COVID-19: Advice for travellers

Information for people travelling, entering or leaving New Zealand.

Travel from very high risk countries
The Government has created a new ‘very high risk country’ category that will reduce the risk of high numbers of infected people flying to New Zealand. For more information: Travel from very high risk countries

Last updated: 17 May 2021

On this page:

See also: Aviation sector.


Quarantine-free travel with the Cook Islands

Two-way quarantine-free travel with the Cook Islands will begin on 17 May 2021.

Quarantine-free travel applies to all travellers in New Zealand and the Cook Islands who meet the eligibility requirements to travel.

Criteria

  • Travellers will have to have been in either the Cook Islands or New Zealand for at least 14 days before travel. This means anyone wanting to travel between Australia and the Cook Islands would need to spend at least 14 days in New Zealand in the middle.
  • No one should travel if they are unwell, if they are waiting on a COVID-19 test result, or if they have been in contact with anyone suspected to have COVID-19.
  • There will be no requirement for a pre-departure COVID-19 test, but travellers will have to complete a travel declaration before they travel, provide a health declaration at check-in and there will be random health checks at airports.
  • Normal immigration rules for entry into each country will continue to apply. Travellers will need to check what that means for their individual situation.

From 17 May travellers in both directions will not have to enter managed isolation facilities.

Flights will be operating as ‘green’, with measures in place through the traveller journey to keep travellers separate from ‘red’ flights in and out of New Zealand, where passengers need to enter MIQ.

Quarantine free travel is a positive step. But there are some differences from pre-COVID travel that travellers need to be aware of before booking. 

All travellers are advised that a COVID-19 case could change the conditions they are travelling under. Local health guidelines should be followed. This could mean your return is delayed and/or you may be asked to monitor symptoms, take a test before departing, isolate on arrival, or in some situations, go into managed isolation. 

By undertaking travel at this time, you are accepting that it will be your responsibility to manage any COVID-19-related travel disruption and associated costs.

All travellers to the Cook Islands are also advised to protect themselves against mosquito bites due to a dengue 2 outbreak in the country. First declared on 2 February 2021, the outbreak is still on-going, with 180 cases reported as at 4 May 2021. Vector control measures, including mass clean-up, have been implemented.

For more detailed information, visit New Zealand’s Unite Against COVID-19 website and the Cook Islands website www.covid19.gov.ck


Quarantine-free travel from Australia to New Zealand

Quarantine-free travel from Australia to New Zealand will begin on 19 April 2021.

Quarantine free travel is a positive step. But there are some differences from pre-COVID travel that travellers need to be aware of before booking. 

All travellers are advised that a COVID-19 case could change the conditions they are travelling under. Local health guidelines should be followed. This could mean your return is delayed and/or you may be asked to monitor symptoms, take a test before departing, isolate on arrival, or in some situations, go into managed isolation. 

By undertaking travel at this time, you are accepting that it will be your responsibility to manage any COVID-19-related travel disruption and associated costs.

Quarantine-free travellers must complete an online travel declaration before they travel:

Please note – naumaira.covid19.govt.nz is not supported by Internet Explorer. Please use Google Chrome or another browser.

For more information, visit the Unite Against COVID-19 website.


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.


Travel from very high risk countries

The Government has created a new ‘very high risk country’ category that will reduce 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 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 new category came into force from 11.59pm on 28 April.

It applies to travellers from countries with more than 50 positive cases per 1000 arrivals to New Zealand, and where there are more than 15 travellers per month. As at 23 April Brazil, India, Pakistan and Papua New Guinea are the countries that currently meet that threshold.

As a result, travellers from those countries will be temporarily restricted to New Zealand citizens, their partners and children, and parents of children who are New Zealand citizens. All travellers will require evidence of a negative PCR test from a government-approved laboratory 72 hours before travel.

The Ministry of Health is currently collating a list of each country’s government-approved laboratories which can be used by travellers for their test.

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

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.

The Ministry of Health will monitor and update this list if the version (by date) changes.

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

Papua New Guinea

The document below lists 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.

The Ministry of Health will monitor and update this list if changes are made.

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
  • 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

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

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.

Some people could get an exemption

Some people may be eligible to apply for an exemption. You can find out more about the exemptions process at the Managed Isolation and Quarantine website.


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
  • travellers from a quarantine-free travel zone
  • certain arrivals specifically exempted under the orders, for example, some aircrew. 

Every traveller, except those from a quarantine-free travel zone, arriving into New Zealand on a flight which departs from another country must go into one of two facilities for a minimum of 14 days (336 hours).

Day 0 testing

New requirements apply for people arriving from any country into New Zealand. This excludes people arriving from Australia, Antarctica and some Pacific Island nations.

