Fees and funding

The SWRB recently undertook a review of the fees to make sure they were fair.

We work hard to keep costs down and the fee for a Practising Certificate has not increased since 2010, unlike rising charges in other professions. The Registration fee has also not increased.

We are restoring a disciplinary levy ($50) to reflect the costs of managing the complaints and disciplinary process.

It may be helpful to know we use the funds to cover, for example, the costs of:

  • reviewing social workers’ registration applications
  • maintaining and re-developing the competence framework
  • providing regulatory and practice advice
  • reviewing social work degree programmes
  • managing a complaints and disciplinary process
  • running the website
  • developing policy including the Scope of Practice,
  • undertaking consultation and submissions and
  • holding Board meetings.

You can find out more about the disciplinary levy and the funding review, below.

2019/2020 Fees

(includes GST)

Apply to register with a NZ qualification$ 345
Apply to register with an overseas qualification$ 345
Practising Certificate application (initial and annual)$ 368
New Graduate first Practising Certificate application$ 268
Disciplinary levy (initial and annual)$ 50
Assessment of overseas qualification (non-binding) (section 7)$ 300
Initial assessment part 1 Experience Pathway (section 13)$ 276
Assessment full Experience Pathway (section 13)$ 1,400
Re-processing of lapsed registration application$ 345
Competence assessment (overseas) application$ 255.55
Competence assessment in person (face to face)$ 3,102.70
Copies of certificates or entries$ 46
Replacement Practising Certificate identification card$ 20
Recognition and Re-recognition of a New Zealand social work education programme applicationUp to $29,900
Mid-cycle review of a SWRB recognised New Zealand social work education programmeUp to $10,350
The funding review

The SWRB undertook a funding review to make sure the fees and levies were fair, and represented the costs of doing the work.

As part of the review we went through a process to work out what things cost, ie the time it takes to process applications, manage disciplinary processes, answer enquiries, and all the things that go into running the organisation.

We have had to restore a disciplinary levy to reflect the costs of managing complaints and disciplinary processes.

The SWRB deals with a number of cases every year of either concerns or complaints. This is an area which has grown substantially in the last two years, and with the revised legislation is likely to continue to do so.

Crown entity

We’re a Crown entity so we’re part of government and follow the policy and guidelines of the Office of the Auditor General and Treasury for setting charges in the public sector.

They require fees and levies to be reviewed regularly.

Both broadly instruct that fees and levies should be no more than the amount necessary to recover costs, should not be used to cross-subsidise other services or functions, and be based on the principles of authority, efficiency, and accountability.

The SWRB funding review was done by an external consultant who has a particular expertise from across different regulators. It will allow us to plan for future growth, build the services we need over time, and make us sustainable in the future.

The SWRB comes in at the lower end of fees charged by regulators in New Zealand.

What my fees will be

Registered social worker

Fee/levy2018-19 2019-20
Practising Certificate$ 368 $ 368
Disciplinary levy  $  50
Recertification (every 5 years)$153.32not charged
Totals$ 521.32  $ 418

New applicant – NZ qualified

Fee/levy2018-192019-20
Registration    $ 345    $ 345
Practising Certificate    $ 368    $ 368*
Disciplinary levy    $   50
Competence assessment    $ 255.55   not charged
Totals    $ 968.55    $ 763

*For newly-qualified graduates who apply within 12 months, it is $268.

New applicant – Overseas qualified

Fee/levy   2018-19 2019-20
Registration    $ 345   $ 345
Practising Certificate    $ 368   $ 368
Disciplinary levy   $   50
Non-binding assessment*    $ 300   $ 300
Competence assessment    $ 255.55   $ 255.55
Totals   $1,268.55  $1,318.55

*Non-binding assessment fee does not apply if you have an Australian social work qualification, accredited by the Australian Association of Social Workers (AASW).

New applicant – experience qualified

Fee/levy2018-192019-20
Registration   $ 345  $ 345
Competence assessment   $ 255.55  not charged
Practising certificate   $ 368  $ 368
Disciplinary levy  $   50
Non-binding assessment initial   $ 276  $ 276
Non-binding assessment full  $ 1,400  $ 1,400
Totals $ 2,644.55  $ 2,439

Return to practice*

Fee/levy2018-19 2019-20
Practising Certificate$ 368
Disciplinary levy $ 50
Totals$ 418

*If you are returning to practice after a break of more than 3 years, please contact SWRB at practisingcertificate@swrb.govt.nz to find out what your next steps will be.

