Reporting people trafficking

How to recognise trafficking and what support is available for people whose case is reported and certified as people trafficking by New Zealand Police.

What people trafficking means

People trafficking is the process of moving someone using coercion or deception, or so they can be badly exploited. People trafficking can take place across borders or entirely within a country.

What is people trafficking? Information for the community and government PDF 2MB

People trafficking does not only happen to migrants, though migrants can be particularly vulnerable due to their reliance on others for visas, jobs or money, or their unfamiliarity with local laws, customs and languages.

Migrant victims in particular are often tricked with false promises of jobs or schooling then badly exploited once they arrive in New Zealand. Exploitation can include being forced to work by threats of violence, threats of deportation or to repay debts. This work can include sex work, domestic work like cooking and cleaning or work in a restaurant, shop or labouring.

Victims do not usually realise they have been trafficked and may blame themselves for getting themselves into a dangerous situation. Sometimes people agree to their initial movement and some degree of exploitation only to find out once they are unable to leave or resist, that the actual situation is much worse than they expected.

Check if you are in a trafficking situation

Are you in a trafficking situation? Ask yourself:

  • has someone taken your passport and money?
  • are there locks on your doors or windows to stop you from leaving your workplace or where you live?
  • do you need to ask permission to eat, sleep or go to the toilet?
  • do you have no time off, for example, to go shopping and meet other people?
  • does your employer pay you low wages or none at all?
  • does your employer force you to work to pay off debt?
  • has someone threatened you or your family with violence, jail or deportation if you do not cooperate?
  • have you travelled or been recruited for work that has turned out to be illegal, paid less than you were promised or not paid at all?

A person may need help if they:

  • live at their place of work – look for locks on the outside of doors
  • have ‘rehearsed’ statements and stories
  • do not have money or any form of ID because their passport is being withheld
  • work long hours and have no time off
  • have an ‘escort’ or ‘translator’ who speaks on their behalf
  • have an unusual fear of their employer and authorities
  • show signs of neglected mental or physical health with the possibility of substance abuse or self-harm.

View and download this information in:

English PDF 184KB

Chinese PDF 478KB

Malay PDF 184KB

Vietnamese PDF 209KB

Samoan PDF 183KB

Tongan PDF 184KB

Fijian PDF 177KB

Hindi PDF 198KB

Tagalog PDF 176KB

Māori PDF 176KB 


More information is available about people trafficking in New Zealand.

People trafficking

Report people trafficking

If you, or someone you know, might have been trafficked and:

  • is in immediate danger, call the New Zealand Police on 111, or
  • if it is not an emergency, contact Immigration New Zealand:

Phone: 0508 558 855

Getting certified as a victim of people trafficking after making a report

After your report has been received, the information you give is assessed.

The assessment is to see whether you can be certified as a victim of people trafficking by New Zealand Police (NZ Police). The certification process is done by Immigration New Zealand and NZ Police. You do not apply to be certified as a victim of people trafficking.

If NZ Police certify you as a victim of people trafficking, you (or the person you reported on behalf of) can access support services in New Zealand that may not otherwise have been available.

Support services for certified victims of people trafficking

Access to Victim Support services is available for:

  • New Zealand citizens or residents, and
  • non-residents of New Zealand if the crime occurred in New Zealand.

The New Zealand Government is committed to eliminating people trafficking and protecting victims, including those victims who may have breached their visas or who are in New Zealand unlawfully.

Visas for victims of people trafficking

Police-certified victims of people trafficking can apply for special visas that allow them to stay in New Zealand and work, study or live here permanently in some cases.

Healthcare for victims of people trafficking

Police-certified victims of people trafficking are eligible to receive publically funded healthcare under Section B12 of the Ministry of Health’s Eligibility Direction.

Health and Disability Services Eligibility Direction 2011

Welfare support for victims of people trafficking

Police-certified victims of people trafficking may be eligible for welfare support, administered by the Ministry of Social Development, under Clause 15E of the Special Needs Grants Programme.

Clause 15E. Victims of people trafficking | Work and Income

Migrant exploitation

Exploitation is not always connected to people trafficking but exploitation alone can have significant impacts on victims.

Migrant exploitation 

There is a special work visa available for migrants who have been exploited by their employer, even if they have not been trafficked. This is called the Migrant Exploitation and Protection Work Visa.

Migrant Exploitation and Protection Work Visa