The New Zealand Psychologists Board administers the registration of psychologists under the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance (HPCA) Act 2003. The Board recommends that those seeking registration in New Zealand familiarise themselves with this legislation. A copy of the Act can be downloaded here.
Information for all Applicants
The Board cannot accept incomplete applications. Please post/courier all required documentation (including application fee) altogether. A checklist of documents required with your Application for Registration is included as part of the application form. The Board cannot accept uncertified copies of any official documents. Please note that application fees are non-refundable.
The Board will acknowledge (by email) receipt of your application form within 10 working days of receipt in the Board’s office. The Board will not process your application until all documentation has been received. You need to allow 2-3 months (or longer depending on Covid-19 Alert Level) for the assessment of your complete application, this is calculated from the date of acknowledgment of receipt of all required documents. In fairness to all practitioners, no application will be ‘fast-tracked’ ahead of any other.
Scopes of Practice
Information about the Scopes of Practice prescribed by the New Zealand Psychologists Board can be viewed here.
The HPCA Act requires that a practitioner be a fit and proper person to be registered. References will be required to ensure this is the case. At least one reference must be written by a psychologist registered by the New Zealand Psychologists Board. (For overseas applicants who do not know a New Zealand-registered Psychologist, a reference from a senior psychologist who is registered, chartered, or licensed with a government-mandated registration authority overseas will be an acceptable alternative. A copy of that referee’s registration certificate or licence must be included with the reference letter).
All references must be originals written specifically in support of the registration application, and must be signed and dated no earlier than 3 months before the date on which the application is received by the Board. Referees should know the applicant for at least 12 months and ideally in a professional capacity unless they are providing a character reference. References can also be emailed directly to the Board by the referee.
Record of Criminal Conviction(s) – New Zealand Applicants
The Board requires that every New Zealand applicant authorises the Board to obtain a Record of Criminal Convictions from the New Zealand Police. This lists only convictions and sentencing from court appearances and will conceal any criminal convictions if the applicant meets the eligibility criteria stipulated in section 7 of the Criminal Records (Clean Slate) Act 2004.
Applicants should complete the Authorisation to Disclose Information form (which gives the Board authorisation to request disclosure from the NZ Police Vetting Service) and include it with their application documentation.
Record of Criminal Conviction(s) – Overseas Applicants
The Board requires that you provide a record of criminal convictions (e.g., Police Clearance Certificate (South Africa), FBI Criminal Conviction Information/Fingerprint Information & State level Police Clearance (USA), ACRO Police Clearance Certificate (UK)) or equivalent documentation from each country you have lived in for longer than 3 months within the past 5 years. This is to inform the Board of any convictions you may have had in your former country or countries of residence. The record must not be more than six months old.
NOTE: A conviction does not necessarily preclude the granting of registration. Any convictions will be considered by the Board on a case-by-case basis. If you have a conviction, you should also submit an explanatory letter about the conviction to the Board.
If English is not your first language and your psychology qualifications were not completed in the English language in Australia, Canada South Africa, the United Kingdom, Ireland or the United States of America, please provide a certified copy, or the original, of your International English Language Testing System (IELTS) Academic Module results. This is the only English test currently approved by the Board. The minimum pass mark required is 7.5 overall, with no less than 7.0 on each section.
To be able to practise in New Zealand psychologists are required (by law) to hold a current practising certificate. If you intend to practise in New Zealand you can apply for a practising certificate after the Board has approved your registration. Your practising certificate must then be renewed at the start of each financial year (1 April).
Certificate of Registration (Optional)
A formal Certificate of Registration showing your name, scope of practise, and date of registration can be ordered from the Board. These optional Certificates are produced on A4 light card, are personally signed by the Board’s Registrar or Deputy Registrar, and are ready for framing.
Standards of Practice
The standards of practice expected of all psychologists practising in New Zealand are outlined in the Board’s “Core Competencies for the Practice of Psychology in New Zealand” and the “Code of Ethics for Psychologists Working in Aotearoa New Zealand 2002”. Core competencies include cultural competencies. New Zealand-registered psychologists are expected to be culturally competent with all cultures but particularly to safeguard the wellbeing of Māori. The practice of psychology in New Zealand reflects paradigms and worldviews of both partners to te Tiriti o Waitangi / the Treaty of Waitangi.
Please refer to the “Fees” page for current information.
Information for Overseas-Qualified Applicants
Please also read the section above.
Applications from overseas-trained practitioners are assessed on an individual basis for fitness for registration, equivalence of the applicant’s qualifications to New Zealand qualifications, and competence to practise . Please note that assessments completed by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) may not be relied upon by the Board, as they assess only equivalency of level (e.g., Bachelors, Masters, Doctoral) and not equivalency of content (i.e., psychology content).
In order to assist in the accurate assessment of qualifications, overseas applicants should supply to the Board as much information as possible about the course content of their degrees/diplomas. Information relating to any internships or practical training undertaken as part of a university degree/diploma is particularly relevant. Information about current registration with a recognised authority (e.g., State or National registration authority) is also relevant and very helpful.
The Board reminds applicants that they must provide conclusive, clear, and reliable evidence that they have successfully completed a structured, supervised, and formally evaluated professional practice programme of at least 1500 hours as part of their qualification that has been approved by the New Zealand Psychologists Board or by an equivalent competent registering authority for psychologists.[Note: In assessing the number of hours of internship an applicant has completed, the starting point is when the student has actually commenced practising (under appropriate supervision but semi-independently) as a psychologist and the finishing point is when their placement contract ends. Internships normally occur toward the end of a student’s academic training, and can be differentiated from “practica” both by the degree of independence afforded the student and by the timing of the placement in relation to the core academic training.]
