COVID-19: Border controls

The current border control measures relating to COVID-19, including information about managed isolation and quarantine.

Last updated: 7 October 2020

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See also: Resources for the Border sector

Border control measures

People entering New Zealand must stay in managed isolation or quarantine for at least 14 days and complete a health assessment and return a negative COVID-19 test before they can go into the community.

In some circumstances a COVID-19 test may not be considered appropriate and a health assessment will be completed instead.

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 exemption to the border closure.

Apply to Immigration for an exemption to the border closure

Managed isolation and quarantine

Every person who arrives in New Zealand must be isolated from other people in New Zealand for a minimum period of 14 days (336 hours). This measure is key to preventing the transmission of COVID-19 into our communities.

From 5th October 2020, travellers to New Zealand will need to register on the Managed Isolation Allocation System as the first step to securing their place in managed isolation. This should be done before they book their flight. For more information see Secure your place in managed isolation.

When they arrive, returnees will be taken to either a managed isolation facility (if they have no symptoms), or to a quarantine facility (if they have symptoms).

Before leaving the facility, a final health check will be carried out confirming the person:

  • has not tested positive for COVID-19 or is not a probable case
  • does not have symptoms of COVID-19
  • has a temperature below 38 degrees Celsius.

For more information see the Managed Isolation and Quarantine website.

Exemptions from managed isolation

A very small number of people may be eligible for an exemption from managed isolation, such as those with serious medical conditions that cannot be managed in the accommodation provided.

As a general rule those granted an exceptional circumstance release must still complete seven days in managed isolation, have a negative COVID-19 test on or around day 3 and a full health assessment before they can leave. This is because of the increased public health risks that are present in the early stages of isolation.

No exemption will be possible if you have become symptomatic with COVID-19 during your stay in managed isolation and have been moved to a quarantine hotel. This is because the Health Order only permits an exemption where a person meets the low risk indicators.

More details about how to apply and the information needed to consider an exemption can be found on the Managed Isolation and Quarantine website.

International Medical evacuations (Medevac)

If you are being evacuated from overseas to a New Zealand hospital you will go straight to the hospital on arrival. But you will need an exemption from managed isolation.

To apply for a medical evacuation exemption, the relevant DHB or medical facility will need to apply on your behalf using their process. They will have to verify that they will enable your self-isolation in hospital. If you are discharged within 14 days, you will be required to complete the time in a managed isolation facility.

To apply for a medical evacuation exemption, the relevant DHB or medical facility will send the completed application form and all relevant documentation to: [email protected]

If you do not require a medical evacuation however you believe your medical or physical needs cannot be met in a managed isolation facility, then you can apply for a medical exemption. These exemptions are managed by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) – see the Managed Isolation and Quarantine website for further information. 

Air and Maritime crew

People working at the border are exempt from managed isolation in some cases. For more information visit:

Public Health Response (Air Border Order)

The Air Border Order is the legislation that requires people entering New Zealand from another country to remain in managed isolation or quarantine for at least 14 days (336 hours). The Air Border Order outlines requirements around medical examinations, testing, and isolation and quarantine. It also clarifies which groups of people the Order doesn’t apply to.

An amendment was made to this Order from 6 September 2020 requiring people arriving at the air border to maintain physical distancing and wear PPE as directed in the airport.  It contains provision for certain arrivals to be excluded from these requirements. The Minister of Health has the discretion to exempt people or classes of people from any requirements that are imposed by the Air Border order.

See more information on the Air Border Order - Epidemic Notice and Orders.
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