New Zealand Citizenship vs. Permanent Residency

new-zealand-654980_640I’ve lived in New Zealand for over half my life, but I’m not a New Zealand citizen. I’m only a permanent resident.

People are often surprised at this. Why haven’t I gone for citizenship, they ask?

Because I’ve never had to. New Zealand permanent residents have pretty much the same rights as citizens. We can vote, we can come and go as we please, and we have access to free healthcare, education and, should we need it, the benefit.

That, and going for citizenship would be extra hassle and cost a lot. My parents never applied when my sister and I were children because it would have cost thousands to do the whole family at once.

I’ll apply one day, when I can afford it. When I do, I’ll go for dual citizenship. I definitely don’t want to give up my British passport – it gives me the option of living and working anywhere in the EU indefinitely! A New Zealand passport only gives you that option for Australia.

The option of living and working indefinitely in Australia is one of the few advantages that New Zealand citizens have over permanent residents. Luckily for me, I have no desire to live in Australia.

The other things New Zealand citizens can do that permanent residents can’t are stand for public office and represent New Zealand at international sporting events. I have no desire to do those things either.

So it would seem I don’t ever need to apply for New Zealand citizenship. I mean a New Zealand passport would entitle me to New Zealand consular protection, which could be important one day. And it would mean that I could never be deported from New Zealand, which would be an unfortunate occurrence. Not that I’m planning on doing anything that could result in my deportation…

Like I said, I’ll apply one day. It would be nice to actually be a New Zealander, having spent most of my life in New Zealand. I’m still definitely British to everyone that meets me, though – the existential crisis of the immigrant child.

There have been a couple of times when not having a New Zealand passport has inconvenienced me. I don’t mind having to wait in a longer queue at the airport when returning to New Zealand, but I’m extremely annoyed by the following:

Sometimes, you’re asked to give identification in the form of either a driver’s licence or a New Zealand passport. And I don’t have a driver’s licence. (I know – oh my god – I’m twenty-three and I don’t have a driver’s licence! In New Zealand, not having a driver’s licence is like not liking rugby. Maybe I’m not qualified to be a New Zealander after all.)

wallet-26089_640Thankfully, I’ve only encountered this flawed identification system twice. If your company uses it, PLEASE change it. I don’t want to have to either learn to drive or go through the New Zealand citizenship application process just to prove to you what my British passport, my HANZ identification card, my student ID and my bank statements already prove.

But that’s by the by.


3 thoughts on “New Zealand Citizenship vs. Permanent Residency

  1. […] the people in this country and have, for a long time, identified as one of them, a kiwi. I became a NZ Citizen very late, in 2008 in fact, a long time after moving to New Zealand. I think New Zealanders have a […]


  2. […] similar thing happened after the Brexit vote. New Zealand Citizenship vs. Permanent Residency became one of my most-viewed […]


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