for a visa if you intend to work or study in New Zealand, if you already have family in the country or if you plan to invest or start a new business.

UK citizens can use their UK driving licence if they will be driving in New Zealand for less than a year. If you plan to drive in New Zealand for over a year then you must apply for a New Zealand driving licence.

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