The banding certification system ensures that bird banders are suitably trained and have met minimum qualifications.

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Banding certification

DOC is responsible for the management of marking systems on wildlife, including banding. The banding certification system of the New Zealand National Bird Banding Scheme (NZNBBS) ensures that banders are competent for the species and capture methods listed below.

All banders, including trainees, need to be registered with the NZNBBS. Certification levels for different species groups and capture methods are granted based on evidence of competency.

However, certification does not give you permission to capture, handle or mark birds. It's your responsibility to ensure that you're working under a valid Wildlife Act authorisation, supplied by DOC's Permissions Team.

The Bird Bander’s Manual describes the legal framework, as well as the standards and details of 'best practice' that must be followed by every bander in New Zealand. The manual is not currently available online. Physical copies can be ordered at a cost of $20 from the Banding Office.

Order a Bird Bander's Manual (DOCX, 134K).

Certification levels

Banding certification is gained from an accumulation of experience over time gained under a Level 3 (expert) bander. It can't be obtained through attending a banding course. 

Short banding courses can teach specific skills, but it can take months or even years to gain the necessary banding experience for higher-level certification for a species group.

All banders must adhere to the bander’s code of conduct as published in the NZNBBS Bird Bander’s Manual.

List of certification categories.

Level 1: trainees

Level 1 trainees may only operate under the direct supervision of a Level 3 operator certified for the species group or capture method. Level 1 operators are required to log their capture, marking and handling experience using the NZNBBS training log, to be signed by the Level 3 trainer.

Level 2: intermediate, competent

Level 2 operators are considered competent to capture/mark birds independently, but still need to operate under the general supervision of a Level 3 operator in whose name bird bands will be issued. The Level 3 bander retains responsibility for all capturing and marking conducted by the Level 2 operator. Level 2 operators are required to log their capture, marking and handling experience using the NZNBBS training log.

Level 3: expert, supervisor, trainer

Level 3 operators have extensive experience for the species and capture methods listed on their certificate. Privileges and responsibilities include supervising Level 2 and training Level 1 operators, signing training logs, ordering bands, submitting banding schedules, overseeing projects, and ensuring that the necessary Wildlife Act authorisations are in place.

How to apply for certification

Complete all application forms and submit them to the Banding Office.

Banding Office email:

Level 1 applications

To become listed as a Level 1 bander you must submit:

Optional documents that you may also submit:

Level 2/3 applications

In order to submit your application for Level 2/3 banding certification to the Banding Advisory Committee, all applicants must include all required documents.

Required documents:

  • Part A: Banding certification application form Level 2/3 (DOC, 44K).
  • A record or summary of your banding experience in any convenient format signed off by your Level 3, or equivalent, trainer – Part B: Bander training log (DOC, 26K) can be used.
  • At least 2 Part C: Bander endorsement form (DOC, 31K). If you're applying for certification for multiple species groups, submit at least one endorsement form that covers each species group.
  • If applying for certification in species groups that use stainless steel bands greater than or equal to 10 mm internal diameter, please submit a description of the proper procedure for closing these bands. You can submit the description in any format.
  • If applying for Level 3 you need to provide evidence of your competency in bander training and data management. This can be shown in a bander endorsement form or in previous submissions of schedules to the Banding Office.

If you want to apply for additional endorsements to your certification, also include:

Assessment of certification applications

Applications are assessed on a case-by-case basis by the Banding Advisory Committee (BAC). Its role is to deliberate each certification application and advise the National Banding Office on a banding certification level to be awarded to applicants.

The BAC is made up of expert representatives of the banding community, including species experts within DOC, as well as external stakeholders such as universities, museums, Fish & Game, Crown Research Institutes and Birds NZ.

Applicants are assessed based on evidence of competency they provide in the following areas:

  • breadth of experience
  • challenges of working with a particular group
  • competency as reported by the Level 3 banders that supervised their banding activities.

There is no threshold number of birds that you must have banded to be eligible for certification upgrade. This is because certification should be granted based on evidence of competency, not the number of birds banded. Instead, you must display experience and competency with a range of species, band types (stainless steel vs. incoloy) and band sizes for your application to be submitted to the BAC. If you would like some guidance please ask your Level 3 trainers for feedback on whether your experience would be considered appropriate for certification upgrade. You can also email the Banding Office for advice.

Banding Office email:

Application processing time

The processing times provided here are a guide. If for any reason the processing times fall outside of these guides, we'll email you and inform you of the delay.

Level 1 processing times

The processing time for Level 1 applications is 10 business days. This is if all required information needed for Level 1 applications is included on the application form.

Level 2/3 processing times

To facilitate faster processing time use the certification application guidance and checklist to make sure you've included everything. This will ensure that you're able to provide all required documentation and reduce the number of times we must get back to you and ask you to submit more information.

Certification application guidance and checklist (PDF, 252K).

Once all required documentation has been collated, your application will be compiled and submitted to the Banding Advisory Committee (BAC). The decision regarding your application should occur within 20 business days of submission of your application to the BAC.

Allow plenty of time for your application to be processed and finalised. The Banding Office deals with many applications and while every effort is made to process applications efficiently and in a timely manner, we cannot guarantee that your application will be finalised by any specific date that you are working towards. A requirement to get certified quickly in order to take part in a project will not be considered sufficient reason to grant certification.


If you have questions about the certification system and application process, contact:

National Banding Office
PO Box 108, Wellington 6140

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