Call the Sector Services Contact Centre to find out more:
0800 458 448
Mon, Tue, Thu, Fri: 8am – 5pm
Wed: 9.30am – 5pm
If you are eligible for travel assistance, you may be able to claim for kilometers traveled by private car, public transport, accommodation, and specialised transport (such as taxis, mobility taxis, or air travel).
The following reimbursement levels were introduced from 1 January 2006.
|Mileage||28c per kilometre|
|Accommodation*||Up to $100 per night|
|Public transport||Actual cost|
|Air travel**||Actual cost|
* It is preferable that a person uses their DHB preferred accommodation providers. A list of these preferred providers is available from the Sector Services claims administration team. The policy states ‘in areas where the Ministry of Health or the relevant DHB has arrangements with specific travel providers, clients and their support people are to use these arrangements unless there are clinical or mobility reasons that require alternative arrangements’.
** Your referring specialist must specifically authorise eligibility for air and/or taxi travel.
The NTA scheme is in place to provide some financial assistance to people for whom the cost of travel is a barrier to accessing treatment. It is not possible to cover the total cost in all instances due to limited funds.
The Ministry of Health has access to an independent distance calculation database that calculates the road distance between the specialist facility and the client’s home.
You can claim assistance for travel under the following circumstances if you meet the eligibility criteria in the policy (ie, distance and frequency criteria).
If you meet the NTA eligibility criteria, and your specialist approves, you may be able to claim for accommodation costs (up to the maximum allowable rates), and specialised transport (such as taxis and air flights).
Accommodation will not generally be approved for travel of less than 100 km one way. However, there may be circumstances where accommodation may be approved for distances less than 100 km. For example, a person’s specialist may recommend they require accommodation because they are too frail and tired to drive home on the same day or are a child who is nauseous following chemotherapy and cannot tolerate a difficult journey home.
The Sector Services claims administrator will first assess these claims for accommodation and specialised transport, to see if they meet the criteria defined by the NTA policy. If further information is deemed necessary, the claim administrator will contact the client’s DHB point of contact for clarification.
Yes, providing you must travel more than 350 km one way from treatment, your specialist recommends it, and provides a clinical justification.
No. The NTA policy will cover airport transfers from the airport to treatment, and back, but not from home to the airport. In addition, airport departure taxes, where applicable, will not be covered by the NTA scheme.
No, not under the NTA policy. Please contact your DHB to explore other funding options.
Yes, a client who is required to travel over water to access specialist services is eligible for travel assistance. They must meet the usual eligibility criteria, or live in a location that has been designated by their DHB of Domicile as a special area to access assistance.
Where a client meets the frequency or distance criteria, and must travel across water, as a rule ferries should be used.
The referring specialist will decide which is the nearest appropriate specialist on a case-by-case basis. DHBs will have access to the information necessary to check on referral patterns if they choose.
Yes, Specialist services for mental health include but are not limited to:
Only if referred by a specialist as part of a wider course of treatment. For example, a neurologist may refer a stroke patient to a specialist physiotherapist for a course of rehabilitation physiotherapy. Referrals from physiotherapists and GPs will not be accepted unless they have been granted delegated authority by their DHB
Generally speaking, the following allied health services will be provided locally and be readily accessible to the local population:
To be eligible for travel assistance for dental services, the client must fit the usual eligibility criteria of the NTA policy and be referred by a specialist (ie, a paediatrician) or a health professional designated by their DHB to approve the first visit to a specialist dental service. When these requirements are met, travel assistance is available for the following services:
Persons receiving cosmetic surgery in the public health system will be covered for travel assistance if they fit the usual eligibility criteria of the NTA policy.
Any claim for travel assistance to private cosmetic surgery will be declined unless Sector Services receives written approval for travel assistance by the claimant’s DHB of domicile or from a publicly funded specialist on DHB letterhead.
