Overseas trained: How to register


Applications from overseas-trained practitioners are assessed on an individual basis for fitness, equivalence of qualifications, and competence. Assessments completed by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority may not be relied upon by the Board.

Overseas applicants should supply as much information as possible about the course content of their degrees/diplomas.

Information relating to any internships or practical training is particularly relevant. Information about current registration with a recognised authority (e.g. State or National registration authority) is also relevant and helpful.


Assessment of equivalence will include whether your qualification is sufficient for registration in the relevant scope of practice in the jurisdiction in which you obtained your qualification.

If you do not meet registration or licensing requirements in the country where you have trained, it is unlikely you will be eligible in New Zealand. In some cases local requirements may be below New Zealand standards.

In-Residence Requirements for Masters or Doctoral Degree

Please find below a guideline on what we are looking for when assessing an applicants qualification:

  • The degree must meet the in-residence requirement, that is – the masters or doctoral programme included a minimum of one continuous year in residence at (or under the official oversight of) the institution from which the degree was granted.
  • One continuous year means two consecutive semesters or three consecutive trimesters or quarters.
  • “In residence” means physical presence, in person, at an educational institution or training facility in a manner that facilitates acculturation into the profession and includes staff and student direct interaction.
  • Programmes that use only multiple long weekends and/or summer intensive sessions do not meet the in-residence requirement.
  • Programmes that use teleconferencing or other electronic means as a substitute for physical presence at the institution do not meet the in-residence requirement.


Applicants must provide conclusive, clear and reliable evidence that they 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.

Applicants will need to provide evidence of applicable qualifications, internships, and practical training for each scope they are applying to be registered under.

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. 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 countries

Cost analysis has shown that applications from countries where training and regulation are similar to New Zealand’s take less time to process than 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 (i.e. with training and regulation similar to that in New Zealand) include Canada, South Africa, the United Kingdom, Northern Ireland and the United States of America.

Scopes of practice

Scopes of practice identified by the Board are:

  • Psychologist
  • Clinical Psychologist
  • Counselling Psychologist
  • Educational Psychologist
  • Neuropsychologist
  • Intern Psychologist
  • Trainee Psychologist

A general summary of these scopes is here.

For full details please refer to this document.

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 practise of psychology in New Zealand reflects paradigms and world views of both partners to te Tiriti o Waitangi / the Treaty of Waitangi.

Communication skills

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. Test results must be obtained within two years prior to applying for registration and must be obtained in one sitting.

Cultural Competence

Overseas-trained applicants are encouraged to begin their orientation to New Zealand before relocating. The Immigration New Zealand website offers many useful resources, and the Board’s information on Cultural Competence should be reviewed.

Healthcare in New Zealand is in a process of change to address the adverse effects of colonisation on Māori. There is an expectation that to be competent to practise in New Zealand a health practitioner should be aware of, and able to apply, the principles of te Tiriti o Waitangi and relevant Māori models of healthcare to their practice.

This has been in part prompted by HPCA emphasis on cultural competence, including competencies that will enable effective and respectful interaction with Māori, and other aspects unique to practice in New Zealand, including the legal obligations of health practitioners, and New Zealand’s ACC compensation scheme.

The free and optional Foundation Course in Cultural Competency may support you to build your understanding of cultural competency and health literacy in New Zealand with a focus on improving Māori health outcomes.


When considering applications for registration the Board is conscious that overseas applicants may not have experience working with Māori (New Zealand’s indigenous population). Each application is considered on 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.

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.
  • You may 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 mauriora.co.nz.

Visas and relocation

Te Whatu Ora offers free guidance on visa options for health practitioners and their immediate family. They can also provide relocation packages to health practitioners who have gained employment in certain roles.

Contact the Te Whatu Ora team directly at Te Whatu Ora.

More information about Te Whatu Ora’s relocation packages, please visit their relocation package website.

Self-assessment tool

Practitioners who completed psychology training overseas and are considering applying for registration in New Zealand are strongly encouraged to complete the Board’s online Self-Assessment of Eligibility for Registration.

This tool gives an 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.

Any questions still remaining about the Board’s requirements can then be directed to our registration team:


+64 4 471 4580


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 of the three references 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, the Board will accept a reference from a senior psychologist who is registered, chartered, or licensed with a government-mandated registration authority overseas.

A copy of that referee’s registration certificate or licence must be included with the reference letter.

All references must be the original signed documents written in support of the registration application, and must be signed and dated no earlier than three 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.

Criminal history

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 three months within the past five 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 and must cover the entire period you were residing in that country.

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.

Application and fees


Application fees are non-refundable. Please refer to the Fees page for current information.

Postal application

Completed applications for registration of overseas trained psychologists are to be sent in by post to the following address.

PO Box 9644
Marion Square
Wellington 6141
New Zealand

A full check-list can be found on page five of this form.

Applications processing

The Board cannot accept incomplete applications. Please post/courier all required documentation (including application fee) together.

If making an International Money Transfer please ensure your application has first been received by the Board.

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.

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. Applicants should allow two to three months for assessment. This is calculated from the date of acknowledgment of receipt of all required documents. To be fair to applicants, no application will be fast-tracked ahead of any other.

Practising Certificate

To be able to practise in New Zealand psychologists are required by law to hold a current practising certificate. 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

A formal Certificate of Registration showing your name, scope of practice, 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.

Collegial organisations

The Board encourages all psychologists to join at least one collegial/membership organisation. Examples include:

  • The New Zealand College of Clinical Psychologists
  • The New Zealand Psychological Society
  • Pasifikology
  • He Paiaka Totara: Māori Psychology

Such organisations facilitate the development and maintenance of strong links to the profession, 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.