Everything you need to know about the New Zealand eTA

In the last years, New Zealand has been featured in countless magazines and blogs as a top travel destination. It accommodates and pleases all sorts of travelers – from young adrenaline-rush-seekers to businessmen and women and families. New Zealand is a place more than worthy of any bucket list. The country features a beautiful and well-balanced combination of dazzling and eclectic landscapes with unique Maori traditions. But like any other nation, New Zealand has its immigration policies, based on preset international agreements. Such policies determine who enters the country, what kind of activities they are allowed to conduct, and how long they can stay. Many travelers who wish to visit New Zealand have to undergo the application process for an NZ visitor’s Visa. Since 2019 however, citizens of the 60 countries currently enrolled in the NZ agreement for visa exemption, no more Visa is necessary. Let’s discover the New Zealand eTA!

The NZ eTA and the NZ visa-waiver countries

Starting on October 1st, 2019, the Government of New Zealand introduced a new immigration regulation. The New Zealand Electronic Travel Authority – or simply NZ eTA – was inspired by the U.S. ESTA and the Canadian eTA. It will be a fully online process that screens travelers prior to their arrival and grants them an electronic authorization to board a carrier on the way to New Zealand. This automatic system has proven to be effective not only in improving domestic security but also speeding up passport control and other border crossing procedures, thus enhancing travelers’ experiences.

The good news is: if you hold a passport from one of the countries in the NZ Visa Waiver agreement, all you will need is a valid Electronic Travel Authority.

This is list of countries: Andorra, Argentina, Austria, Bahrain, Belgium, Brazil, Brunei, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia (citizens only), Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong (residents with HKSAR or British National (Overseas) passports only), Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Korea (South), Kuwait, Latvia (citizens only), Liechtenstein, Lithuania (citizens only), Luxembourg, Macau (Macau Special Administrative Region passports only), Malaysia, Malta, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Netherlands, Norway, Oman, Poland, Portugal (with the right to live permanently in Portugal), Qatar, Romania, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Seychelles, Singapore, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan (permanent residency cardholders only), United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom (must be in possession of a United Kingdom permanent residency), United States of America (USA nationals included), Uruguay and Vatican City.

Why the introduction of the NZ eTA?

There has been a great increase in the number of foreign travelers visiting New Zealand over the past decade. Experts estimates for even higher numbers in the years to come. Among these visitors who come for short-term trips, the vast majority don’t need to apply for a visa when arriving by sea or air.

Initially, this accord known as the traveling Visa Waiver was implemented to support the local tourism industry by posing less bureaucratic burdens on travelers. However, the fact that a traveler doesn’t have to apply for an NZ visa prior to his arrival, means that local security agencies only become aware of them when they are already on the way.

This not only makes border checks and customs processes slower but also decreases the scope of gathering important information that could prevent or help manage potential immigration-related issues.

Therefore, the New Zealand Government has decided to adopt a new measure for assessing travel security and immigration matters, as well as making border crossing procedures faster and smoother. Nowadays, this process is faster with tech developments that allow the creation and interaction of electronic systems and databases.

Below are the main points the new NZ Electronic Travel Authority aims to address:

  • improve border security and diminish risks related to immigration and domestic safety;
  • tackle smuggling and trafficking;
  • mitigate biosecurity threats;
  • make the visitor’s experience hassle-free and efficient;
  • endorse international agreements and multilateral relationships between New Zealand and other countries;
  • keep up to date with the necessities of the NZ government, stakeholders, and travelers.

How does New Zealand eTA process work?

Travelers have to submit an online application and pay a processing fee prior to departing to New Zealand.

The NZ eTA process is easy, fast, and straightforward to complete: no consulate appointments, interviews or long waiting periods. Travelers just need to request their NZ eTA by filling up an online form and attaching all required travel and personal documentation.

When the application is approved, the NZ eTA system will send the travel authorization directly to the applicant’s email address. This authorization will grant the traveler the right to go on multiple trips to New Zealand within a period of 2 years.

On top of the NZ eTA processing fee, travelers will be subject to paying the NZ IVL: the New Zealand International Visitor Conservation and Tourism Levy. The Government of New Zealand introduced this new levy to boost the development of tourism infrastructure and conservation efforts across the country.

