COVID-19: Advice for travellers

Information for people travelling, entering or leaving New Zealand.

Last updated: 26 November 2021

Changes to managed isolation requirements

From 14 November 2021, the length of time international arrivals to New Zealand must spend in Managed isolation reduces from 14 days to 7 days. From that time they will also have to complete a period in self-isolation, which can only end once a negative ‘day 9’ COVID-19 test has been received. Find out more about the new self-isolation requirements below.

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For New Zealanders currently overseas

If you are returning to New Zealand, please consider the following in the 14 days before departure:

  • avoid going to high risk events such as parties, social gatherings or crowded places
  • avoid contact with COVID-19 cases or contacts of cases
  • stay home as much as possible to limit exposure to other people.

Doing these things will help reduce the risk of being exposed to COVID-19 and bringing it home with you.

Check the SafeTravel website for the latest advice from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.


Pre-departure COVID-19 test

Pre-departure testing is required for travellers arriving into New Zealand from any country other than Antarctica and most Pacific Islands.

You are required to have a COVID-19 test (of a type approved by the New Zealand Director-General of Health) no more than 72 hours before the scheduled departure time of the first international flight (leg) of your journey to New Zealand. This means you need to have had both your COVID-19 sample taken and the result returned within 72 hours of the scheduled departure time of your first international departure.

Infringement offences will apply to people arriving in New Zealand without the required evidence.

Why it’s necessary

We’ve been monitoring overseas developments very closely, and, like many other countries, have heightened concerns about the new variants of the virus and their potential to spread more rapidly.

The pre-departure testing requirements are an extra precautionary step to provide another layer of protection for New Zealand from COVID-19.

What pre-departure COVID-19 tests are approved by the Director General of Health?  

Travellers entering New Zealand will be required to have a COVID-19 test (of a type approved by the Director-General of Health) no more than 72 hours before the scheduled departure time of the first flight (leg) of their journey to New Zealand. This means you'll need to have had both your COVID-19 sample taken and the result returned within 72 hours of your scheduled first flight departure time.

The Director-General of Health specifies the kind of pre-departure test that is required in order to safeguard travellers to New Zealand, flight crew, and New Zealand workers at our MIQ facilities. The following test is required for people wishing to travel to New Zealand:

  • Nucleic Acid Amplification Testing (NAAT), which includes PCR, RT-PCR and TMA tests
    If you are travelling from Australia and a pre-departure test is required or you are travelling from a ‘very high risk country’ (see above), then a PCR or RT-PCR test is the only acceptable test.

New Zealand currently also accepts results from the following types of tests for travellers from any other countries:

  • LAMP tests
  • Antigen tests

All tests must be processed by a laboratory recognised in the country of origin as authorised or accredited to conduct tests.

You are responsible for the costs of your own tests.

Samples for testing can be obtained via nasopharyngeal, anterior nasal, oral, sputum, or saliva, which may be conducted in-home or by a trained sampler, but must be processed by a laboratory recognised in the country of origin as authorised or accredited to conduct tests. Some testing laboratories allow samples to be taken at home – in these cases a sample can be taken at home, but the sample must be analysed by the laboratory. This means that the rapid (point-of-care) antigen tests conducted at home (akin to an ‘at home’ pregnancy test, with two blue lines displayed for a positive result), are not acceptable.

Testing laboratories must be able to issue a dated report for you to show at check-in. It should have:

  • Traveller’s name
  • Traveller’s date of birth and/or their passport number
  • Date and time the COVID-19 test was conducted
  • Name of testing laboratory
  • Test type
  • Test result

Always remember to check the requirements of other countries you are going to be transiting through. They may have requirements that are different to what New Zealand requires.

For more information and frequently asked questions about pre-departure testing requirements, visit the Unite against COVID-19 website.

