COVID-19 – Border controls

The current border control measures relating to COVID-19, including information about managed isolation and quarantine.

Last updated: 14 August 2020

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See also: Resources for the Border sector


Border control measures

As of midday Wednesday August 12 the Auckland region (Auckland Council area) is at Alert Level 3. The rest of New Zealand is at Alert Level 2

People entering New Zealand must stay in managed isolation or quarantine for at least 14 days and complete a health assessment and return a negative COVID-19 test before they can go into the community.

In some circumstances a COVID-19 test may not be considered appropriate and a health assessment will be completed instead.

Only New Zealand residents and citizens (and their children and partners) are permitted to enter New Zealand. This includes the Realm countries (the Cook Islands, Niue, Tokelau), Australian citizens and permanent residents ordinarily resident in New Zealand.

People from any other countries can’t enter New Zealand at this time, unless they have specific grounds for exemption, such as being essential workers or for medical reasons. These people will need to apply to Immigration New Zealand for an exception to the border closure.

Apply to Immigration for an exception to the border closure


Managed isolation and quarantine

Every person who arrives in New Zealand must be isolated from other people in New Zealand for a minimum period of 14 days. This measure is key to preventing the transmission of COVID-19 into our communities.

When they arrive, returnees will be taken to either a managed isolation facility (if they have no symptoms), or to a quarantine facility (if they have symptoms).

Returnees are not required to pre-book a space in the facilities.

Before leaving the facility, a final health check will be carried out confirming the person:

  • has not tested positive for COVID-19 or is not a probable case
  • does not have symptoms of COVID-19
  • has a temperature below 38 degrees Celsius.

For more information about managed isolation see Unite against COVID-19 – travel to New Zealand.


Exemptions from managed isolation

A very small number of people may be eligible for an exemption from managed isolation, such as those with serious medical conditions that cannot be managed in the accommodation provided.

As a general rule those granted an exceptional circumstance release must still complete seven days in managed isolation, have a negative COVID-19 test on or around day 3 and a full health assessment before they can leave. This is because of the increased public health risks that are present in the early stages of isolation.

No exemption will be possible if you have become symptomatic with COVID-19 during your stay in managed isolation and have been moved to a quarantine hotel. This is because the Health Order only permits an exemption where a person meets the low risk indicators.

More details about how to apply and the information needed to consider an exemption can be found on the Unite against COVID-19 website.

International Medical evacuations (Medevac)

If you are being evacuated from overseas to a New Zealand hospital you will go straight to the hospital on arrival. But you will need an exemption from managed isolation.

To apply for a medical evacuation exemption, the relevant DHB or medical facility will need to apply on your behalf using their process. They will have to verify that they will enable your self-isolation in hospital. If you are discharged within 14 days, you will be required to complete the time in a managed isolation facility.

To apply for a medical evacuation exemption, the relevant DHB or medical facility will send the completed application form and all relevant documentation to: medevacs@health.govt.nz

If you do not require a medical evacuation however you believe your medical or physical needs cannot be met in a managed isolation facility, then you can apply for a medical exemption.  These exemptions are managed by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) - see Medical exemptions for further information. 

Air and Maritime crew

People working at the border are exempt from managed isolation in some cases. For more information visit:


Public Health Response (Air Border Order)

The Air Border Order is the legislation that requires people entering New Zealand from another country to remain in managed isolation or quarantine for at least 14 days. The Air Border Order outlines requirements around medical examinations, testing, and isolation and quarantine. It also clarifies which groups of people the Order doesn’t apply to.

An amendment was made to this Order to transfer responsibility for the management of managed isolation facilities from the Director General of Health to the Chief Executive of MBIE, and where appropriate, to require the Chief Executive of MBIE to take into account advice from a Medical Officer of Health when making decisions. This amendment order came into effect at 11.59pm on 13 July 2020.

For more information, you can read the Ministry of Health’s guidance for government agencies implementing the new Air Border Order which summarises the main changes.

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