Border worker testing

Information on testing requirements for border workers.

Last updated: 12 August 2021

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Testing requirements

Workers at the New Zealand border face higher risks of exposure to COVID-19 than most other workers. Regular testing is part of our rapid response to detect any cases so we can eliminate COVID-19. It protects the health of workers, their families and whānau and the wider community.

Border workers at managed isolation and quarantine facilities, airports and seaports are required to have routine testing for COVID-19 under the COVID-19 Public Health Response (Required Testing) Order 2020.

Specific groups of higher-risk border workers must be tested for COVID-19 on a regular basis. In most cases there will be a testing centre at or near your worksite. You can also be tested at a community testing centre or other healthcare facility such as your GP.

To help ensure that workers can meet the requirement to be tested regularly, your employer is required to keep a record about when you are due to have a test and when the test was completed.

To help your employer to keep this record, you must give your employer the following information:

  • your full legal name and date of birth
  • your contact telephone number and email address
  • the date on which you are tested (you need to do this every time you have a test).

You will be advised (usually by text) of the results of your test. You do not have to tell your employer what your test results were. If your test result is positive a staff member from your local public health unit will call you.

There is no charge to either you or your employer for a COVID-19 test.


Guidance manual for border worker testing

The Guidance Manual for Border Worker Testing (air border and maritime borders), explains testing requirements under the amended COVID-19 Public Health Response (Required Testing) Order 2020. 

This document replaces all previous versions of the different RTO guidance documents for border workers. It will take effect at 11.59pm on Wednesday, 11 August 2021, and includes guidance on saliva testing for border workers for surveillance purposes.


Saliva testing

Border workers now the choice to provide saliva as a sample for surveillance testing for COVID-19 rather than undertake a nasal (nasopharyngeal) swab testing cycle.

See Saliva testing for border workers.


Border Workforce Testing Register

The Border Workforce Testing Register is a secure online tool developed by the Ministry of Health to assist PCBUs (Person Conducting Business or Undertaking) with their record keeping in respect of a border worker’s COVID-19 swabbing dates and testing activity.

Read more about the Border Workforce Testing Register.


Border workers testing requirements – on holiday in QFT destinations

Border workers subject to mandatory testing under the Required Testing Order are still required to meet those requirements while on holiday and must also declare at the point of departure whether they are awaiting the result for a COVID-19 test.

Staff intending to travel overseas should continue to factor in their testing obligations when planning their travel. New Zealand will accept test results from accredited laboratories outside New Zealand. To align with the surveillance testing in use for border workers within New Zealand, the result must be for a Nucleic Acid Amplification Test (NAAT), which includes RT-PCR, performed on a nasopharyngeal swab.

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