Proof of negative result on arrival

  • Upon arrival in New Zealand travellers will be required to produce proof of a negative test result to a Customs officer during your passport processing.
  • A hard copy or electronic copy of the test result from an accredited laboratory will be acceptable documentation of a negative test

Flight delays, cancellations or test results delayed

In rare cases, the requirement of a test 72 hours in advance may be extended to 96 hours if a person’s flight has been delayed or cancelled, or test results haven’t been received in time. In this situation, the flight must be rescheduled or rebooked to depart within 24 hours.

Exemptions from pre-departure testing

If you're travelling from these countries, you're exempt from pre-departure testing: Antarctica, Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, New Caledonia, Niue, Palau, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.

Exemptions also apply to:

  • children who are under two years of age (up to 24 months)
  • individuals who can present a medical certificate verifying they have been examined no earlier than 72 hours prior to departure and have been determined to be unable to undertake a test for medical reasons but do not exhibit symptoms of COVID-19
  • individuals with past (recovered) cases of COVID-19 who have a positive 72 hour or less test result, and a medical certificate for showing that the individual is no longer considered by a medical practitioner to be infectious with COVID-19

Find out more: Exemptions to pre-departure testing requirements – Unite Against COVID-19.


Quarantine-free travel

New Zealand has quarantine-free travel (QFT) arrangements with Australia and a number of Pacific Islands. Quarantine-free travel is available by air only and you must meet normal immigration requirements. 

QFT with Australia is suspended. The Government will review this decision in mid- to late-November 2021.

QFT from New Zealand to the Cook Islands is paused. The Cook Islands Government has indicated that travel will remain paused until it is confident there is no community transmission in New Zealand. Travellers can return from the Cook Islands if they have not been at a location of interest in New Zealand or have COVID symptoms.

QFT with Niue is one-way only, from Niue to New Zealand.

Under the current QFT arrangement with the Cook Islands and Niue, a pre-departure COVID-19 test is not normally required for travel.

From 8 November 2021 you can also travel from Samoa, Tokelau, Tonga and Vanuatu to New Zealand without having to go into a managed isolation facility.

For more information about QFT travel eligibility and requirements, visit the Unite Against COVID-19 website.


Travel from very high-risk countries

The Government has created a new ‘very high-risk country’ category that reduces the risk of high numbers of infected people flying to New Zealand. This is in response to rapidly increasing rates of infection in some parts of the globe and is based on what is happening in the country, the prevalence of COVID-19 variants of concern, the public health measures the country has in place and the risk to our border. 

The countries that are currently classified as very high risk are Brazil, Fiji, India, Indonesia, Pakistan and Papua New Guinea. 

Travel from those countries is temporarily restricted to New Zealand citizens, their partners and children, and parents of children who are New Zealand citizens..

Other travellers, including New Zealand residents, can enter only if they spend 14 days outside a very high-risk country before their arrival here. 

Transit through a very high-risk country is excluded from the 14-day requirement. There is no limit on the amount of time you may spend transiting through a very high-risk country, but you must remain airside. This means you'll remain at the airport and not enter the country you are transiting in.

Travellers transiting through New Zealand from Fiji to other countries can continue to do so, provided they stay airside on arrival and spend less than 24 hours in-transit in New Zealand.

All travellers, except those coming from Fiji, will require evidence of a negative PCR test from a government-approved laboratory 72 hours before travel.

Lists of each country’s government-approved laboratories which can be used by travellers for their test are below. The Ministry of Health will monitor and update these lists.

Brazil

The following is a list of laboratories approved by the Brazilian Health Regulatory Agency, ANVISA, to do medical/diagnostic testing and able to perform Covid-19 testing using Nucleic Acid Amplification Tests (NAAT), which includes RT-PCR.

  • CORONAVÍRUS | Sabin Medicina Diagnóstica
  • Grupo DASA
  • Fleury
  • CR Diagnósticos
  • At Guarulhos Airport in Sao Paulo: Hospital Albert Einstein and CR Diagnósticos
  • Rio Galeão Airport in Rio de Janeiro: Hospital Albert Einstein
  • View laboratories in the state of Ceará

Travellers should contact the laboratory they intend to use for their test to confirm that the result will be available to meet the requirement for the sample (nasopharyngeal swab) to be taken no more than 72 hours before departing.

