Information about Fishing Crew Work Visa

If you have an offer to work as crew on a fishing vessel, and you have the skills and experience to do that work, you may be able to get a visa to work in New Zealand waters. Before we can grant you a visa, we’ll need your employer to agree to cover the costs of your accommodation, living expenses, and return home when the work ends. They’ll also need to show us there are no New Zealanders available to do the work they’re offering. 



Length of stay

Up to 12 months

With this visa you can

  • Work in a fishing vessel in New Zealand waters.
  • Do only the work for the employer who offered it to you.

Things to note

  • If you do any work on land or for another employer, you’ll have to leave New Zealand and you won’t be able to return.
  • It’s a good idea to keep your seaman’s book up-to-date. A seaman’s book is a good way to show us you have the necessary experience to apply for a work visa.
  • You can't include a partner or dependent children in your visa application.

Meeting the criteria

The criteria and evidence below will provide you with the information you need to meet the requirements.

Use the filters to display country specific tips, under evidence, to assist you with your application

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You must provide proof of your identity

You must provide proof of your identity:

Acceptable photos

You may provide your original passport, or a certified copy when you submit your application. If you provide a certified copy we may request your original passport to complete your application.

Your passport must be valid for at least 3 months after you plan to leave New Zealand.

Also provide a copy of your Identity card.

Also provide your:

  • Hukou (household registration book)
  • Chinese identity card.

If you are a citizen of China and you submit a paper application form in China, you must also complete a supplementary form.

Supplementary form for Chinese citizens (INZ 1027) PDF 270KB

If you are submitting a paper application form, you must provide a supplementary form for Hong Kong and Macao visitors, workers and students.

Supplementary form for Hong Kong and Macao visitors, workers and students (INZ 1220) PDF 450KB


You must be in good health

You may need to have a chest x-ray, a medical examination or both as proof of your good health.

Who needs an x-ray or medical examination

You must provide a chest x-ray completed in the last 3 months, even if you've provided one to us previously, if:

  • you have spent 6 consecutive months in China since the last x-ray certificate was issued, and
  • you are now coming to NZ for more than 6 months.


You must be of good character

You may need to provide police certificates as proof of your good character.

If you are aged 17 or older and plan to stay in New Zealand for more than 24 months (including any time you have already spent in New Zealand), you must provide police certificates from:

  • any country you are a citizen of
  • any country you have spent more than 5 years in since you turned 17.

You do not need to provide police certificates if:

  • you have provided them to us with an earlier visa application, and
  • they were issued in the previous 24 months.

Good character

How to get a police certificate

If you provide a police certificate that is not in English, you must provide an English translation.

This includes police certificates that record no convictions.

Your employer

Your employer must be allowed to recruit foreign workers

For your employer to be allowed to recruit foreign workers, they must either:

  • have a current Approval in Principle (AIP) from INZ to recruit foreign workers
  • be recruiting 6 or fewer crew members for work on a single vessel in a calendar year

You must provide information about your employer with your visa application. This can be either:

  • an AIP letter from your employer
  • a ‘Supplementary Form for Foreign Crew of a Fishing Vessel’ completed by your employer.

We won’t normally grant a visa if your employer is included on the list of non-compliant employers maintained by the Labour Inspectorate.

Supplementary Form for Foreign Crew of a Fishing Vessel (INZ 1213) PDF 309KB

List of non-compliant employers

New Zealand job offer

You must have an offer to work on a fishing vessel in New Zealand waters

You must provide a written employment agreement in English, which must:

  • agree to pay you at least the New Zealand minimum wage plus another NZ $2.00 an hour 
  • agree to pay you for all the hours you work and not less than 42 hours a week on average over the time you spend working in New Zealand waters
  • include information on what to you if you have a disagreement with your employer
  • detail any deductions, eg for food, visa application fees and airfares
  • if it’s from a New Zealand employer, comply with New Zealand employment law
  • if it’s from a foreign employer, comply with the standard principles for Crew employment agreements.

Standard principles for crew employment agreements

Employment agreements

Your employer must provide you with a copy of your employment agreement in your own language too. 

