National Student Numbers (NSN)

Common terms

Terms Description
ECE Early Childhood Education
ELI Early Learning Information system
NSN National Student Number
SMS Student Management System
Ministry Ministry of Education

A National Student Number (NSN) is a unique education number which is allocated to children when they first enrol in ECE. Information about each child and their attendance in ECE will be recorded against the NSN.

Chapter 14 of the ECE Funding Handbook outlines the information that must be provided to the Ministry as a condition of funding. This includes NSNs. The Secretary of Education has the authority to assign NSNs under Schedule 24 of the Education and Training Act 2020. The NSN forms part of the information provided to the Ministry to carry out its functions, and stays with your child throughout their primary, secondary and tertiary education.

The National Student Index (NSI) is the Ministry's secure central register of learner-identifiable education information. The NSI is the platform used to allocate NSNs to children enrolled in ECE or higher education.

Allocating a NSN to a child

You need to allocate a NSN to each child immediately upon enrolment at your service. Allocating a NSN to a child is part of the enrolment process.

You should first search for an existing NSN record in your SMS or ELI Web. This search should use the child’s full name (including middle names), date of birth and gender as recorded on the child’s official identification documentation (or enrolment form if no documentation has been provided).

If your search returns:

  • A match for the child’s record – you should double check it is the correct record by making sure the details you have entered and the details returned in the search are the same.  You should then use this NSN for the child.
  • No match for the child you are looking for – you will then need to create a new NSN.  Only create a new NSN if you are sure the child does not already have one allocated (this could have been done by another service).

a)      You should use the child’s details from their official identification documentation to create the NSN (check the details you have entered exactly match the official identification document).

b)      If you have not been provided with official identification documentation for a child, you will need to call the Ministry of Education immediately to have an unverified NSN created.

Freephone 0800 323 323(external link) (NZ Only)

c)      Once created, you will need to search for, and allocate, the unverified NSN in your system.  The unverified NSN can be verified once official identification documentation is provided.  You should seek to obtain this documentation within 2 weeks of enrolment where possible. Then you can call the Ministry to have the NSN updated. 

If you are unsure about whether your search has returned the correct record, you should call the Ministry 

Freephone 0800 323 323(external link) (NZ Only)

Allocating a NSN to a child without official identification documentation

Even if a parent/guardian is unable to provide official identification documentation for a child, you should follow the instructions for “Allocating a NSN to a child”

Without official identification documentation, you can still allocate a NSN.  However, if a new NSN needs to be created (usually if the child has not attended ECE before), you will need to contact the Ministry to have an unverified NSN created.

Freephone 0800 323 323(external link) (NZ Only)

Lack of documentation should not be used as a barrier to prevent any child from participating in ECE.

Unverified NSNs

A child may have an unverified NSN if an early childhood service has been unable to sight official identification documentation for them.  Unverified NSNs can only be created by the Ministry.

If you need to allocate a NSN to a child without official identification documentation, refer to “Allocating a NSN to a child without official identification documentation”

Once official identification documentation can be provided, unverified NSNs can be updated to ‘verified’ in your system.  If you are unable to do this, please call the Ministry.

Freephone 0800 323 323(external link) (NZ Only)

Services must allocate a NSN for all enrolled children

Licenced early childhood services are required to record NSNs for all enrolled children as a condition of funding. The NSN also forms part of the attendance and enrolment information that must be regularly provided to the Ministry as a condition of funding. 

More information on the ELI requirements and the potential funding implications can be found in the ECE Funding Handbook.

ECE Funding Handbook

Acceptable official identification documents

Official identification documentation should be sighted so that each child’s full name (including middle names), date of birth, and gender can be correctly recorded to allow us to link the child’s ECE participation with their further education.  The acceptable forms of official identification are:

  • New Zealand birth certificate
  • New Zealand passport
  • Australian passport
  • Australian birth certificate
  • Foreign birth certificate
  • Foreign passport
  • New Zealand citizenship certificate
  • Certificate of Naturalisation (Cook Island, Niue, Tokelau)
  • Certificate of Registration (Cook Island, Niue, Tokelau)
  • Letter of Confirmation (Cook Island, Niue, Tokelau)

If a parent/guardian is unable to provide a copy of official identification documentation, you may need to call the Ministry to have an unverified NSN created for the child.  Refer to “Allocating a NSN to a child without official identification documentation”

Freephone 0800 323 323(external link) (NZ Only)

It is recommended that early childhood services keep a record of which identity verification documents have been sighted, but not retain copies of verification documents. If copies of official identity documents are received by the service for the purpose of identity verification, the copies should be securely destroyed once verified. Early childhood services may keep a copy of the official identification documentation if this is their usual process. If collected, copies of official identification documents must be kept in a secure location and only accessed by staff who need to view it.

