Assessment of individual qualifications, training and experience

Assessment of individual qualifications and experience

If you do not hold a prescribed qualification you may still be able to apply for registration.

It is a legal requirement that for you to be registered as an oral health practitioner within a scope of practice in New Zealand. You must first establish you—

(a) are fit for registration,

(b) have the qualification(s) prescribed for that scope of practice, and

(c) are competent to practise within that scope of practice.

It is up to you to demonstrate to the Dental Council that you can satisfy each of the three components.

If you cannot satisfy any one of the three components your application for registration will be declined.

If you do not hold a prescribed qualification, a registration pathway may apply which entails an assessment of your qualifications and an assessment of your competence to practise, referred to as the Individual Assessment process.

The Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act 2003 (the HPCA Act) provides that we may treat an overseas qualification as a prescribed qualification if, in our opinion, the qualification is equivalent to, or as satisfactory as, a prescribed qualification.

If you are able to provide documentary evidence, satisfactory to the Council, that your qualification(s) may be treated as equivalent to, or as satisfactory as, a prescribed qualification and you can demonstrate your competence to practise in the scope of practice in which you wish to register, you may apply for an individual assessment.

The individual assessment process

The individual assessment process consists of a number of steps:

  • Determine fitness for registration
  • Assessment of your qualification(s)
  • Assessment of your competence
    • Review of practice experience
    • Online interview
  • Council consideration and decision.

You should start your application through the online assessment tool to direct you to the correct form.

Fitness for registration

The HPCA Act states that no applicant for registration may be registered as a health practitioner if they do not satisfy the statutory fitness for registration requirements.[1] 

The Council establishes and verifies the applicant’s identity, satisfies itself that the applicant is the holder of the qualification upon which the application is based, and determines their fitness for registration. The process to this stage is the same as that for all other registration applications.

The registration application form you are required to complete asks you a series of questions to establish your fitness for registration, or not as the case may be. You may be required to upload explanatory and other supporting evidence, or to arrange for the Council to directly receive documents such as certificates of good standing. Some of these documents will need to be certified—details provided later.

The primary focus in establishing your fitness for registration is:

  • Your health—both physical and mental (including any impairments, transmissible major viral infections, and addictions)
  • Your integrity and conduct—both professional and personal
  • Your ability to speak, understand and communicate in English.

Details on the fitness for registration requirements can be found here.

Assessment of your competence

Assessment of your qualification(s)

The objective is to determine whether in Council’s opinion your qualification(s) can be treated as equivalent to, or as satisfactory as, a prescribed qualification.

“…equivalent to, or as satisfactory as…” does not mean identical to, or the same as. The statutory terminology speaks to the result or outcome of the qualification(s), rather than to its form or structure. 

The test is whether your qualification(s) have learning objectives or outcomes that are good enough, or as satisfactory as, the prescribed qualification(s) against which it is being assessed.

Assessment is against a New Zealand accredited or Dental Board of Australia approved programme of study.

An academic involved in the teaching of a relevant prescribed qualification in New Zealand or Australia will undertake the assessment of your qualification(s), comparing your qualification(s) against the relevant prescribed qualification. 

They may compare and assess your qualification curriculum (including academic and clinical teaching and instruction), and student assessment methodologies. 

Without sufficient detail made available, the academic assessor may not be able to satisfy themselves of equivalence of your qualification.    

Practice experience

The assessors will review and consider the material you provided.  Amongst other things they will review your practice experience, ongoing learning, and cases—which should demonstrate your clinical skills and experience at a dental specialist level.

If your qualification(s) have been obtained within 12 months of your completed application form (submitted, supporting information provided and fee paid), then:

  • you do not need to provide information on your practice experience, ongoing learning and cases
  • a curriculum vitae and referee reports are still required
  • if your qualification(s) is determined to be equivalent to, or as satisfactory as a prescribed qualification, then your competence requirement is demonstrated through the recent completion of your qualification(s).

Where your qualification(s) submitted for the assessment were obtained longer than 12 months ago, all requested evidence related to your practice experience must be submitted.

