Information security


Endorsement and compartmented markings

This section covers markings used alongside security classifications to show that information has extra security requirements.

Endorsement markings

Endorsement markings warn people that information has special requirements.

Endorsement markings may indicate:

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

Types of endorsements and their objectives


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

For official information carrying the endorsement marking NZEO and the security classification 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 official information carrying the endorsement marking NZEO and the security classification 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.


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.


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

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

It is common practice to put the countries in alphabetical order, with the originating country first. For example, RELEASABLE TO // NZ, CAN, GBR indicates that the originating country is New Zealand and the document can be shared with citizens and the governments of Canada and the United Kingdom.

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’.

Using endorsement markings

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.

Limiting access to authorised people

Before you grant access to information with an endorsement marking, check that the person has the right level of security clearance.

They must hold a security clearance that is at the same level or higher than the security classification on the information. People who don’t have the right clearance must not be given access.

Those with the right clearance must be briefed about the significance of the information before they access it.

Releasing or changing information with endorsement markings from another agency

If you want to release or transmit information that has an endorsement marking from another agency, you need to agree the appropriate process with that agency first. This might result in the information being relabelled.

You also need the agreement of the originating agency to remove an endorsement marking. If the originating agency doesn’t agree to remove the endorsement, the information should not be released.

However, the requirement for the originating agency to agree to release the material must not be a policy exception under any circumstances.

Marking Cabinet documents

Go to Security classifications for Cabinet documents

Compartmented markings

A 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)’.

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

The agency that owns the information specifies what the extra precautions are. People with a need to access the information will be given a special briefing first.

Handling requirements for protectively-marked information and equipment gives more information.

Page last modified: 5/08/2019