National Student Numbers (NSNs)

Child on a slide

Common Terms
ECE Early Childhood Education
NSN National Student Number
SMS Student Management System
Ministry Ministry of Education

What is a National Student Number?

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's attendance in ECE will be recorded against the NSN. The NSN stays with the child throughout their education, into the compulsory and tertiary sectors.

Is it mandatory to assign an NSN to an enrolled child at my service?

Yes. It is a mandatory requirement of the ELI Principles of Use to assign NSNs to all enrolled children in early learning services in New Zealand.

What is the National Student Index (NSI)?

The Ministry’s National Student Index (NSI) is the secure central register of learner-identifiable education information and is the platform by which NSNs are allocated to children enrolled in ECE or higher education.

How do I allocate an NSN to a child?

You should first search for an existing NSN record using 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).  This is done in your SMS or ELI Web.

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 match.  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 on 0800 ECE ECE (0800 323 323) immediately to have an unverified NSN created.

c)      Once created, you will then 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 and then update the NSN. 

If you are unsure about whether your search has returned the correct record, you should call the Ministry on 0800 ECE ECE (0800 323 323).

How do I allocate an 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 “How do I allocate an NSN to a child”

Without official identification documentation, you can still allocate an 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 on 0800 ECE ECE (0800 323 323) to have an unverified NSN created.

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

What is an unverified NSN?

A child may have an unverified NSN if an early learning 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 an NSN to a child without official identification documentation, refer to “How do I allocate an 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 on 0800 ECE ECE (0800 323 323) to do this.

When do I need to allocate an NSN to a child?

You need to allocate an NSN to each child immediately upon enrolment at your service.  Allocating an NSN to a child is part of the enrolment process.  Refer to “How do I allocate an NSN to a child?” for instructions on how to do this.

What will happen if my service does not allocate an NSN for all enrolled children?

The NSN is a mandatory data requirement.  The Ministry may contact you if you have children at your service without an NSN.  If your service does not act on requests made by the Ministry to allocate an NSN to children without one, then you will be in breach of the ELI Principles of Use

More information on the ELI information requirements and the potential funding implications can be found on the ELI Principles of Use page.

What are the 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
  • Official New Zealand residency documentation
  • 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 on 0800 ECE ECE (0800 323 323) to have an unverified NSN created for the child.  Refer to “How do I allocate an NSN to a child without official identification documentation?”

It is recommended that early learning services keep a copy of the official identification documentation in a secure location for each child who is enrolled at the service.

What should I do if 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 an NSN to the child following the instructions in “How do I allocate an NSN to a child”

If the child goes by the English version of their name, this can be entered into the preferred name section.  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.

Can we deny enrolment of a child because the parent/guardian has not provided official identification documentation?

No.  The 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 “How do I allocate an NSN to a child without official identification documentation?”

What should I do if I incorrectly create an NSN?

If you have created an NSN for a child, but have incorrectly entered any of the child’s details, you should call the Ministry on 0800 ECE ECE (0800 323 323).  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.

What should I do if I allocate the wrong NSN to a child?

If you use an SMS you need to update the NSN for the child by allocating the correct NSN, or creating a new NSN for the child if they don’t have one already.  To create or allocate the correct NSN, follow the instructions in “How do I allocate an 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.  To create or allocate the correct NSN, follow the instructions in “How do I allocate an NSN to a child?”  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.  If you require assistance doing this, please call the Ministry on 0800 ECE ECE (0800 323 323).

Is there a chance that two children can have the same NSN?

Each child should have one unique NSN.  If you discover a situation where the same NSN is being used by multiple children, please notify the Ministry as soon as possible by calling 0800 ECE ECE (0800 323 323).

What should I do if I discover 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 by calling 0800 ECE ECE (0800 323 323).

How can I check which children my service hasn’t allocated an NSN to?

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

If you use ELI Web, you should check that all children enrolled in your service are recorded in ELI Web with an NSN.

What should I do if I think I’ve allocated all children an NSN but the Ministry still contacts me?

You should double check that all enrolled children have an NSN allocated to them.  Refer to “How can I check which children my service hasn’t allocated an NSN to?”

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

Can parents choose not to have an NSN allocated to their child?

No.  Every child in New Zealand who is enrolled in Government subsidised ECE must be allocated an NSN.

What happens to a child’s NSN if they attend more than one service?

If a child attends more than one early learning 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.

This is why using the child’s official identification documentation is important; to ensure the correct details are used so that each child has only one unique number.

What happens to a child’s NSN when they transition to another early learning 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 allocate the NSN to the child within their system.

If a child who attended ECE moves overseas and then returns to New Zealand, will this child’s NSN remain the same?

Yes, 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, will this child be allocated an NSN?

Yes, all children participating in ECE in New Zealand will be allocated an NSN.

Once a child has been allocated an NSN in ECE, is the child’s education record automatically transferred to school?

No.  Parents/guardians will need to provide the child’s official identification document when they enrol their child at school.  Schools will not have access to any ELI information aside from the details obtained directly from the NSI; NSN, name, date of birth and gender.

I can’t login to allocate an NSN, what should I do?

You will need to call the Ministry on 0800 ECE ECE (0800 323 323).  For more information about issues with your login, refer to the Connect to ELI Questions & Answers page.

 

How should I record a child’s name to create or allocate an 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.