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Source: New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade – Safe Travel

New Zealand moved to Alert Level 2 at 11:59pm on Wednesday 13 May. For more information on what this means, visit the New Zealand Government’s dedicated COVID-19 website.

Advice for New Zealanders currently overseas

Do not travel overseas at this time. Transport and transit options to return to New Zealand have reduced significantly. Even booked flights may be cancelled.

If you are a New Zealander overseas you must register your details on SafeTravel to receive important country or territory specific information. It is important that you keep your SafeTravel registration details up to date so that you continue to receive updates. If your original travel plans have changed and you are unsure how long you will be overseas for you may want to set a longer term ‘date of departure’ in your registration details. This will ensure that you continue to be registered on SafeTravel as travelling or residing in your location. Once you return home you should update your registration details to show that you are no longer travelling.

We recognise that not all New Zealanders who want to return home are able to do so. New Zealanders who cannot return home for the time being should take steps to stay safely where they are.

The Government is committed to helping New Zealanders overseas where we can. But the international situation is complex and changing quickly, and some things are out of our control. Assisted departure flights should not be relied upon to get home.

If you require assistance, contact your closest New Zealand Embassy or High Commission, or call the consular emergency line on +64 99 20 20 20 (if overseas) or 0800 30 10 30 (in New Zealand). For more information on New Zealand border measures and isolation requirements on return to New Zealand, see the Immigration New Zealand and New Zealand Ministry of Health websites.

New Zealanders returning to New Zealand 

Transit arrangements

  • New Zealand has entered into transit arrangements with a range of countries to make it easier for each other’s citizens to get home. New Zealand has made specific arrangements with Australia, Chile, Canadathe United States and a number of other countries, so that in most cases these locations can be used as transit hubs for New Zealand citizens returning to New Zealand. However, these transit arrangements cannot guarantee your transit through these countries, all travellers must also comply with any specific transit restrictions and requirements for all countries they are transiting en route to New Zealand. Many countries have specific restrictions which may prevent travellers transiting when travelling from certain countries. You should check that you comply with these restrictions before booking your travel.
  • Returning New Zealanders who need to transit these or other countries/territories should be aware that circumstances are changing quickly, and we do not have an exhaustive list of available options. Always check with your airline/travel agent that you have current information about your transit options to ensure you will be able to travel to your final destination. Country specific travel restrictions (including transit restrictions) are also available on the International Air Transport Association (IATA) website.
  • Further details of New Zealand’s transit arrangements with other countries can be found on the Immigration New Zealand website (under the heading ‘Transiting and Departing from New Zealand’). Further transit arrangements continue to be negotiated.

Transiting the United States

In early April New Zealand entered into a Reciprocal Transit Arrangement with the US. It allows “New Zealand citizens, New Zealand residents and third country nationals who have an approved ESTA or valid visa [to] transit the United States of America, so long as they have not been physically present in any of the following regions for the 14 days prior to entry into the United States: Iran, China, United Kingdom, Ireland and any country in the Schengen zone”. Foreign nationals who visited China, Iran, European Schengen area, United Kingdom in the past 14 days cannot enter the US. The Department of Homeland Security (US Customs and Border Protection) advises “there is no delineation between those attempting to enter for transit versus those attempting to enter for business or other”.

Transiting Australia

We understand from the Australian Government, that New Zealand citizens, residents and immediate family who wish to transit Australia on their way home to New Zealand are subject to both Australian Federal and State Government requirements.

At the Federal level, the Australian Border Force are permitting transits of up to 72 hours for New Zealanders, requiring transits of more than eight hours to leave the airport. We are aware of New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria State Governments’ having 14 days mandatory quarantine requirements for those arriving from overseas.

However, the New Zealand Government does not provide advice on the immigration requirements of other countries, which can be subject to change quickly. Travellers are strongly encouraged to monitor the Home Affairs website and liaise with their travel agent/airline/insurance provider for up-to-date information.

Given the strengthened border measures in New Zealand and Australia, travellers should allow extra time for check in given the likely requirement for non-Australian passport holders to be individually checked for permission to transit Australia en route to New Zealand. This permission will likely involve reference back to head office for confirmation and so may take time given current call volumes.

Isolation requirements in New Zealand

All travellers entering New Zealand from 10 April 2020 are required to:

  • go into ‘managed isolation’ in a government-provided facility (hotel), or
  • if you have COVID-19 symptoms, go into a quarantine facility (separate hotel). 

You will need to stay there for at least 14 days. This will prevent any further unmanaged COVID-19 infection coming into New Zealand. You can’t self-isolate at home, or take a domestic flight before the 14-day period is completed.

