How to join

Overseas applicants


Applicants will need to meet all the following basic criteria for consideration:

  1. Be a current serving member of the UK, Australian, USA or Canadian Armed Forces
  2. Have been a citizen of either the UK, Australia, USA, or Canada for a minimum period of 10 years, or have been living in NZ for a minimum period of 5 years
  3. Be eligible for release from current service within 18 months of applying, and
  4. Meet current vacancy and rank criteria at the time of application.

If successful through the recruitment process, you will need to gain an NZ Residence class visa, giving you the right to live and work in NZ.

We cannot influence NZ Immigration in any way, however if successful in the recruitment process, your Offer of Service will facilitate your application for a NZ Residence class visa.

Please visit the New Zealand Immigration website for further information.

The overseas selection process

We have a 10-step overseas selection and recruitment process. Please be aware that we may decline to progress your application at any stage of this process.

10-step process

The overseas selection process

The following is an outline of our overseas selection and recruitment process. Please be aware that we may decline to progress your application at any stage of this process.

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Initial screening

The first stage is the assessment of your potential suitability for employment by the NZDF. You will complete an online form requesting detailed information on your military career, skills, experience and qualifications. This information will then be screened by the lateral recruitment team to determine whether you meet the requirements for our current overseas vacancies.
If successful, you will be allocated a civilian Candidate Coordinator who will be your main point of contact and guide you throughout the process. The Candidate Coordinators work alongside our military recruiting staff.

Career manager’s assessment

Your Candidate Coordinator will request supporting documentation for assessment by the Career Manager of your specialisation. As a minimum, we will request a current CV, your three most recent military performance reports and all trade relevant qualifications (military and civilian). The CV needs to clearly reflect your military career – positions, postings and deployments. The Career Manager will then review your application against current vacancies and determine whether to progress you to the next stage. 

Medical questionnaire

The Medical Questionnaire is an initial medical screening tool to allow us to assess your medical suitability for employment in the NZDF. It will be sent to you via your Defence Careers profile to complete online. If you list any medical issues, please provide as much detail as possible to allow our doctors to fully assess the situation. You may be requested to provide more detailed information. 


An interview will be conducted by a Lateral Recruiter via video conference (unless there is an opportunity to interview in person). You will be required to complete a pre-interview questionnaire and the aim of the interview is to assess your suitability to join the NZDF. This includes your understanding of New Zealand culture. 

Final assessment

Our career management team will assess all documentation and determine suitability for enlistment into the NZDF. Advice will also be sought from trade and branch specialists to help the decision making process. 

Offer of service

If deemed suitable, you will be made an Offer of Service (OOS). We will request that you send us written confirmation of your acceptance as soon as possible. An OOS from the NZDF is an indication that we wish to employ you and that we would like to employ you as soon as possible. The OOS is dependant on you:
• Gaining a NZ Residence class visa, and
• Gaining medical and security clearances.
Please note that the NZ Army makes a Provisional Offer of Service (POOS), followed by a Final Offer of Service (FOOS) once the above criteria are met. The RNZN and RNZAF give one OOS that is conditional on the above criteria being met. 

Medical clearance

You will need to undergo a full medical examination with your current military doctor and have all medical forms completed. You will then send these forms to your Candidate Coordinator who will liaise directly with our medical team. Our doctors will assess your fitness for enlistment and grant a medical clearance to enlist if everything is in order.
Please be aware that the military medical is separate to your immigration medical - we require a military doctor’s assessment of your health, as they understand the environmental issues of being in the NZDF. If you are unable to see a military doctor, you will need to have the full medical examination completed by a civilian doctor at your own cost.
Once in NZ, you will be required to undergo a fitness test and it is an expectation of your military service that you will maintain the required fitness levels. If you incur a medical condition between your medical examination and your arrival in NZ, please notify us immediately.

NZ residence class visa

You must apply for a NZ Residence class visa, and your OOS will be used to facilitate your application. We advise that you apply for and gain a NZ Residence class visa via the Skilled Migrant category. We also advise that the New Zealand Immigration rules for the Skilled Migrant Visa (SMV) have recently changed. The main change is in regards to the requirements for people to enter and work in NZ.  From the 12th of October 2016 the points required to gain a SMV were increased from 140 to 160 points.

For more information, refer to NZ Immigration’s website:

Please be aware of a legality with NZ Immigration - once you have your visa in your passport, you must move to NZ within a certain timeframe (dependant on the type of visa) and once you arrive in NZ, you must commence work within a certain timeframe (also dependant on the type of visa). You will need to take this into account when planning your arrival in NZ and enlistment date. Eligibility results must be included on your application at time of registration.

