What do our travel advisories mean?
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade provides advice on security and safety concerns in many destinations. This advice is based on information from a number of sources. It reflects potential risks, and our assessment of what these might mean for New Zealanders. Our assessment may also take into account actions of local authorities, and our ability to provide you with assistance.
The advice is designed to assist you to make informed decisions about travel destinations. We cannot tell you what to do. But your travel insurance may be affected by the issuing of a strong travel warning or the level of our travel advice (especially if we advise against all travel to a destination). We recommend that, before setting out, you contact your travel insurer to check whether or not you will be covered by your insurance policy if you are travelling to a destination featured in our avoid non-essential travel or do not travel categories. Insurance cover can differ from company to company.
We do not provide advice on all destinations. We focus on those about which we have reliable information on security and safety concerns that may affect New Zealanders. You may also wish to consult the advice of other governments, but be aware that their advice is designed for their citizens.
On 17 August 2018 we altered the headline language attached to our travel advisory levels. We did not change the way in which advisories are prepared, the substance of the advisories, or the thresholds for the different levels. We simply changed our description of the four levels.
The new advice levels correspond to the previous system as follows:
Exercise normal safety and security precautions (previously “no significant security risk”)
Exercise increased caution (previously “some risk”)
Avoid non-essential travel (previously “high risk”)
Do not travel (previously “extreme risk”)
Our four-level system:
Exercise normal safety and security precautions
There is some risk in any international travel. However we assess that the overall safety and security situation in destinations with this level is similar to that of New Zealand. Exercise common sense and look out for suspicious behaviour, as you would in New Zealand. Do not assume, however, that the local situation will be the same as New Zealand, as local laws and social customs could differ significantly.
Exercise increased caution
This advice usually applies to areas where there are more significant safety and/or security concerns than you would typically find in New Zealand. New Zealanders need to remain conscious of these concerns, although they are unlikely to affect the majority of New Zealanders in these areas. You should pay close attention to your personal security at all times.
Avoid non-essential travel
This advice usually applies to areas where there are sustained or serious safety and/or security concerns which pose significant risks. If you are in one of these areas you should take your personal circumstances into account and if you have concerns for your safety, consider departing. You should think seriously about your need to travel to these places, including deferring any non-essential travel or choosing a less risky destination. In the event of a crisis, you are responsible for ensuring you can depart independently, as you should not expect that the New Zealand Government will facilitate your departure.
Do not travel
This advice usually applies to areas where there is conflict, warfare or ongoing violent civil unrest, or we have reason to believe there is a heightened threat to New Zealanders. New Zealanders in these areas should be aware of the limits on consular assistance that can be provided. The New Zealand Government may not be able to assist you if you are detained, injured or otherwise prevented from leaving these areas. If you are in one of these areas you should consider departing as soon as it is safe to do so. The New Zealand Government will not assist with facilitating travel to these areas and you should not expect that the New Zealand Government will facilitate your departure.