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 without facing restrictions, providing they hold a valid passport, are of good character, and 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.
The novel coronavirus pandemic has changed travel and tourism all over the world. At the time of writing, the country is at Alert Level 2.
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:
New Zealand’s temporary restrictions and exemptions related to COVID-19:
New Zealand’s ordinary travel and entry restrictions:
Coronavirus Entry Restrictions for New Zealand
Due to the present epidemiological situation, New Zealand has implemented strict border controls and restricted entry to the island nation.
This series of entry restrictions are aimed at safeguarding its 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.
These 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.
Travel Restrictions to NZ During Coronavirus Pandemic
New Zealand has placed a ban on most foreign nationals and the country’s border remains closed. This means that the majority of travellers who do not hold a valid New Zealand passport will not be able to enter New Zealand.
Under the current COVID-19 entry restrictions to NZ, only New Zealand nationals and residents, their children and partners are permitted to enter the island country.
This includes New Zealand’s Realm countries:
- The Cook Islands
Australian citizens and permanent residents ordinarily residing in New Zealand are also allowed to enter NZ during the outbreak.
Travellers from any other countries aren’t allowed to enter New Zealand at this time unless they have specific grounds for exemption.
Visa applications are currently on hold. Those who have already submitted their visa request, however, can rest assured that it will remain in the appropriate processing queue and will be reviewed and approved or rejected once the border restrictions are lifted.
Travel Exemptions to NZ During COVID-19 Outbreak
Some exceptions that allow foreign visitors to enter New Zealand despite the presently closed borders include the passengers being:
- Essential workers
- Travellers with justified medical reasons
- Diplomats who hold a post in New Zealand
- Samoan and Tongan citizens making essential travel which has been agreed to by their government and the New Zealand government
- Visitors travelling for critical humanitarian purposes
Foreign nationals that comply with these requirements may apply to Immigration New Zealand for an exception to the border closure. They will be asked to prove their need to travel to NZ is critical or otherwise justified.
Travellers entering New Zealand from abroad, regardless of their nationality, must remain in obligatory managed isolation or quarantine for at least 14 days. The visitor must test negative for COVID-19 before they can leave the isolation or quarantine facility and go into the community.
Transiting through New Zealand during the Coronavirus Pandemic
The government of New Zealand has announced that transit is only allowed at Auckland International Airport for a maximum of 24 hours. Moreover, all airline crews must wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE.)
Passengers who are allowed to transit through the country include:
- Citizens of Australia and New Zealand
- Residents of New Zealand
- Foreign nationals holding a valid visa issued by New Zealand
- Travellers in Cook Island, Fiji, French Polynesia, Kiribati, Micronesia (Federated States), Nauru, New Caledonia, Niue, Northern Mariana Islands, Samoa, Samoa (American), Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu or Vanuatu, if they are returning via New Zealand to their territory of residence (effective until September 18th, 2020)
Flights to New Zealand during COVID-19
After New Zealand closed its borders, a large number of flights into the country were cancelled. Although a small number of incoming flights remain in place for essential travel, most routes to New Zealand have been suspended until either the end of October 2020.
Most airlines with cancelled flights are offering passengers to hold their fare in credit whilst others are granting refunds. Travellers can contact their airline provider or travel agent for more information on how to proceed if this is their case.
NZ Travel Safety Precautions During Coronavirus Outbreak
Flights that continue operating to New Zealand have taken a number of measures to protect their customers and their personnel from catching or spreading COVID-19.
Some of these safety measures include:
- Physical distancing
- Providing hand sanitizer
- Encouraging the use of masks
- International lounges remain closed
- Reduced number of seats available per flight
- Use of HEPA filters in aircraft air conditioning systems
- Minors are currently not permitted to travel unaccompanied
- Relocating passengers in order to keep seated people at a safe distance
Arriving in NZ during the Pandemic
Passengers entering New Zealand must do their part to stop coronavirus spreading in the country. The NZ authorities need to make sure individuals arriving do not have COVID-19 before they are allowed to mingle with the community.
To achieve this, travellers arriving in NZ are asked to complete at least 14 days of managed isolation or quarantine. Around day 3 and day 12 of their stay, they will be tested for COVID-19 and may be eligible to obtain an exemption from managed isolation.
COVID-19: medical screening and quarantine in New Zealand
Those who reach New Zealand from abroad will be subject to mandatory medical screening and self-isolation for 14 days. This does not apply to passengers in transit.
It is hoped that these measures will help to curb the spread of COVID-19. As soon as the pandemic will be resolved and under control, travel to New Zealand will return to normal.
Managed Isolation Upon Arrival in New Zealand
People arriving in New Zealand from abroad will be provided with accommodation, basic toiletries, refreshments, and 3 daily meals during their stay in managed isolation. Wi-Fi and laundry services are also available.
Healthcare professionals are working on-site to care for isolated travellers. It is mandatory to wear a mask outside the managed isolation room, or in the presence of someone outside the traveller’s “bubble”.
Leaving the isolation facility is only permitted for outdoor exercise, emergencies, accessing healthcare or if the person needs to be transferred to a different location.
A limited number of exemptions apply for those:
- Considered a low public health risk
- Requesting to visit a close family member who is terminally ill
- Other exceptional circumstances
Families travelling to New Zealand with minors are eligible to enter managed isolation facilities together. The application to join a minor or someone who needs your support for their wellbeing in managed isolation must be submitted well in advance.
What to do if you feel ill while in New Zealand
Travellers feeling unwell during their flight, upon arrival, or during their stay in an isolation facility are asked to contact travel personnel or phone Healthline for free on 0800 358 5453.
How will coronavirus affect travel to New Zealand?
New Zealand’s entry restrictions are undergoing constant review as the situation develops.
Anyone who has been diagnosed with and recovered from COVID-19 will need to be cleared by a doctor and/or the airline’s own medical team, as per the rules of flying with medical conditions to New Zealand.
Foreign visitors currently in New Zealand are encouraged to follow the local government’s advice and follow safety recommendations at all times such as:
- Wash hands frequently
- Respect social distancing
- Wear a mask when applicable
- Avoid large gatherings
Transit through NZ after the outbreak
Once travel restrictions due to COVID-19 have been lifted in New Zealand, normal transit procedures should resume. This means that transit passengers from eligible countries will need to apply for a Transit NZeTA prior to their departure if their flight has a stopover in NZ.
Travellers with an approved NZeTA are reminded that the travel authorization for New Zealand is valid for a full 2 years.
Passengers with a trip cancelled due to COVID-19 will still be able to use their NZeTA visa waiver to travel to New Zealand once the border is reopened. The travel authorization will allow entry during its validity period as long as the passport used remains current.
Entry restrictions to NZ for visa-exempt Countries after the Outbreak
After the pandemic recedes, ordinary entry restrictions and exemptions are expected to be reinstated in New Zealand.
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.
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.