Moving to the UK from New Zealand

Relocating from New Zealand to the UK

According to the latest figures, in the region of 48,000 New Zealanders live permanently in the UK, a substantial increase from 30,000 in 2008. Many New Zealand nationals choose to come to the UK as part of their ‘overseas experience’ or ‘OE’ and never return. It may be that they fall in love with the UK or a British person or launch a new career here and decide to stay indefinitely. For ‘Kiwis’, the UK offers an exciting and vibrant lifestyle and places them on the edge of Europe. If you are a New Zealand citizen considering moving to the UK, this guide is just for you. Here we will explain everything you need to know about moving from New Zealand to the UK, including the legal requirements, the cost of living in the UK (and how this compares to NZ), the steps to take before making the move, and answers to many of the frequently asked questions about moving as a New Zealand citizen to the UK.

Moving to the UK from New Zealand benefits

The UK offers a wide range of benefits for New Zealanders seeking to relocate, as follows:

  • Excellent transport system, making it easy to travel around the UK and internationally
  • A robust and diverse economy.
  • Highly skilled and well-paid jobs.
  • Minimal business administration and ‘red tape’.
  • An abundance of history and culture (e.g. museums, theatres, and cathedrals)
  • Beautiful villages, mountains, hills, lakes, and countryside, and
  • Excellent education, including highly respected and internationally renowned schools and universities such as Oxford, Cambridge, Edinburgh, St Andrews, and University College London (UCL).

Transforming Lives: Real Stories of Client Satisfaction

"This was my first application for a skilled worker visa and A Y & J helped me through it, making me feel at ease with the process. Very quick replies on e-mails & assistance provided by Imad and Silvia was excellent. Truly could not have had a better experience. Would absolutely recommend them if assistance required."

Isis Smid

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"They are the best, very reliable and always on time"

Mashavave Viola

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"I will be glad to work with you again and again ❤️ you are the best 💋 and l will love to contact you when ever l need your support."

Ogunnaike Olakunle

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"This was our 2nd application for my wife's visa. A Y & J Solicitors were recommend to us and they delivered. Right from the outset. The process was explained thoroughly. We was not pushed to commit. Our appointed Solicitor Nagina was absolutely brilliant. Took all our concerns away and approached our application in a professional manor. Can not recommend enough. Thank you A Y & J & a special thanks to Nagina"

neil Pedder

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"I'm very pleased to recommend Diana and her team. They have consistently provided excellent service and achieved successful outcomes in our applications, thanks in part to Ikra's outstanding casework and exceptional support throughout the process. She ensured we fully understood everything and addressed any questions we had promptly and professionally."

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"My experience with the A Y & J and Team was amazing. Mehak was very accessible and honest person which makes you feel instantly at ease. if you are looking for an affordable law firm, that actually treats you like a real person and makes everything run smoothly, then you have found it! I finished all my uk skilled work visa application with A Y & J. Thanks A Y & J."

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UK Ancestry visa

The UK Ancestry visa enables Kiwis with strong ancestral connections to the UK to live in the UK for up to five years and later gain permanent settlement. Applicants must be aged 17 or over and have a grandparent who was born in one of the following circumstances:

  • in the UK, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man
  • before 31st March 1922 in what is now Ireland
  • on a ship or aircraft that was either registered in the UK or belonged to the UK government

You can still apply for an Ancestry visa if you or your parent were adopted or your parents or grandparents were not married.

As a citizen of NZ, you may have routes available to you that may not be available to others, including the Youth Mobility and Ancestry visas. The following sets out the legal requirements for some of the most popular visas used by NZ nationals.

Before you apply for a visa, however, it is essential to check whether you already have British citizenship through your parent/s or grandparent/s. A specialist in immigration law in the UK will be able to check whether you are already entitled to British citizenship. Assuming that you are not already a British citizen by descent, you will need a visa to live here.

UK Skilled Worker visa

The UK Skilled Worker visa is the most popular of all visas available to foreign nationals, including New Zealanders. With a Skilled Worker visa, you can live and work in the UK for a period of up to five years (this may depend on the length of the employment contract. Once the five years expire (or just before technically), you can either apply to extend your visa or for permanent settlement. Permanent settlement requires that you have spent 5 continuous years in the UK on your work visa. To make a successful application for a work visa, you must first have a job offer for an eligible occupation with an employer that holds a sponsor licence. You must also meet the minimum salary requirement of £38,700 per year (or the ‘going rate’ for your occupation) for your new job. Do bear in mind, however, that the salary threshold you need to meet may actually be lower if you have a PhD, a job on the UK government’s immigration salary list, or you are a new entrant to the job market. If you are not sure, please speak to an immigration Solicitor. The good news is that as a Kiwi, you will not need to prove your English language proficiency to secure a UK work visa.