India

The link provided below is for the home page of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) website, from which travellers can access the most up to date list of laboratories approved by the ICMR to perform testing for COVID-19.

Travellers should only use the laboratories for which the column headed ‘Test Category’ reads RT-PCR, TrueNat or CBNAAT.

Indian Council of Medical Research

Indonesia

The Government of Indonesia maintains a list of approved COVID-19 testing labs

The website is in Indonesia but still relatively easy to navigate. The auto-translation of the opening:

List of COVID-19 Testing Network Laboratories That Have Been In NAR For The Last 3 Weeks

The following is a list of Covid-19 Network Checker Laboratories with active status of filling in data on the New-all Record (NAR) application. Based on the Decree of the Minister of Health no. 4642/2021 concerning the Implementation of Corona Virus Disease Examination Laboratory 2019, there are 742 laboratories incorporated in the network. But at the moment the number of Labs is growing. Will be updated periodically every Sunday at 21.00 WIB based on the active status of the Lab in filling NAR application.

Pakistan

The document below provides a list of laboratories approved by the National Institute of Health in Pakistan for COVID-19 testing as at 9 April 2021.

The list does not specify the type of testing available at each laboratory.

Travellers must ensure that for any laboratory they access, the testing method in use is RT-PCR performed on a nasopharyngeal swab.

COVID-19 Laboratory Capacity – National Institute of Health, Islamabad – 9 April 2021 (PDF, 557 KB)

Papua New Guinea

The list below gives the persons and organisations approved by the government of Papua New Guinea to conduct COVID-19 testing using Nucleic Acid Amplification Testing (NAAT), which includes RT-PCR and rapid RT-PCR technology such as GeneXpert.

Travellers should find out from any laboratory they access if the swab is analysed in Papua New Guinea or sent offshore for analysis. If the swab is sent offshore, then it will be important to find out if the result will be available to meet the requirement for the nasopharyngeal swab to be taken no more than 72 hours before departing.

Travellers should note that some organisations using rapid RT-PCR technology, such as GeneXpert, may reserve use of this test for urgent testing of symptomatic cases only.

Papua New Guinea – approved persons and organisations to conduct COVID-19 testing

  • Pacific International Hospital
  • National Department of Health
  • Institute of Medical Research Papua New Guinea
  • International SOS
  • Provincial Health Authorities
  • Port Moresby General Hospital
  • St John Ambulance
  • OkTedi Mining
  • Simberi Gold
  • 2K Medical Clinic
  • Newcrest Mining
  • K92 Mining
  • Sky Health and Medical Services
  • Morobe Consolidated Goldfields Ltd
  • ExxonMobil
  • ASPEN Medical
  • Oil Search

Some people could get an exemption

People in some other, very limited categories may be able to apply for an exemption to travel from a very high-risk country. You can find out more about the exemptions process at the Very High-Risk Country Humanitarian Exemptions page.


Travellers arriving from any country

The Government has announced temporary restrictions on travellers arriving in New Zealand as a precautionary measure to protect against the spread of COVID-19.

The restrictions prevent foreign nationals travelling from most countries from entering New Zealand. See Border controls for more information.

People who are exempt from the temporary restrictions are:

  • New Zealand citizens (including those from the three Countries of the Realm: Tokelau, Niue and the Cook Islands), permanent residents and their immediate family 
  • Australian citizens and permanent residents whose primary place of established residence is New Zealand (quarantine-free travel from Australia is currently suspended)
  • travellers from a quarantine-free travel zone
  • certain arrivals specifically exempted under the orders, for example, some aircrew. 

Pre-departure testing is required for travellers arriving in New Zealand from any country other than Antarctica and most Pacific Islands. See more information in the pre-departure testing section below.

