New Zealand Citizenship by Descent
A New Zealand citizen by descent is a person born outside New Zealand who has acquired New Zealand citizenship because a parent was born or naturalised in New Zealand.
It does not include migrants who have migrated to New Zealand and become naturalised New Zealanders.
Restriction on passing on citizenship
- New Zealand citizens by descent have the same rights as any other New Zealand citizens except the right to pass on New Zealand citizenship to children born outside New Zealand.
- A child born outside New Zealand to a New Zealand citizen by descent will not be a New Zealand citizen unless either:
- the other parent is a New Zealand citizen otherwise than by descent; or
- the child is not entitled to the citizenship of any other country
- The reason for this restriction is to prevent an endless succession of generations of "New Zealanders" who might have little or no connection with New Zealand
Upgrade to full New Zealand citizenship
- A little known clause in the New Zealand Citizenship Act allows a New Zealand citizen by descent to apply for grant of New Zealand citizenship (ie, naturalisation) like any other migrant.
- This allows the person to pass on NZ citizenship to the next generation, if born outside New Zealand.
- This can be done after fulfilling the normal residence requirement, ie 5 years for those aged 16 or over (since April 2005), or immediately upon settlement in NZ if under 16.
Children under 16
- There is also a little known clause in the law which allows the 5 year residence period to be waived for an under 16 child if:
- the child is a permanent resident of New Zealand; and
- at least one of the child's parents is a New Zealand citizen
- This means that if children of a New Zealand (by descent) parent are brought to live in New Zealand with permanent visas, they can normally be granted New Zealand citizenship once they are settled in New Zealand. They don't have to wait 5 years.
- Information is available at the website of the New Zealand Citizenship Office
My children are New Zealand citizens by descent
If your children are New Zealand citizens by descent and it is important to you that your grandchildren are also New Zealand citizens, then you should take the following steps:
- if living in New Zealand, get your children naturalised as New Zealand citizens
- if living outside New Zealand, you need to make sure the children know about this issue when they are older and take the necessary steps, one of the following:
- move to New Zealand and naturalise after 5 years; or
- marry a New Zealand citizen otherwise than by descent; or
- ensure that their own children are born in New Zealand; or
- be prepared to bring their own children to live in New Zealand at a young age and get them naturalised as citizens