Classification system


Endorsements warn people that information has special requirements. These are additional markings alongside the classification. These may include restricting access and dissemination based on need-to-know and special handling procedures. Agency specific policy and procedures will detail the endorsements used and any special requirements required for each endorsement.

Endorsement markings may indicate:

  • the specific nature of information
  • temporary sensitivities
  • limitations on access and dissemination
  • how recipients should handle or disclose information.

You should use endorsement markings only when there is a clear need for special care. Remember that endorsement markings are not security classifications in their own right — they mustn’t appear without a security classification.

Policy and privacy endorsement markings

This section provides type of endorsement and their objectives applied to policy and privacy classifications.




This marking may be used before you announce actual or potential appointments, or during the deliberation stage of a recommendation and approval process. 


This marking may be used for proposed or actual measures for the Budget before their announcement. 


This marking may be used for material that will be presented to, and/or require decisions by Cabinet or Cabinet committees. 


This marking may be used for commercially sensitive processes, negotiations, or affairs. 


This marking may be used for material intended only for use within the specified department(s). 


This marking may be used on material before a designated time at which an announcement or address will be made, or information will be disseminated. 


This marking may be used for material about competitive evaluations, such as interview records and tender assessments. 


This marking may be used for material about the actual or potential award of an honour. It may be used: 

before the announcement of the award 

during the deliberation stage of a recommendation or approval process 

when you are considering honours policy matters involving the exercise of the royal prerogative. 


This marking may be used for material that is subject to legal privilege. 


This marking may be used for material relating to: 

medical reports 

medical records and other material related to them. 


This marking may be used for material containing references to named or identifiable staff. 

It can also be used by staff for entrusting personal confidences to management. 


This marking may be used for material relating to proposals for new or changed government policy before publication. 


This marking may be used when the classification is to be reviewed at the designated time. 

See also: Applying policy and privacy endorsement markings

National security endorsement markings 

In addition to the policy and privacy endorsements in the section above, the table below provides additional endorsements and their objectives applied to national security classifications. 


This marking shows that the information requires:

  • strict control over access and movement
  • regular auditing to ensure its safe custody (use a risk assessment to decide how often to audit).

What constitutes ACCOUNTABLE MATERIAL will vary from agency to agency.

Note: TOP SECRET information is ACCOUNTABLE MATERIAL by default.


This marking indicates that access to information is restricted to New Zealand citizens with an appropriate security clearance on a need-to-know basis.

For government information carrying the endorsement marking NZEO and the security classification of IN-CONFIDENCE, SENSITIVE, or RESTRICTED:

If an agency head considers that foreign nationals should be given information marked NZEO, the agency head must consult with the originating agency to see if the endorsement marking is still required or whether it could be modified to enable release. It may be possible to have the endorsement marking removed or to release part of the information by removing the endorsement marking.

For government information carrying the endorsement marking NZEO and the security classification of CONFIDENTIAL, SECRET or TOP SECRET:

Foreign nationals must not be allowed access, even if they have the appropriate

New Zealand security clearance. However, in limited circumstances, agencies may allow information marked NZEO to be viewed by appropriately cleared foreign nationals where there is an essential business need. In all such circumstances, the Director-General of the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service must grant approval for this access.

Please note: Use this marking with care. This marking requires the agency to track and restrict information access and dissemination based on the nationality and/or waivers in place before allowing dissemination or access. This endorsement should be used with caution the effort for implementing the security controls can be high. It also requires organisations to restrict who can manage and support the information and systems with NZEO markings. When the information is disseminated to different agencies, it extends the same requirements to all agencies who have access to or receive the information.


This marking identifies information that is releasable to the countries or citizens of those indicated countries only.

For example, //RELEASABLE TO NZL, GBR or //REL TO NZL, GBR means that the information may be passed to citizens and the governments of the United Kingdom and New Zealand only.

You must use the appropriate three-letter country codes from the SAI-Global – ISO 3166-1 Codes to represent country names and their subdivisions. See ‘Part 1: Country codes’. For example, common nation tri-graphs are: NZL, AUS, CAN, GBR, USA.

Convention is for originating agency to be listed first, so NZL would be listed first, and the remainder in alphabetical order.

Sensitive compartmented markings

A sensitive compartmented marking is a word indicating that the information is in a specific need-to-know compartment. This word could be a codeword or ‘Sensitive Compartmented Information (SCI)’.

A compartmented marking is a special type of National Security endorsement marking.

It is often necessary to take security precautions beyond those normally indicated by the security classification to protect compartmented information.

The agency that owns the information specifies what the extra precautions are.

See also: Applying national security endorsement markings

Page last modified: 31/10/2022