COVID-19: Maritime sector

Information and guidance for the maritime sector.

New Zealand’s maritime border will reopen to foreign-flagged vessels, including cruise ships, at 11:59pm 31 July 2022. Details of any updates to the requirements that have been imposed to contain and control the spread of COVID-19 will be provided as they become available.

More information for small craft and private yachts is now available from the New Zealand Customs Service.

Last updated: 13 May 2022

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Maritime Border Order

The Maritime Border Order provides clear and consistent rules for safe crew changes and the safe movement of cargo to and from New Zealand.

See more information on the Maritime Border Order - Epidemic Notice and Orders.

The Maritime Border Order works alongside immigration rules, and both must be complied with.

Arriving vessels will still be required to meet New Zealand’s strict biosecurity requirements, to prevent the introduction of pests and plant and animal diseases to New Zealand.

Specifically, the Maritime Border Order:

  • Bans foreign ships from arriving in New Zealand, with a range of exceptions, including:
    • fishing ships and cargo ships
    • those that have been granted permission if there is a humanitarian reason or a compelling need for the ship to be delivered to a NZ business
  • Requires the master of a ship to ensure awareness of COVID-19 testing and self-isolation requirements.
  • Requires COVID-19 testing of crew arriving by ship who are scheduled to disembark and enter the community.
  • Introduces infringement offences under the Maritime Border Order for non-compliance.
The Maritime Border Order works in conjunction with other COVID-19 orders such as  the COVID-19 Public Health Response (Self-isolation Requirements and Permitted Work) Order 2022 and the COVID-19 Public Health Response (Protection Framework) Order 2021. These should all be taken into account in order to  understand New Zealand’s maritime border settings. 

The Maritime Border Order will be amended to permit foreign-flagged vessels to enter New Zealand from 31 July 2022. The details of any health-related entry requirements will be announced before then.   

COVID-19 Public Health Response (Maritime Border and Other Matters) Amendment Order 2022 

(The COVID-19 Public Health Response (Maritime Border and Other Matters) Amendment Order 2022  (the Amendment Order) came into force at 11.59pm on 2 May 2022 and amends the COVID-19 Public Health Response (Maritime Border) Order (No 2) 2020. Key changes include: 

  •  the removal of isolation requirements for those currently permitted to arrive and enter New Zealand via the maritime border 
  • the introduction of Day 0/1 and 5/6 testing for those wishing to disembark and enter the community 
  • a change to using self-administered Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs) as the primary means of testing
  • the removal of isolation requirements for those arriving by air for the purpose of crew changes
  • the removal of testing requirements for maritime border workers 
  • changes to PPE requirements for ships’ crew.

Guidance on the key changes brought about by the Amendment Order can be found here:

Extended Notice of Arrival

The Extended Notice of Arrival (ENA) is an important document that all ships coming into New Zealand need to complete 7 days out from arrival.

The ENA has two parts – a two-page main form and an appendix containing a template for answering question 27 (relating to vaccination and pre-departure testing). Please note that vaccination and pre-departure testing are not currently mandated for arrivals at the maritime border. The information requested by question 27 is used only to assist with public health planning . 

The ENA forms can be saved to a device and completed digitally or filled out and scanned as a hard copy. Completed forms must be sent to [email protected].

Download the forms below. A low-bandwidth version is available for vessels with limited internet connectivity.

Reporting COVID-19 test results for disembarking crew and passengers

Crew and passengers who wish to disembark their ship to enter the community must undergo a test prior to disembarking. This test is referred to as their Day 0/1 test. If the crew member is still in the community or is planning to disembark the ship more than 120 hours after their first test, they will be required to complete a second test (a Day 5/6 test). The Day 5/6 test must be taken between 120-140 hours after the first test was done, and can be taken while in the community or on the ship.

The ship’s master must notify the relevant Medical Officer of Health of the results of all mandatory COVID-19 testing that is undertaken on board the ship.

Please record your test results in this template: Rapid Antigen Testing (RAT) results (Excel, 13 KB)

If an arrival tests positive, they must self-isolate for 7 days and obtain a follow-up PCR test. This is to allow any COVID-19 variants to be monitored.

All crew on board the ship will be required to self-isolate as a Household Contact unless a Medical Officer of Health decides that there is a low risk that a person has been exposed to a COVID-19 case.

Full information on the self-isolation requirements for positive cases and Household Contacts can be found at Unite against COVID-19

In specific situations, crew members on board a vessel who are self-isolating may be permitted to disembark, for example, to undertake essential permitted movements. In doing so, they will be required under 13A(3) of the COVID-19 Public Health Response (Self-isolation Requirements and Permitted Work) Order 2022 to take reasonable steps to minimise the risk of spreading COVID-19. This includes by remaining as close as is reasonably practicable to the ship; by maintaining physical distancing and wearing PPE while performing essential tasks. A list of essential tasks can be found in the MBO.

The Vessel Management Framework

The Vessel Management Framework has been designed to provide consistent procedures and processes to manage vessels where there are known or suspected cases of COVID-19 on board. It has been developed to manage the public health risks posed by vessels liable to quarantine in a consistent and collaborative manner, and with the authorisation of public health officials.

