Summary of Terms

Good character

To grant you a New Zealand visa we need to be assured that you and any family included in your application are of good character. We make this requirement to protect the well being and security of New Zealanders.


Under sections 15 and 16 of the Immigration Act we will not grant you a visa if:


  • you have been convicted and sentenced to imprisonment for 5 years or more (this applies even if any of your offences have later been taken off the record)
  • in the past 10 years you were convicted and sentenced to imprisonment for 12 months or more
  • you are subject to a period of prohibition on entry to New Zealand under section 179 or 180 of the Immigration Act 2009
  • you have been deported or removed from New Zealand under any enactment (whether before or after the commencement of the Immigration Act 2009)
  • you are excluded from New Zealand under any enactment
  • you have, at any time, been removed, excluded, or deported from another country
  • you have been involved in terrorist activities, or belonged to or supported any organisation involved in terrorist activities
  • it is believed you are likely to commit – or to assist others to commit – criminal or drug offences, or an act of terrorism, in New Zealand
  • it is believed you are likely – due to any international circumstances – to be a danger to New Zealand’s security or public order
  • it is believed you are associated with an organisation or group that has criminal objectives or is engaged in criminal activities and for that – or any other reason – you’re considered to be a threat to the public interest or public order of New Zealand.

As a general rule, we carry out character checks on everyone 17 years or over included in residence applications or applying for temporary entry for 24 months or longer. We may also undertake a character check on anyone else that we consider may not meet our character requirements.


Providing evidence of good character
If you will be in New Zealand for a total of 24 months or longer you'll have to provide police certificates as evidence of your good character.  See who is required to provide a police certificate for more information.


We need certificates from:


  • your country of citizenship (unless you can prove you never lived there)

if you are applying for residence:

  • any country you have been in for 12 months or more in the last 10 years, whether in one or more visits. If you are already in New Zealand, for example, under our Work to Residence category, this includes obtaining a police certificate from the New Zealand police,

if you are applying for a temporary entry visa:

  • any country you’ve lived in for 5 or more years since turning 17.


See how to obtain a Police Certificate for information on what to do.


If for some reason you cannot get a Police Certicate, contact the Immigration New Zealand office at which you will be lodging your application.

Related Links

Want to see the wording of the immigration instructions?  Go directly to the Operational Manual.