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Return To Practice

Make an application to Return to Practice


To practice as a physiotherapist in Aotearoa New Zealand you need to be registered with the Board and hold a current Annual Practicing Certificate (APC). Physiotherapists who wish to apply for an APC but have not held one for the previous three practicing years (i.e., 1st April to 31st March) will need to make an application to ‘Return to Practice’. If you are unsure if this applies to you, please email the registration team at: [email protected] using ‘Query on Return to Practice’ in the subject heading.

The Board acknowledges that physiotherapists will, from time to time, need or want to take some time away from the workforce for a range of reasons. The Board welcomes practitioners who wish to return to the physiotherapy workforce and has put processes in place to ensure that physiotherapists returning to the workforce can do so safely. The Return to Practice application is one mechanism the Board uses to be assured physiotherapists who have been away from the physiotherapy workforce for a significant period of time are eligible to hold an APC and competent to practice.

Note: If you have previously cancelled your registration you need to restore your name on the Register before submitting a Return to Practice form. For more information about restoration of registration please click here

Ready to apply for Return to Practice?  Please read all the information below thoroughly before you apply. When satisfied you are ready apply, please click Apply for an APC- Return to Practice


NZ Law

Returning physiotherapists who are subject to a Return to Practice process are determined by reference to the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act 2003. The Registrar of the Board will refer a return to practice application to one of the Board Assessors for assessment if:

(a) The applicant has not held a practising certificate within the 3 years immediately preceding the application (section 27(1)(d) HPCA Act); or

(b) The applicant has not, within the 3 years immediately preceding the date of application, lawfully practiced the profession to which the application relates (section 27(1)(f) HPCA Act).


Making an application to Return to Practice.

There are several steps required during the application process.


Step 1: Application

The first step is to make an application for an Annual Practising Certificate (APC). As a returning practitioner you will need to provide the following information using the supplied templates:


As part of your application, you are also required to:

  1. make a ‘Fitness to Practice’ declaration and
  2. pay the appropriate fee.
  • Payment for your application:
    • The current application fee for a Return to Practice application is $1213.90. This payment is divided into two parts. It consists of a $713.90 for the Return to Practice application and the current gazetted fee for an APC which is $500.  Both fees are payable at the time of application and are non-refundable.


Step 2: Assessment

Once you have submitted all the required information and it has been received by the Board, your application will be assessed.

The assessment process (under section 28 HPCA Act) is undertaken by an assessor to evaluate Return to Practice applications on behalf of the Board. They will assess the evidence supplied with the application to establish whether you meet the required standard of competence for issue of an APC. As well as assessing the information you have provided, they will also consider the length of time you have been away from the profession, your experience prior to this time away and the area of practice you are wanting to work in when you return. For example, is it a new area of practice for you or are you returning to an area of physiotherapy you have previously worked in? The assessor then advises the Registrar of their recommendations in the form of a report.

Possible recommendations from the assessor’s report might include one or more of the following:

  1. You are issued an APC, without conditions.
  2. You are issued an APC but have a condition to practise under supervision or oversight for a period, usually 3 or 6 months (though the Board reserves the right to alter the period).
  3. Your application is declined. This will ordinarily only be the case if the assessment concludes that the level of retraining required would be equivalent to or exceed repeating an NZ undergraduate physiotherapy degree.

The Registrar of the Board will take into consideration the recommendation of the assessor together with your response and make a decision about issuing an APC.


Step 3: Following the Registrars decision.

  1. If an APC is issued without conditions, you can practice as a physiotherapist from the date of issue.
  2. In most cases an APC is issued with the condition of a period of supervision or oversight (a Return to Practice Programme). This is aimed at assisting physiotherapists to demonstrate to the Board that they meet the competencies, and usually ranges from three to six months. Most programmes will involve a degree of supervision or oversight. The Board will provide a programme and set out the necessary requirements for you and your supervisor. You will be required to select your own supervisor(s). The programme is likely to include regular supervision meetings to discuss progress towards meeting the thresholds/competencies, regular peer reviews, discussions  around your CPD and how the Physiotherapy Standards Framework relates to your practice. Please read the section below ‘Selecting a Supervisor’ for guidance on selecting a supervisor.
  3. Occasionally an application may be declined. There is a formal process which is adhered to, and physiotherapists have the right to supply further information and be heard by the Registrar before a decision is made. The Registrar’s decision can be reviewed by the Board.


Selecting a supervisor

Your supervisor must be approved by the Registrar. If, the Board requires you to practice under supervision or oversight for a period, you will need to confirm both a workplace and a suitable supervisor (s). You will need to provide the following information. It can speed up the process if you submit your proposed supervisors details at the time of application.

  • the name, registration number, contact details, work address and CV of a supervisor
  • the name, details listed above and CV of an alternative supervisor who may be required to assist if your main supervisor is unavailable.

Proposed supervisor should be:

  • a professional peer AND
  • a physiotherapist practising in the same area of practice AND
  • must hold a current APC and be in good standing with the Board AND
  • five years Aotearoa NZ based physiotherapy experience.

The ‘alternative’ supervisor is as responsible for the supervision of the Returner to Practice practitioner as the ‘initial/primary’ supervisor.

It is recommended that your supervisor (and alternative) be working in the same physical location as you plan to work at. This is due to requirements of your conditions, such as, in person peer reviews which may be required as part of your supervision programme.

If you have any questions regarding making your application to Return to Practice, please contact the registration team at: [email protected]


Application Resources

Physiotherapy Standards Framework/Thresholds

Physiotherapists Practicing in a Defined Field standard

Physiotherapy Board Webinars

Recertification Programme and Audit

Return to Practice Supervision Programme Resources

Supervision reporting FAQs and checklist

Clinical Reasoning and Case Study Discussion form

Competencies Template