FAQs for Internationally Qualified Applicants

Applying for New Zealand registration

How long does the application process take

Are there different routes to registration in New Zealand?

How do I know if my physiotherapy degree programme is sufficiently similiar to the physiotherapy curricula undertaken by undergraduates in New Zealand?

My physiotherapy school no longer holds the syllabus/curriculum information from when I completed my course of study.  However, the school tells me that the document currently available has not changed since I completed my course.  Can I submit the currently available document?

In my IELTS score I have a 6.5 in one of the bands but overall my score is an 8.  Can I still apply for registration?

Who can certify my documents?

Common errors found in applications

Inaccurate and conflicting dates

Timeliness of Validation of Work History forms

Supporting evidence

General questions about becoming registered as a physiotherapist in New Zealand

Does the Board operate an accreditation system for overseas educated applicants applying under the HPCA Act?

Does an offer of employment affect my application

Do I need a Visa before applying for registration?

I have been granted registration under a Postgraduate Physiotherapy Student Special Scope of Practice.  Will this enhance my chances of eventually gaining registration within the General Scope of Practice:  Physiotherapist?

Other FAQs

I am currently a physiotherapy student overseas and I am seeking a clinical placement/work experience in New Zealand.  How should I go about this?

Is veterinary physiotherapy recognised in New Zealand under the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act (HPCA Act)?

Is the Physiotherapy Board the same as Physiotherapy New Zealand?

Where can I find an overview of New Zealand's public health system?

 


How long does the application process take?
Typically, applicants should allow 2-3 months for the application process, however this varies depending on each application.  Ensuring that your application is complete when we receive it, will expedite the process.

Are there different routes to registration in New Zealand?
There are two routes to get registered in New Zealand as an overseas educated applicant.

  1. Australian registered physiotherapists currently registered with General (unconditional) registration and holding entitlement to practise in Australia, are entitled to seek registration in New Zealand under the Trans-Tasman Mutual Recognition Act 1997 (“The TTMR Act”).
  2. All other internationally qualified physiotherapists must seek registration under the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act 2003 (HPCA Act).

How do I know if my physiotherapy qualification is sufficiently similiar to the physiotherapy curricula undertaken by undergraduates in New Zealand?
The New Zealand physiotherapy degree programmes are audited against the Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand physiotherapy practice thresholds.  Your application needs to demonstrate the link between these thresholds and your physiotherapy qualification’s curriculum.

The Criteria for eligibility are detailed in the Application Guidance notes on page 4. Your curriculum must contain; Course objectives and learning outcomes which reflect higher levels of learning, the Foundational abilities described on page 13 of the Physiotherapy practice thresholds, Research principles and supervised physiotherapy practice.

One of the main differences between New Zealand physiotherapists and those from some other countries is the degree of autonomous practice.  In New Zealand the public has direct access to physiotherapy. This means that they do not require a referral from a medical practitioner.  Physiotherapists therefore need to be able assess, diagnose and treat patients and know when and where to refer patients.  New Zealand physiotherapists are able to refer directly to most medical specialists and to prescribe investigations such as x-ray and diagnostic ultrasound for musculoskeletal conditions.

Differences in healthcare systems can also lead to significant differences in what is included in a physiotherapy programme.

The physiotherapy degree programmes from countries with a similar degree of autonomy and similar healthcare system are more likely to be considered sufficiently similar.  If your physiotherapy degree programme is not sufficiently similar you may make your application stronger by completing post-graduate physiotherapy study in countries with similar models of healthcare to New Zealand (such as the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia or New Zealand).  Your further study needs to include supervised clinical experience.

Once you have submitted your application the final decision as to the similarity of your physiotherapy programme to the New Zealand physiotherapy programmes rests with the Physiotherapy Board. This is determined from the curriculum documents and academic transcript you supply.

A checklist to determine the similarity of your qualification is available here.

My physiotherapy school no longer holds the syllabus/curriculum information from when I completed my course of study.  However, the school tells me that the document currently available has not changed since I completed my course.  Can I submit the currently available document?
You may submit the current document if it is accompanied by a covering letter from your training school confirming that the syllabus/curriculum provided relates to your specific physiotherapy training programme.

In my IELTS score I have 6.5 in one of the bands but overall my score is an 8.  Can I still apply for registration?
No. You must have an overall score of 7.5 with no less than 7 in each band.

Who can certify my documents?
Anybody who has the legal authority in your country to certify documents.

