Fitness for registration

Any doctor applying for registration in New Zealand must be fit for registration and fit to practise medicine. It's a legal requirement on us to ensure they are. We determine this as part of our assessment of your application for registration.


To be able to register you, we must be satisfied that:

  1. you can communicate effectively and comprehend English sufficiently to protect public health and safety
  2. you do not suffer from a physical or mental disorder which may affect your ability to practice medicine
  3. if you have a conviction for an offence punishable by imprisonment for a term of three months or longer; the offence does not reflect adversely on your fitness to practise
  4. if you are under investigation or the subject of professional disciplinary proceedings in New Zealand (or in another country), that investigation or matter does not reflect adversely on your fitness to practise
  5. if you are subject to any of the following orders, the order does not reflect adversely on your fitness to practise. That is:
    • an order of a professional disciplinary tribunal in New Zealand or overseas
    • an order of an accredited educational institution
    • an order of an authority or of a similar body in another country
  6. there is no reason to believe that you may endanger the health or safety of members of the public.

Our registration application forms include a range of 'fitness for registration' questions. Your responses, as well as the information provided from your referees and from other regulatory authorities, help us to decide if you are fit to be registered and practise in New Zealand.

Doctors who are already registered to practise in New Zealand are asked similar fitness questions as part of the annual process to renew their practising certificate.

Medical students

We have no jurisdiction over medical students however your conduct and health prior to graduation can affect your future eligibility for registration as a medical practitioner.

Here are some ways in which your eligibility for registration may be affected:

  • Under Section 16 of the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act 2003, (the Act) you must be fit to practise medicine. This refers to your conduct and health, your English language ability and your medical skills and knowledge.
    The medical school Dean is required to advise us of any doctors who may not be fit to practise due to physical or mental ill-health.
  • When applying for registration, we ask you questions relating to your fitness for registration. We ask similar questions when you apply to renew your practising certificate. The Act allows for penalties (of up to $10,000) for false declarations or representations. Failure to give this information could jeopardise your right to registration.
  • We are particularly concerned about the health of young doctors, and that dealing with drugs can expose students and young doctors to the risk of abuse of substances or conviction or crime for drug usage or sale.  The Council's Health Committee takes a constructive approach to doctors who become addicted to drugs or alcohol and works with them through a monitoring programme to ensure early recovery.

We have a policy on transmissible major viral infections. Screening for HBV (hepatitis B virus) is strongly advised. If you believe you have been at risk of contracting HBV or HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) you should be aware of your serological status. We encourage you to be vaccinated against HBV.

If you are concerned about your future eligibility for registration and have something you may need to declare, speak with the Dean or contact the Registrar at our Wellington office (toll free ph 0800 286 801).

In the past ten years we have not denied registration to anyone qualifying at a university medical school in New Zealand due to a lack of fitness. Some students have declared convictions (eg, drink driving) or health conditions (eg, psychiatric or other illness) and we have obtained reports to ensure that they have appropriate support, and if necessary, therapy, and that public health and safety is not at risk.

  • When applying for registration at the end of your medical training you will have to answer questions relating to your fitness to practise. This guide will help you to figure out what you may need to declare to Council.