COVID-19 - Advice for travellers

Information for people travelling, entering or leaving New Zealand.

This page was last updated on 15 August 2020.

On this page:

See also - related information on the Aviation sector page


For New Zealanders currently overseas

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


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.


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 any country 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
  • air crews who have been using appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE). 

Every traveller, including those listed above, arriving into New Zealand on a flight which departs from another country after 23:59 on 9 April must go into one of two facilities for a minimum of 14 days.

All travellers arriving in New Zealand must wear face masks from the time they disembark the aircraft until they arrive at their hotel. Further information about use of face masks will be provided at the hotel.


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 pre-departure COVID-19 testing

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.

Why don’t we require exit testing for those coming into New Zealand?

The Ministry of Health doesn’t believe pre-departure testing is effective on its own. You could still have COVID-19, even if you test negative for it. A number of measures are needed to keep people safe, including quarantine on arrival into a country. 

New Zealand has strict border controls. 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.

Every person entering New Zealand from another country must remain in managed isolation or quarantine for at least 14 days. They must test negative for COVID-19 before they can leave the isolation or quarantine facility and go into the community.

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 self-isolate while I’m awaiting my test results?

You do not need to self-isolate 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 are close contacts of a confirmed case, however if you are feeling unwell you should contact your doctor.

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.


Regional exemptions at Alert Level 3

In response to a new cluster of community cases, the Government has put Auckland at Alert Level 3.  The rest of the country is at Alert Level 2.

That decision included a range of restrictions around people entering and leaving Auckland city. These restrictions are designed to protect the health of people both inside and outside Auckland.

Essentially the Auckland city 'border' is closed. Some exemptions will be allowed.

Some of those exemptions are listed in the Order - people entering or leaving to return home, and some others.

There are some details around all of these exemptions, and people should check before departing. However, the Director-General may provide other exemptions, provided he is satisfied the criteria are met. You must have an urgent and compelling need.

See below for how to apply for such an exemption.

See a list of granted exemptions

Applying for an exemption

Requests for exemptions should be sent to covid-19policyresponse@health.govt.nz and accompanied by the following information:

  • key contact details
  • the activity, number of people or entities (and class of entities) the exemption request relates to 
  • rationale for the exemption - why is the exemption necessary?
  • what public health risk mitigation measures are/can be put in place to minimise the risk of transmission of COVID-19?
  • Whether the exemption is for personal or business purposes
  • what are the consequences should an exemption not be granted.

We will be assessing each application on its merits considering the overall risk to public health from COVID-19 and individual circumstances. If your application involves the potential loss of life or significant harm to individuals, please signal this in your subject line and we will prioritise this accordingly.

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