At times the Ministry may require a copy of an official identity document to assist with identity verification for data quality purposes. Services may need to request this document from parents. The copy can be destroyed once supplied to the Ministry.

When the only official identification documentation for a child is in a foreign language

You should use the child’s full name (including middle names), date of birth, and gender that are recorded on the child’s foreign official identification document to allocate a NSN to the child following the instructions in “Allocating a NSN to a child”

You should only use the English translation of the child's name in the official name section if the official name is not written in English characters.

If the child goes by another name, this can be entered into the preferred name section. 

Recording a child's name to create or allocate a NSN if they only have one name

If a child only has one name, you should enter a tilde (~) in the first/given name field and the child’s name in the family/surname field.

Services cannot deny enrolment of a child because the parent/guardian has not provided official identification documentation

Lack of official identification documentation does not prevent any child from enrolling in, or attending ECE.  If official identification documentation cannot be sighted, you may need to have an unverified NSN created for the child.  Refer to “Allocating a NSN to a child without official identification documentation”

When a child who attended ECE moves overseas and then returns to New Zealand, this child’s NSN remains the same

The NSN has been allocated to the child and will follow that child through their education in New Zealand.

If a family comes to New Zealand on a working visa and enrols their child in ECE, this child will be allocated a NSN

All children enrolled in ECE in New Zealand will be allocated a NSN. Children can enrol in ECE regardless of their residential status.

Parents cannot choose whether a NSN is allocated to their child or not

Every child in New Zealand who is enrolled in Government subsidised ECE must be allocated a NSN.

I have incorrectly created a NSN 

If you have created a NSN for a child, but have incorrectly entered any of the child’s details, you should contact the Ministry. You will need to provide the Ministry with a copy of the child’s official identification document. The Ministry will need to update the record held in the NSI, and you will also need to update the child’s details in your system.

Email e.admin@education.govt.nz

I have allocated the wrong NSN to a child

If you use a SMS you need to update the NSN for the child by allocating the correct NSN. You will need to create a new NSN for the child if they don’t have one already.  To create or allocate the correct NSN, follow the instructions in “Allocating a NSN to a child”

If you use ELI Web you will need to delete the child’s record and then re-add the child to ELI Web with the correct NSN. Note that this will delete any enrolment and attendance details for the child, so you should record these before deleting the child’s record from ELI Web.  To create or allocate the correct NSN, follow the instructions in “Allocating a NSN to a child”. If you require assistance doing this, please call the Ministry.

Freephone 0800 323 323(external link) (NZ Only)

When a child is attending more than one service they should still only have one NSN

The first service that a child enrols with will create the NSN.  Other services can then search for the NSN and allocate it to the child.

Using the child's official identification documentation to create the NSN is important to ensure the correct details are used so that each child has only the one unique NSN.

I have discovered a child has more than one NSN

Each child should have only one unique NSN.  If you discover a situation where one child has more than one NSN, please let the Ministry know as soon as possible.

Freephone 0800 323 323(external link) (NZ Only)

I want to check which children my service hasn’t allocated a NSN to

Your SMS will allow you to identify any children who do not have a NSN allocated to them.  If you are unsure about how to do this, please contact your SMS provider.

If you use ELI Web, check all children enrolled in your service are recorded in ELI Web with a NSN by clicking on the Children tab to view a list of children's names alongside their NSN.

I think I’ve allocated all children a NSN but the Ministry has contacted me

You should double check all enrolled children have a NSN allocated to them.  Refer to “I want to check which children my service hasn't allocated a NSN to"

If you have been contacted but you are confident that all children have a NSN, you should advise the Ministry’s ELI Data Quality team by emailing ELI.dataquality@education.govt.nz.

When a child transitions to another early childhood service or to school the NSN stays with the child

It will follow them through their education; through ECE, to school, and tertiary education.  Each education provider will need to record the NSN for the child within their system.

Once a child has been allocated a NSN in ECE, the child’s education record is not automatically transferred to school

Parents/guardians will need to provide the child’s official identification document when they enrol their child at school.  Schools do not have access to any information held in the ELI system. Schools only have access to details obtained directly from the NSI; NSN, name, date of birth and gender.

I can’t login to allocate a NSN

You will need to call the Ministry.  For more information about issues with your login, refer to the Connect to ELI system Questions & Answers page.

Connect to ELI

Freephone 0800 323 323(external link) (NZ Only) 

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