|Minimum validity of travel documents|
|⦁ Citizens and permanent residents of New Zealand and Australia are only required to present a valid passport on the day of arrival and departure.|
⦁ Other persons entering New Zealand as visitors, students or temporary workers must present a passport valid for at least 3 months beyond the date of expected departure, or 1 month beyond the date of expected departure if the issuing government has a consular post in New Zealand capable of issuing and renewing travel documents (you should check with your issuing authority before departure).
Foreign nationals from the following countries/territories may enter New Zealand as visitors without a visa, provided they present a valid passport:
Indefinitely: Australia (Australian citizens and permanent residents)
Up to 6 months: United Kingdom (British citizens and other holders of British passports who can prove their right to permanent residence in the United Kingdom).
Up to 3 months: All Member States of the European Union, Andorra, Argentina, Bahrain, Brazil, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Hong Kong SAR (including British (overseas) passports), Iceland, Israel, Japan, Kuwait, Liechtenstein, Malaysia, Mauritius (as of 21 November 2016), Mexico, Monaco, Norway, Oman, Qatar, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Seychelles (as of 21 November 2016), South Africa (as of 21 November 2016), Singapore. November 2016), Mexico, Monaco, Norway, Oman, Qatar, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Seychelles (from 21 November 2016), Singapore, South Africa (until 21 November 2016), South Korea, Switzerland, Taiwan, Uruguay, United Arab Emirates, United States and Vatican City.
For more information, see the list of visa-free countries. Except for Australian citizens and permanent residents of New Zealand, entry as a visitor does not entitle you to work or study in New Zealand. Australian citizens and permanent residents enjoy all the benefits of permanent residence in New Zealand, except that they cannot vote or claim certain tax and social security benefits until they have been in New Zealand for at least two years.
Citizens of the Cook Islands, Tokelau and Niue are New Zealand citizens and therefore do not even need a passport to live and work in New Zealand. However, they still need a passport or other proof of citizenship to enter and leave New Zealand as flights go through the international terminal.
All of these visa exemptions, including those for Australians, can be refused. In particular, potential visitors who have a criminal record, have been refused entry or have been deported from a country should check with New Zealand Immigration whether they need to apply for a visa. Entry may also be refused on health grounds, for example if you have tuberculosis (TB) or if you are likely to incur significant costs to the New Zealand health system during your stay (for example, if you require kidney dialysis, hospitalisation or residential care). If you are pregnant and will be staying in New Zealand for more than 37 weeks, you may need to prove that you have sufficient funds (NZ$9,000 or more) to cover maternity costs before you are allowed to enter New Zealand.
Visitors from countries not on the visa waiver list, or those wishing to stay longer than the maximum visa waiver period for their nationality, must apply for an appropriate visa. Further details can be found on the Immigration New Zealand website.
If you need a visa to enter New Zealand, you can apply for one at a British embassy, high commission or consulate in the country where you are legally resident if there is no New Zealand diplomatic mission. For example, British embassies in Belgrade and Tripoli accept New Zealand visa applications. British diplomatic missions charge £50 for processing a New Zealand visa application and an additional £70 if New Zealand Immigration requires the visa application to be forwarded to them. New Zealand Immigration may also decide to charge an additional fee if they correspond with you directly.
If you want to enter as a visitor and this standard requirement is not specifically waived by a visa, you must have a return ticket or proof of onward travel to even register with the airlines. If you do not, you must buy a ticket before you are allowed to check in. You must also prove that you have sufficient funds for your stay in New Zealand – NZ$1,000 per month or NZ$400 per month if your accommodation is prepaid (proof of payment is required in the latter case).
For those who need a visa and are travelling in a group (with the same travel plans and itinerary), it may be advantageous to apply for a much cheaper group visa. When applying for such a visa, a separate group visa application form (one form for the entire group) must be submitted in addition to the individual application forms.
Customs and quarantine
New Zealand has very strict biosecurity laws. Because New Zealand is so far from the rest of the world, many pests and diseases that are endemic elsewhere are not present in New Zealand. A significant part of the economy is based on agriculture, so the importation of even small quantities of food, unprocessed animal or plant materials is strictly controlled. These restrictions are designed to prevent the introduction of foreign diseases and pests.
At international entry points, the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) and New Zealand Customs will check passengers’ luggage and confiscate and penalise any prohibited items. Don’t think you can get away with surreptitiously brought items by not declaring them; ALL luggage will be x-rayed on arrival as part of standard entry procedures, and random checks by sniffer dogs will take place. Airside amnesty bins are available for accidental imports. On-the-spot fines of US$400 are imposed for failure to declare controlled goods; serious violations can result in a fine of up to US$100,000 or imprisonment for up to five years.
The best advice is to declare anything you think might cause problems – biosecurity staff at the border can confiscate and destroy the item, but you won’t have to pay a fine (or even be prosecuted). Even if you have not declared an item on your arrival card, you can tell staff on arrival at the border checkpoint to declare an item without risking a fine.
Reportable items include
- all types of food, whether cooked, uncooked, fresh, canned, packaged or dried.
- any biological products, materials or samples of animal origin
- any plant or plant material
- every animal
- all devices that work with animals, plants or water (e.g. gardening, bee-keeping, fishing, water sports, diving).
- all items used for outdoor or agricultural activities, e.g. shoes, tents, camping, hunting, hiking, golf and sports equipment.
All food must be declared at customs, even if food is permitted. Food that is packaged or processed for commercial purposes is usually allowed by the MPI, but you can still be fined if you do not declare it. Be careful with the food you received during your trip; many people have been caught and fined for not declaring fruit they received as part of a meal on board. If you are unsure, it is best to declare all the items in question as immigration officials will be able to tell you if they need to be cleaned or disposed of before entry. Some items, such as wooden souvenirs, are allowed but must be sterilised or fumigated before they are issued to you. A fee may be charged for this.
Under New Zealand law, you must make a customs declaration when you bring 10,000 New Zealand dollars or more, or the foreign currency equivalent, into or out of the country. There are no limits on the amount of money that can be brought into or out of New Zealand, provided the money is properly declared. Failure to declare can result in arrest and possible confiscation of the money.
In addition, the importation or possession of most recreational drugs, including cannabis, is illegal and will result in arrest. If convicted, you face a range of penalties, from heavy fines for minor offences to long prison sentences or even life imprisonment for more serious offences.