New Zealand is a land of diverse geography and immense natural beauty, so it’s easy to understand how many tourists can lose track of time and commit a New Zealand visa overstay. What’s more, travellers staying in the island nation with the eTA New Zealand or another New Zealand visa type are unable to renew the visa online if it has already expired, and must request an extension in writing.
Read on to find out about overstaying New Zealand visa penalties, the renewal process and how to apply for the New Zealand visa waiver online.
The New Zealand eTA is an electronic travel authority that is mandatory for citizens from the 60 visa-exempt nationalities, starting October 1st, 2019. Travellers are required to pre-register an eTA New Zealand application before visiting the country.
Citizens from eligible nations and territories are able to fill out the simple New Zealand eTA application form online, which will only take minutes to complete.
Countries announced as eligible for the eTA include:
All European Union citizens:
Citizens of Australia are allowed visa-free travel to New Zealand, although foreign permanent residents of Australia are required to obtain an eTA before travelling to the country (but not to pay the New Zealand tourist levy).
The New Zealand eTA requirements for eligible citizens include:
- A valid passport from an eTA-eligible country with a remaining validity of at least 3 months from the estimated date of exit from NZ
- Paying the visa fee and NZ tourist levy with a credit or debit card.
- Having a current email address to receive the eTA to New Zealand in the inbox.
Nationals from non-eligible countries will need to apply for a traditional visa to New Zealand by going to an NZ embassy or consulate in their place of residence. The time you are allowed to visit New Zealand may vary depending on the purpose of your trip and hence on the NZ visa type you apply for.
What you need to know to not overstay your eTA for NZ
The first thing you need to consider when travelling to NZ with an eTA New Zealand is that it has a 2-year validity. During these 2 years, travellers from all eligible countries except the UK are allowed multiple entries of up to 3 consecutive months. UK passport holders are also granted multiple entries during the same 2 years, however, each stay may be of up to 6 consecutive months.
Another point worth taking into account is that NZeTA’s 2-year duration is directly tied to the validity of your passport. This means that if your passport expires before the 2 years are up, you will need to apply for an eTA NZ for your new passport.
Fortunately, the application is straightforward and your new eTA is likely to be approved within 1 business day. Even though processing is generally very quick, travellers are advised to apply at least 3 business days in advance to allow extra time in case they are requested additional documents.
In short, international travellers with an approved eTA for New Zealand must be vigilant of the following time frames in order to avoid overstaying in NZ:
- eTA total duration in relation to intended date of travel
- Maximum duration per stay
- Passport expiry date as it relates to your dates of entry and exit
Overstaying New Zealand eTA Visa Waiver Penalties
The eTA New Zealand is available for the 60 visa-exempt countries and allows its citizens them a stay of 90 days maximum in the country, with a total validity of 2 years.
Those with the New Zealand eTA wishing to stay in the country longer for tourism purposes, or to study, work or live in NZ will require a different type of New Zealand visa before travelling. However, no matter which visa for New Zealand is obtained, an overstayed New Zealand visa or NZeTA can incur severe penalties.
If a foreign citizen finds themselves with an overstayed New Zealand tourist visa or NZeTA then they are legally obliged to leave the country immediately. Travellers who remain in New Zealand illegally may be subject to the following overstaying New Zealand visa penalties:
- Prohibition from working, studying and having access to healthcare.
- Criminal charges and immigration status review for family members who helped the overstayed visa holder remain in New Zealand.
- Risk of detention and deportation on the traveller’s own dollar, even if they have already submitted a visa New Zealand renewal request.
- A travel ban to New Zealand for those with an overstayed New Zealand visa of more than 42 days.
Holders of overstayed New Zealand visas or eTAs who are deported may not return to the country until the prohibition period is over and the deportation fees have been repaid.
How to Renew an Overstayed New Zealand eTA
The rules about a New Zealand visa or an NZeTA overstay are very strict. Normally an overstayed New Zealand tourist visa holder or an overstayed eTA NZ holder would have to go back to their home country or another country they are allowed to enter and reapply for a visa or NZeTA online from there.
An overstayed New Zealand visa or eTA NZ is unlikely to be renewed apart from in very special circumstances. However, the overstayed visa holder can make a written request under section 61 of the New Zealand Immigration Act.
The written request for a visa for New Zealand should be directed by post to:
Immigration New Zealand
PO Box 76895
The applicant should explain in as much detail as possible their circumstances and supply supporting documents to back up their request. They should provide:
- Name, date of birth and the Immigration New Zealand client number for identification.
- An explanation for the New Zealand visa overstay and any reasons for not returning to their home country to apply for an eTA for New Zealand from there.
- Reasons to support a further stay in New Zealand, such as work or family obligations.
- Information about how the applicant can contribute to the country, especially if wanting to stay in New Zealand on a long-term basis.
However, New Zealand immigration officers are under no obligation to consider the request or grant the desired visa. It’s wiser to get the eTA New Zealand or another relevant type of visa before travelling and leave the country within the established timeframe in order to avoid overstaying New Zealand visa penalties.