Health screening on your arrival

You will be met at the airport by government officials who will explain the requirements and answer any questions. You will also be screened for COVID-19 symptoms. If you have symptoms of COVID-19 or are waiting for COVID-19 test results, you will be placed in a quarantine facility (separate hotel).

Otherwise, you will be placed in a managed isolation facility (hotel). You will have regular contact with the government repatriation team who will coordinate all movement and welfare support.

Payment for accommodation

The All-of-Government Response is paying for the cost of the accommodation and meals for those requiring managed isolation or quarantine.

Provisions while in managed isolation or quarantine

On arrival into New Zealand each passenger or family group will be assessed by an assessing officer at the airport and requirements for provisions determined at this point.

Any items required such as provisions for infants i.e. formula, nappies etc. will be purchased through this process and delivered to your hotel room. This is a user pays system. Note: we recommend that you arrive with enough provision for infants to last you for the first 24 hours in the hotel. This will allow time for provisions to be purchased for you.

Otherwise, you should limit the amount of baggage you bring with you, be aware that New Zealand has strict biosecurity requirements that will be enforced on arrival. For your safety and the safety of others we suggest disposing of risk goods prior to travel. Otherwise risk items must be declared on arrival. More information can be found on the Ministry for Primary Industries website.

  • All meals are provided in managed isolation/quarantine, so there is no need to bring additional food into New Zealand for the duration of your stay.
  • New Zealand’s standard biosecurity screening requirements remain in place – no illegal or perishable food items and cooking ingredients (for example fruit, vegetables, eggs, and honey) will be permitted to be brought into New Zealand.
  • Only small quantities of non-perishable food (such as sweets, biscuits etc.) will be allowed to be brought into New Zealand and taken to managed isolation/quarantine facilities. Ensure you pack these in your carry-on luggage so they can be easily checked by biosecurity officials on arrival.
  • Bringing these items in your checked or cabin baggage will delay your arrival processing into New Zealand and your allocation into a managed isolation/quarantine facility. This is because checking cabin baggage requires additional screening and interaction with border staff. This poses unnecessary risk to staff who are working to facilitate your entry into New Zealand.
  • (For flights arriving from the Pacific) Umu boxes require additional screening and interaction with border staff, and may not be allowed to be taken to isolation/quarantine facilities. Please avoid bringing Umu boxes with you.
  • For any food items/cooking ingredients, declare on your arrival card and inform biosecurity officers at the check point. Failure to do so could result in a delay in processing on arrival or a $400 fine.
  • Alcohol should only be consumed in moderation during your stay in managed isolation/quarantine.

Further information about New Zealand’s isolation requirements and facilities can be found on the New Zealand Government’s dedicated COVID-19 website and the Ministry of Health website.

Current border measures in New Zealand

As of Thursday 19 March, most foreign travellers can no longer enter New Zealand. New Zealand citizens, permanent residents, residents with valid travel conditions can still come to New Zealand. Immediate family of New Zealand citizens and residents (partner or spouse, legal guardian and dependent children under the age of 24) must seek approval from Immigration New Zealand using the limited exceptions process. Immediate family members cannot travel by themselves. They must travel with the New Zealand citizen or resident family member on the same flight to New Zealand. New Zealand Australian citizens and permanent residents who normally live in New Zealand must also seek approval from Immigration New Zealand using the limited exceptions process.

For further information regarding these border changes, visas and exemptions please read the information on the Immigration New Zealand website or contact Immigration New Zealand on +64 9 952 1679 (outside New Zealand) 0508 225 288 (within New Zealand).

We are aware of some countries (including Thailand and Fiji) now requiring a recent medical certificate before boarding a plane to transit through their countries. Check with your airline for the most up-to-date information on travel requirements.

Staying safe wherever you are

If you are unable to return to New Zealand, we encourage you to take the following steps to stay safely where you are:

  • Follow the advice of local authorities. Be ready to comply with local isolation or quarantine requirements and to rely on the local health system. Find out how to access healthcare in case it becomes necessary to do so;
  • Take care to minimise your risk of exposure to COVID-19 by following the advice of the World Health Organisation and New Zealand Ministry of Health;
  • Find suitable accommodation;
  • Make sure you have access to enough medication if you are overseas for longer than planned;
  • Keep your family and friends regularly informed of your plans and well-being;
  • Monitor local media for developments;
  • Be prepared for logistical and financial disruption. Make sure you can access money to cover emergencies and unexpected delays. New Zealanders facing financial hardship overseas should seek assistance from family or friends or contact their bank in the first instance. Check with your insurance provider to see if they can help;
  • Look after yourself – your emotional and mental wellbeing is important. Stay in touch with your usual supports – whānau, friends and workmates, especially if you are self-isolating. Further tips can be found on the Government’s COVID-19 website.
  • Register on SafeTravel and keep checking the website for updates;
  • For more detailed country-specific advice, check the office travel advice of the US, UK and Australia too; and
  • Contact your nearest New Zealand Embassy or Consulate if you require consular assistance. Contact details are listed in each destination page on the SafeTravel. For urgent consular assistance after-hours please contact +64 99 20 20 20 (monitored 24 hours a day).