Security clearance

You must gain security clearance at the required level for your role. We will request evidence of your current security clearance and apply to the NZ Security Agency to transfer this clearance to NZ. If you do not have a current security clearance we will apply for your NZ security clearance, however this will take a considerable length of time. 


Once all the above is successfully completed, you will be eligible to enlist into the NZDF and an enlistment date will be agreed. The NZDF is unable to enlist personnel until they are completely discharged from their current service obligations, including any reserve liability and terminal or resettlement leave. This normally entails an enlistment date the day after the terminal date, or later, as agreed. Please note that you should not resign from your service until you have met the above criteria (i.e. passed the full medical and security clearance assessments, as well as gained a NZ Residence class visa).

Roles available to overseas applicants

NOTE: Applications from overseas personnel are open for all three Services (Navy, Army and Air Force) for selected trades and at selected rank levels. Personnel who do not meet these criteria will not be processed due to the high volume of applicants.

Only certain vacancies are open to overseas applicants, these are listed in the table below:

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Royal New Zealand Navy

Currently the Royal New Zealand Navy is accepting applications for the following trades and rank levels from Overseas applicants.

Trades Rank levels
COMBAT SYSTEMS SPECIALIST LH (RN candidates POAWT or POUW qualified only)


New Zealand Army

Currently the New Zealand Army is accepting applications for the following trades and rank levels from Overseas applicants.

Trades Rank levels
ARMOURED COMBAT SPECIALIST (CREWMAN) CPL (Crew COMD qualified applicants only)


Royal New Zealand Air Force

Currently the Royal New Zealand Air Force is accepting applications for the following trades and rank levels from Overseas applicants.

Trades Rank levels

Coming to New Zealand

The purpose of this section is to provide general information to help facilitate the transition from overseas to NZ. A number of independent sources have been included and individuals are strongly encouraged to undertake their own research to develop a realistic and personal impression of life in NZ.


Personnel enlisting from overseas need to be prepared to pay their own relocation expenses. Partial funding may be available, and will be determined on an individual basis. Any funding that is approved will be included in the OOS. Funding is done on a pay and claim basis and will bond you to the NZDF for a period.

Rank and seniority

We aim to recruit successful lateral candidates at a rank and seniority that reflects their military service. However, we are a small Defence Force and this will be dependant on vacancies. If you're offered a reduction in rank, it is in no way a reflection of your skills and experience. You'll likely be required to complete the respective promotion courses to amalgamate you into the NZDF, establish a peer group, and enable us to assess you for further career progression.

Pay, tax and superannuation

NZDF personnel are paid fortnightly and subject to ‘PAYE’ (Pay As You Earn) tax in accordance with current NZ tax rates. Details of tax rates and brackets can be found at

NZDF rates of pay are regularly reviewed, and your salary will be determined by your skills, experience and knowledge. The details of your remuneration package will be included in your OOS.

You'll join the Government Kiwisaver superannuation scheme. Members contribute a minimum of 3% of their salary and the NZDF will contribute 4%. However, benefits are locked in until at least age 65 (with minor exceptions). For more information on the Kiwisaver scheme, visit

Medical and dental

All service personnel are provided with subsidised medical and dental care. The NZDF does not provide cover for families of service personnel.

NZ’s public health system is good by world standards. All essential health care is provided free to NZ Residents through the public health system. This means that some routine services, such as visits to local doctors and dentists, must be paid for. NZ Residents may receive free hospital treatment, subsidies on prescriptions and support services for specific disabilities. Please visit the Ministry of Health’s website for more information:


Upon enlistment, members of the regular force are entitled to apply for service housing. There is a waiting list for service housing in some locations. In these locations, members will be placed on the housing register and allocated housing based on their priority when a house becomes available.

Families and equal employment opportunities

The NZDF has family-friendly, equal employment and anti-harassment policies in effect. Family-friendly policies have been implemented, so that the unique aspects of service (such as deployment) do not impact adversely on families. There are also trained personnel who are able to provide guidance on any aspect of discrimination, harassment or other adverse events.


You must seek permission to wear any awards or medals on the NZDF uniform. We'll apply on your behalf to the NZDF’s medals team for recognition of any awards or medals you hold. Please provide all relevant details including evidence to your Candidate Coordinator.


The NZDF’s standard entitlement to annual leave is 25 working days. The statutory leave entitlement is 11 public holidays each year. However, you'll likely be expected to parade on ANZAC Day (25 April). You're also granted two Armed Forces days which are normally given between Christmas and New Year.

For more information see our Frequently asked questionsemail us 
or call us on +64 04 342 6925.

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