Clinical trials should be interpreted as experimental, and being conducted primarily for research purposes (eg, human trials being undertaken as part of the development of a new drug or therapy). In this situation it is the responsibility of the researcher to fund travel and accommodation for the trial participants.
There are, however, a number of publicly funded treatments (such as paediatric oncology) for which participation in ongoing clinical trials is considered part of routine treatment. Participation in clinical trials such as these is for the purpose of defining and improving standard therapy. Participation in these circumstances usually requires no additional travel above that required for standard treatment. Participation in clinical trials as part of routine care is not considered to be exclusions.
If there is any doubt about the classification of a certain service an independent assessment will be undertaken
Travel to artificial-limb centres will only be covered by NTA if the client can provide proof that ACC and Work and Income will not cover the costs of travel. This proof must be provided in writing to Sector Services claims administrators.
Conductive education services that are not funded by the Ministry of Health may have their own travel arrangements, which should take precedence over the NTA Policy.
Clients need to provide proof that they are not able to access other travel arrangements prior to the approval of eligibility under NTA.
Yes, providing the client meets the normal eligibility criteria.
The DHB of Domicile will be required to cover costs of travel for changed or cancelled appointments. The client or Sector Services should, as a rule, book the cheapest airfare available. You may be able to claim for non-refundable fares, non-refundable service or administration fees, mileage costs, associated accommodation costs and/or specialised transport costs if the client was required to use or pay for these in spite of the appointment being cancelled.
The DHB of Service should endeavour to inform the client that their appointment has been changed or cancelled prior to the client travelling.
Note: Sector Services will only pre-book and pay for travel on behalf of clients if their appointment is confirmed.
Most communities have their own GP, so travel distances are not as much of a barrier to access.
The government funds DHBs to provide treatment at public hospitals. If there are barriers to accessing these services, it is up to the government to address those access issues (either through service placement or travel assistance). Private hospitals, private outpatient clinics, and GPs can set up practice wherever they choose, so it is not the government’s responsibility to fix any access problems their placement might create.
First your specialist must complete a registration form for you and forward it to Sector Services for processing. If you meet the eligibility criteria the registration information will be entered into the Sector Services payment system. When your eligibility is confirmed you will be able to claim travel assistance for the duration of your course of treatment. Claim forms can be obtain from your DHB travel coordinator, social worker, or by calling the Sector Services on 0800 281 222 (press option 2).
To determine your eligibility for travel assistance, go to Who’s eligible for travel assistance.
Your DHB travel coordinator, social worker, or Sector Services can provide further information on eligibility for travel assistance.
Note: Frequency criteria must be met prior to claiming, for example if client meets the high-frequency criteria they must attend the 22 appointments before they can claim reimbursed of costs.
If you have claimed travel assistance from the Ministry of Health or your DHB recently, you may qualify for the NTA transition scheme.
Alternatively, an application for travel assistance can also be made to your DHB (name of a contact person is available by calling 0800 281 222 [option 2]), ACC, Work & Income, the Ministry of Transport (Total Mobility), or the Ministry of Education. Discuss your situation with these agencies to find out if you qualify.
NTA registration, and claim forms are available from the client’s health and disability specialist service, hospital travel coordinators, hospital social workers, or directly from the Ministry of Health/Sector Services by calling 0800 458 448.
NTA registration and claim forms are also available from How to claim travel assistance.
When you claim travel and accommodation costs you will need to supply the Ministry of Health with:
Yes. The person attending treatment, or their representative, must sign the claim form before you send it in.
The registration will be returned to the client, and the DHB point of contact for their DHB will be notified via email of the rejection.
An NTA registration form may be declined for one of two reasons:
Where a registration has not been filled out correctly the registration form will be returned to the client with a letter listing the information required to complete registration.
Where a client does not qualify under the NTA eligibility criteria the registration form will be returned to the client with a letter explaining why they do not qualify and asking them to seek further advice from their DHB. An electronic copy of the rejection letter will also be emailed to the DHB NTA point of contact.
An NTA claim form may be declined for one of two reasons.
