New Zealand citizens can move to Australia to live and work without needing to apply for a visa of any kind (see the exceptions below). When you arrive in Australia and pass through border control, a Special Category Visa (SCV) is electronically assigned if you have a New Zealand passport. This lets you to live in Australia for as long as you wish to.
There’s actually no mention of this visa at all when you go through Australian border control, it all happens electronically when the immigration official swipes your passport or when you go through the new SmartGate systems being introduced throughout Australian airports.
It's important to understand that the SCV is considered a temporary, unprotected visa. When you see the word temporary, you might think this means there is a limit to how long you can live and work in Australia but that is not the case. There is currently no limit to how long you can stay in Australia, although that could change at the whim of a future Australian government.
In the meantime, you can have your SCV cancelled and be deported. Usually this is following criminal acts, but the government now has greater powers to deport based on character grounds too. And if you are sentenced to prison for 12 months or more (or several periods of imprisonment adding up to a total of 12 months or more) or found guilty of a child sex offence, your SCV is automatically cancelled and you will be deported back to New Zealand.
The other thing to know about the SCV is that it does not give you the same rights as an Australian permanent resident or citizen. For example, living in Australia on an SCV means you cannot:
To qualify for these things, you must become an Australian citizen.
The Australian Immigration website discusses in more detail the special visas granted to New Zealanders to allow us to live and work there.
Note that New Zealand permanent residents are not entitled to the Special Category Visa. It applies only to New Zealand citizens. If you are a New Zealand permanent resident you will need to apply for a visa to be able to live and work in Australia. See Australian Immigration to find a visa that might apply to you.
There are two situations where New Zealand citizens may not be able to get a Special Category Visa (meaning you can't simply move to Australia to live and work without making some sort of application for residency).
Although New Zealand citizens can live and work in Australia indefinitely on an SCV, you must still apply to become an Australian citizen. This has become a lot easier since 1 July 2023, and the main requirement now is that you have lived in Australia for 4 years.
We've researched this for you and have written about it on our page about how to become an Australian citizen.