Frequently asked questions

Why does it cost what it does?

We work hard to keep our costs down and we’re mindful of the cost pressures the sector faces. The SWRB comes in at the lower end of the fees charged by regulators in New Zealand.

As a Crown entity, we’re part of government and follow the policy and guidelines of the Office of the Auditor General and Treasury for setting charges.  Fees and levies need to be reviewed regularly, and they should:

  • be no more than the amount necessary to recover costs,
  • they should not be used to cross-subsidise other services or functions, and
  • be based on the principles of authority, efficiency, and accountability.

How is the money used?

The fees contribute towards the costs to run the SWRB as a safety regulator throughout the year.

It may be helpful to know the SWRB uses the registration and practising certificate fees to cover the costs of reviewing application forms and templates, responding to enquiries, running the website, submissions, undertaking consultation, developing policy, and holding Board meetings.

As a safety regulator, we work to ensure that registered social workers are competent and fit to practise. This means we:

  • ensure social workers who come on the register have all the necessary qualifications and are fit to practise social work
  • investigate the practice of social workers where there have been complaints about their competence, where they have been    convicted of criminal offences, and where those whose fitness to practice is in question.

Why do I have to pay a disciplinary levy?

We have had to restore a disciplinary levy to reflect the costs of managing complaints and disciplinary processes.

The SWRB deals with a number of cases every year of either concerns or complaints. This is an area which has grown substantially in the last two years, and with the revised legislation is likely to continue to do so.

In 2018, over 100 notifications of concern were lodged with the SWRB. There were more than 10 cases before Professional Conduct Committees, all of which require management and resourcing.

The most serious cases are referred to the Social Workers Complaints and Disciplinary Tribunal. Both the PCCs and the Tribunal have a mix of social workers and lay people, and uphold an important principle of the profession holding itself to account for competence and safe practice.

Why don’t you pro rata the Practising Certificate costs?

The fee for a social worker’s initial Practising Certificate contributes towards the costs to run the SWRB as a safety regulator all year, and has to be charged no matter what part of the year you apply. 

We appreciate that paying close to the end of the practising year and again in July is difficult for social workers and organisations, especially those in the community and voluntary sector.

After the initial Practising Certificate costs, it becomes an annual fee which is charged in July, as per the financial year.

This is a common approach taken by other similar regulators.

Why don’t you offer a reduced fee for those working part-time?

We don’t offer a reduced fee for those working part-time or volunteering because the Practising Certificate fees contribute towards the costs to run the SWRB as a safety regulator all year round. The costs of running the system remain the same, no  matter how many hours a social worker works.

There are also some advantages to a straight ‘one-fee level’ approach as the more variations you get, the higher the cost of servicing them, and the higher the fees social workers would need to be charged. This is similar to why we don’t accept part-payments.

Why do I need to be registered and hold a Practising Certificate?

Becoming registered means you have met all the criteria to become a social worker, ie you have been assessed as being competent, fit to practise, and will be held accountable for the way you will practise. Once registered, you will remain on the register unless the SWRB Board takes action to de-register you or you ask to be taken off.

The Practising Certificate is the document that shows you are legally able to practise as a social worker in New Zealand for that year.  Each year, when you renew your Practising Certificate online, you are declaring that you are still competent, fit to practise, and you have informed the SWRB of any serious health issues or convictions.  You are also declaring that you are being held accountable for the way you practise, ie you have undertaken Continuing Professional Development, including supervision.  The Practising Certificate is therefore a demonstration of your commitment to being a professional. 

How do you work out how much to charge?

In 2019 we undertook a review of the funding model to make sure the fees were fair and represented the costs of doing the work.

The review was the process we went through to work out what things cost, ie the time it takes to process a registration application, the cost of running the board, the costs of the website – all the things that go into running the organisation.

We also restored the disciplinary levy.  We brought the disciplinary levy back because we need to be clear what costs what.