Prescribed and Non-Prescribed Countries
Cost analysis has shown that applications from countries where training and regulation are similar to New Zealand’s take (on average) significantly less time to process than do those from other countries. The Board has therefore determined (in accordance with the requirements that our fees are “cost-recovery only” and that no cross-subsidisation occurs) that the application fees should reflect this disparity. Currently the “prescribed” countries (those with training and regulation that are similar to that in New Zealand) include Canada, South Africa, the United Kingdom, Northern Ireland and the United States of America.
Self-Assessment of Eligibility for Registration
Practitioners who completed their psychology training overseas and who are considering applying for registration in New Zealand are strongly encouraged to complete the Board’s online “Self-Assessment of Eligibility for Registration” tool. It will give you some idea of how the Board may assess your fitness for registration, the equivalence of your qualifications in relation to the minimum standard of qualifications required for registration in New Zealand, and your current competence to practise.
The self-assessment tool is non-binding and should not be taken as a formal opinion. If, as you work through the tool, you are advised that there may be an obstacle to your registration, you can contact the Board for clarification.
You can complete the online “Self-Assessment of Eligibility for Registration” tool here. Any questions still remaining about the Board’s requirements can then be directed to our registration team.
Overseas-trained applicants are encouraged to begin their orientation to New Zealand even before relocating. The Immigration New Zealand website offers many useful resources, and the Board’s information on Cultural Competence should be reviewed. A free, online Foundation Course in Cultural Competency is also available. This (optional) course may support you to build your understanding of cultural competency and (for those of you working in health settings) health literacy in New Zealand (with a focus on improving Māori health outcomes).
When considering applications for registration the Board is conscious that few, if any, overseas applicants are likely to have experience working with Māori (New Zealand’s indigenous population). Each application is considered on its individual merits; however, it is likely that the Board will consider imposing a “transitional” condition on the scope of practice for applicants who have never trained or practised in New Zealand.
By way of background, healthcare in New Zealand is in a significant process of change, to try to address the longstanding adverse effects of colonisation on Māori. There is increasing expectation that a health practitioner cannot be competent to practise in New Zealand if they are not aware of, and able to apply, the principles of te Tiriti o Waitangi / the Treaty of Waitangi and relevant Māori models of healthcare to their practice.
This is a change from earlier practice and in part has been prompted by change in HPCA increasing emphasis on cultural competence (including competencies that will enable effective and respectful interaction with Māori) and other aspects that are unique to practice in New Zealand – including the legal obligations of health practitioners, and New Zealand’s unique ACC compensation scheme.
If a condition is proposed in relation to your application for registration, please note that:
- You are welcome to make submissions with regard to your practice in terms of cultural safety in general.
- The intent of any proposed condition is to support you into practice in a new jurisdiction, noting that tangata whenua have unique and specific cultural needs.
- It is open to you to complete training in cultural safety relating to Māori to demonstrate that you have started your journey. The Board recommends the free course “Foundation Course in Cultural Competency (Māori) delivered at www.mauriora.co.nz.
Registering as an Intern Psychologist
University (PGDip, MClinPsych, and DClinPsych) students undertaking internships as part of their degree or postgraduate diploma are required to be registered with the Board. These students are registered in the “Intern Psychologist” scope of practice with conditions related to supervision.
All applicants must complete the standard application for registration form taking care to tick the “Intern Psychologist” box in the scope of practice section. A letter from the Head of Department, Course Director, or Head of School must be sent directly to the Board stating that the applicant has been enrolled in the course and noting an approximate date of course completion.
Registration requirements for Intern Psychologists are noted on the application form and include providing a record of criminal convictions and three character references (one of which must be from a psychologist registered in NZ).
This registration process establishes an Intern on the Register of Psychologists for the duration of their post-graduate study, but only permits practice within the confines of that study. On successful completion of both their academic and practical (internship) qualifications the Intern can apply for full registration.
Overseas trained applicants must ensure they have been accepted into one of the Board’s accredited training programmes before applying for registration as an Intern Psychologist.
Supervision to Registration scheme (Trainee Psychologists)
This registration is for candidates who have completed formal academic qualifications that have provided them with the foundation competencies required for safe practice in the approved supervised setting, and who are entering a Board-accredited supervision scheme to achieve full registration.
This option, known as the ‘Supervision to Registration’ scheme, is currently only available to employees of the Department of Corrections and the New Zealand Defence Force. Trainee Psychologists must hold a current practising certificate, which will include supervision conditions.
Overseas trained applicants must ensure they have been accepted into one of the Board’s accredited ‘Supervision to Registration’ schemes before applying for registration as a Trainee Psychologist.
The Role and Value of Collegial Organisations
The Board encourages all psychologists to join at least one collegial/membership organisation (e.g., the New Zealand College of Clinical Psychologists, the New Zealand Psychological Society, Pasifikology, and/or He Paiaka Totara: Māori Psychology). Such organisations facilitate the development and maintenance of strong links to the profession (e.g., via newsletter and professional journals), offer high quality professional development opportunities, and provide a collective link to the Board. They also offer numerous other benefits, such as special pricing on indemnity insurance and annual conferences. Staying well connected and up-to-date on developments in the profession are key to maintaining safe, competent practice.