Completing your Physiotherapy Board of New Zealand Overseas Registration Form

I’m a big believer in the registration process for Health Professionals in each country. As someone who works really hard to be the best physiotherapist I can be, I know it acts as a strong safety measure to protect people from incompetence and bad health advice.

As such, I do not provide information that helps you cheat the system.

What I do provide is information that helps you navigate a sometimes confusing system, and break down barriers that might otherwise prevent health professionals from the awesome opportunities that come from working all over the world.

And there are some pretty awesome opportunities that come from working in New Zealand, so let’s help get you registered with the Physiotherapy Board of New Zealand (PBNZ).


This is a very time-consuming process. It would be awful to put yourself through it all only to find that you are NOT ACTUALLY ELIGIBLE to apply. Consider these statements (which I have summarised/reworded from PBNZ to aid your understanding) very carefully:

  • Have you had 4 years of physiotherapy training? Whether 4 years of an undergraduate degree, 3 years undergraduate + a year of supervised practice, 3 years of undergraduate + 1 year of postgraduate study… there are a few options there. Read through these options on the PBNZ site to make sure you exactly fit their requirements
  • Do you speak English? If English is not your first language or you didn’t study in English then you’ll need to pass an IELTS test or an Australian Occupational English Test (OET)
  • Have you been studying or working as a physiotherapist within the past 3 years? If so you’re good to go. If not, your knowledge and skills may be a bit rusty and you’ll need to get back into practice before heading down to NZ.

So far so good? Here’s what else you need to know up front:


How much does it cost?

At the time of writing (2022) the application fee is $1734.50 NZD.

Additional costs will include the fees associated with certifying documents, translating documents, applying for police checks, obtaining letters/certificates from various institutions… the costs add up quickly.


You’ve got a lot of homework to do…

Besides for filling in the online application form you’ll need the following:

  • Certified Copy of the Personal Details Page of your Passport
  • Certified Copy of your Physiotherapy degree certificate from your Educational Institution
  • Certified Copy of your Certificate/Letter of Good Standing from your current Physiotherapy Registration Body
  • Certified Copy of your Police Check
  • Your CV information on the provided PBNZ template
  • Certified Copy of your Academic Curriculum/Syllabus published by your Educational Institution
  • Certified Copy of your Evidence of Completion of 1000 hours of supervised physiotherapy practice from your Educational Institution
  • Certified Copy of your Official Academic Transcript issued by your Educational Institution
  • An essay on the Treaty of Waitangi
  • A reflective statement on cultural competence
  • Practice Threshold Template
    • A very confusing way of providing evidence from your work experience that you are a competent clinician, practice with a high level of ethical standards, have effective communication skills etc. etc. (I’ll explain this further below). Also on a provided PBNZ word document
    • Futher supported by PBNZ templates on Reflective Practice and other extra evidence attached as appendices


How long does it take?

To gather all the information and complete the relevant templates? A lot of your spare time will be taken up with this, likely over a number of months.

Once received the application processing itself takes at least 2-3 months according to PBNZ (longer if you don’t do things correctly and need to re-submit, so it pays to be thorough the first time around)

** Update: due to the COVID pandemic and lots of applications this is currently 4-5 months.


What are the most common mistakes?

Incorrect certification of documents – make sure the right person has written the right thing when certifying your documents (take the Guidance Notes with you so they know what is required)

Incorrect supporting documents – the academic transcript, syllabus, curriculum or certificate required must contain the relevant information and be correctly certified/stamped/sent by the institution. It’s very specific (and not at all flexible) and I’ve had issues with delayed applications in the past due to supplying the incorrect paperwork.

Missing information or conflicting information – fill in every box, cross every ‘t’, dot every ‘i’, ensure dates line up across different templates/forms

Absolute clarity that any supporting evidence is your own work – the PBNZ needs to be able to clearly establish that it’s yours

Using identifiable patient information in your reports/reflections – these should focus on YOUR experience. Be deliberately vague about your patient/colleagues’ details (if you need to mention them at all). PBNZ is very serious in it’s handling of confidential information and will knock you back if you don’t have express written permission to include someone’s details.