Where cases are required, you need to submit a logbook with a summary of your cases over the last five years, and at least five case examples relevant to your scope of practice as part of your online application. 

Ensure that the cases you submit are cases in which you were the lead clinician.

Online interview

The two assessors will hold an online interview with you after their review of your qualification details and the cases you have submitted. In the interview, you may be asked to clarify information in your application related to your qualification(s), the cases submitted, your practice experience, or discuss general clinical matters related to your scope of practice. You are not required to present the cases you submitted—but be prepared to answer questions about your cases or any information submitted.  

Council consideration

The assessors will prepare an assessment report for Council with their findings and advise whether in their considered opinion—

  • Council may treat your qualification(s) as “…equivalent to, or as satisfactory as, a prescribed qualification…”; and,
  • you may be considered competent to practise in the scope of practice in which you have applied for registration.

Once the assessment report has been received, it will, together with your application and all other relevant information be considered at the next available Council meeting. The Council will then decide whether you have demonstrated to its satisfaction that—

  • you are fit for registration,
  • you have the qualification(s) which Council may treat as “…equivalent to, or as satisfactory as, a prescribed qualification…”, and
  • you are competent to practise within that scope of practice.

External assessment of your application can only start once we have received all the necessary documentation.

The process is not linear, which means there may be significant overlap in completing each component.

Due to the process steps involved, individual assessment applications take some time from receipt of your completed application and supporting documentation until a decision is reached. 

What you need to provide

You are required to provide the information listed in the online application form about:

  • your qualification(s),
  • your competence, and
  • the information required to establish your identity and your fitness for registration.

Refer to our guide for supporting documents you may need to submit.

Getting your documents certified

We need certified copies of some supporting documentation.

Refer to our guide for who can certify your documents and verify your identity.

Getting your documents translated

If any documents are not in English, you are required to submit an official English translation together with a certified copy of your original document.

Certificate of good standing

You are required to submit an original certificate of good standing from each Board or Council where you have been registered during the last seven years.

Certificates of good standing must be no more than three months old at the time your application is received.

English language requirement

If you require a pass in a Council-approved English test to meet the English language requirement, you will need to submit your pass test results with your application form. 

Please remember that:

  • pass results must be obtained in a single examination attempt across all modules/areas
  • a pass is valid for two years for new applications.

If you are not sure about your specific English language requirements, refer to the Policy on English language requirements.


The fee for the assessment of your qualification, training and experience is payable with the application form.

When you apply, we will ask you about your practising intentions – that is, whether you intend to: 

  • practise in New Zealand and apply for an annual practising certificate (APC)
  • not practise immediately but want your name retained on the register.

You will be asked to pay your registration fee at the time you complete your application for registration. If your registration application is successful and you don’t already have an APC with us, we will email you with an invoice to pay for your annual practising or non-practising fees.

Please note you can only lawfully practise in New Zealand if you hold a current APC.

If you or the Council withdraw your application after 90 days or more of being submitted, a withdrawal fee will apply. You can find the fees applicable to each application type on our fees page

Applications withdrawn within 90 days of being submitted will incur the administration fee. 

Applications received that do not contain all the valid documents will be withdrawn by the Council and you will need to resubmit your application once you can supply all supporting information. 

You need to familiarise yourself with New Zealand’s conditions of practice

To practise in New Zealand, you need to understand the cultural, social, and legal framework in which we practice.

You must familiarise yourself of the New Zealand healthcare and dental environment, by reading the Working in Aotearoa New Zealand handbook.

You will be required to declare that you have read and understood the content of the handbook when you apply to register.


If you are registered, your registration will be subject to a condition of oversight and a mentor will be appointed to assist you to adapt to practice in New Zealand, gain familiarity with Council’s Standards Framework for oral health practitioners and the ethical principles, professional and practice standards it contains.                 

If your registration application is not successful

If the Council declines your application for registration, you have the option of completing a prescribed qualification. If we do not consider you are fit for registration, we will not let you enter the New Zealand Dental Specialist Registration Examination.


[1]  Section 16 Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act 2003