New Zealand welcomes visitors from across the globe, many of whom can stay in the country visa-free for a specified period of time provided they apply for an Electronic Travel Authority (NZeTA).
Under normal circumstances, international travellers can enter New Zealand as long as they hold a valid passport, are of good character, and hold the correct visa or NZeTA.
Nevertheless, temporary entry limitations may be imposed at short notice in certain circumstances and it is important to stay up to date with the latest advice issued by the New Zealand government.
Travellers can find information below about the extraordinary restrictions currently in place due to the recent coronavirus outbreak as well as general entry requirements and restrictions including:
Coronavirus entry restrictions for New Zealand
New Zealand has restricted the entry of all foreign citizens except for Australian nationals residing in the country and citizens of Samoa and Tonga under certain conditions.
These travel bans are aimed at safeguarding residents and foreign nationals on New Zealand soil. NZ entry restrictions apply to travellers wanting to visit New Zealand by either air or sea, including transit passengers.
Entry limitations are temporary and expected to be lifted as soon as the disease has been contained. Once the outbreak is under control, foreign nationals will be allowed to enter the country once again with an NZeTA.
Entry restrictions to NZ for visa-exempt countries
The regular visa policy of New Zealand grants travellers from several countries visa-free access with the NZeTA. The New Zealand Electronic Travel Authority must be obtained online by citizens of visa waiver countries before heading to the island nation.
In most cases, NZeTA applications will be approved within a matter of minutes. Despite this, applicants should be aware of certain criteria which, if not met, can result in entry to New Zealand being blocked.
Firstly, the applicant’s passport must be valid for 3 months or more beyond the planned stay, travellers with passports which expire before will not be granted entry.
The other reason why an NZeTA application may be blocked is based on character criteria.
Good character requirements mean that applicants with a criminal conviction or who have been deported, removed or excluded from another country may be denied entry.
Entry restrictions also apply to travellers without the following:
- Onward or return ticket
- Visa (if required) for the next destination
- Proof of sufficient funds (NZ $1,000 per person per month, $400 if accommodation is already paid for)
Provided an eligible foreign citizen meets the above requirements, they should not face any entry restrictions for New Zealand.
Passports not Accepted to enter New Zealand
Almost all foreigners can enter New Zealand as long as they first obtain the relevant visa or visa waiver.
There are, however, some travel documents deemed unacceptable when applying for a visa for New Zealand:
- Somali passports, the visa is instead linked to a New Zealand Certificate of Identity
- Tongan Protected Person’s passport
- Investor passports issued by Kiribati and Nauru
- Diplomatic and official passports issued by Taiwan
- Article 17 Kuwaiti passport
- Iraqi S series passport
All other passports can be used to apply for either a visa or New Zealand Electronic Travel Authority.
Banned and restricted items
It is not possible to enter New Zealand with any of the items listed below:
- Offensive material on video, film, CD recordings etc. or in publications
- Knives, knuckle-dusters and other weapons
- Cannabis or methamphetamine equipment
Travellers must have a permit to carry any of the following objects:
- Ivory in any form
- Carnivorous plants
- Cat skins
- Tortoise or turtle shell items
- Medicines containing musk, rhino or tiger derivatives
- Wildlife trophies
- Carvings made from whale/marine mammal bone
Anyone wishing to enter New Zealand with a restricted good should check the specific requirements for that item before beginning their journey in order to avoid having it confiscated.
Biosecurity and declaring risk goods
New Zealand prioritises biosecurity and has strict rules in place to prevent the introduction of dangerous pests and diseases.
Good categorised as risky must be declared at New Zealand customs. Passenger Arrival Cards are handed out by airline staff with details regarding risk items.
The Passenger Arrival Card is a legal document and therefore must be completed truthfully. Failure to comply with these regulations may result in a large fine.
Types of risk goods that must be declared when entering New Zealand
- All food: cooked, fresh, preserved, packaged, dry
- Animals/animal products: meat and dairy products, fish, honey, eggs, feathers, raw wool
- Plants/plant products: fruit, flowers, nuts, vegetables
- Equipment used with animals, plants, or water: fishing and gardening, water sports etc
- Items used for outdoor activities: footwear, golf/sports equipment, tents
This is not a definitive list, risk goods may depend on the country of origin and other factors. The decision on whether or not to allow a declared item into the country lies with quarantine officers who will ask questions and carry out a visual inspection of the items.
Some goods may require treatment and will be available to collect at a later date.
Can I take my pet with me to New Zealand?
Cats and dogs can be taken into New Zealand with some restrictions. Domestic cats and dogs must meet a set of entry requirements which include:
- Have an approved microchip implanted
- Reside in the country of export for at least 6 months before travel
- Meet minimum age requirements
- Not be one of the prohibited breeds
Apart from cats and dogs, the only other pets that can be taken into New Zealand are:
- Chinchillas from Great Britain
- Rabbits from Australia
- Guinea pigs from Australia
Duty-free limits when travelling to New Zealand
Travellers should be aware of New Zealand duty-free allowances for importing certain items such as:
- Tobacco: 50 cigarettes/ 50 grams of cigars / 50 grams of tobacco products / 50 grams mixture of all 3
- Alcohol: 4.5 litres of wine or beer, 3 x 1.125-litre bottles of spirits or liqueur
- Other goods: up to a value of NZ$700
Items must be for personal use only. Goods over these amounts must be declared and will be subject to goods and services tax (GST).
How much cash can I carry into New Zealand?
Travellers carrying cash over the equivalent of NZ$10,000 are required to complete a Border Cash Report on arrival at the airport.
There is no restriction on the amount of foreign currency that can be taken into New Zealand, provided it is declared.
Restrictions on taking medicine into New Zealand
If carrying medicines or controlled drugs into New Zealand travellers should ensure that they have a prescription note from their doctor.
A maximum of 3 months’ worth of a prescription medicine can be taken, one month’s worth of controlled drugs. All medicines and drugs must be kept in their original packaging.
It is not possible to submit a New Zealand eTA application whilst the borders remain closed to overseas visitors. In exceptional cases, foreigners may be granted access by applying for a Critical Purpose Visitor Visa.
Visa and visa waiver applications submitted previously have been put on standby and will be processed once borders are reopened to international visitors.
As soon as border restrictions are lifted, eligible passport holders will be able to apply for the NZeTA online and travel to New Zealand.
It will be possible to travel to New Zealand with the NZeTA once borders are reopened to international visitors. This date has not yet been specified by the government of New Zealand.
Borders were closed to protect public health and prevent the virus from spreading, overseas visitors will be welcomed back as soon as it is considered safe to do so. Travellers should stay up to date with the latest information.
Passport holders with an existing Electronic Travel Authority for New Zealand are reminded that the permit is valid for 2 years. Valid NZeTA holders will be able to use their existing permit to enter the country when current restrictions are lifted.
People with an existing New Zealand eTA will be able to use it when borders open provided they applied no more than 2 years ago.
The New Zealand Electronic Travel Authority is valid for 48 months and can be used to enter the country multiple times. It’s essential that the passport used to apply also remains valid, the NZeTA becomes void when the applicant’s passport expires.
NZeTA holders can find the expiry date of their travel authorization on the email notification received when the application was approved. New NZeTA applications will be possible once the current entry restrictions are lifted.