Personnel Security


Check eligibility for vetting

Before your organisation submits a vetting request for a national security clearance, you must check the candidate’s eligibility and suitability.

Your chief security officer (CSO) is responsible for:

  • making sure eligibility and suitability checks are done
  • submitting vetting requests to the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service (NZSIS). 

Check their citizenship or visa status

To be eligible for vetting, a person must be a New Zealand citizen or holder of a Residence class visa.

In rare circumstances, other candidates may be considered for security vetting. However, several steps are involved before you can request vetting.

Your chief executive or CSO must discuss the rare circumstances with NZSIS vetting first. If NZSIS vetting agrees, you can prepare and submit a business case for vetting (your chief executive must approve the business case before you submit it). Vetting can only go ahead if the NZSIS accepts the business case.

Make sure their background is checkable

Before your organisation submits a vetting request, make sure each vetting candidate meets the minimum requirements for checkable background.  

In most cases, a person’s background must be checkable for the required period. In some situations, it can be hard to assess whether a person meets the minimum requirements. View the answers to common questions after the following table for guidance.

Clearance level Background checking
SECRET 10 years
TOP SECRET 10 years

What if the candidate is too young to have enough checkable background?

If a vetting candidate doesn't have enough checkable years because of their age, they’re still eligible for vetting. The NZSIS vetting team may recommend that a clearance is granted for a shorter time.

For example, if the candidate is 20, they’ll only be checked back to the age of 18 even if the checkable background requirement is 5 years. The recommendation from NZSIS vetting team will be that you only grant a clearance for 2 years.

What if a candidate has spent lots of time living overseas?

Time in Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the USA is considered checkable. Time in other countries is generally not checkable. In rare circumstances, candidates who have spent a lot of time living overseas may still be able to apply for a clearance. Several additional steps are involved before they can apply for a vetting. The NZSIS vetting team can let you know whether they consider the candidates background checkable or not. The candidate should engage with the sponsoring agency to determine if they are eligible.

When candidates have worked overseas for a New Zealand Government organisation, their time in other countries can be checkable if that organisation gives assurance that they’ve managed the person in line with protective security requirements for clearance holders.

Contact the NZSIS vetting team for advice:

What if you’re recruiting the candidate from overseas?

If you’re recruiting from overseas, the person will still need to meet the checkable background requirements.

Check their suitability for holding a clearance

Before your organisation submits a vetting request, you must have trust and confidence in the person and their ability to gain a favourable recommendation for a clearance.

To help you check their suitability, review your organisation’s records (such as performance or disciplinary records). Look for any records that show the candidate may be unsuitable. For example, records of:

You should also assess the person’s strength of character and integrity. If you have doubts about whether you can trust them with access to classified information, assets, or work locations, do not submit a vetting request.

The NZSIS applies the following criteria and guidelines when they vet candidates for a security clearance.

Security assessment criteria and the adjudicative guidelines

Apply your own eligibility criteria if appropriate

If a risk assessment shows your organisation needs stricter criteria for deciding who you will request vetting for, apply those criteria during your eligibility checking process alongside the mandatory checks described on this page.


Page last modified: 7/06/2023