Still good? Haven’t been deterred yet? Then here’re your next steps:

  1. Head to the PBNZ website
  2. Register for online account (thankfully this process is all online now which is a wonderful thing for saving all those trees who would otherwise have been harmed in the making of reams of paper for your supporting documents. Plus saving you the costs of postage of course.)
  3. Select start New Overseas Application
  4. READ THE GUIDANCE NOTES – and refer to them closely as you work your way through each section


Ready to do this together? Here we go:

Section 1

Preliminary Questions.

I think you’ve got this.

As a side note: this is a dynamic online form, and as such I’ve just included snippets of each page to assist you. Where the page changes and ends up super long I’ve just included the top section –  I’m just here to guide you, not do the whole lot for you!

Section 2

Personal details. Very simple.

Your name must match the details on your passport.

The addresses will be used to correspond with you so ensure they’re accurate (or you’ll miss stuff!)

Section 3

Eligibility to Apply.

Do you meet the Recency of Practice Criteria?

If you have graduated in the past 3 years tick ‘yes’

If you graduated more than 3 years ago but you have been working or studying in this time, also tick ‘yes’ (you will have to show evidence of this).


Qualification and Experience

The Physio Board needs to understand what kind of training you received in Physiotherapy and check it’s equivalent to the NZ training standards. Select the box that best applies to you.

If you don’t fit into one of these categories, you may not be able to work in New Zealand. Contact PBNZ directly for guidance.

Section 4


Fill in the details of your Physiotherapy Qualification here (if you have more than one degree, this is the one that allows you to be registered and work as a physio). Make sure the details match up with the certified documents you’ll provide as evidence.

Did you fall short of obtaining the 1000 hours of supervised practice during this course? This is a requirement to be eligible, so you’ll need to provide an explanation. Tick the box then upload the required documents at the end.

Did you complete your physiotherapy qualification more than 15 years ago? Training has changed a lot in this time, and you may be exempt from supplying a complete academic curriculum (as it may not have existed then!)

A prerequisite qualification refers to a degree program you might have had to complete as a prerequisite to studying physio e.g. in Canada the undergraduate health/biomedical/sports science bachelor degree that allows entry into your physio degree.

Additional Physiotherapy Qualification: This section is for any other physio degree/diploma/masters you have completed to be registered as a physio in your country of training to ensure you meet PBNZ‘s Qualification and Experience eligibility criteria (e.g. you did a THREE year undergrad degree, followed by this diploma/masters/doctorate).

You don’t necessarily have to complete this for optional Postgraduate Training you’ve chosen to do to further your skills (although I guess it may support your application if you have done this).

Section 5

Communication Skills.

New Zealand’s official language is English (although there is now loads of fantastic support and training in Te Reo Māori). You’ll need to be fluent to work safely as a Physiotherapist in New Zealand which means an IELTS score of 7.5 or an OET score of 350 (see the guidance notes for the specific band/section requirements).

Section 6

New Zealand is a very safe country and healthcare professionals are some of the most trusted people in Kiwi society. PBNZ needs to ensure you’re a person of good character to uphold these high standards and protect the Kiwi public.

If you answer yes to any of these questions it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be refused, just check the Guidance Notes for the additional supporting docs you’ll need to provide.

All applicants have to supply a certified copy of a police check/criminal conviction record from your current country of residence (with your full name [including middle and any previous names] and dated within 3 months of your application), PLUS one from any other country you have lived in for 12 months or more in the past 10 years.

Section 7

Evidence of Good Standing.

Here you must provide the details of all the regulatory authorities you are/have been registered with in the past 3 years e.g. UK/Irish Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, Canadian Physiotherapy Association, American Physical Therapy Association etc.

