COVID-19: Travellers

Information for people travelling, entering or leaving New Zealand.

Last updated: 29 November 2021

New countries added to list of ‘Very High Risk Countries'

From 11:59pm on 28 November 2021, the following countries have been designated very high-risk due to the Omicron variant: South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini, Seychelles, Malawi and Mozambique.

See below for requirements for travellers from those and other very high risk countries.

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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.

Pre-departure COVID-19 test

Pre-departure testing is required for travellers arriving into New Zealand from any country other than 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.

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.

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. The following test is required for people wishing to travel to New Zealand:

  • Nucleic Acid Amplification Testing (NAAT), which includes PCR, RT-PCR and TMA tests
    If you are travelling from Australia and a pre-departure test is required or you are travelling from a ‘very high risk country’ (see above), then a PCR or RT-PCR test is the only acceptable test.

New Zealand currently also accepts results from the following types of tests for travellers from any other countries:

  • LAMP tests
  • Antigen tests

All tests must be processed by a laboratory recognised in the country of origin as authorised or accredited to conduct tests.

You are responsible for the costs of your own 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

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

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.

Exemptions from pre-departure testing

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

Quarantine-free travel

New Zealand has quarantine-free travel (QFT) arrangements with Australia and a number of Pacific Islands. Quarantine-free travel is available by air only and you must meet normal immigration requirements. 

QFT with Australia is suspended. The Government will review this decision in mid- to late-November 2021.

QFT from New Zealand to the Cook Islands is paused. The Cook Islands Government has indicated that travel will remain paused until it is confident there is no community transmission in New Zealand. Travellers can return from the Cook Islands if they have not been at a location of interest in New Zealand or have COVID symptoms.

QFT with Niue is one-way only, from Niue to New Zealand.

Under the current QFT arrangement with the Cook Islands and Niue, a pre-departure COVID-19 test is not normally required for travel.

From 8 November 2021 you can also travel from Samoa, Tokelau, Tonga and Vanuatu to New Zealand without having to go into a managed isolation facility.

For more information about QFT travel eligibility and requirements, visit the Unite Against COVID-19 website.

Travel from very high-risk countries

New Zealand has a ‘very high-risk country’ category that reduces the risk of high numbers of infected people flying to New Zealand. The countries in this category are based on what is happening in those countries, the prevalence of COVID-19 variants of concern, the public health measures the country has in place and the risk to our border. 

The countries that are currently classified as very high risk are Papua New Guinea, South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini, Seychelles, Malawi and Mozambique. 

Travel from those countries is temporarily restricted to New Zealand citizens, their partners and children, and parents of children who are New Zealand citizens. On arrival these people must spend up to 14 days in managed isolation or quarantine (depending on their country of origin and other factors) and be regularly tested for COVID-19.

Other travellers, including New Zealand residents, can enter only if they spend 14 days outside a very high-risk country before their arrival here. 

Transit through a very high-risk country is excluded from the 14-day requirement. There is no limit on the amount of time you may spend transiting through a very high-risk country, but you must remain airside. This means you'll remain at the airport and not enter the country you are transiting in.

All travellers will require evidence of a negative PCR test from a government-approved laboratory 72 hours before travel.

Lists of each country’s government-approved laboratories which can be used by travellers for their test are below. The Ministry of Health will monitor and update these lists.

Papua New Guinea

The list below gives 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.

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
  • International SOS
  • 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
  • Oil Search

Some people could get an exemption

People in some other, very limited categories may be able to apply for an exemption to travel from a very high-risk country. You can find out more about the exemptions process at the Very High-Risk Country Humanitarian Exemptions page.

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 (quarantine-free travel from Australia is currently suspended)
  • travellers from a quarantine-free travel zone
  • certain arrivals specifically exempted under the orders, for example, some aircrew. 

Pre-departure testing is required for travellers arriving in New Zealand from any country other than Antarctica and most Pacific Islands. See more information in the pre-departure testing section below.

From 1 November 2021, all non-New Zealand citizen travellers who arrive in New Zealand via the air border will need to be fully vaccinated.  Fully vaccinated means you have completed a full course of one of the approved vaccinations at least 14 days before you depart for New Zealand.

If you are a non-New Zealand citizen but are not fully vaccinated it may be possible to get an exemption in very limited circumstances. For more information visit Vaccination exemptions for non-New Zealand citizens traveling to New Zealand.

From 14 November 2021, every traveller, except those from a quarantine-free travel zone, arriving in New Zealand on a flight which departs from another country must go into a Managed Isolation or Quarantine (MIQ) facility for a minimum of 7 days (168 hours) from the date and time they arrive in New Zealand. Read more about the facilities.

While in a managed isolation facility all travellers will be tested for COVID-19. Testing typically happens on or around day 0/1 (arrival), day 3 and day 5/6 (prior to departure). If the day 5/6 test result is not received prior to day 7 departure and if they are travelling outside Auckland, people will have a Rapid Antigen Test and be allowed to leave if it is negative.

Travellers from some countries/jurisdictions are exempt from day 0/1 testing because of the low risk of them having COVID-19. These include Antarctica, the Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, the Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, and Wallis and Futuna.

On departure from MIQ, all international arrivals are also required to self-isolate, until they receive a negative ‘day 9’ test result. That test will be taken at a community testing facility or general practice. Detailed guidance is available at Self-isolation for international arrivals post-MIQ.

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.

For travellers leaving New Zealand

At the moment, the New Zealand Government advice is to not travel overseas, with the exception of a very few countries. Visit the SafeTravel website for more information.

If you do travel, 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 do 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. 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.

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

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. 

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