Important Information for Foreign Crews Working in New Zealand Fisheries Waters (INZ 1214) PDF 233KB

Job offer scams are common in India and South Asia, please ensure your job offer is genuine.

How to determine how realistic the job offer is

Work experience

You must be qualified by training or experience to do the work you’re offered

You must have at least 12 months’ work experience in a position that’s similar that the one you’ve been offered. Evidence can include:

  • your seaman’s log
  • letters from previous employers.

Your employer can’t pay you less than they’d have to pay a New Zealander to do the work.



The information below will help you understand the process so you can plan ahead and have the best chance of submitting a complete application.

Fees & receiving centre

Fees & receiving centre

The information below will help you understand the process, timeframes and costs involved in applying for this visa, so you can plan ahead and have the best chance of submitting a complete application.



These are the conditions that you must meet once you have your visa.

Entry permission

You must apply for entry permission when you arrive in New Zealand. You can do this by completing an arrival card, which you are given on the way to New Zealand.

Arriving in New Zealand

You can be refused entry permission if:

  • you don’t meet our character requirements
  • your circumstances have changed since you were granted a visa
  • you refuse to let us to take your photo, or provide us with your fingerprints or an iris scan, if we ask you for them.


Most visitors to New Zealand are granted multiple entry visas.

If you have a multiple entry visa, you can travel to and from New Zealand as many times as you like before your visa expires.
If you have a single entry visa, your visa will expire when you leave New Zealand.

If applying from inside New Zealand, we will normally give multiple entry travel conditions when we grant a student visa.

If there are no multiple entry travel conditions and you leave New Zealand, the visa will expire.

The travel conditions will be listed on the visa label, or in a visa letter.


You can only work in New Zealand waters, on the New Zealand or foreign chartered fishing vessel, and for the employer listed in your visa.

You can’t work on land or for any other employer.


You can study for up to 3 months.

Visa expiry

You must leave New Zealand before your visa expires.

Visa expiry dates are printed on a visa label or included in a visa letter.


Employer obligations

New Zealand employers have certain obligations they must meet when employing a non New Zealand resident.

What an employer needs to do

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Genuine attempt to recruit

You must have tried to recruit New Zealanders for the positions

Evidence you’ve attempted to recruit New Zealanders first may include proof you:

  • advertised the work in a large newspaper or website
  • asked a recruitment agency to help you find candidates
  • asked Work and Income for help to find candidates.

We’ll consult with the Ministry of Social Development when we assess the availability of New Zealanders to do the work.

Visa status

You must check the people you hire are allowed to work in New Zealand

Before your employee starts working for you, you must check they are allowed to work in New Zealand.

You can use our VisaView online tool to do this.

Check a candidate's visa status


You must sponsor each crew member

You must provide a completed ‘Sponsorship Form for Temporary Entry’ and include:

  • the details of each crew member you wish to sponsor, like their names, nationalities, dates of birth and passport details
  • evidence you’re an acceptable sponsor, like your AIP number and an explanation of the link between your activities and those that you’re sponsoring the crew to come to New Zealand for.

Sponsorship Form for Temporary Entry (INZ 1025) PDF 304KB

What sponsors must do – responsibilities and obligations

Financial position

You must be in a sound financial position

Evidence may include:

  • a statement from a chartered accountant confirming the business is financially sound and able to meet all of its outstanding obligations
  • sets of accounts certified by an accountant
  • annual reports
  • business plans
  • company profile and registration details, including the names of directors and shareholders
  • information about the business’ reputation and history.

If available, you should provide business records covering at least 2 financial years.

Employer supplementary form

You must complete an ‘Supplementary Form for Foreign Cew of a Fishing Vessel’

For each person you hire you must complete an ‘Supplementary Form for Foreign Crew of a Fishing Vessel'.

You’ll need to give your completed form to your candidate, who will need to include it with their work visa application together with their employment agreement.

Supplementary Form for Foreign Crew of a Fishing Vessel (INZ 1213) PDF 309KB

If you want to recruit seven or more foreign fishing crew, you will need to apply for an approval in princpal.

Apply for an approval in principal