You’ll have to provide a certificate or letter from these organisations in your supporting documents (expect to pay a fee for this).

Section 8

Validation of Work History or Confirmation of Fitness to Practise

Time to provide some evidence of your amazing work experience.

You’ll need THREE referees to complete a “Validation of Work History” form for you. Download the form, complete your personal details in the first section of the form, then forward it to your chosen referees. They’ll be required to send it directly to the PBNZ.

Two of these referees MUST be recent/current employers with a physiotherapy background.


If you’re a new grad with limited work experience you only need to provide ONE “Confirmation of Fitness to Practise” completed by someone from your educational institution (as you probably don’t have any/many referees who can supply good information about your fitness to practise yet).

Section 9

The amount of information you provide here is up to you, but is your opportunity to show off things you’ve done in your career to date: inservice presentations you’ve delivered, literature appraisals/critical reviews, journal club participation, performance appraisals, publications etc.

These must be uploaded as PDFs and assigned an appendix number in your “Threshold Template” (which I explain further below)

Section 10

Read the statements, check the box to promise that you’ve done the right thing, and sign your name.

Section 11

A very easy to follow list that tells you exactly what to upload in each section (the hardest part is actually compiling all the correct documents and ensuring they’re certified correctly!)

Section 12

Another easy-to-follow system of relevant uploads/templates for a VERY confusing part of the application.

English is my first language, I was trained in Australia, and I’ve worked all over the world, but this really stumped me for a while… I took some time to attempt to wrap my head around it for you and this is what I have come up with as the best explanation:

“Threshold” refers to the concept of competent practice. Every physiotherapist has a number of roles they need to be competent in (manual skills, communication etc.), and there is a spectrum of ability (from not very good through to amazing) for each of those roles. Somewhere on that spectrum lies a “threshold” for safe clinical practice that you are expected to work above to be registered in New Zealand.

There are 7 Roles:

(PBNZ Physiotherapy Standards Framework 2020)

You need to provide PBNZ with “supporting evidence” from your education and your clinical practice that proves you are “above the threshold” (i.e. competent) in each of these roles.

You will upload these items of supporting evidence individually e.g. things like your CV template, your academic curriculum, your referee template, a reflective statement template, or evidence of a quality improvement project you have completed.

You will then complete the provided “Threshold Template” form which is like a reference list or index of appendices to help the PBNZ find the relevant document in your application.

All you have to do for each role is provide evidence that proves your competence:

  • From your physiotherapy qualification in “Row 1”
  • From your physiotherapy work experience in “Row 2”
  • With 3-5 extra pieces of supporting evidence in “Row 3”

Make it easy for the assessor to see how good you are. Don’t write a long winded essay in each section, it should be a list of documents and page numbers, like they’ve demonstrated in the provided example:

(PBNZ Threshold Templates Information Sheet)

This is your chance to brag about your experience working as a physiotherapist and prove to the Board you are a safe, competent and up to date practitioner that has something to offer the New Zealand public.

Be strategic with the information you provide, and think “quality over quantity”.

Section 13


Phew, all done! Now what?

Your application will take at least 2-3 months (during COVID 4-5 months) to be processed– longer if you haven’t filled things in correctly or provided the right information.

You’ll get emails at each stage of this process keeping you updated.

Then one very happy day you should receive an email declaring your success!

Woo hoo, congrats!

As a reward you get to pay the PBNZ more money for an Annual Practicing Certificate (APC), something you’ll need each practicing year to legally work as a physio in New Zealand.

I’ve written this post from a purely hypothetical position, but I’ve done my fair share of applications in the past. If there is anything you’re not clear on feel free to reach out and I’ll do my best to help (disclaimer: I’m in no way affiliated with PBNZ so any and all advice is provided purely from a place of goodwill! Use the wesbite and the Guidance Notes as your most reliable and up to date source of information)


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