Under Trans-Tasman Travel Arrangements (TTTA) announced by the Australian and New Zealand Prime Ministers in 1973, Australian and New Zealand citizens who present no health or character concerns can visit, live and work in either country indefinitely and without restrictions - a benefit Australia has not conferred on any other nation. The Special Category Visa (SCV) under which New Zealanders can enter is, however, a temporary visa, and has been since its introduction on 1 September 1994. The SCV is intended to facilitate trans-Tasman travel and labour mobility.
TTTA is not a binding bilateral treaty but operates as a string of procedures in the immigration policies of both countries. It is linked to the Australia-New Zealand Closer Economic Relations (CER) Trade Agreement, however, through an endorsement in the preamble of the objective of freedom of travel within the free-trade area, for both labour market and social reasons.
On 26 February 2001, the New Zealand and Australian Governments agreed to arrangements where New Zealand citizens who arrived after this date would need to apply for a permanent visa to gain full access to Australian social security benefits and citizenship. For all migrants, a two-year waiting period applies for most social security benefits from the date a permanent visa is granted. New Zealanders who arrived after February 2001 under a SCV do, however, have access to a range of family assistance payments, Medicare, the pharmaceutical benefits scheme, some concession cards and public education. They may also be able to claim Age Pension, Disability Support Pension (if severely disabled) and Carer Payment (for partners of Disability Support Pensioners) under the Social Security Agreement between Australia and New Zealand. This is a wider range of entitlements than is generally available to citizens from any other country residing in Australia on a temporary visa. For further information on benefits visit the Department of Human Services website. For further information on New Zealanders and Australian citizenship click on the following link New Zealand citizens living in Australia.
Subject to the passage of legislation, from 1 January 2015, the Australian Government proposes changes that will allow eligible New Zealand SCV holders to access Australian Higher Education Loan Program loans. Further information is available from the Study Assist website.
Australian citizens living in New Zealand are permanent residents on arrival and have the same social security entitlements as New Zealand citizens, provided waiting periods (generally around two years) have expired. Australians have immediate access to publicly funded health and disability services, however, if they can demonstrate an intention to live in New Zealand for two or more years. Budgetary costs of some benefits are shared between the two Governments, in proportion to the time an individual spends in each country.
Updated September 2013