Rēhitatanga ā-ture
Mandatory registration

New Zealand now requires all social workers to be registered by the SWRB. The shift to mandatory registration was a move the social work profession had worked towards over a number of years, and follows changes to the Social Workers Registration Act.

Mandatory registration was implemented from 27 February, 2021.

Social workers not only need to be registered but also hold a valid Practising Certificate, renewed each year, if they are practising.

Being registered is important

It’s the SWRB’s role to ensure the safety of the public and enhance professionalism – being registered is part of having the system in place to make that happen.  There are many benefits to social workers being registered, including how it will:

  • protect the public by requiring all social workers to be competent, fit to practise, and accountable for the way they practise
  • enhance the professionalism of social work
  • help to increase trust and transparency in the profession
  • put social work on an equal footing with other professions such as teaching, law, and health, which all have mandatory registration.

Who must be registered

You need to be registered if you:

  • call yourself a social worker,
  • are known as a social worker, or
  • are held out to be a social worker

Who we would advise to register

If you have a social work qualification1 and work in social services, we would advise that best practice is that you would become registered.  You are in all likelihood using your social work skills and knowledge in the role, and you can be practising social work even if it is not in your job title (see below for what is social work practice). Being registered supports social workers to enhance professional accountability to each other and the profession as a whole.

For employers, by having registered social workers, it shows your organisation supports and stands behind a fully professional workforce which adheres to the SWRB’s Code of Conduct.  By supporting a registered social worker, regardless of whether the position is called social work, you know your staff is required to meet the standards set by the profession. That helps to build trust and shows the public you take your obligations to public safety seriously. 

What is social work practice?

Practising social work can include any one or more of the following:

  • working directly with clients, including whānau, hapū and community
  • being involved with casework decisions at any level
  • managing and/or supervising other social workers
  • if you apply your social work values, skills, ethics, and knowledge in your role
  • teaching social work practice or theory
  • developing policy that impacts upon social work practice

Find out about the Scope of Practice.

Extensive practical social work experience

If you have extensive social work experience in New Zealand, but not a recognised social work qualification, you may be eligible to apply to become registered under the SWRB’s Experience pathway: S13.  We want you to know that your skills, knowledge, networks, and contribution are valued and will be taken into account when you apply. You are welcome to apply in Te Reo Māori.

Mandatory reporting requirements

Public safety is paramount. Under the legislation, social workers and employers are required to report to the SWRB if you have any concerns about any social workers in regards to serious misconduct, health issues, and competence.

Find out more on our mandatory reporting page.

Social Workers Registration Act

You can read the Social Workers Registration Act, including its amendments.

Frequently asked questions

If you have any questions, check frequently asked questions.