From 1 November 2021, all non-New Zealand citizen travellers who arrive in New Zealand via the air border will need to be fully vaccinated.  Fully vaccinated means you have completed a full course of one of the approved vaccinations at least 14 days before you depart for New Zealand.

If you are a non-New Zealand citizen but are not fully vaccinated it may be possible to get an exemption in very limited circumstances. For more information visit Vaccination exemptions for non-New Zealand citizens traveling to New Zealand.

From 14 November 2021, every traveller, except those from a quarantine-free travel zone, arriving in New Zealand on a flight which departs from another country must go into a Managed Isolation or Quarantine (MIQ) facility for a minimum of 7 days (168 hours) from the date and time they arrive in New Zealand. Read more about the facilities.

While in a managed isolation facility all travellers will be tested for COVID-19. Testing typically happens on or around day 0/1 (arrival), day 3 and day 5/6 (prior to departure). If the day 5/6 test result is not received prior to day 7 departure and if they are travelling outside Auckland, people will have a Rapid Antigen Test and be allowed to leave if it is negative.

Travellers from some countries/jurisdictions are exempt from day 0/1 testing because of the low risk of them having COVID-19. These include Antarctica, the Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, the Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, and Wallis and Futuna.

On departure from MIQ, all international arrivals are also required to self-isolate, until they receive a negative ‘day 9’ test result. That test will be taken at a community testing facility or general practice. Detailed guidance on self-isolation is available below.


Self-isolation for international arrivals post-MIQ

From 14 November 2021, on departure from MIQ all international arrivals are also required to self-isolate until they receive a negative ‘day 9’ COVID-19 test result. That test will be taken at a community testing facility or general practice and is free.

While self-isolating, if you or anyone around you subsequently develops COVID-19, the local public health unit will work with you to determine the next steps, including the best place for you to continue to isolate/quarantine.

In preparation of arriving in Aotearoa New Zealand, think about where you will stay, how you will get there, what you will need at a temporary rental property (e.g. laundry), and how you will organise meals etc. There is further information about these areas in the document attached below. 

Self-isolation key requirements

1. If you develop COVID-19 symptoms

If you develop COVID-19 symptoms at any point, remain in self-isolation and call the COVID-19 Healthline 0800 358 5453 (+64 9 358 5453 if you have an international SIM), or call your General Practice. Be sure to tell them you are have recently arrived from overseas and are self-isolating.

Find more details on symptoms of COVID-19

If you have other health needs, call your General Practice, or call Healthline for free on 0800 611 116. Your community pharmacist may also be able to assist you – give them a call to see how they could meet any non-prescription healthcare needs that you may have using virtual/contactless methods.

If it’s an emergency, call 111 – you will be transferred to hospital if needed.

2. How to travel to your location of self-isolation

You need to get to your self-isolation location as soon as possible without stopping (e.g. do not visit friends or stop to get groceries) and take the most direct route.

It is strongly recommended that wherever possible, you use private transport to travel to your place of self-isolation (e.g. drive yourself). If this is not available to you, you may use public transport (e.g. a taxi or domestic flight).

If your private transportation involves a whānau member or friend coming to pick you up, make sure you both:

  • wear a face mask for the duration of the journey,
  • sanitise your hands regularly, and
  • consider keeping the vehicle well-ventilated (e.g. opening windows, if possible).

We strongly recommend that the driver is also fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

If you need to use public forms of transportation and whenever you are in any spaces where there are people outside of your travel bubble, you must:

  • wear a face mask at all times – if you need to eat or drink, you can remove your face mask briefly to do this,
  • maintain physical distancing wherever possible from those not in your travel bubble,
  • wash/sanitise your hands regularly,
  • and use the COVID-19 tracer app to sign in everywhere you go (e.g. at the airport, in the taxi), or keep a written record if you cannot use the COVID-19 tracer app.