You’ll be required to:

  • have a COVID-19 test on day 0, ie. when you first arrive into managed isolation
  • remain in your room until the result of that test is complete.

If travellers are symptomatic on arrival they will go straight to a quarantine facility.

Day 0 test

It will be the same PCR nasal swab that people currently receive but is in addition to the existing day 3 and day 12 tests.

The length of time it takes for results to come back

It usually takes 24-48 hours. People will be contacted directly if positive. They will be sent a text if negative.

What happens if the test is negative?

People will complete the remainder of their 14 days managed isolation as normal. They will be required to undertake a further test about day 3 of their stay and again about day 12 before they leave.

What happens if the test is positive?

If the result is positive the person will be transferred to a quarantine facility. This is several days earlier than previously would have been the case.


Pre-departure COVID-19 test

Pre-departure testing is already required for travellers arriving into New Zealand from the United Kingdom or United States. From 23:59pm (NZT) on 25 January 2021 this will extend to passengers arriving from any country other than Australia, 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. In the first two weeks (until 29 January 2021), the focus of enforcement action will be on education and compliance.

All travellers, including anyone exempted from the pre-departure testing requirement, will still be required to complete the 14 days mandatory isolation which applies to all new arrivals into New Zealand

Exemptions from pre-departure testing

If you're travelling from these countries, you're exempt from pre-departure testing: Antarctica, Australia, 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

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. New Zealand currently accepts results from the following tests:

  • PCR tests (including RT-PCR)
  • LAMP tests
  • Antigen tests

The Ministry of Health classifies these tests in two tiers:

Tier 1 tests are PCR tests for the virus – these are the most sensitive test for COVID-19 and are preferred. If you arrive in New Zealand, you will also undergo 2-3 PCR tests while in an MIQ facility.

Tier 2 tests are either LAMP tests or antigen tests. These tests are also currently acceptable as pre-departure 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

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

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.

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.


Infection Prevention and Control for Travellers at the New Zealand air border

Information for travellers planning on arriving or transiting through an air border in New Zealand is available:


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.


If you become unwell after arriving in New Zealand

Contact Healthline for free on 0800 358 5453 if you begin to feel unwell. The symptoms of COVID-19 are a cough, fever, shortness of breath, sore throat, sneezing and runny nose, and temporary loss of smell.


For travellers leaving New Zealand

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 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. 

Contact your doctor to 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.

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. 

If the test is positive, you will be notified and won’t be able to travel.

Questions and answers on COVID-19 testing when leaving New Zealand

I am returning home – how do I know if my country requires an exit test for COVID-19?

Some countries require travellers to confirm a negative COVID-19 test before they leave New Zealand. Travellers should check the requirements of the country they are travelling to, by contacting their local High Commission, Embassy or Consulate in New Zealand. 

What happens if the test is positive?

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

How much does it cost to be tested?

Costs will vary – your doctor or general practice will be able to tell you what the charge will be.

How long does it take to get a test result?

It sometimes takes several days for test results to be available, but it could be longer, so make sure you don’t leave it too late. If your country requires you to have a test before leaving New Zealand, call your doctor to book in for a test as soon as your travel plans are confirmed. The test needs to be taken close to when you will be travelling – check with your High Commission, Embassy or Consulate for the timing that applies to your country.

How close to when I travel do I need to be tested?

The test needs to be taken close to when you will be travelling. Different countries have different requirements for timing. Check with your High Commission, Embassy or Consulate for the timing that applies to your country.

My home country requires an exit test for COVID-19, what is the process?

  • Contact your general practice, and go in for a COVID-19 test.
  • You may need to pay for the test yourself, at the time.
  • Your test will be sent to a local laboratory, which will provide a result to your GP. 
  • Your GP will let you know the result of the test. It usually takes several days for test results to be available, but it could be longer, so make sure you don’t leave it too late.
  • Assuming the test is negative, you will be given a hard-copy document with the results to take to the airport. In the unlikely event the test is positive, your GP will talk with you about what happens next.
  • Take your negative test results with you to airport check-in. You may also need to present your results at Customs/Immigration on arrival at your destination.

Do I need to stay at home while I’m awaiting my test results?

You do not need to stay at home while awaiting test results, unless you have travelled overseas in the past 14 days or been in contact with people who have recently travelled or who a contact of a confirmed case, however if you are feeling unwell you should contact your doctor.

Find out more: COVID-19: Staying at home

Does a negative test mean I don’t have the virus?

A negative test does not guarantee that you do not have COVID-19. Sometimes people with the virus may still have a negative test. You can also test positive for COVID-19, even though you are no longer infectious.

Back to top