All arriving vessels are liable to quarantine until cleared by the health authorities, at which point pratique (approval to enter port) is granted. However, should a crew member test positive for COVID-19 after pratique has been granted, or pratique is not granted due to COVID-19 on board, this guidance can be followed to facilitate safe maritime cargo operations. It can be used to manage COVID-19 risks in all cases where a vessel is liable to quarantine (under the Health Act), or a crew member is required to isolate (under the relevant COVID-19 legislation).

The guidance has been prepared for port operators, unions, agents, government agencies and Public Health Units to follow whenever a vessel remains liable to or is placed in quarantine or a crew member is isolating on board.  The framework clarifies the roles and responsibilities for all parties involved, and provides a process map and templates to guide users for safe cargo operations and pilotage when COVID-19 is known or suspected to be on board. You can find the guidance in the documents listed below.

Border Worker Vaccination

New Zealand-based workers at the maritime border must be vaccinated against COVID-19.

Further information on this requirement can be found here: Information on border worker vaccination.

Required COVID-19 testing for maritime workers

As at 11.59pm on 2 May 2022, New Zealand-based workers at the maritime border are no longer subject to regular testing requirements pursuant to the COVID-19 Public Health Response (Required Testing) Order 2020. 

This requirement has been removed by the Amendment Order based on Public Health advice.

Guidance for small craft and yacht arrivals in New Zealand

Information for small craft and yacht owners and operators (and their agents) who are considering travelling to New Zealand while Maritime Border Order is in effect is available from the New Zealand Customs Service.

The Maritime Border Order will be amended to permit foreign-flagged vessels to enter New Zealand from 31 July 2022.

Exemption for vessels to enter New Zealand

Under the Maritime Border Order, foreign vessels cannot currently arrive in New Zealand unless they have an exemption. The permission to grant these exemptions lies with the Director-General of Health.

The Director-General of Health may only grant an exemption if the vessel is seeking permission to arrive in New Zealand:

  • to reprovision or refuel, or both;
  • to carry out a significant refit, refurbishment, or a repair to the vessel;
  • to deliver the vessel to a business;
  • for a compelling humanitarian need to arrive in New Zealand; or
  • for another reason (but only if everyone on board the vessel has the right to travel to New Zealand under the Immigration Act 2009).

Under the Order, the Director-General must consider the public health risk of the vessel arriving in New Zealand, and the resources available to manage that risk. Other factors may also be considered, including:

  • Urgency;
  • The monetary contribution to New Zealand’s economy if the vessel is allowed into the country;
  • The potential risk of COVID-19 being spread to people in New Zealand;
  • How likely the people onboard the vessel will comply with requirements;
  • Likely costs for government agencies to carry out compliance activities.

The Ministry of Health assesses each application thoroughly and on its own merits. Applications for an exemption should be made well before the vessel intends to depart for New Zealand. This is to ensure a decision can be made and communicated before departure, to avoid the possibility of vessels needing to change plans mid-journey, if the application is declined. 

Once an application for a foreign vessel exemption to enter New Zealand is approved, applicants will need to apply for and obtain Immigration New Zealand approval for their crew to arrive in New Zealand.

The Maritime Border Order will be amended to permit foreign-flagged vessels to enter New Zealand from 31 July 2022.

Note on humanitarian applications

Applications under humanitarian reasons are unlikely to be approved for situations relating only to financial loss, or to vessels travelling primarily for pleasure or convenience (such as tourists, or vessels ‘wintering over.’ There may be cases where people in vessels travelling to New Zealand to ‘winter over’ (e.g. to avoid hurricane/cyclone season in the Pacific) have other, genuine humanitarian reasons for needing to make an application. However, these reasons would need to be clearly demonstrated for these vessels to qualify for an exemption.

Before applying for an exemption

Before starting your application, complete the following documents.

Crew details

Download this template to provide your crew details:

You must include the following information for each crew member (note, vaccination and pre-departure testing are not currently mandated for arrivals at the maritime border). 

  • Full name;
  • date of birth;
  • nationality;
  • passport number;
  • NZ residency status;
  • Whether each crew member is fully vaccinated, partially vaccinated, or not vaccinated against COVID-19, and with which type of vaccine (e.g., Pfizer BioNTech COVID-19, or AstraZeneca COVID-19);
  • Position onboard the vessel and whether this position is classed as essential crew;
  • Every country each crew member has visited in the 30 days prior to the day of the vessel’s intended departure for New Zealand.

How to apply for an exemption

Go to Exemption for foreign vessel to arrive in New Zealand and complete the online application form to submit your application.

Vessels should note that the Maritime Border Order will be amended to permit foreign-flagged vessels to enter New Zealand from 31 July 2022.

No Change of Health Status Report for Health Pratique form

Form for vessels arriving in New Zealand, updated to include questions relating to COVID-19.

Further information about the Pratique process can be found here: Requirements for Ships to Receive Pratique

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