UK Student visa

Many NZ nationals are attracted to the educational opportunities available in the UK. If you would like to apply for a Student visa for a British university, college, or school as a national of New Zealand, you must be 16 years or over and have been offered a place on a course with an approved educational provider in the UK. In addition, you will need to show that you have enough funds to support yourself and to pay for your course (if it has not already been paid for). Again, you will automatically meet the English language requirements as a New Zealander.

Assuming that your Student visa is granted, you will be able to stay here for the duration of your course. If you decide to continue your education (e.g. apply for a masters degree), you can further extend your visa. If you plan to stay in the UK once your course ends, perhaps to find employment, you can then apply for a Graduate visa, which will allow you to stay for a further two years. If you secure a job, you can then switch to a work visa, or if you get married or enter into a civil partnership, you can apply for a family visa.

UK Innovator Founder visa

The UK Innovator Founder visa is a great option for business people and entrepreneurs from New Zealand seeking to set up a new business venture within the UK. One of the biggest perks of this visa is that holders can gain the right to settle permanently after just three years. UK Innovator Founder visa applicants from New Zealand must be aged 18 years or over, have a plan for a new, unique, viable, and scalable business, and have this endorsed by an approved endorsing body.

UK Youth Mobility Scheme visa

The UK Youth Mobility visa enables New Zealanders aged between 18 and 35 to live in the UK for up to two years. Applicants must also have at least £2,350 in savings to support themselves while in the UK. While it is not possible to extend this visa or acquire the right to settle permanently, it is possible to switch to a different visa type, such as a work or family visa.

Please note: This is just a selection of the many visas available to NZ nationals. To better understand the full range of immigration routes, including self-sponsorship, please speak to an experienced immigration specialist.

How to set up your finances in the UK?

We recommend that you open a UK bank account after you arrive here. UK banks will require proof of your identity and your permanent UK address. When it comes to transferring funds from New Zealand to the United Kingdom, you can do this through a UK bank or by using specialist money transfer services such as OFX and Wise. It is important to use a reputable service and check that any fees and the exchange rate are competitive.

Two other financial considerations include National Insurance and taxation. Once in the UK, you will need to apply for a National Insurance (NI) number before you start working. Taxation is also very simple in the UK. If you are employed, you simply need to provide your NI number to your employer. They will then ensure that any tax you owe is automatically collected and paid to the government through the ‘Pay As You Earn’ (PAYE) system.

Get in touch with our immigration experts for help with your move to the UK from New Zealand

What is the cost of living in the UK?

The cost of living in the UK is lower than in New Zealand according to the cost of living comparison website Numbeo. One of the biggest differences between the UK and NZ is the average house price. In the UK, the average house costs £282,000 compared to NZ$930,495 (approx. £445,000) in New Zealand – a substantial difference. Another big difference is in the cost of food and groceries. Grocery prices are approximately 27% higher in New Zealand compared to the UK.

Remember that the cost of living in the UK differs considerably depending on where you live. Rent prices in central London can be extremely expensive, whereas living in a small village or town is generally much more affordable. This is why it is so important to research where you would like to live and the costs in each area before you move to the UK.

Emigrating to the UK from New Zealand – Checklist

Making the move from New Zealand to the UK can be daunting, especially given the distances involved. By taking the following important steps, you can make the whole process as simple and straightforward as possible:

  • Research all of the immigration options open to you as a national of New Zealand. We recommend speaking with an immigration specialist in the UK regarding your plans and current situation to better understand which routes will meet your needs. It may be that you do not require a visa, or you may be eligible for an ancestry visa, which will make the process of moving here even easier.
  • If you intend to work in the UK, secure a job offer from a UK employer before you apply for your work visa.
  • Create a realistic and detailed budget spreadsheet. To make this more realistic, speak to someone you know who lives in the UK and can give you details on the current cost of groceries, car insurance, council tax, transport, electricity, and heating. It is important to include how much you will need to pay in tax and National Insurance.
  • Work out your cost of moving, including transport, removal costs, and rent deposit, etc. Include the cost of your visa and any additional costs, such as the healthcare surcharge (to enable you to access the National Health Service in the UK).
  • Shortlist the areas where you would like to live: England, Wales, Scotland, or Northern Ireland.
  • Visit the UK to visit and shortlist your preferred areas.
  • Speak to the schools in your preferred areas to check if they have spaces for your children.
  • Check how long it will take to travel to work and how much this will cost.
  • Speak to any friends and family who live in the UK for advice and tips on relocating from New Zealand to the UK.
  • NZ / UK Driving licence – You can use your NZ driving licence in the UK for one year, after which you will need to apply to switch to a UK one.

