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Legal Matters

Most migrants know that they'll need to sort out their drivers' license when they move to New Zealand, and will also contact a lawyer when they buy a house. But it may pay you to also consider updating your will and sorting out enduring powers of attorney. And you may even like to look into setting up a family trust, a surprisingly common transaction in New Zealand that can help to ensure the safety of your assets.

Find out also what happens to a couple's assets if their relationship breaks up in New Zealand, and how to register to vote, and whether you have to vote.

Many of New Zealand's laws have been based on the UK legal system, and New Zealand is not a particularly litigious society, so once you have the basics sorted out you should not be in for too many surprises as you get on with your life here.

Here are our top tips for sorting out the legal side of life in New Zealand:

  • Check when you need to exchange your foreign license for a New Zealand license at
  • Some of the road rules are different in New Zealand – make sure you know who to give way to.
  • Consult a lawyer before putting an offer in on a house – this is a legally binding agreement, and there are some conditions that you can put in that will protect you.
  • Make sure your wills are up to date, and consider arranging enduring powers or attorney.
  • Consider setting up a family trust to protect your assets.
  • You are required to register to vote (but you are not legally required to vote).
  • Look into the Property Relationships Act – it determines what happens to a couple's property when a relationship breaks up.

For the contact details of New Zealand Lawyers, please visit




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