Where a claim has not been filled out correctly the claim form will be returned to the client with a letter listing the information required to process the claim.
Where a client is not currently registered for NTA the claim form will be returned to the client with a letter explaining this and referring them to seek further advice from their DHB. An electronic copy of the rejection letter will also be emailed to the DHB NTA point of contact
All correctly completed claim forms will be processed with 10 days of receipt by the Sector Services.
The Ministry of Health will make a payment directly into the verified bank account you nominate. Allow up to 4 business days for the money to be in your account from when the claim is processed.
Not through the Ministry of Health. However, you may be able to receive a pre-payment from your DHB if you cannot afford to prepay and claim reimbursement. Please contact your DHB to discuss options.
It is a requirement that people seeking to claim for travel assistance are registered with each hospital at which they are receiving treatment, regardless of whether they are under the care of the same hospital specialist.
This is important because eligibility is based on travel distance, people may be eligible for assistance to visit one facility, but not another. Only the information necessary to process your registration or claim form is collected.
Eligibility for a support person is dependent on the client’s eligibility for travel assistance. If the referring specialist recommends a support person, it will be granted or denied based on the following criteria:
If approved by the specialist, a support person can claim for the same expenses as the client.
Additional funding for a second support person may be approved when:
A letter signed by the specialist that explains why it is necessary to have two support people present will be required prior to the approval of a second support person.
The support person should travel, and stay in accommodation with the client whenever possible. When the client and the support person travel together by private motor vehicle, only one payment for transport can be claimed.
When a client is transferred as an inpatient and the support person has to travel separately from the client, the support person can claim travel costs covering the distance between the specialist facility and the home of the client if the client is eligible. See appendix 5 for further information.
The following standard accommodation entitlements are available under the NTA scheme:
Approval for travel assistance for second supporters will be based on clinical justification and the criteria in section 4.4.5 of the policy.
Note: Approval for additional travel assistance for a first and/or second support person beyond the entitlements listed may be met on a case-by-case basis for clinical reasons only. The specialist must make an application for additional assistance to Sector Services in writing stating the clinical justification.
Yes, under the following circumstances:
If the eligible supporter is not able to stay with the client for the length of the long stay, then travel costs for a supporter travelling alone will be covered for clinical reasons only. For example, the client has a specialist appointment and joint decision-making is required, or the supporter is required to learn a new skill to care for the client at home. In such cases, a return trip will be covered for the supporter. Transport assistance for a supporter when he or she is not travelling with the client, must be made, in writing, by the Specialist to Sector Services stating the clinical reason.
Note: a child is always eligible to claim the costs of a supporter for the length of the long stay near hospital.
If you are eligible for NTA assistance and use a volunteer driver, it is up to you to reimburse the driver’s costs. You can do this by entering their bank account details on your claim form or by reimbursing them personally and then submitting a claim for mileage to Sector Services.
Yes. Neonates, inpatients, and outpatients who meet the following definition of a neonate are able to access expanded assistance under the neonate criteria:
‘An infant up to the later of 28 days old or up to and including discharge from hospital.’
This will mean that a mix of inpatient and outpatient appointments may be covered under the neonate criteria. See Appendix 1 for further clarification on neonate eligibility and entitlements.
Yes, Mothers who are referred in-utero are eligible for travel assistance under the NTA policy providing the Mother meets the eligibility criteria
Prior to 1 January 2006 there were four regional travel and accommodation policies that operated according to different rules. This meant that children were required to meet different eligibility criteria depending on where they lived, and received different levels of reimbursement.
Children in the some regions, but not others, were able to claim travel assistance for trips as short as 4 km to attend specialist services. With the introduction of the NTA policy all children, including those with a recognised disability, will receive the same level of assistance regardless of their location.
If you fit the transition scheme criteria (See section 3.3) you can claim under the transitional NTA scheme. In addition, you can also apply to Work and Income, the Ministry of Transport (Total Mobility), or the Ministry of Education for travel assistance. Discuss your situation with these agencies to find out if you qualify.
