Application Process

Please Note: The SWRB is currently experiencing a high volume of applications for processing.  This is affecting processing times.  The Registration Team is working hard to process applications as efficiently as we can, however, you can expect a 12-14 week processing time.

Applying for registration as a social worker in New Zealand (NZ) is for the purpose of living and working in NZ (or with the intent to do so within two years of applying).  This is an online application process for NZ and overseas based applicants. If you hold an overseas social work qualification, you must complete a Non-Binding assessment before you complete the online application process (unless it is an Australian social work qualification accredited by the AASW) Click here to find out more. Check your eligibility first to see if you can apply to become a registered social worker.


To become registered you will also need to hold a valid Competence Certificate.  There are different types of competence assessments which are based on the qualification you hold and the number of supervised social work hours you have completed in NZ post qualification.  The online application will ask a number of questions that will determine which competence assessment, if any, you will be required to complete. If you have indicated that you are intending to apply through the SWRB, please click on the link to take you to the competence assessment page. Your competence assessment application will be invoiced separately to your application for registration.

If you have not completed a recognised New Zealand qualification (or overseas equivalent), you may have enough practical experience to compensate for this as per the SWRB Section 13 Policy ‘Criteria for Section 13’. The policy can be viewed and downloaded from the Policy page of our website.

To find out more about Section 13 applications view the Section 13 applications page.  If you want to discuss your application, contact us on 0508 797 269.

As part of your application you will need to include various documents.  These will differ depending on your application.  Once you have completed the online application for registration, you will be emailed a list of documents to submit to us.  The required documents may include some or all of the following:

Confidential Professional Reference

Confidential Character Reference

As part of the application process you are required to submit a Professional Reference (other references may be requested at the discretion of the SWRB). For the referee criteria please click here for the Fit and Proper Person Policy, page 10 

Fit and Proper Policy


NZ Police Request and Consent vetting form

Statutory Declaration

Verification for Social Work Regulators

Most of your documents will need to be certified. All documents that are not in English must also be officially translated unless otherwise specified. Getting the information and documents right the first time will save you time when we process your application.

Once registered, you must also apply and pay for an Annual Practising Certificate (APC). Our practising year runs from 1 Jul – 30 June each year.

The SWRB has a number of policy statements relating to registration that you can view on our Policy page.