Border Exceptions

New Zealand closed its borders to everyone except New Zealand citizens and residents on 19 March 2020.  To this end, unless an applicant is in a quarantine-free travel zone, only those that meet certain exception criteria can enter New Zealand.

From 10 August 2020, Immigration New Zealand suspended all overseas temporary visa applications, except for:

  • Relationship-based visas for partners and dependent children of New Zealand citizens and residents
  • Visas for diplomatic, consular and official staff and accompanying dependents
  • Antarctic Traveller Visitor visas and Antarctic Work visas; and
  • Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) Limited visas.

To be granted a border exception, a formal request must first be made to Immigration New Zealand and if Immigration New Zealand determines that an exception may be granted, the applicant will be issued with an invitation to apply for a Critical Purpose Visitor Visa.

Once the Critical Purpose Visa is granted, everyone travelling into New Zealand from outside a quarantine-free travel zone, must enter New Zealand’s Managed Isolation and Quarantine (“MIQ”) facility for a minimum of 14-days.  All travellers must apply for an MIQ voucher and be required to provide evidence of a negative nasopharyngeal RT-PCR (“PCR”) test from a government-approved laboratory, taken 72 hours prior to travel.  MIQ facilities are extremely limited in New Zealand, which is the reason New Zealand has had to stagger its border exception criteria.

From 11.59pm on 28 April 2021, New Zealand also introduced a ‘very high-risk country’ category. This means that only New Zealand citizens and their immediate family members travelling from these very high-risk countries are eligible for entry to New Zealand.  Other travellers, including New Zealand residents, can enter only if they spend 14-days outside a very high-risk country before their arrival to New Zealand.  Currently, there are six such countries, Brazil, India, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Indonesia and Fiji.

Please note that border exceptions and ‘very high-risk countries’ are reviewed regularly as New Zealand looks to gradually open its borders and adapts to Covid-19 globally.  If you are looking for information on your options, please don't hesitate to contact us.

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