Please note that in some cases the ability of the New Zealand Government to provide consular assistance may be limited due to restrictions on movement and other services.

Ministry of Social Development support for clients overseas

From 20 April, for MSD clients who are stranded overseas because of COVID-19, their benefit, New Zealand Superannuation or Veteran’s Pension will continue to be paid or may be resumed where payments are on hold or have stopped, from the date that they expected to return to New Zealand (or earlier if that person is in severe hardship, or not at all if that person no longer qualifies). See here.

This is a temporary solution – intended to support New Zealanders while they are unable to return home – and will be in place for six months (expiring on 20 October 2020).

The types of assistance available under the Programme will include resumed payments of:

  • Main benefit
  • New Zealand Superannuation
  • Veteran’s Pension; and
  • Supplementary assistance, including Accommodation Supplement, Child Disability Allowance, Disability Allowance, Orphan’s Benefit, Temporary Additional Support, Unsupported Child’s Benefit, Winter Energy Payment and Temporary Accommodation Assistance.
  • The Ministry of Social Development will be able to grant assistance where:
    • the applicant was, immediately before leaving New Zealand, entitled to receive a domestic payment of one the benefits or pensions covered
    • but for the applicant’s absence, they would remain entitled to receive payment of the domestic rate of the benefit, New Zealand Superannuation or Veteran’s Pension; and
    • the applicant was unable to return to New Zealand on their intended return date because of the effects of COVID-19.
    • Payments made under the Programme will be equivalent to what applicants would have received if they had been in New Zealand. People will receive support under the Programme up until the point that they return, or could feasibly return, to New Zealand.
    • New Zealanders who believe they may be eligible for support under the Programme can find more information on Work and Income’s website. They will need to apply for assistance under the Programme. Find the Press Release here.

Financial assistance for New Zealanders in Australia

  • The Australian Government has announced that New Zealanders working in Australia are among those who can qualify for Australia’s “JobKeeper payment”, a new wage subsidy scheme.
  • We recommend New Zealanders check with their employer to see if they are eligible for the payment, which will be paid directly by employers.
  • It may be helpful for New Zealanders to alert their employers to their visa status. New Zealand citizens receive a subclass 444 Special Category Visa on entry to Australia unless they are Australian permanent residents or citizens, or have applied for another kind of Australian visa.
  • Self-employed New Zealanders who may be eligible should register their interest in the scheme with the Australian Tax Office.
  • Further information is available from the Australian Tax Office.

Advice for New Zealanders considering overseas travel

The New Zealand Government is advising that New Zealanders do not travel overseas at this time due to the outbreak of COVID-19, associated health risks and travel restrictions. There may be a higher risk of contracting COVID-19 overseas. You may come in contact with more people than usual, including during long-haul flights and in crowded airports. Health care systems in some countries may come under strain and may not be as well-equipped as New Zealand’s or have the capacity to support foreigners.

COVID-19 and travel disruptions

Overseas travel has become more complex and unpredictable, and many countries are introducing entry or movement restrictions.  Most flights to New Zealand have ceased. A number of these border restrictions apply to New Zealanders, including those seeking to transit through these countries or territories to New Zealand, as well as those arriving via cruise ship. These are changing often and quickly. Your travel plans may be disrupted. You may be placed in quarantine or denied entry to some countries.

If you still wish to return to New Zealand, consult the International Air Transport Association (IATA) website and the immigration website of the relevant country before you travel for more information on border restrictions. For information on Australian border restrictions, visit the Australian Home Affairs website. As border restrictions continue to change, sometimes with little or no notice, check these websites regularly.

The New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade does not provide immigration advice for entry to other countries and territories. The border authorities of the country or territory you are travelling to determine your eligibility for entry.

Information on cruises

All cruise ships which have sailed from a foreign port have been banned from entering New Zealand ports until 30 June.

New Zealanders are advised not to travel overseas at this time, including on overseas cruises. The virus can spread quickly on board cruises due to the close contact between passengers. Some cruise ships have been put into quarantine, and countries have denied entry to ports, which can have significant consequences for travellers.

If you choose to continue your plans for a cruise despite our advice, and you’re concerned about the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on your plans, contact your travel agent or cruise operator for specific information. Check the Australasia website of Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), which outlines the protocols they put in place for the health and safety of cruise passengers and crew in response to COVID-19.  All CLIA member cruise lines are required to implement these protocols.

For further travel advice and information about COVID-19, please see our COVID-19 web page here.

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