Everything you need to know about moving to New Zealand as an IMG GP


Considering a career as a GP in picturesque New Zealand?

Whether you're eyeing a permanent position or want to live the locum lifestyle, the process is simpler than ever.

As GPs are part of the Tier 1 category on New Zealand's Green List, they qualify for the Straight to Residence Visa. This visa permits you to apply for New Zealand residency before you land, given you hold a job offer from an accredited employer. Other advantages of this visa type include purchasing property and accumulating employer superannuation right after entering the country, bypassing the usual 2-year wait.

This pathway now means that to be eligible for residence, all you require is the following:

  • A job offer from an Accredited Employer
  • For a contract of 12 months or more
  • For a role that appears on the Green List
  • Medical Registration with the Medical Council of New Zealand
  • Be under the age of 55
  • Meet Health and Character requirements
  • In some cases, you will need to meet English Language requirements

We have seen some doctors get approval in as little as 48 hours.

Working as a General Practitioner (GP) in New Zealand offers a fulfilling career path filled with personal and professional growth opportunities. To work as a GP in New Zealand, international medical graduates (IMGs) must first ensure their qualifications are recognised by the Medical Council of New Zealand (MCNZ). This typically involves passing the Medical Council's registration examinations or completing a comparable health system training program in countries like the UK, Ireland, Canada, or the USA.

Once recognised, doctors must apply for registration in the General scope, which may require working under supervision for a period, depending on their experience and the specifics of their qualifications. After gaining registration, GPs can join an existing practice or work independently, though most choose to join group practices offering support and shared resources.

New Zealand has specific needs in rural and underserved areas, and GPs willing to work in these locations may find additional incentives and support. These positions meet critical healthcare needs and offer a unique lifestyle and community involvement that can be exceptionally rewarding.

Navigating these pathways can be complex, and working with a medical recruitment agency can provide invaluable guidance, ensuring that all administrative and regulatory requirements are smoothly handled. This support allows doctors to focus on what truly matters—caring for their patients and enjoying the rich lifestyle that New Zealand offers.

New Zealand GP workforce statistics

Te Whatu Ora has provided these statistics on the New Zealand GP workforce

  • Average salary for a GP in New Zealand is $145,000 to $210,000 NZD per year
  • 64% work in GP-owned practices
  • 58% identify as female
  • 51% work full-time
  • 38% are international medical graduates

Life in New Zealand as an IMG GP

New Zealand consistently ranks as one of the top destinations worldwide for quality of life and work, making it a top choice for international medical graduates (IMGs), particularly General Practitioners. Known for its top-notch healthcare system and working conditions, New Zealand provides a perfect balance of professional growth and personal well-being.

Ranked by the Global Peace Index as one of the safest countries globally, New Zealand saw a decline in crime rates in 2020 and 2021, enhancing its appeal as a secure place to raise a family. The demand for General Practitioners is high, with competitive rates and flexible contracts that align well with varied lifestyles.

For IMGs looking to start or continue their medical career, New Zealand offers numerous opportunities across its breathtaking landscapes. Positions are especially abundant in sought-after regions like Hawkes Bay, where doctors can enjoy the dual benefits of working in advanced medical facilities and living near some of the most beautiful beachside settings on the North Island. This unique blend of professional opportunities and a high quality of life ensures that New Zealand remains a top choice for GPs from around the world.

What other IMG GPs are saying:

"My partner and I had always had this idea that New Zealand was a magical place, with incredible scenery, loads of space, and a relaxed way of life. Then in 2019 we visited for 7 weeks, realised all of that was true, and spent the next 3 years planning how we would move out here! We had a fair few friends who had worked out here and assured us that the working conditions and pay were fantastic," Dr Fraser Smith said in an interview with Medrecruit.

Dr Nicky Anto said: "That elusive, beautiful unicorn of a concept called ‘Work-Life Balance’ I mentioned earlier? Turns out it exists after all! I work 3 days a week, have the energy to meditate and exercise most days, have lost 12 kg (intentionally; fear not fellow medics), and go exploring or hiking most weekends.

I’ve only been here three months, but I’m happier and healthier. The country is gorgeous, and the people are friendly – the grass is definitely a lush green this side of the pond as far as I’m concerned."

How a medical recruitment agency can support you:

A medical recruitment agency is invaluable for international GPs considering a move to a new country. We specialise in navigating complex healthcare systems and streamline the transition by assisting you with registration processes, visa applications, and finding suitable job placements.

As a leading international doctor medical recruitment agency, Medrecruit specialises in assisting IMG GPs secure employment in New Zealand. Our passionate team provides comprehensive support to help physicians navigate the process. If you want to move, register here to speak with one of our dedicated IMG GP team members.

Moving to New Zealand to work as a GP can be a professional and personally transformative experience. New Zealand's general practices offer a diverse and rewarding scope of practice. GPs can perform various medical duties, from acute to chronic care and even preventative medicine. The community-centric approach often extends beyond physical health, allowing GPs to play an essential role in the holistic well-being of their patients.

For international medical graduates, the pathway to becoming a registered GP in New Zealand typically starts with obtaining provisional general registration. This requires IMGs to work under supervision initially, allowing them to adapt to the healthcare environment and cultural nuances of New Zealand while ensuring high standards of care.

Once fully registered, GPs enjoy considerable autonomy in their practice. The move promises a high quality of life and a safe, supportive community environment and offers a professional landscape where you can genuinely make a difference.

Embracing the opportunity to work as a GP in New Zealand means stepping into a role that balances clinical challenges with a lifestyle that many doctors find deeply satisfying and enriching. Whether you are drawn by the adventure, the community, or the professional growth, New Zealand has much to offer IMG GPs.

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Medrecruit Editorial Team
18 May 2024Article by Medrecruit Editorial TeamMedrecruit Editor