Personnel Security

PER020

Security clearance levels

The four security clearance levels and their requirements are set out below.

CONFIDENTIAL Vetting (CV)

Assessment type

Candidate’s suitability for ongoing access to New Zealand government information or resources protectively marked at the CONFIDENTIAL level.

Nature of vetting 

Vetting at the CONFIDENTIAL level is ‘negative’ in that inquiries are usually limited to checking records for adverse indicators.

If nothing negative is found, the national security clearance will usually be recommended.

Checkable background requirement

Most recent 5 years of candidate’s background, or to age 18 (unless requesting organisation provides compelling reasons otherwise).

SECRET VETTING (SV)

Assessment type

Candidate’s suitability for ongoing access to New Zealand government information or resources protectively marked at the CONFIDENTIAL level and SECRET level.

Nature of vetting 

Vetting at the SECRET level is an ‘intermediate’ vetting involving more extensive enquiries than for a ‘negative vetting’.

The consideration not only assesses whether anything adverse is known about the candidate, but must also establish some positive assurance.

Checkable background requirement

Most recent 10 years of candidate’s background, or to age 18 (unless requesting organisation provides compelling reasons otherwise).

TOP SECRET Vetting (TSV)

Assessment type

Candidate’s suitability for ongoing access to New Zealand government information or resources protectively marked at the CONFIDENTIAL, SECRET and TOP SECRET level. This includes resources that carry compartmented markings.

Nature of vetting 

For vetting at the TOP SECRET level, the security assessment must be ‘positive’.

Extensive inquiries are carried out to check suitability for access to the highest levels of national security information or resources that are protectively marked.

Positive assessment is only given if inquiries provide sound reasons to consider the candidate trustworthy in the security context and suitable to have access to the highest levels of national security information.

Minimum age

18 years of age

Checkable background requirement

Most recent 10 years, or to age 18 (unless requesting organisation provides compelling reasons otherwise).

TOP SECRET SPECIAL Vetting

Assessment type

Suitability for ongoing access to all information and resources protectively marked under the security classification system, including resources that carry compartmented markings.

Nature of vetting 

TOP SECRET SPECIAL clearance is limited to:

  • members of the New Zealand Intelligence Community (NZIC)

Some groups and individuals within:

  • the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (DPMC)
  • New Zealand Customs Service
  • Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT)
  • New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF)
  • some agency heads who will have frequent access to the highest levels of national security information and a wide need-to-know requirement.

More extensive inquiries are conducted in these instances.

The final assessment must be compellingly positive, and have no residual security concerns.

Minimum age

18 years of age.

Checkable background requirement

Most recent 15 years, or to age 18 (for initial clearance).

Page last modified: 13/12/2019