3. You cannot leave

You cannot leave your place of self-isolation for any reason, until you receive a negative result from your day 9 test, except

  • to go to a community testing centre or other testing provider to get your day 9 test;  
  • if there is an emergency at your place of self-isolation that makes it unsafe for you to remain at the place of self-isolation; 
  • to seek urgent/emergency medical care. Be sure to tell the health provider that you have recently arrived from overseas and are self-isolating
  • to attend any court, tribunal or other judicial institution if you are required to do so;
  • to visit a dying relative who is not expected to live beyond the period of self-isolation;
  • to visit the body of a relative before a funeral/tangihanga, if you are unable to visit after your period of self-isolation. However, people who are self-isolating cannot attend the funeral or tangihanga. 

4. If you need something delivered

If you need something delivered, it needs to be delivered to you in a contactless way:

  • where possible, ask friends or family to shop for you. If this is not possible, order supplies online
  • make sure any deliveries are left outside your home for you to collect.

5. If you need assistance

If you need assistance, the Ministry of Social Development has information about where you can go for services and support, what you can get help with, and contact information. 

6. You cannot go to work or school

You cannot go to work or school while you are self-isolating. If you are unable to work from home during this time, your employer (or you, if you are self-employed) may be able to apply for leave support to help support you. 

7. Self-isolating in a place with people who are not in your travel bubble

If you are self-isolating in a place with people who are not in your travel bubble (e.g. you are self-isolating with whānau or friends that you didn’t travel with), you should:  

  • maintain a 2-metre distance from them (both in indoor and outdoor spaces)
  • not share a bed or bedroom with them
  • minimise the time you spend in shared spaces such as bathrooms, kitchens and lounges as much as possible
  • clean the bathroom and kitchen (including cooking and eating utensils) after use, and before other members of the household use it (if isolating with other people)
  • wear a face mask when in shared spaces
  • wash or sanitise your hands often
  • keep shared spaces well ventilated (eg open windows).  

8. You must not have visitors

You must not have visitors in your place of self-isolation (including tradespeople) – this applies to anyone else staying at the residence, even if they are not also self-isolating.

The only exception to this is for the provision of home-help services for people who require assistance because of sickness or disability. This applies whether it is the person self-isolating who requires support, or if it is another person in the household who requires support.

9. Contact us if you have questions

If you have questions that aren’t covered in the self-isolation guidance, you can call Healthline on 0800 358 5453 or on +64 9 358 5453 if you have an international SIM.

Detailed guidance for people self-isolating

Guidance for sharing a household with someone completing their post-MIQ self-isolation

Guidance for accommodation providers when a guest is self-isolating at their property after exiting MIQ


Travellers transiting through New Zealand

Information for travellers who will transit through New Zealand en-route to other countries is available on the Immigration New Zealand website.


For travellers leaving New Zealand

At the moment, the New Zealand Government advice is to not travel overseas, with the exception of a very few countries. Visit the SafeTravel website for more information.

If you do travel, some countries require travellers to confirm a negative COVID-19 test before they leave New Zealand. You can check the requirements of the country you are travelling to, by contacting their local High Commission, Embassy or Consulate in New Zealand. 

If you do need a COVID-19 test prior to departure, you can organise it through your primary care provider (general practice or GP). They will tell you how much it costs and how to pay. Book a test once your travel plans are confirmed. The test needs to be taken as close as possible to when you will be travelling – check with your High Commission, Embassy or Consulate for the timing that applies to your country. 

It usually takes several days for test results to be available, but it could be longer, so people need to ensure they don’t leave it too late, especially around the weekend. If your travel plans change to a later day than expected, a re-test and negative result may be required.

If the test is positive, your GP will talk with you about what happens next. You will not be able to travel. 

Entry requirements may differ between countries, but you will probably need a hard-copy of your negative COVID-19 test result to present to check-in before boarding the plane. Your general practice or GP will be able to give this to you. You will also probably need to show the result to Customs/Immigration on arrival at your destination. 

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