Inaccurate and conflicting dates

  • The date on the curriculum does not match the date of the applicant’s specific year of study; for example, a curriculum may say 2005 on the front cover as that is the year the curriculum was validated, however the applicant studied from 2007-2011. In this case, applicants should provide a cover letter from the University confirming that the curriculum provided was the same curriculum when the applicant studied, or detail any differences.
  • In the CV, a job must be listed in both the ‘Summary of Work History’ section and the extended section. Many applicants mistakenly put different dates (for the same job) in these two sections – always make sure that the dates match.
  • In the Validation of Work History form, the dates of employment provided by the referee do not match the dates of employment provided in the applicant’s CV. Always check with your referee to make sure you are providing the same dates.

Timeliness of Validation of Work History forms

  • Validation of Work History forms can take some time to arrive. If we receive a Validation of Work History form before we have received the application that they are written in support of, we will file the forms until the application arrives. We would recommend that your Validation of Work History forms are sent in advance of your application so that they do not delay your application.

Supporting evidence

  • Within the supporting evidence you must always ensure that it is clear if a piece of evidence (e.g. a review, notes etc.) is your own work. If there is a piece of work which does not include the applicant’s name, we cannot determine that it is the work of the applicant.
  • Inappropriate supporting evidence is included within the application, such as documentation including an individual's personal details, hospital, full patient histories, photographs etc.
    Your supporting evidence must not include direct copies of patient records. All documentation that is provided must be appropriately anonymised, for example names and other identifiable details completely blacked out or removed.
    Do not include any other identifiable information gathered about another individual (such as patients, colleagues, students) UNLESS you have obtained signed written consent from that individual for the express purpose of its use as supporting evidence in your application for registration.

Does the Board operate an accreditation system for overseas educated applicants applying under the HPCA Act?
The Board does not operate any accreditation system whereby applicants from a particular country, training institution or registration authority are automatically or more easily granted registration.

Does an offer of employment affect my application?
No. We cannot expedite any applications.

Do I need to hold a Visa before applying for registration?
No. Immigration is an entirely separate issue to registration which you will need to satisfy before you work in New Zealand. Please contact www.immigration.govt.nz.

I have been granted registration under a Postgraduate Physiotherapy Student Special Scope of Practice.  Will this enhance my chances of eventually gaining registration within the General Scope of Practice:  Physiotherapist?
In assessing eligibility for the general scope of practice the Board takes into account each individual applicant's course of undergraduate study, postgraduate experience and/or study. The Board cannot indicate at this stage how your postgraduate study will affect your chances of gaining registration under the General Scope of Practice: Physiotherapist.
When assessing an application for registration within the general scope of practice the Board will be looking for evidence of current ability to meet the Bi-national Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand physiotherapy practice thresholds

I am currently a physiotherapy student overseas and I am seeking a clinical placement/work experience in New Zealand.  How should I go about this?
The Ministry of Health has confirmed that overseas physiotherapy students in New Zealand must abide by the laws of New Zealand.

Accordingly, overseas physiotherapy students seeking clinical placements/internship/work experience as part of their physiotherapy qualifications must arrange this through one of the Schools of Physiotherapy in New Zealand.

If an overseas student is accepted by a New Zealand School of Physiotherapy to undertake a clinical placement, that individual for the period of their placement in New Zealand, is considered a student of the New Zealand School under the direct supervision of the New Zealand School.

If the Schools of Physiotherapy in New Zealand are unable to accommodate your request NO other type of arrangement is permissible. Any physiotherapists in New Zealand independently offering work experience and/or supervision would themselves be in breach of the legislation if the arrangement took place.

Is veterinary physiotherapy recognised in New Zealand under the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act (HPCA)
No. Under the HPCA Act the practice of physiotherapy in New Zealand is limited to humans. An extract from the prescribed General Scope of Practice: Physiotherapist is shown below (with emphasis added). 

“Physiotherapists are registered health practitioners who are educated to practise autonomously by applying scientific knowledge and clinical reasoning to assess, diagnose and manage human function.”

Is the Physiotherapy Board the same as Physiotherapy New Zealand?
No. The Physiotherapy Board is the regulatory authority for physiotherapists established under the HPCA Act (2003). Physiotherapy New Zealand (PNZ) is a professional association with voluntary membership.

Where can I find an overview of New Zealand's public health system?
The Ministry of Health's website has a thorough explanation of the structures, funding systems and statutory frameworks that underpin New Zealand's health system.