The Mobile App is valid proof of membership

26 May 2022

In recent weeks we have been receiving a number of enquiries from both clubs and members regarding reciprocal rights.  It is clear that some club employees do not understand the requirements of the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012 as it relates to reciprocal rights and there have been some embarrassing interactions that could have been avoided.

So, with club visits well and truly back in action now is a good time to revisit reciprocal rights.

What are reciprocal rights?

Reciprocal Visiting Rights have been part and parcel of clubs' existence in New Zealand since the 1800s.  They are a fundamental and legislatively recognised concomitant of club life in New Zealand. 

A club licence authorises the holder of a club licence to sell and supply alcohol to authorised customers and authorised visitors:

authorised customer, in relation to premises a club licence is held for, means a person who—
  1. is a member of the club concerned; or
  2. is on the premises at the invitation of, and is accompanied by, a member of the club concerned; or
  3. is an authorised visitor

authorised visitor, in relation to premises a club licence is held for, means a member of some other club with which the club concerned has an arrangement for reciprocal visiting rights for members

Clubs New Zealand manages the reciprocal arrangement between member clubs on your behalf, meaning that the approximately 300,000 financial members of Clubs New Zealand member clubs are authorised visitors under the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act.

How do I know if someone has reciprocal rights? (are they an authorised visitor?)

People who are visiting as a reciprocal visitor do need to be able to prove they are financial members of a club, valid proof of membership will include:

  • A physical printed membership card.
  • The Clubs New Zealand mobile app.

Unfortunately we have had reports from a number of app users that their digital membership cards are not being accepted when they visit clubs.  The Clubs New Zealand mobile app and digital membership card is valid proof of membership and all app users are verified by the members club.

We now have clubs which have ditched the plastic cards altogether and only use the digital member card so clubs should be ready to accept this from visitors.

Do reciprocal visitors (authorised visitors) need to sign in?

Unless your clubs constitution specifies that signing in is a requirement (which is not recommended) then no, reciprocal visitors do not need to sign in.  

Your staff do need to determine that a person who is wishing to purchase or be supplied alcohol is an authorised customer or an authorised visitor and the best place to do this, is at the bar, by sighting their valid membership card (physical or digital).

Proof of membership should be treated the same as proof of age.  If the staff member who is serving the customer is not sure whether the person is an authorised customer or an authorised visitor then they need to ask for proof.  A sign in book at the door is not going to help your staff members verify proof of membership.

Word of caution: We have been hearing of a number of clubs using club members or staff members to "sign in" visitors.  This is not a practice that clubs should be using and there is plenty of case law to back this up.  Just because a person has been signed in does not mean that they are an authorised customer or an authorised visitor.  

Other tips and tools

Do your membership cards include the Clubs New Zealand logo?

At the 2019 Clubs New Zealand Annual General Meeting there was discussion regarding the benefits of including the Clubs New Zealand logo on your clubs membership card.

Within the Clubs New Zealand resource room we have loaded jpegs of the Clubs New Zealand logo for members to download and use on your membership cards.  We have included a full colour version and a black and white version. 

You will find the logos in the resource room under the Clubs New Zealand Minutes/Documents folder.

If you require a different file type in order to include the logo on your membership cards please contact as we can supply the logo in many different formats.

RSAs that are using the RSA Club Card can request that the Clubs New Zealand logo be added.

Keep a list of reciprocal clubs handy

Your staff should be able to easily check whether a visitor is from a club with reciprocal rights.  There are lots of places to check whether a club is a financial member of Clubs New Zealand and therefore has reciprocal rights;

  • Clubs New Zealand Find-a-Club directory right here on the website (updated in real time)
  • Printable list of Clubs with Reciprocal Rights (updated monthly on the Clubs New website)
  • The Clubs New Zealand App (updated in real time)

As most clubs have policies restricting employees from using their phones during work we have also created an easy to print listing of Financial Member clubs that will be updated monthly or as required.

This list can be found in the resource room under Food & Beverage>Sale and Supply of Alcohol. 

We recommend that this list is printed and kept behind the bar so that staff can reference it if and when required.

As an association we also need to be vigilant of clubs that are offering reciprocal rights where no reciprocal arrangement is in place.  We are aware of clubs who are not financial members of Clubs New Zealand who are advertising reciprocal rights and are informing their members that they can visit any Clubs New Zealand member club.  We are very protective of the reciprocal rights arrangement we administer on behalf of members and for very good reason!  If you are aware of this happening please let National Office know as we will communicate with these clubs.

Make sure your staff are familiar with your clubs constitution regarding visitors and the Reciprocal Rights Guidelines

Clubs New Zealand does have guidelines for reciprocal rights and you can view them using the link below;

Clubs New Zealand Reciprocal Rights Guidelines

Encourage your members to use the Clubs New Zealand App

The digital membership card within the Clubs New Zealand app was created with Reciprocal Visiting in mind. 

The digital membership card is only available to financial members of a Clubs New Zealand member club.  Each member that signs up for the app will have their membership verified before they can sign in.

Make sure that your staff know about the app and include it as one of your approved means of identification.

Reciprocal Rights is an important part of club life, it provides club members with the opportunity to visit and enjoy the facilities and hospitality of clubs right across the country. Reciprocal Rights reinforces the club community in New Zealand and supports social visits and sporting tournaments enjoyed by many club members.  We need to arm club staff with knowledge and tools to ensure that reciprocal rights is protected and consistent across our membership.

If you have any questions regarding reciprocal rights please contact Clubs New Zealand National Office on 0800 425 827

Get your hands on the future

With the Clubs New Zealand App

Get your hands on the future with Clubs New Zealand's App which can be downloaded on both Apple and Android.  The Clubs New Zealand App is all about helping you get more out of your membership. As a member of a club you can access any of our network of 300 member clubs as a reciprocal visitor and visiting a club is a breeze with the new digital membership card.


Find out more