With regards to the NZ eTA form, applicants need to answer various travel, health, and security-related questions. Once the form has been duly completed and sent, and both fees have been paid and the NZ eTA is processed, the traveler will be able to board on a flight or ship headed to New Zealand.

Below you can find a breakdown of the mandatory information for an NZ eTA application:

  • Full name (as shown on passport);
  • Date of birth;
  • Passport information;
  • Address, phone number, valid email;
  • Purpose of travel and criminal history declarations;
  • Biometric data (depending on the chosen channel for the application, a passport photo will be captured automatically).

Who will be eligible for an NZ eTA?

Not every foreign traveler intending to visit New Zealand is eligible for an NZ Electronic Travel Authority. In order to successfully apply for an NZ eTA, the visitor must fit into one of the following categories:

  • Travelers who don’t need to apply for a New Zealand Visa for a period of 3 months or less. E.g. visa-waiver nationals, cruise ship crew, and passengers, and airway crew;
  • Australian passport holders don’t need an NZ eTA to travel to New Zealand. However, those who are only in possession of a permanent resident card in Australia will have to go through the application process;
  • Passengers of cruise ships who are traveling with a passport from one of the visa-exempt countries will be asked for an NZ eTA;
  • Passengers of cruise ships who are not eligible for the NZ visa-waiver agreement can either apply for a standard visitor’s Visa or request an NZ eTA. However, if a visa-required national arrives in New Zealand by plane and wants to join a cruise ship, he/she will have to bear a valid Visa;
  • Bearers of resident or temporary New Zealand visas, as well as citizens of NZ, can enter the country without an NZ eTA.

Who will not require an NZ Electronic Travel Authority?

Since October 2019, the implementation of NZ eTA was relevant to most travelers visiting New Zealand. However, for some others, the immigration policies and procedures remain the same. Travelers who won’t need to apply for an NZ eTA are those who are:

  • Required to apply for a valid NZ visa prior to leaving for the trip;
  • In possession of a visa for New Zealand which is still valid;
  • Permanent residents or citizens of New Zealand;
  • Citizens of Australia and bear an Australian passport.

When to submit an NZ eTA application?

It is advisable to submit an application for NZ eTA even before buying the tickets. This way there will enough time to solve any possible issue raised in NZ eTA processing. Although most applications only take a few minutes, some may require up to 72 hours.

A few rare applications can take longer to process. That usually means there is a lack of relevant information or an error while filling the application form. A reliable estimate for how long in advance to submit your NZ eTA application is 1 week before the date of departure.

Bear in mind that you won’t be able to board without a valid NZ eTA accompanied by the registered passport. While travelers without an electronic authority can request the eTA at the check-in desk, the system cannot guarantee that approval will be sent in time for boarding the carrier.

What is the cost of the New Zealand eTA and IVL?

The cost for the Electronic Travel Authority varies according to the channel you use for submitting your application. The IVL is calculated on a traveler basis and is charged together with the NZ eTA fee. Both payments will validate an eTA and IVL for up to 2 years, with multiple entries permitted.

New Zealand Electronic Travel Authority – Important Info

  • The NZ eTA is not an actual visa;
  • Foreign travelers who are in possession of a valid eTA do not require an NZ visa;
  • Travelers need to meet the basic NZ visa requirements before being able to apply for an eTA;
  • The NZ eTA application is available online only, without having to process documents through an embassy or consulate;
  • It should take no longer than 10 minutes for an applicant to complete and submit the eTA application;
  • In most of the cases, a few minutes are enough to an NZ eTA approval;
  • In rare cases, further information may be requested, delaying the New Zealand eTA approval;
  • Applicants can pay for the NZeTA with a debit or credit card;
  • Each NZ electronic authorization lasts for 2 years – unless the registered passport expires beforehand;
  • If any circumstance of an applicant changes any answer in the application the NZ eTA might lose its validity;
  • The applicant must be a citizen of one of the 60 countries eligible to the NZ visa-exemption agreement. U.S. is of course among them;
  • Review the information provided on the application form before submission. Any mistakes or omissions may result in the delay or refusal of the respective New Zealand eTA;
  • Applicants with double nationality must make sure to use the same passport when applying and traveling to NZ.