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Frequently asked questions from people interested in becoming a Police officer.

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Frequently Asked Questions

OK, I’m thinking of joining the Police. What are the must-haves for new recruits?

Great! Check out what you need to be a cop.

Are the New Zealand Police looking for new people right now?

Check out where we need cops to see what districts we are currently accepting applications for.

What are the age requirements?

You can be 17 when you apply, but you must be 18 upon entry to the RNZPC. There is no upper age limit so don’t let this be a barrier. 

What activities could I take up that will help support my application?

Activities that exercise the mind and body will help to prepare you for the selection process. This would include study, using computers and other forms of technology, and taking part in activities that improve your strength and fitness.

A lot of police work involves working with others so activities that improve your communication and interaction skills would be useful.

Being a police officer requires more than just physical fitness. You’ll need to be community-minded and display a positive attitude. To become a stronger applicant and increase your chances of being accepted into NZ Police training, you might want to think about doing some work in your community. This could include working with a community group, coaching sports, mentoring young people, volunteering or fundraising.

What if myself or my family have any convictions, will my application get rejected?

People with serious proven convictions relating to specific drugs, dishonesty, violence, and sexual crimes, recent or multiple drink-driving convictions can’t join the New Zealand Police.

People with less serious or one-off historic convictions are considered on a case-by-case basis.  Background checks are part of the selection process and every applicant is assessed on their own merit.

Some proven charges and offences concerning your family or friends may have an impact on your application. All are taken on a case-by-case basis. The best way to check is to apply and get the process underway.

Can I still apply if I have traffic offences?

If you have traffic infringements or written traffic warnings, apart from drink-driving offences, including speed, breach of road rules, driver licencing, or mobile phone-related offences, your application may still be considered.

Consideration is also given to the type of offence, how many you have and how long ago they happened. You may be eligible now or in the future, or your application may be permanently declined.

But: if you have 50 or more current demerit points we won't consider your application until your demerits drop below 50.

How does the Clean Slate Act apply to me and my partner or family?

The Clean Slate Act 2004 doesn’t apply to Police applicants. Your partner and your family will be vetted under the Clean Slate Act.

I can speak a second language, will it help me get selected?

Knowing another language could make your application stronger, but it’s important that you can speak, read, write, and listen in English.

Are there any particular school subjects or qualifications that will help me become a cop?

You don’t need any particular qualifications to join the Police. If you’re still at school we recommend future applicants pick subjects that they enjoy/that interest them and that they are motivated to study. Being proficient in maths and English is essential.

It’s also important to think about what else you could do at school that align with our values and provide you with skills and experiences that you can talk about during the selection process.  For example, speaking more than one language.  Or displaying leadership/respect by mentoring younger students in a sports team or helping out with volunteering/coaching through roles at school (or outside of school).

I’ve heard you run a programme in secondary schools, where can I find more information about this?

Yes, the Police Pathway Programme runs nationwide in a growing number of secondary schools. To find out more about this programme email pathwayprogramme@police.govt.nz

Do I need to be able to meet the fitness requirements before I apply?

You should have a good understanding of what the PAT standards are and should be close to or at the physical level of fitness required to meet them before applying.

How will my size, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or religious beliefs affect my application?

We value diversity. Different cultures, backgrounds and ideas help make the New Zealand Police what it is. We’re interested in you and what you could bring to the New Zealand Police.

Is being a Police Officer a dangerous job?

You’ll find yourself in all kinds of situations and, yes, some will be challenging. But, remember, you’ll be working with experienced professional team-mates who look out for each other.

As part of your training you’ll learn how to stay safe on the job, and to defuse potentially dangerous situations using good communication skills. And you'll also learn to use the latest equipment including protective vests, pepper spray, tasers, and work with Police dog teams. In short, you’ll be well-prepared for all situations.

Will my tattoos be a mark against me?

It’s important that people see the Police as approachable, so if you take on a Police role it means you’ll be dealing with the public and you should think about the impact a visible tattoo might have.

Many of our recruits have a tattoo, and the stories and very personal experiences behind why they got their unique tattoos, combined with the training provided by police, can equip these officers to police more effectively and empathetically in our diverse communities.

Apart from Ta Moko or equivalent, you shouldn’t have tattoos in prominent places such as the hands or face. If you do these will need to be assessed.

Tattoos which are offensive, rude, or incite hatred are totally against our values are an absolute “no”. No exceptions.

I love to wear jewellery, will I be allowed to?

In general, you can wear minimal jewellery. Common-sense is a factor, it’s about what is appropriate for a Police Officer and for safety.

For example, you can wear wedding and other significant rings, but not too many. Body piercings that are not visible when in uniform are okay, but you will need to think seriously about the risk of injury before wearing these on duty.

Bracelets, chains, or necklaces are not permitted when in uniform for obvious safety reasons. Medic-alert bracelets are allowed.

Is Police Recruitment on Facebook?

Yes, we are. Go to our Facebook page where you can ask questions about the constabulary recruitment process, share your experiences with other recruits, get training tips, and draw inspiration from the hundreds of work stories from real police officers.

Do I need to have New Zealand Residency to apply?

NZ Police require all prospective applicants with NZ Residency to gain NZ Permanent Residency before applying to become a police officer.

One of the main reasons that NZ Police requires prospective applicants to have NZ permanent residency is because of the travel restrictions that apply to NZ resident visa holders. NZ permanent residents have the indefinite right to leave and re-enter the country. NZ residents, however, must apply to Immigration New Zealand to be granted a variation to their travel conditions. If an NZ resident visa holder breaches their travel conditions there is a risk that they may be unable to re-enter the country. This can cause difficulties if unplanned travel occurs (whether this is for personal or work reasons) or if the NZ resident visa holder is not granted a variation to their travel conditions (whether that be inadvertently by simply forgetting to obtain the variation before departing the country, or otherwise). As an organisation, we are unwilling to take this risk.

We suggest you visit the NZ Immigration website if you wish to know more about obtaining New Zealand permanent residency.

Will having a degree or other tertiary qualification help?

You don’t need any specific qualifications to apply, however, having one could make you a stronger applicant.

NZ Police offers exciting career progression and promotional opportunities in more than 30 different career paths. If you are thinking of studying before applying it may be helpful to look at our career paths.

Am I eligible to re-apply?

If you are a previous applicant and you are eligible to re-apply, the Recruitment team will be able to confirm this and advise whether we are able to accept your application at this time. Please contact us for guidance before applying.

I'm working as a Police Officer overseas and would like join the New Zealand Police – what do I need?

You’ll need to get New Zealand Permanent Residency before applying. This is something you’ll have to do yourself, as we can’t help you with the immigration process. Your first step is to visit the NZ Immigration website to find out more.

New Zealand Police do not operate a lateral recruiting programme, so you would need to undergo and pass the New Zealand Police recruiting process and, if successful, be accepted for training at the Royal New Zealand Police College when a vacancy becomes available.