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Fees and funding

The SWRB works hard to keep costs down. 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. 

2021/2022 Fees

(includes GST)

Registration application fee$345
Practising certificate application fee$368
Practising certificate (new graduate) application fee$268
Disciplinary Levy$100
Overseas qualification assessment fee$300
Experience pathway section 13: Stage 1 assessment application fee$276
Experience pathway section 13: Stage 2 assessment application fee$1,400
Competence assessment fee$255.55
Competence assessment (face to face) fee$3,102.70
Certificate copies application fee (copies of certificates or entries, or for supplying documents for overseas registration purposes (Certificate of Good Standing)$46
Education programme recognition and re-recognition feeUp to $29,900
Education programme accreditation mid-cycle feeUp to $10,350
The funding review

The SWRB undertook a funding review in 2021 to make sure the fees and levy 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. The disciplinary levy reflects the costs of managing the complaints and disciplinary processes.

The SWRB deals with increasing numbers of notifications and complaints, all of which need assessing, with some investigated and taken further to a Professional Conduct Committee or to the Tribunal. You can find out about Tribunal cases here and about our complaints process here. This is an area which has grown substantially in the last couple of years, and is likely to continue to do so in a mandatory environment.

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.

SWRB fees are comparable to other regulators of a similar size comes in New Zealand.

Frequently asked questions

Why does it cost what it does?

We work hard to keep our costs down and we’re mindful of the pressures the sector faces. The SWRB fees and levy are comparable to other similar-size 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,
  • not be used to cross-subsidise other services or functions, and
  • be based on the principles of authority, efficiency, and accountability.

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. 

Disciplinary Levy FAQs

Why is the Disciplinary Levy being raised?

  • The Disciplinary Levy pays for the costs of running the complaints process.  The  mandatory registration of all social workers has led to increased demands on the SWRB and more scrutiny of this vital workforce. Complaints doubled in one year and we have more work to do to enhance professionalism while keeping public safety at the forefront of all we do.
    • There were 42 complaints and notifications in 2018/19 but 84 in 2019/20, all of which need assessing and investigating. Of those, 25 were sent to a Professional Conduct Committee (external body) with all the costs that contains. Of the PCC cases, three were referred to the Disciplinary Tribunal in 2019/2020 (another external body) and two the year before. The Tribunal is quasi-judicial & has similar processes to a court. This year, there are 12 cases open at the Tribunal, with all their associated costs.
  • We face many more notifications than other similar-size regulators (not surprising when the profession is newly into a mandatory environment) and our costs are much higher.

Why should I pay for the few social workers who don’t behave professionally?

  • The increase in cases shows the regulatory system is working as those social workers not practising in a professional way are held to account by their colleagues, their employers, the public, and the SWRB which assesses the complaints and notifications, and investigates.
  • There are costs but a regulated profession is one where your reputation as a professional is protected, as standards are kept high. It reassures the public they are dealing with professionals who adhere to a Code of Conduct, undertake CPD, and follow a Code of Ethics.
  • The Board has authority to charge a levy under S109 of the Act.

Are you aware of the impact an increase in the levy will have for social workers?

  • We are very aware of the limits social workers operate under and encourage employers to support their staff by paying for their Practising Certificate and Disciplinary Levy. A significant number of employers already do and we hope that number grows now we are in a mandatory environment.
  • We work hard to keep costs down and will continue to do so.

How is the SWRB helping me or my employer with this increase?

  • From 02 June 2021, the SWRB is offering the option to pay in instalments, and employers can now make a single payment for their social workers’ fees by contacting us at   

Why are we only now hearing about this increase?

  • The funding review that provides the SWRB Board with advice could only be completed at the end of March this year, once mandatory registration was implemented (implemented 27th Feb, 2021). It was only possible to set  the levy once we had a baseline of numbers to work with.
  • We’ve informed the sector as soon as we could and acknowledge we couldn’t provide them with a longer timeframe as a result of shifting into a mandatory environment and the initial uncertainty.

The SWRB told us once mandatory was in place, fees would go down. Why have they gone up?

The comments you refer to look to have come from SWRB’s 2015 review of the Act. In that review, it stated, ‘mandatory registration would likely lead to a reduction in costs as a result of economy of scale.’

Since 2015, a lot has changed:

  • At the time, the SWRB advice was based on limited information
    • the SWRB did not know until the end of February 2021 how many registered social workers there would be.
  • There are few economies of scale
    • While we have 10,300 plus registered social workers, only 7,860+ are practising so there are few economies of scale. (The Teaching Council has 100,000 plus on their register so their fees can be lower however even they are increasing those to meet their obligations as a regulator.)

And, the SWRB also has extra responsibilities:

  • Implementing mandatory registration
    The 2019 amendments to the Act gave SWRB the responsibility to implement mandatory registration, requiring the SWRB to update infrastructure, processes and policies:
    • While the new database and the Information Campaign, including updating the website, were funded by the Government and not by social workers, we had to boost our Registration Team numbers to answer the thousands of phone calls, emails and applications we received, and develop new processes and policies with an approaching deadline.
  • Implementing mandatory reporting
    The changes to the Act also saw the SWRB tasked with implementing mandatory reporting around conduct, competence and health, and continuing its oversight of the complaints process. Mandatory reporting has seen:
    • The volume of complaints and notifications has increased from 84 in 2019/20 to over 140 already this year and this number may increase before the end of June (our financial year).
    • The number of Tribunal hearings has increased  in recent years; from one (2018/19) to three cases opened (2019/20) to 12 cases opened this year (2020/21).
Ngā utu me te tuku pūtea <br /> Fees and funding Social Workers Registration Board
  • The SWRB is required to assess all complaints and notifications, and that is a lot of work. The team has to:
    • consider information from those involved
    • triage and assess
    • prepare and present the information to the SWRB Board, and if requested
    • seek further information
    • the SWRB Board may then refer the matter to a:
  • A Professional Conduct Committee (external to the SWRB)
    • A PCC is comprised of two registered social workers and a lay person, and their investigation is thorough and can take some time. For the most serious cases, it can lay a charge with the:
  • The Social Workers Complaints and Disciplinary Tribunal (external to the SWRB)
    • The Tribunal is quasi-judicial and has a similar process to a court. Each hearing consisting of five people, including three social workers, a layperson, and the chair or deputy chair (experienced barristers) who have to prepare, preside over the hearing, and finally issue a written decision.

The disciplinary levy funds the SWRB’s internal complaints and notifications work, the PCCs and the Tribunal hearings. This means as complaints and notifications increase, the costs rise which impacts on the disciplinary levy.

General Practising Certificate FAQs

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, and this provides:

  • The SWRB maintains 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.