People who live in aged residential care may be eligible to claim under the NTA policy if they qualify under the NTA eligibility criteria, and travel to specialist health and disability services is not specifically covered by the facilities Age Related Residential Care (ARRC) agreement with their DHB.
No. When prisoners require health services outside the prison, the correctional facility is responsible for arranging transport and, where necessary, an escort.
Yes. Live organ donors (bone marrow, kidney and liver) can be provided with assistance at the usual reimbursement rates without meeting any other eligibility criteria. Organ donors will be eligible to claim for costs incurred providing these coincide with periods of care for the organ recipient. Organ recipients must qualify under the usual NTA policy criteria in order to claim travel expenses.
Yes. Based on the organ recipient’s eligibility for travel assistance, they will be able to claim for costs incurred in New Zealand providing these coincide with periods of care for the organ recipient.
For the avoidance of doubt: the NTA scheme will not cover the costs of travel to and from New Zealand.
The return of the deceased is covered providing the deceased client is registered for travel assistance at the time of death. Return of the deceased can be claimed in two ways:
Travel will be covered from the place of death to their home (or a funeral home), or ancestral home in the case of Māori who are living outside their iwi. The deceased client can have been either an inpatient or outpatient.
Note: Retrospective registrations to cover the return of a diseased client will not be accepted.
Every dollar spent on travel and accommodation assistance is a dollar not spent on other health and disability services. There is limited health funding available, so it needs to be targeted to areas with the greatest need.
No. The NTA policy treats holiday-makers as being resident in the location of their holiday accommodation (ie, providing assistance to return to that holiday location if eligible). The client’s usual DHB of domicile will meet any of these costs.
It is assumed that people who are on holiday will have taken into account the possibility that something may go wrong while they are away (eg, through purchasing travel insurance) and will have to return home at their own expense regardless of whether they access specialist services while away or not.
For example: if a child who lives in Wellington breaks a leg on a skiing trip to Queenstown and is transferred to Dunedin Hospital, he or she would be eligible for travel assistance to return to Queenstown because it is more than 80 km from Dunedin Hospital. The child would not be eligible for travel assistance to return to Wellington.
No. Emergency ambulance transport is not covered under the NTA policy.
However, ambulance travel to return home (for example for a person who is unable to sit for long periods of time) is considered specialised transport if recommended by the referring specialist, and is covered under the NTA policy.
Weekend leave for inpatient clients is not catered for in the NTA policy; however weekend leave will be covered in the following circumstances:
For example private vehicle mileage will be covered since there is no additional cost associated with transporting the client, but air travel would not be covered since there would be an additional cost associated with transporting the client.
Yes, long stays near hospital of more than fourteen days are covered providing your specialist notifies Sector Services in writing that this is required, and provides a clinical justification. Any request for long term stay near the hospital must meet the following criteria:
For the period of the long stay near hospital the client will be entitled to one return trip per month home to visit family and friends. There does not need to be a clinical justification for this return trip.
Note: All long stays near hospital will be reviewed after three months to ensure they are still required.
The DHB of Domicile (DoD) where the client usually resides is responsible for the funding of NTA claims for their resident population. The DoD is identified using the claimant’s home address as supplied on the NTA registration form.
The DHB of domicile is generally defined by the usual residential address of the client, with the following exceptions/special cases:
Holiday-makers: Holiday-makers are considered to be resident in their DHB of domicile for funding purposes. However, for the purposes of NTA, travel will be funded to and from the holiday location to the nearest appropriate treatment facility.
Travel from the holiday location to the client’s usual place of residence will not be covered under NTA as it is assumed the client would need to arrange to return home as part of their holiday plans.
University students: University students during term time are considered to be resident at their term address.
Neonates: Neonates referred in-utero, or who are born outside their parent’s DHB region, are considered to be resident at their parent’s usual address, and by extension in their parent’s DHB of domicile, regardless of where they may be born.
