English language

English language requirements

The fitness for registration criteria of the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act 2003 require that you must be able to demonstrate that you speak and understand English to a level sufficient to protect the health and safety of the public.

Effective English and communications skills are a prerequisite to practising as an oral health practitioner in New Zealand. Without such skills you cannot offer patients informed consent and ensure effective participation in treatment choices.

You satisfy the English language requirement if you meet one of the following:

  • you have graduated from a programme accredited by the Dental Council (New Zealand) and the Australian Dental Council
  • English is your first language and you have completed your undergraduate dental training in New Zealand, Australia, United Kingdom, USA, Eire or Canada where English is the sole language of instruction and assessment
  • you have passed a Dental Council-approved English test to the required level.

Dental Council-approved English tests

Council has approved the following two English tests:

  • International English Language Testing (IELTS)
  • Occupational English Test (OET)

Test levels and pass rates

IELTS – academic band

Dentists, dental specialists, dental hygienists, dental therapists, clinical dental technicians.

Average score of 7.5 or more and at least 7 in each band of the four individual components of listening, reading, writing and speaking

Dental technicians

Average score of 7.5 or more

Orthodontic auxiliaries

At least 7 in each band of the four individual   components of listening, reading, writing and   speaking


Dentists, dental specialists, dental hygienist, dental therapist, clinical dental technicians, dental technicians and orthodontic auxiliaries

A pass with A or B grades in each of the four components

A pass in the English test is only valid for two years.

For more information, refer to the Policy on English Competence and English Tests