Who can and can't enrol?

In New Zealand you must be on the electoral roll if you are eligible to enrol.

You are qualified to enrol and vote if:

  • you are 18 years or older AND
  • you are a New Zealand citizen or permanent resident AND
  • you have lived in New Zealand for one year or more continuously at some point.

For the purposes of registering as an elector, a permanent resident is someone who is entitled to live indefinitely in New Zealand.

  • If you hold a resident visa or a permanent resident visa and have lived in New Zealand continuously for 12 months or more you are eligible to enrol and vote. 
  • If you are a Cook Island Maori, Australian, Niuean or Tokelauan you can enrol once you have lived in New Zealand continuously for 12 months – you do not have to hold a resident visa to enrol and vote. 
  • If you have to leave New Zealand by a set date you are not a permanent resident for electoral purposes and you are NOT eligible to enrol and vote. This includes people who have student, work or visitor permits.

You can download an enrolment form at the bottom of this page, phone us free on 0800 36 76 56 or send your name and address to Freetext 3676, and we will post a form out to you.

Some people in New Zealand are excluded from enrolling and voting.

You cannot enrol and vote if you are a:

  • New Zealand citizen who has not been in New Zealand within the last three years; or
  • permanent resident of New Zealand who has not been in New Zealand within the last 12 months.

There are a few exceptions to the above rules, for example public servants or members of the Defence Force who are on duty outside New Zealand, as well as members of their families. If you are unsure call 0800 36 76 56 or talk to your local Registrar of Electors.

Are people who are in prison or psychiatric institutions entitled to enrol?

People who are in prison serving a sentence of imprisonment are not entitled to enrol and vote. However, a person who is on remand awaiting trial or sentence is eligible to enrol and vote.  

People who have been in a psychiatric hospital for more than three years after being charged with a criminal offence are also not eligible to enrol. Other psychiatric patients are entitled to enrol.

There are other grounds of disqualification that affect a very small number of people. Registrars of Electors are notified of people covered by any such ground. If a person applying to enrol appears to be subject to such disqualification, a Registrar of Electors will contact the person to discuss their qualification to enrol.

If you have any questions or concerns about other grounds of disqualification, call 0800 36 76 56.

View the legislation covering eligibility to enrol.


Find out more about eligibility, enrolling and voting from overseas here.

Find out more about eligibility of those with a disability here.



Last updated: 01 August 2016