Sex work in New Zealand

We are taking a proactive approach to ensure employers, facilitators of service and workers in the sex industry understand their rights and legal obligations.

Addressing the exploitation of migrants is a priority for the New Zealand Government.

Temporary migrants, who breach their visa conditions by working in the New Zealand sex industry, are vulnerable to exploitation.

Migrants who don't hold any visa to be in New Zealand are even more vulnerable. These migrants are less likely to be aware of their rights and entitlements than their New Zealand colleagues.

Information for workers

Where to get help and more information

  • Call us on 0800 20 90 20 or email info@employment.govt.nz for help and more information. 
  • Call us if you believe you are being exploited, you are concerned another person is being exploited or if you want to report an unscrupulous employer.
  • Contact Immigration New Zealand on 0508 558 855 if you have questions about your immigration status and whether you can work in the sex industry on your visa.
  • Contact CrimeStoppers on 0800 555 111 or complete an online Crimestoppers form to report a case anonymously.
  • Contact the New Zealand Prostitutes Collective(external link) for more information about working in the sex industry.

Who can be a sex worker in New Zealand

New Zealand citizen Yes. New Zealand citizens can also operate or invest in a commercial sex business.Yes. New Zealand citizens can also operate or invest in a commercial sex business.

Student visa holder

Work visa holder

Visitor visa holder

No. People who perform commercial sexual services are breaching the conditions of their temporary visa and may be liable for deportation. 
New Zealand resident New Zealand residents can be sex workers in New Zealand but can become liable for deportation if they invest in, are a director of, own or manage a commercial sex business.

Information for employers

Under the Prostitution Reform Act 2003, foreign nationals on temporary visas (including visitor, student, or work visas) in New Zealand are unable to work in the sex industry. People may be made liable for deportation if they have been found to have breached this condition. Under the Immigration Act 2009, people unlawfully in New Zealand may not work in New Zealand.

People who hold resident visas are not able to operate or invest in a commercial sex business in New Zealand. If a resident visa holder operates or invests in such a business they are deemed to have breached the conditions of their visa and may become liable for deportation.

Your responsibility an employer

It is your responsibility to ensure any worker engaged in your operation is able to undertake the work, and is not doing so unlawfully or breaching their visa conditions.

This includes any workers who advertise services through your website.

It is an offence to aid or abet migrants to remain in New Zealand or to breach the conditions of their visas.