What is a Self-Sponsored Route?

The Self-Sponsorship route offers an alternative way for NZ nationals to move to the UK without the need to apply for a job. Self-sponsorship means that you can set up and run your own business in the UK and sponsor yourself. At AY&J, our team can explain how to make a successful self-sponsorship application and ensure that you meet all of the legal requirements. Self-sponsorship also allows you to settle permanently after a number of continuous years in the UK and later gain British citizenship.

Emigrating to the UK as a non-NZ national

If you are a non-NZ national living in New Zealand, you will also need to apply for a visa to live, work, study or join family here. To better understand your immigration options as a non-NZ national, please speak to one of our friendly and knowledgeable UK Immigration Solicitors.

Joining UK Family Members as a Non-NZ ational

If you are a non-NZ national living in New Zealand and wish to join your partner, spouse, parent, or child living here in the UK, you will need to apply for a Family visa. Your UK-based family member must be a British citizen, a person with indefinite leave to remain, an EU/EEA national who started living in the UK before 1st January 2021 or has refugee status in the UK. If granted a family visa, you can join your family in the UK and gain permanent settlement after five years of continuous residence and British citizenship a year later.


What documents and information do I need to move to the UK from New Zealand?
To relocate to the UK for work, you will need:

  • A valid NZ passport
  • Evidence of a job offer for an eligible occupation
  • A Certificate of Sponsorship
  • An NZ bank statement showing that you have enough funds to support yourself and your immediate family members.

These are only some of the documents that you may need to relocate from New Zealand to the UK. Your immigration advisor will provide you with a complete list of all the documents that you will need based on your chosen visa type.

Do NZ citizens need sponsorship to work in the UK?

Yes, to work in the UK as an NZ national, you must be sponsored by a UK employer. Alternatively, you can consider the self-sponsorship route (see above).

What should I consider before moving back to the UK from New Zealand?

If you are a British ex-pat who is moving back to the UK from New Zealand, we recommend looking into your employment, banking arrangements, and credit rating (you may have lost some of your credit rating if you have been outside the UK for many years). We also advise speaking to an accountant about your tax arrangements. If you have lived in New Zealand for more than 5 years, you may need to meet different rules for income and capital gains tax. Finally, check whether you will need to ‘top up’ your national insurance contributions so that you are eligible for a UK state pension when you retire.

Moving from New Zealand to the UK requirements

Please see the legal requirements for moving from New Zealand to the UK above.

Can you move to the UK from New Zealand?

Yes, however, NZ citizens and their family members may require a visa to live in the UK. Please see the visa options explained above.

Are NZ citizens allowed to work in the UK?

Yes, but you will need a job offer from a sponsoring employer, a certificate of sponsorship, and a work visa granted by the UK Home Office.

Applying for a UK visa from New Zealand

As a citizen of New Zealand national, you can apply for a visa online through the UK’s Home Office website. You will need to fully complete the application form, pay any required fees, and submit any documents required to support your case. You will also need to meet the requirements for the type of visa you are applying for. An immigration law specialist based in the UK can handle all of this on your behalf.

UK entry requirements from New Zealand

Please see the legal requirements for moving from New Zealand to the UK above.

How long can an NZ citizen stay in the UK?

The length of time you can spend in the UK will depend on the type of visa you hold:

  • NZ nationals can visit the UK for up to 6 months without a visa
  • The Ancestry visa lasts for 5 years
  • Work visas last up to 5 years
  • Student visas typically last for the duration of the course, but holders can then apply for a Graduate visa to stay in the UK for a further 2 years to find work.

Remember, most UK visas offer a route to permanent settlement after between 3 and 5 years.

What is the cost of living in the UK?

Please see the cost of living section above.

A Y & J Solicitors is a specialist immigration law firm with extensive experience with all types of visa applications. We have an in-depth understanding of immigration law and are professional and results-focused. For assistance with your visa application or any other UK immigration law concerns, please contact us on +44 20 7404 7933 or at contact us today. We’re here to help!

Moving From New Zealand to the UK

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Moving From New Zealand to the UK

Reach out to our immigration advisors to handle your relocation process from beginning to end.

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