The New Zealand government has announced the reopening of its borders after a closure of almost two years. Travellers with a NZeTA visa will still have to wait.
Travel ban because of COVID-19
Since March 2020, New Zealand has had one of the strictest border closures in the world. Even for travellers with New Zealand nationality, it is difficult to enter the country. This is largely due to New Zealand‘s quarantine system. All incoming travellers must undergo mandatory quarantine in a government facility, even if they have been fully vaccinated. However, these facilities only have a limited number of places available, so waiting times are very long. There was a short-lived agreement with Australia (‘travel bubble‘), which allowed travellers from Australia to travel to New Zealand without having to undergo quarantine. However, this agreement was discontinued in autumn 2021 due to rising infection rates in Australia.
In terms of the number of infections and deaths in New Zealand, the strategy has clearly paid off. Only 53 coronavirus-related deaths have been reported. However, there is also much criticism of the government‘s strict policy, especially from New Zealanders stranded abroad. The government initially planned to reopen the borders to New Zealand citizens as early as early 2022, but this was postponed because of the omicron variant of the coronavirus.
The percentage of fully vaccinated people in New Zealand is 93%. Partly because of this, the New Zealand government believes that it is now time to open the borders in phases. With this, New Zealand is lagging behind neighbouring Australia, which already opened the borders at the end of 2021 to travellers with specific visas or an exception permit.
Step-by-step plan for border opening
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced a roadmap outlining the stages of border opening. Travellers will no longer be required to undergo mandatory quarantine in a government facility upon arrival in New Zealand. Instead, they will be allowed to self-quarantine. If and when one is allowed to travel to New Zealand depends on the nationality of the traveller:
- 27 February: Travellers with New Zealand nationality and specific visa holders travelling to New Zealand from Australia.
- 13 March: New Zealand national travellers coming to New Zealand from other countries and certain categories of skilled workers.
- 12 April: Up to 5000 international students and other travellers with specific visas.
- July (exact date unknown): Travellers who are allowed to travel visa-free to New Zealand, such as Australians and Americans.
- October (exact date unknown): travellers from all other countries, as long as they have a valid visa.
Visa for a holiday in New Zealand
Travellers who want to travel to New Zealand with a business or tourist visa will therefore be welcome again from October 2022 under the current plans. Only travellers who are allowed to travel to New Zealand without a visa will be able to do so from July onwards. The United Kingdom and Ireland fall under New Zealandʼs visa-free travel scheme, meaning that British and Irish citizens do not need a visa to travel to New Zealand. However, they do need to apply for the NZeTA. This has been compulsory since 2019 for people who are allowed to travel to New Zealand without a visa. The NZeTA can already be applied for online. An NZeTA is valid for two years from the time it is granted, so it can also be used for a trip next year as well.
The New Zealand government has not announced any changes with regard to the NZeTA visa. This means that the New-Zealand visa costs and validity are still the same as before the COVID-19 crisis.
Take note: this news article about the visa for New Zealand is more than one year old. It might contain outdated information and advice, and no rights can therefore be derived from this article. Are you going on a trip soon and do you wish to do know what rules currently apply? Read all about the up-to-date information about the visa for New Zealand.