COVID-19: Advice for travellers

Information for people travelling, entering or leaving New Zealand.

Temporary suspension of arrivals from India
A temporary suspension of arrivals from India will take effect at 4 pm on 11 April 2021 until 28 April 2021. View the process for applying for an exemption on humanitarian grounds.

Last updated: 11 April 2021

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See also: Aviation sector.


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.

You can find the travel declaration at: https://naumaira.covid19.govt.nz.

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.


Temporary suspension of arrivals from India

A temporary suspension of arrivals from India is in effect from 4pm on 11 April 2021 until 28 April 2021. 
Exemptions for humanitarian reasons may be granted by the Director General of Health. Decisions will balance the risk of a person’s travel to and arrival in New Zealand causing an outbreak or spread of COVID-19, and the impacts of that, against the humanitarian impact on the individual concerned.

Who can apply?

To be eligible for a humanitarian exemption, applicants must:

  • Be legally entitled to enter New Zealand (i.e. New Zealand citizens and residents, or the holders of a border exception visa granted by Immigration New Zealand)
  • Have been in India at any point in the 14 days immediately before the date of their arrival (including transit); and
  • Not be able to delay or conduct the proposed activity through any other means; and
  • Be required to travel on or before the 28 April 2021 (the current announced period of the temporary suspension to travellers from India); and
  • Have registered (or been registered on their behalf) in the Managed Isolation Allocation System in order to be able to be allocated an emergency allocation voucher.

The following are unlikely to be considered for humanitarian exemption:
•    Flight cancellation;
•    Attendance at funerals, memorial services and tangihanga are excluded as it is often possible to make alternative arrangements such as attending a memorial via video conference;
•    Economic activity such as commercial/business activity;
•    To be reunited with family;
•    To attend school/university
•    To attend work.

How to apply

Applicants who believe they meet the criteria for humanitarian exemption should apply for an emergency allocation voucher via the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment (MBIE).

MBIE will work with the Ministry of Health to determine whether a humanitarian exemption can be granted.

MBIE will advise applicants of the outcome.


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, Vanuatu, and Wallis and Futuna.

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.

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