Can A Foreigner Join The New Zealand Army

Can a foreigner join the New Zealand Army?

Background: The New Zealand Army has a long tradition of proudly welcoming foreign citizens. For centuries, immigrants to New Zealand have served in the military, from the Māori and European soldiers in the colonial wars through to the British, Australians, and others who fought in WWI and WWII.

Today the New Zealand Army openly embraces people from all backgrounds and countries. All applicants must be able to speak, understand, and be understood in and from English. This is to make sure those in the army can easily communicate in a variety of situations, both on- and off-mission.

Eligibility: To join the New Zealand Army, you must be aged between 18-20, depending on the role you are applying for. Depending on where you are from, you may be required to get a visa to join the Army. This visa may come with various restrictions. You may also have to provide evidence of criminal record, to prove that you’re a law-abiding citizen when you enter New Zealand.

All applicants will need to meet the usual Army recruitment criteria, including physical fitness, good mental health, and high moral and ethical standards. If you’re of foreign or dual nationality, then you must also be able to prove that you have relinquished the citizenship of the other country.

Selection Process: The selection process for a foreign army applicant is largely the same as for a New Zealand-born applicant. Every candidate will undergo a rigorous selection course, where their physical and mental fitness will be tested to make sure they can handle the demands of military life.

The army will ask for proof of academic qualifications, as well as any civilian work experience. Candidates will be asked to prove their aptitude for the military, and their ability to rise to the challenge. Any foreign language or cultural skills can be a big plus, but are not essential.

Perhaps more challenging is passing the background checks. In addition to checking a potential recruit’s criminal history and character, the Army may also have to investigate any links with their original country or third-party states.

Expert Perspective: “Foreigners can certainly join the New Zealand Army, provided they meet the legal requirements, such as a 100-hour low-intensity military service to fulfill their legal obligations. If accepted, then they become eligible to benefit from the many advantages of service in the military, which includes world-class training programs and a rich learning environment that could truly benefit their career in the long run.”
– Major General Robert Devereaux, Chief of New Zealand Defence Force.

Benefits of Joining the New Zealand Army

One of the main benefits of joining the Army is the world-class training programs. The Army offers both physical training and mental health support, to ensure that recruits are physically and emotionally prepared for the rigours of active military service. The training also includes combat operations, medical and technical training, and the chance to learn new skills in an army environment.

The military also offers a good job security and financial stability. Military personnel of all ranks and roles are paid according to the position they are in, and salaries are often higher than those in the civilian world. They also get the opportunity to enjoy additional benefits, such as yearly pay rises, free healthcare and accommodation, and generous pension schemes.

Finally, the Army provides a unique sense of camaraderie, where recruits of all nationalities come together to serve a common cause. This creates great opportunities for foreign citizens to bond and develop a strong sense of mutual respect and understanding.

Challenges of Being a Foreigner in the Army

Although foreign citizens are welcomed and even encouraged to join the Army, there are some potential challenges to being a foreigner. The language barrier is one of the most common issues, as all personnel must be able to communicate fluently in and from English. This can be a daunting prospect for some foreign recruits.

There are also potential issues with cultural differences and values. Joining the Army requires being able to completely conform to the cultural norms and values of the organization. This can be a challenge for some foreign citizens who may come from different backgrounds.

Finally, there may be the occasional difficulty of fitting in, as foreign citizens may feel as though they are outsiders in the military environment. While this generally isn’t a problem, it can be an issue for some.

Duties and Responsibilities of an Army Recruit

An Army recruit will have a variety of duties and responsibilities, which vary depending on their rank, branch, or unit. However, all soldiers are expected to adhere to the principles of loyalty, duty, and honour, and to uphold the military’s code of conduct at all times.

The specific duties of a recruit will depend on their role and the specific circumstances they serve in, but generally speaking, a recruit can expect to perform tasks such as equipment maintenance, training, and operational deployments.

It’s important for potential recruits to understand exactly what being in the Army entails so that they can make an informed decision before signing up.

Recruitment Process for Foreigners

The recruitment process for foreigners is largely identical to that for New Zealand citizens, someone interested in joining the Army must first pass a physical and medical examination, then complete the enlistment course. Following this, all applicants will go through a selection process to assess their suitability for the role.

In terms of language, foreign applicants must be able to speak, understand, and be understood in and from English, and must also prove that they have relinquished any other citizenship. Additionally, foreign applicants may have to provide evidence of criminal record.

Once they have completed the selection process, foreign citizens can begin the full enlistment procedure. This will involve paperwork and other formalities, which may vary depending on the individual’s national background.


Joining the New Zealand Army as a foreigner can have a range of positive and negative aspects. On one hand, there is the opportunity to benefit from first-class training and the many rewards of service, as well as the unique chance to bond with people of different nationalities and backgrounds. On the other hand, there are challenges such as the language barrier, cultural differences, and the potential difficulty of fitting in with the military culture.

Ultimately, it’s down to each individual to decide whether being a foreign soldier in the Army is something they’re comfortable with, and to weigh up the pros and cons. The New Zealand Army will remain open to foreign applicants who meet the legal requirements and demonstrate the right aptitude and attitude for service.

Diana Booker

Diana D. Booker is a freelance writer and editor based in Auckland, New Zealand. She has over 20 years' experience writing and editing for various publications. Diana is passionate about telling stories that capture the spirit of the country she loves and enjoys exploring its unique culture and landscape.

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