New Zealand and the Visa Waiver Program
Treaties permitting citizens from a great many countries entry into New Zealand without first having to apply for a Visitor visa include the United States. These citizens are however subject to certain entry conditions, who are also required to complete a Passenger Arrival Card before disembarking in New Zealand.
The Visitor visa for nationals enjoying visa-waiver benefits permits entry into New Zealand for up to 3 months, although United Kingdom citizens have a 6-month permit.
These eligibility requirements are:
- a valid passport;
- valid travel documents;
- a return or onward-travel ticket before leaving for New Zealand. Applicants for a Visitor visa are required to prove availability of sufficient funds to afford such a ticket. Visa-waiver travelers must already hold onward travel ticket before arrival;
- proof of sufficient funds for the length of visit in New Zealand;
- a completed New Zealand Passenger Arrival Card declaring the holder to be in good health and of sound character.
All New Zealand airports will have the New Zealand Passenger Arrival Card:
Citizens of following countries have the advantage of being members of New Zealand’s Visa Waiver Program:
United Arab Emirates
United States of America
Travelers from the United States who are uncertain whether they require a visa, or have enquiries regarding applying for a visa for New Zealand, have the following options:
- The Immigration New Zealand website provides answers relating to New Zealand visas;
- Call the Immigration Contact Centre (ICC) in New Zealand at +11 64 9 914 4100, where staff fluent in various languages are on hand 24 hours/day, 365 days per year to assist with every aspect of immigration policy and procedure;
- Call the Visa Acceptance Centre (VAC) in Washington DC at +1 202 223 3400 for questions relating to procedure only.
Why New Zealand needs the new Electronic Travel Authority
New Zealand hopes to streamline the entry process through the implementing of the Electronic Travel Authority system. The number of visitors entering New Zealand’s borders annually almost equals the number of permanent residents living in New Zealand. Many of these travelers are exempt from having to first apply for a travel visa to gain entry to the country. What this means is that a great percentage of travelers entering New Zealand do so without having to produce the information required of visa-holders. New Zealand authorities have consequently seen the need to more effectively manage national arrivals and border security.
The NZeTA will allow authorities the opportunity to pre-screen travelers before they leave their own countries to travel to New Zealand. This will prove an effective tool and mechanism for collecting data on travelers, providing the immigration system with additional security measures which will reduce the immigration risks currently experienced.
The implementation of this eTA and the additional information it will provide border officials will assist in promoting the processing of visitors passing through the New Zealand border. The hope is that by having prospective travelers complete the pre-registration, those eligible to visit New Zealand will have an improved travel experience.
Entry Requirements for New Zealand eTA
Applications for NZeTA are considered and entry is denied based on the following requirements:
New Zealand General Entry Requirements
- A valid passport and mandatory travel documents;
- If so required, a printed copy of a valid visa relevant to the passport presented;
- A return ticket to your country of origin or onward ticket to your next destination country. Immigration officials are required to check that visa which may apply to your next destination country;
- Sufficient funds for the length of stay in New Zealand, dependent on travel visa;
- Good overall health without posing a medical threat to any one in New Zealand or risking a financial burden on special education or the New Zealand Health Service.
Good Character Requirements
No visa or travel authority will be granted in any of the following cases:
- if forbidden entry into New Zealand;
- following deportation, exclusion and removal from another country;
- where a criminal act led to a prison sentence exceeding 5 years;
- where an offense during the last 10 years led to a prison sentence exceeding 12 months;
- if capable of committing an offense;
- where a security threat or potential threat to public order and to the general order is posed.
As a member of the Visa Waiver Countries, New Zealand requires travelers from the United States entering New Zealand to have the following:
- a return or onward-travel ticket or sufficient funds to afford a return ticket;
- proof of sufficient funds for the length of stay in New Zealand;
- visa for a period of up to three months which specifically states the visit is for “lawful purpose”, and to be determined by immigration officials on entry.
Important Information for United States travelers arriving into New Zealand
- New Zealand Customs Official at the Port of Entry may examine items such as mobile phones, Android tablets, hard drives, laptops, iPads, and digital cameras. Failure to comply with requests from the Officer regarding associated passwords may be charged a fine of up to NZD $5000 (US$3380). Passwords are not kept, and personal data is not changed.
- New Zealand’s biosecurity procedures are strictly enforced to prevent the introduction of harmful pests and diseases. Any biosecurity-risk goods must be declared or disposed at air and sea ports using marked amnesty. Instant fines of NZ $400 (US$270) are applicable for not declaring biosecurity risk goods (e.g. seeds, honey, fresh fruit, and plants).
- Cook Islands is self-governing in free association with New Zealand, and United States citizen visitors can enter visa-free for stays up to 31 days on a passport which is valid for at least six months after the arrival date in the Cook Islands.
Information on New Zealand’s Electronic Travel Authority
- it is NOT a visa;
- applicants need not be processed by a consulate or an embassy;
- the online application takes 5 to 10 minutes to complete;
- the processing fee can be paid by credit or debit card;
- a visa is not a required when in possession of the eTA;
- applicants will have to meet basic visa requirements;
- travelers must hold a valid passport from one of the 60 waiver-free countries;
- the NZeTA is valid for two years or until the holder’s passport expires, whichever comes first;
- permit is no longer valid should any changes in the traveler’s circumstances affect any answers to the application questions;
- application processing is to be quick, and approval should be immediate in most cases;
- in special cases applications may take longer, and additional documentation may be requested;
- potential complications can be avoided through careful review of data provided as errors and omissions could result in delays and possibly the denial of application for travel authorization;
- applicants with more than one passport must recognize that the eTA will pertain to a specific passport and that this passport must be used for entry into New Zealand.