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What do I need to do if I wish to practice in New Zealand?

To practice dentistry in New Zealand, you must be registered with the Dental Council of New Zealand and have an Annual Practising Certificate (APC).

You can apply for registration as a dentist if you have a prescribed qualification as defined by the Dental Council.

New Zealand

  • Bachelor of Dental Surgery, University of Otago


  • An Australian Dental Council (ADA) accredited programme
  • A Dental Board of Australia approved programme of study providing a qualification for the purpose of registration in general dentistry in Australia
  • A five-year undergraduate dental degree from an Australian Dental School and a pass in the Australian Dental Registration Examinations

General Dental Council accredited dental schools in the UK and Commonwealth countries

  • A GDC accredited undergraduate dental degree from a GDC accredited dental school in the UK, or Commonwealth, as listed below:

Dental School Dates of recognition
Western Cape Before 1 Jan 1998
Hong Kong Before 1 Jan 2001
Singapore Before 1 Jan 2001
Witwatersrand Before 1 Jan 2001
Pretoria Before 1 Jan 2001
Stellenbosch Before 1 Jan 2001
Medical University of South Africa 1 Jan 1997 - 31 Dec 2000
Malaysia 1 Jan 1997 - 31 Dec 2000

USA or Canada

  • A Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA) accredited undergraduate dental degree from a CDA accredited dental school in the USA or Canada
  • A five-year undergraduate dental degree and a pass in the USA licensing examinations

If your qualification is not prescribed, you can either;

  • Sit the New Zealand Dental Registration Examination (NZDREX), done through the National Dental Examining Board of Canada
  • Apply to have your overseas, non-prescribed qualifications, training and experience assessed

If you are registered in Australia, you can register in New Zealand in a similar scope of practice, under the Trans-Tasman Mutual Recognition Act 1997.

Click here for more information.

What kind of visa do I need to work in New Zealand?

There are several different visa options if you wish to live and work in New Zealand. The right option for you will depend on your age, how long you intend to stay in the country for, whether you have any dependents and if you already have a job offer.

Click here to find out more about your options on the New Zealand Immigration website.

Once I become registered, what else do I need to do before I can commence practice?

Once you have registered with the Dental Council, you can then join the New Zealand Dental Association (NZDA). Being an NZDA member will also allow you to become a member of your local NZDA Branch.

You should also arrange your professional indemnity cover before you commence practice. We recommend Dental Protection. Being a NZDA member will give you access to the discounted member rate.

If you will be providing free dental care to adolescents, and/or special dental services to children and adolescents under the government funded dental benefits scheme, then you should be added to your employer’s Combined Dental Agreement with the local District Health Board.

If you wish to receive payment from ACC, the you should register as a health provider with ACC and obtain your treatment provider number.

What professional support would be available to me?


By joining the NZDA, you are becoming part of a wider professional network of 2900 dentists around the country who value the resources on offer that help them in their professional practice.

The NZDA are the chosen advocates for dental professionals nationwide, offering professional development, knowledge sharing and trusted representation that sets the benchmark for accessible prevention and treatment in our communities.

Click here for more information about the services and benefits available.


Membership with your local NZDA Branch is a really great way to expand your support network and get to know like minded dentists in your area.

Branches meet approximately once a month, and many have study groups that you can also become involved with.


All newly registered overseas trained dentists are welcome to take part in the NZDA Graduate Professional Development Programme.

This is a one-year programme for all new BDS graduates and newly registered overseas trained graduates who are in their first five years of practice.

The programme consists of eight sessions and runs in different locations throughout the country. It covers topics that are relevant to new dentists practising in New Zealand and offers a good support network.

You will be able to enrol once you have registered and become and NZDA member. 

What is practising dentistry like in New Zealand?

Most dentists in New Zealand practice in the private sector as either employees (generally those with less experience) or independent contractors. In the larger cities, there is greater competition compared with more rural areas, where earing potential can still be high and the cost of living much lower.

