Tiwhikete Mahi
Practising Certificate

As a registered social worker, you are required to:

The Practising Certificate, which is issued by the SWRB, confirms that you are legally able to practise social work in New Zealand that year.

Your certificate expires on 30 June each year and it’s your responsibility to renew it, and ensure it’s current and in place before you practise. In applying or renewing your Practising Certificate, you are asked to make an online declaration that you are competent and fit to practise.

Apply or renew

You can apply or renew your Practising Certificate by logging into MySWRB. If you currently have a Practising Certificate for this year, you will only see the Practising Certificate button (to renew) from June 2 when the round opens.

Do I need a Practising Certificate?

You must have a Practising Certificate if you are practising social work, including:

  • 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

When you apply for or renew your Practising Certificate, you are asked to make an online declaration that you are competent, and fit to practise. To apply or to renew, log into MySWRB and click apply/renew Practising Certificate.


Frequently Asked Questions

How do I renew my registration?

You only need to register once.  It is your Practising Certificate that needs to be renewed each year that you are practising. 

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 you ask to be taken off or the SWRB Board takes action to de-register you.

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. 

What do I get for my Practising Certificate?

The Practising Certificate is made up of two parts – the Practising Certificate fee and the Disciplinary Levy. The Practising Certificate fee remains $368 however the Disciplinary Levy is increasing by $50 to the new amount of $100. The overall total is going up from $418 to $468.

  • We maintain a register of social workers which shows those who are on the register are the only ones who are allowed to call themselves social workers.  It also shows those social workers who have conditions and/or are suspended from practising.  Anyone (public, employers, social workers) can look at the register.
  • A regulated profession with its principles, competence standards, Code of Conduct and Code of Ethics positions social workers as professionals; you can stand alongside other regulated professions such as teachers, nurses and doctors. It’s the SWRB, with the sector which develops and then adheres to those standards.
  • Being regulated includes developing and setting policies like the Code of Conduct, Scope of Practice, supervision and Continuing Professional Development, and it is also about taking action when social workers fall well short of professional standards.
  • This is about enhancing the professionalism of the workforce with educating, supporting and providing the advice needed to meet the required standards in a mandatory environment. It’s about investing in today and the future. The SWRB will continue to develop policies with the sector to meet what is needed.

Why are you replacing the Practising Certificate cards?

  • We have shifted to a digital format for the Practising Certificate which you will be able to instantly access, download, and print (if you want a hard copy to carry on you or post in your office). You can do this via MySWRB. (after 02 June 2021).
  • We know each year there have been delays in people receiving their Practising Certificates via the mail, which have caused a number of problems. This was made worse in 2020 when the lockdowns hit in response to Covid-19. We know that created difficulties because employers wanted to see valid Practising Certificate so we are shifting to a digital format.
  • You still have access to a hard copy of your Practising Certificate, in either A4 or wallet size, by downloading and printing it, but we are ditching the plastic.
  • You will be able to show employers and/or a member of the public you have a valid Practising Certificate as it appears on the SWRB’s Public Register.

When does this start?

  • It’s effective immediately. With the introduction of a new database, we took the opportunity to see how we could improve the outdated process.

What prompted the move?

  • We were keen to improve our previous paper-based system and make it easier for social workers to be able to access and download their Practising Certificates as quickly as possible. 

I use my PC as an identity card – how will that work if all I have is a piece of paper?

  • The Practising Certificate card has never been an ID card and has never been intended to be used as such.
  • Your employer should have protocols in place to be able to verify your identity.

Why weren’t social workers told about this?

  • We flagged there may be changes in the 2020 August and September Onboard newsletters, which were sent to all registered social workers (9,000+) and social work employers (800+).
  • Social workers were also asked in a survey sent out by the SWRB via the 2020 September newsletter.
  • In the survey, we asked whether it would be useful to have the Practising Certificate online to show clients you are registered and able to practise, and more than 70 per cent of those surveyed agreed this was a good move. Close to 80 percent said it would be useful to be able to show their employer they hold a current Practising Certificate, and nearly 90 percent of social workers said they have a mobile device to be able to access the information online.

My employer doesn’t know about this. Why haven’t they been told?

  • This was flagged in the 2020 August and September Onboard newsletters which is sent to more than 800 social work employers.

How will I show that I have a valid Practising Certificate?

I have just lost my card. Do I need to, or can I order a replacement card?

  • No, cards are no longer being printed. Instead, you can access a hard copy by printing your Practising Certificate from MySWRB (top RH corner of SWRB website) by logging on, clicking on Apply for Practising Certificate and follow the prompts.

If I have conditions added or removed, how will I know?

  • Conditions will appear on the public register when they are added and disappear when they are met. An employer should look at the public register first.

When applying for jobs, I want to take my card with me so what do I do?

  • We recommend downloading and printing a copy of your Practising Certificate to attach when applying. You can also direct your future employer to the Public Register where they can check your details.

How do I renew my Practising Certificate and get a printed copy?

  • With our new database, you can click on the Practising Certificate button on the home page of the SWRB website (swrb.govt.nz) or log onto MySWRB (top RH corner of home page), click apply for a Practising Certificate (which will show once the practising certificate round opens). Once your application is approved online, you will be able to immediately download your certificate to print out or save it on your phone.
  • Your Practising Certificate will also instantly appear on the SWRB Public Register so you, your employer, and the public can verify you hold a valid certificate to practise.

Is any other regulator doing something similar?

  • Yes, a number of other regulators, including the Nursing and Teaching Councils, have moved to digital Practising Certificates that are available on devices such as mobile phones and tablets, and are quick and easy to access online. 

What happens if I apply part-way through the year?

  • We are very aware of this as an issue for social workers and for the following year (2022/23) we are looking at whether we can put in place a pro rata annual Practising Certificate fee and Disciplinary Levy for people from the date they register, rather than paying for coverage for the entire year.
  • We are mindful of the challenges social workers face, and we work hard to keep costs down and our fees and Disciplinary Levy as low as possible. 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.
  • 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 is currently charged no matter what part of the year you apply. This is a common approach taken by other regulators but we are looking at whether we can change this.

Change of address

Registered social workers are legally required to inform the SWRB of any changes to their residential, mailing or work place addresses, within one month of these occurring.

You can update your details any time by logging into MySWRB.

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. This notification needs to be done within a month of the change.

You need to provide a copy of the document confirming the change, eg marriage certificate or name change certificate from the Department of Internal Affairs.

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

Scan and send copies of your name change documents and/or the statutory declaration to the SWRB at applications@swrb.govt.nz.

What do Practising Certificate fees pay for?

The Practising Certificate is an annual fee that is a significant contributor to running the costs of the SWRB.

As the regulatory authority we work to ensure that registered social workers are competent and fit to practise. Our primary purpose is to protect the safety of the public by making sure:

  • social workers who come on the register have all the necessary qualifications and are fit to practise social work
  • Investigating 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 practise is in question

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 and consultation, policy development, and holding Board meetings.

We are mindful of the costs faced by many in the sector and work hard to keep our costs down as much as we can.

Find out how the fees are set