For social workers

The Social Workers Registration Board (SWRB) is a public safety Crown regulator in New Zealand that registers social workers to provide assurances to the public that those social workers:

  • meet professional standards of competent practice
  • are accountable for the way in which they practise, and
  • undertake ongoing professional development

The following provides information on:

New registrations

Registration requirements

You can apply to become a registered social worker if you meet and maintain professional standards of experience, practice and expertise.

To apply for registration you must:

  • have completed a recognised New Zealand qualification (recognised New Zealand qualifications are listed here) OR
  • have overseas qualifications equivalent to a NZ qualification which you can find out more about here OR
  • have enough practical experience if you don’t have a NZ recognised qualification, as per the SWRB register through experience criteria (Section 13 registration)


  • be competent to practise social work, including practising social work with Māori and with different ethnic and cultural groups in New Zealand
  • have enough practical experience in New Zealand
  • be ‘fit and proper’ to practise social work in New Zealand (includes police checks, giving information about any convictions/court orders, your mental/physical condition etc).

Documents you will need

Before you apply to register, gather copies of the following documents:

  • CV (covering past 10 years)
  • Professional reference

You also need certified copies of the following documents:

  • Your birth certificate
  • Your passport or a NZ driving licence
  • Photo (passport-sized)
  • Qualification certificate and official academic transcript.

You may also be asked to provide some, or all, of the following documents:

Confidential Professional Reference

Confidential Character Reference

Confirmation of Hours

Verification for Social Work Regulators

Request and consent vetting form 2019

Statutory Declaration

Apply to register

Apply to register now

Maintaining registration

Practising Certificates

As a registered social worker, you are required to:

Find out what you need to be able to apply for a Practising Certificate here.

Provisional registration

If you are provisionally registered and want to move to full registration, you will need to complete 2,000 hours of supervised social work practice in New Zealand.

Below is the confirmation of hours form to be completed by your manager/supervisor.

Confirmation of Hours

If you are provisionally registered with an overseas competence, please go to the Overseas Qualifications page to find out what you need to do to become fully registered.

Residential, mailing or work address change

Registered social workers are legally required to inform the SWRB of residential, mailing or work place address changes.

You can update your details any time by logging into your profile at Practising Certificate online account or alternatively email us at

Name change

As a registered social worker, you are legally required to inform the SWRB if you change your name or you are practising under a different name than we have you registered under.

You need to provide a certified copy of the document confirming your name change, ie the marriage certificate or deed poll name change.

If you haven’t legally changed your name but you are practising under a different name, please fill out the following statutory declaration:

Statutory Declaration

Please mail the certified copies or the statutory declaration to the SWRB at PO Box 3452, Wellington.


Competence measures

We will be changing the way we measure competence over the next couple of years to line up with best practice.

The competence of social workers is vitally important to the SWRB, and we will be introducing a range of measures.

Under amendments to the Social Workers Registration Act in 2019, all social workers will need to be registered by 28 February 2021, and have a valid Practising Certificate, renewed each year.

The changes also have an impact on competence, and include the following:

  • There is no longer a competence assessment required for New Zealand-qualified social workers, at the time you apply for registration*
  • Educational institutions will be required to sign off on the competence of each graduate
  • There is no longer any need to do a competence re-certification every five years
  • Continuing Professional Development (CPD) logs will be audited annually.

*Social workers who hold overseas qualifications are still required to complete a competence assessment when first registering.

When the new competence measures are developed, we will update this information.

Continuing Professional Development

Once registered, social workers are required to maintain a continuous, up-to-date and accurate record of their Continuing Professional Development (CPD) activities in a CPD log.

While there is no longer a need to do a competence re-certification every five years, the SWRB will be carrying out an annual audit of CPD logs. Find out more about CPD here.

How will we know if social workers are competent?

There are a number of mechanisms in place to ensure social workers are competent, from when they first begin work to the way they practice each year:

1.       Educational institutions will be required to sign off on the competence of each graduate.

2.       Social workers hold themselves responsible and accountable for the way in which they practice.  Each year, when registered social workers renew their Practising Certificate, they sign a declaration that they are:

  • competent,
  • fit to practise, and
  • accountable for the way in which they practice.

They are also expected to uphold the SWRB Code of Conduct which requires social workers to:

  • act with integrity and honesty
  • respect the status of Mäori as tangata whenua
  • respect the cultural needs and values of the client
  • be competent and responsible for their professional development
  • protect the rights and promote the interests of clients
  • strive to establish and maintain the trust and confidence of clients
  • respect the client’s privacy and confidentiality
  • work openly and respectfully with colleagues
  • maintain public trust and confidence in the social work profession
  • keep accurate records and use technology effectively and safely

Social workers receive regular supervision and their CPD plan and log are signed off by their supervisor.

3.       The employer is responsible for the delivery of social work services, and for the way in which social workers go about their practise when working with people, families, whanau, aiga, groups and communities.

4.       The SWRB requires social workers to plan and be responsible for their own Continuing Professional Development, which is audited.

There is a professional standards process which the SWRB oversees so if there is a concern or a complaint raised about the competency of a social worker, it is assessed, investigated if needed, and action is taken where necessary.

Return to practice

How to return to practice

The SWRB is currently finalising a policy for social workers returning to practice.

Until that’s in place, registered social workers who wish to return to practice following a break in practice of less than three years* can apply for a Practising Certificate.

Registered social workers who have not held a Practising Certificate for three years or more should contact the SWRB at

You may be required to complete a Continuing Professional Development (CPD) log, practice study, and a self-reflection, and a fee will apply.

*The Social Workers Registration Act 2003[SA2]  requires an application for a Practising Certificate to be referred to the SWRB Board[SA3]  if the SWRB Registrar believes or suspects the applicant has not held a Practising Certificate in the previous three years.

Been living overseas?
Have you been living outside of New Zealand for the past 12 months or more? If yes, then you will need to submit a police certificate from the countries you have been living in for 12 months or more.