Children at boarding school: Children under 18 years old who are attending primary or secondary boarding schools are considered to be resident at their parent’s usual address regardless of where the boarding school may be located, and by extension in their parent’s DHB of domicile.
Children in shared custody: Children living with two parents/guardians are considered to be resident at the address they spend most time. If they spend equal time with each parent they are considered resident where the first episode of care takes place.
Claimants who move DHBs: Claimants who move from one DHB to another are immediately considered to be resident in the new DHB of domicile.
People with no fixed abode: People with no fixed abode are considered to be resident in the DHB of Service (DoS), whether the person normally resides in the DoS or not.
Any situations outside of those defined here will be governed by the Inter District Flow (IDF) rules.
The NTA policy is available at the National Travel Assistance Scheme.
If your condition is the result of an accident, the responsibility for funding your care is split between your DHB and ACC as follows:
|Period of care||Who pays|
|First 24 hours after accident||ACC pays|
From after first 24 hours until discharge/end of ‘acute’ phase
|First six weeks after discharge||DHB pays*|
|From six weeks after discharge||ACC pays|
* Assuming the client is eligible to claim under the NTA policy.
If you have any questions regarding this policy please contact ACC and/or your DHB to discuss options.
ACC and DHB’s travel assistance policies differ because the organisations have different reasons for providing assistance. DHBs provide assistance because they recognise that travel can be a barrier to accessing treatment for some people and they have an obligation to reduce inequalities in access to services. ACC provides cover for personal injury through accident compensation because people cannot usually sue for personal injury (under the Injury Prevention, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act, 2001).
Prior to 1 January 2006 there were four different travel and accommodation policies around the country. The inconsistencies between these policies and their administration led to confusion and inequalities in access. In order to remove these inconsistencies, the Ministry of Health and district health boards are implemented a nationally consistent National Travel Assistance policy.
District health boards and the Ministry of Health have identified that the cost of travel is a barrier to accessing specialist treatment for some people. To help people with travel costs they have created the NTA scheme, under which people can claim some reimbursement for their expenses. The scheme is targeted at those with the greatest need, who are required to travel long distances, frequently, are under the age of 18, or who do not have the financial resources to cover their travel costs.
NTA provides targeted financial assistance towards the costs of accessing publicly funded specialist health and disability services. This may include a per kilometre rate for private vehicle mileage, costs of public transport and some assistance with accommodation costs.
The following is a guide only. Due the unknown regional variations it is difficult to identify all eligibility changes.
The main changes are listed below:
The following is a guide only. Due to the sheer number of regional variations, it has been difficult to ascertain all eligibility changes. From 1 January 2006, regional variation gives way to national consistency.
The primary aim of the policy review was to improve national consistency and ease inequalities of access. As a result, the policy review’s emphasis was not on improving reimbursement rates. It is important to remember that the reimbursement rates, in most instances, are not expected to cover the full cost of travel, and/or accommodation. It is acknowledged that the 20 cent per kilometer mileage reimbursement rate may not cover the full cost of travelling by car, but it will cover petrol costs for most vehicles.
Accommodation rates have increased to $80.00 and $100 per night in Wellington and Auckland respectively, with a rate of $75 per night outside these centres.
Sector Services will no longer consider special circumstance claims from 1 January 2006. If a special circumstances request is made in December 2005 for a first appointment after 31 December 2005, the referral will be referred back to the client’s DHB NTA point of contact. A DHB NTA contacts database is available to the Sector Services NTA claims administrators for this purpose.
Please note: you should not rely solely on the answers provided here; the contracts applicable to each provider and all relevant legislation must be consulted to determine the full rights & liabilities applicable to any service provider or funder.
|Emergencies||Dial 111 (for ambulance, fire or police)|
|Healthline||Dial 0800 611 116|
|Poisons||Dial 0800 POISON (0800 764 766)|
|Mental health crisis||Emergency contact numbers|
© Ministry of Health – Manatū Hauora, 2013