Majority of New Zealanders have minimal dental insurance, although accident related injuries are covered by the government department Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC). This means that dental work in New Zealand is costly for those over 18 years old. As a result, there is a greater focus on education and prevention.

Treatment planning is a very patient centred process. Patients like to be presented with different options and understand these, before they decide on which treatment plan best suits them. Good communication skills are essential.

New Zealand has a culturally diverse population. The different cultures affect the ways patients understand and respond to health care. Dentists must be mindful of their cultural competence. This requires an awareness of cultural diversity and the ability to function effectively and respectfully when working with and treating people of different cultural backgrounds.

Where do I look for jobs?

The classified section of the NZDA website is a good place to start.

Would I be an employee or independent contractor?

The majority of dentists who work in the private sector do so as independent contractors. Dentists who work in the public sector do so as employees.

Recently graduated dentists often start their careers in private practice as employees, before changing to work as independent contractors once they have gained confidence.

How do I arrange my Dental Protection professional indemnity cover?

All applications for Dental Protection membership need to be made through NZDA. Once received, your completed application will be sent to Dental Protection in the UK for approval. This process can take between 2-10 working days.

Indemnity protection ONLY applies to the applicant whose name is on the completed application form. It is specific to you and cannot be used by anyone else.

Click here for more information on Dental Protection.

What is ACC?

Everyone in New Zealand is covered by the Accident Compensation Corporation’s (ACC) no-fault scheme if they’re injured in an accident. This includes children, beneficiaries and students. It doesn’t matter if they’re working, unemployed or retired. It also includes visitors to New Zealand.

The cover ACC provides helps pay for the costs of their recovery. This includes payment towards treatment, help at home and work, and help with their income.

If you wish to receive payment for dental services from ACC, then you must register as a health provider and obtain a treatment provider number.

ACC legislation requires dental treatment to be necessary and appropriate. In each individual case, you must complete and send the appropriate form(s) to ACC.

Click here for more information.

Who receives publicly funded dental care in New Zealand?

Children in New Zealand who meet the eligibility criteria for publicly funded health and disability service are entitled to free basic oral health services from birth until their 18th birthday.

From birth to 12 – 13 years, basic care is provided by Dental Therapists through the Community Oral Health Service. This basic care covers; dental education, preventative and basic treatment services. If a child requires extra treatment, they will be referred to another oral health service provider.

When children begin secondary school, they will need to visit a dentist in their local community who holds the appropriate contract with their local DHB to be funded for such care.

A limited range of dental services are funded for some adults.

People with disabilities or medical conditions who are referred to a hospital
People on low incomes with a Community Services card who need emergency dental care

These services are provided by public hospitals or dentists contracted by their local DHB.

What is it like living in New Zealand?

New Zealand has a population of 4.7 million with 35% living in the greater Auckland region. The population is very ethnically diverse, particularly in the larger cities. There are a lot of people living in New Zealand who originate from; the Polynesian Islands, China, Taiwan, Korea, Vietnam and South Africa. Although European’s still make up approximately 75% of New Zealand’s population, Maori culture is still very important.

New Zealand is best known for how clean and green it is. With spectacular scenery ranging from mountain ranges, to forests, native bush, lakes, rivers and plenty of beaches. All of this in addition to the country’s temperate climate make it a great place for those who love the outdoors.

The people here are very relaxed, friendly and open minded. Many immigrants have commented on how welcome they are made to feel when they move here.

New Zealand is a great place for families. It has a low crime rate and is stable, peaceful and safe. In fact, it is rated in international surveys as one of the world’s most peaceful, least corrupt countries. It has great education opportunities, good and affordable healthcare and a developed range of public services.

New Zealand has a very low population density with only 18 people (approx.) per every square kilometre. There are a variety of lifestyle options available depending on what suits you. If you are after something fast-paced then there are many options for city living but living in smaller more provincial towns or even rurally is just as easily accessible. Outside of Auckland, commuting is very easy.

Click here for more information.

Useful links

Immigration New Zealand          

Dental Council                           

DCNZ Handbook for the New Zealand Conditions of Practice