NZ COVID Tracer app NFC tags

The Ministry of Health allows the use of Near Field Communication (NFC) tags with the NZ Covid Tracer app to record diary entries instead of scanning QR codes.

Last updated: 24 November 2021

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How NFC tags work

Near Field communication (NFC) tags use the same technology as contactless payments or ‘tagging’ on and off the bus. The tag uses radio waves to:

  • detect that a phone with NFC capability is near
  • send a signal to the phone.

This signal transmits the location information from the tag and opens the NZ COVID Tracer app to record a diary entry.

Tapping in works just like scanning. You’ll receive a notification from the app if you’ve been to the same place at the same time as someone who later tests positive for COVID-19.

This is different from Bluetooth tracing, which keeps track of who you’ve been near. We encourage everyone who can to turn on Bluetooth tracing in the NZ COVID Tracer app.

Phones that can use NFC

Phones that have NFC capability include iPhone XR or later models, and most Android phones. 

Android phones

Some basic model Android phones may not have NFC technology. Search for NFC in your phone settings. If it returns a result slide the indicator to turn it on. You will need to have enabled NFC before you can tap in.

iPhones

If your iPhone is more than three or four years old it is unlikely to have the right technology.

Example of an NFC tagUsing NFC tags

You need to have the latest version of the NZ COVID Tracer app (version 6.0.0 or newer) and an NFC-capable phone.

If you’re the first person to tap the tag in a while, it may take a few seconds to work. To tap in using an NFC tag:

  • unlock your phone
  • hold your phone against an NFC tag
  • wait for the phone to show the green confirmation screen

iPhone users will need to tap on the notification that pops up on their screen to record the diary entry.

Tapping in won’t work if you have your camera on.

Example of an iPhone screen NFC notification

Privacy

Using NFC tags to add to your digital diary carries the same privacy protections as scanning. The tag keeps a tally of how many times it has been scanned but no information about who has scanned it. The app stores all diary data on your phone until you choose to share it. You will only be asked to share your diary if you test positive for COVID-19.

Security

NFC tags contain the same information as a QR code poster – the name, address and unique Global Location Number (GLN) of the business or location. When you tap in, this information is sent to the app and added to your digital diary. No information can be sent back from your phone to the tag. Tags are locked so they cannot be altered.

Your phone uses its own security features to protect against unwanted NFC tags.

Get NFC tags for your business

We have certified two suppliers to provide NFC tags to businesses in New Zealand. To get NFC tags for your business contact either C-Tap and Easy Checkin.

Specifications for certified suppliers of NFC tags

Our COVID-19 Contact Tracing QR Code Specification has been updated to include NFC tags. This specifies the quality and behaviour and the technical specifications of the NFC tags.

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