Working as a Physiotherapist in New Zealand

If you are an overseas trained physiotherapist seeking to work in New Zealand, you need to be licensed by the physiotherapy board of New Zealand. This is quite a lengthy process so you need to be prepared for the long haul. The board expects you meet the requirements in 3 major areas:

1. Your qualification and physiotherapy practice experience should meet current Board criteria:

Your school's curriculum by which you obtained your physiotherapy degree should be a minimum of 4years and be sufficiently similar in theory and practice to the physiotherapy curricula undertaken by undergraduates in New Zealand.

The criteria are shown in this table below:

If your undergraduate physiotherapy curriculum is not sufficiently similar to the New Zealand (NZ) physiotherapy curricula, the chances of becoming
registered in NZ are unlikely unless: 

A. Your work history includes being registered and working in a country that does have a sufficiently similar physiotherapy programme and has a similar healthcare system to NZ.
B. You have undertaken a postgraduate physiotherapy qualification that includes supervised clinical practice experience, in a country
that has a sufficiently similar physiotherapy programme and a similar healthcare system to NZ. 

Currently, the countries identified as having the most similar physiotherapy
programmes to NZ include the Australia, Canada, Ireland, South Africa, and the United Kingdom. 

The New Zealand board assesses applications individually, so even if you do meet the criteria described in A or B, registration is not guaranteed.

2. You should meet current Board English language requirements:

If English is your first language (defined as the language a person learns first) and your programme of physiotherapy study was undertaken and examined in English, you meet the Board’s English language criteria. If not you should do IELTS or OET (Occupational English Test)

3. You should meet the Board criteria for recency of practice:

To meet the Board's recency of practice criteria, you must be able to answer 'Yes' to at least one of the questions below.

I. Did you graduate from your primary physiotherapy qualification within the three years prior to the date of application for registration?

II. Have you worked as a practising physiotherapist, whether full-time or part-time, for any period of time during the three years immediately prior to the date of application for registration?

III. Are you able to provide evidence of successful completion of a formal course of university level physiotherapy study undertaken during the three years immediately prior to submitting your application for registration.  This physiotherapy course of study is in addition to your primary physiotherapy qualification and must include clinical practice experience, i.e. a Graduate Diploma, a Postgraduate Diploma or a Masters with a clinical component.

Application Process
There are 9 components of the application and the forms are available for download on their website

Section 1: Forms and Templates
-Application Form
-Curriculum Vitae
-Validation of Work History forms (to be sent directly to the Physiotherapy Board by your referees), or Confirmation of Fitness to Practise form (to be sent directly to the Physiotherapy Board by your referee)
-The Treaty of Waitangi: Referenced Report
- Cultural Competence Reflective Statement
- Physiotherapy practice thresholds key competency templates

Section 2: Mandatory Documents
- A correctly certified degree certificate(s)/university issued qualification
- Complete official academic transcript/diploma supplement(s)/personal record of achievement
- Evidence of personal completion of around 1,000 hours supervised physiotherapy practice in a variety of settings and areas covered, issued by your university
- Complete official university issued academic curriculum/curricula/module/paper descriptors for all modules/papers undertaken as listed on your academic transcript/diploma supplement(s)
- A correctly certified copy of the personal details page of your passport (and any observations)
- A current, original Criminal Conviction Record (or equivalent)
- Current, original evidence of good standing
- Where applicable - English proficiency test results
- Where applicable – Name change documentation

Application fee is a non refundable NZ 1, 532.50

Duration: After the board had received your complete application with supporting documents, the process takes 2-3months.

For more information contact



  1. I am a South African physiotherapist with almost ten years of working experience in the USA.I have done the TOEFL test at least three times for work visa purposes with the most recent tests taken in 2013 and 2017 respectively. Would I qualify to be exempted from the English language Test

    1. English language tests usually have a validity of 3-5 years...not sure about TOEFL but PTE Academic is 3years. You however have worked in the US for 10 years that should be enough to get you an exemption, though you may have to write them directly. So you want to move from the US to New Zealand?


Nice to hear from you!