Official advice for New Zealanders living and travelling overseas

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ALERT - COVID-19 Do not travel overseas at this time. Due to the difficulty travellers are experiencing returning home, New Zealanders overseas need to take steps to stay safely where they are and shelter in place....Read more

ALERT - COVID-19 Do not travel overseas at this time. Due to the difficulty travellers are experiencing returning home, New Zealanders overseas need to take steps to stay safely where they are and shelter in place....Read more

COVID-19: Advice for New Zealanders Overseas

Most of New Zealand is currently at Alert Level 1 (with Auckland remaining at Alert Level 2). For more information on what this means, visit the New Zealand Government’s dedicated COVID-19 website.

Advice for New Zealanders currently overseas

We currently advise that you do not travel overseas at this time. Transport and transit options to return to New Zealand have been severely disrupted during the pandemic. Even booked flights may be cancelled.

If you are a New Zealander overseas please register your details on SafeTravel to receive important country or territory specific information. It is important that you keep your SafeTravel registration details up to date so that you continue to receive updates. If your original travel plans have changed and you are unsure how long you will be overseas for you may want to set a longer term 'date of departure' in your registration details. This will ensure that you continue to be registered on SafeTravel as travelling or residing in your location. Once you return to New Zealand you should update your registration details to show that you are no longer travelling overseas.

We recognise that not all New Zealanders who want to return home at the moment are able to do so. New Zealanders who cannot return home for the time being should take steps to stay safely where they are.

The Government is committed to helping New Zealanders overseas. The international situation is complex and changing quickly, and some things are out of our control. Assisted departure (repatriation) flights should not be relied upon to get home.

If you require assistance, contact your closest New Zealand Embassy or High Commission, or call the 24/7 consular emergency line on +64 99 20 20 20 (if overseas) or 0800 30 10 30 (in New Zealand). For more information on New Zealand border measures and managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) requirements on return to New Zealand, please refer to the Immigration New Zealand, MIQ, and New Zealand Ministry of Health websites.

New Zealanders returning to New Zealand 

Managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) requirements in New Zealand

Detailed information about New Zealand's isolation requirements and facilities can be found on the New Zealand Government’s MIQ website. This includes information about what happens when you arrive in New Zealand, what to expect when you arrive at a managed isolation facility, information about your room, meals, exercise and health checks, and information about charges for managed isolation. 

All travellers entering New Zealand from 10 April 2020 are required to:

  • go into ‘managed isolation’ in a government-provided facility (hotel), or
  • if you have COVID-19 symptoms, go into a quarantine facility (separate hotel). 

You will need to stay there for at least 14 days. This will prevent any further unmanaged COVID-19 infection coming into New Zealand. You can’t self-isolate at home, or take a domestic flight before the 14-day period is completed.

Transit arrangements

New Zealand has entered into transit arrangements with a range of countries to make it easier for each other’s citizens to get home. New Zealand has made specific arrangements with Australia, Chile, Canadathe United States and a number of other countries, so that in most cases these locations can be used as transit hubs for New Zealand citizens returning to New Zealand. However, these transit arrangements cannot guarantee your transit through these countries, all travellers must also comply with any specific transit restrictions and requirements for all countries they are transiting en route to New Zealand. Many countries have specific restrictions which may prevent travellers transiting when travelling from certain countries. You should check that you comply with these restrictions before booking your travel.

Returning New Zealanders who need to transit these or other countries/territories should be aware that circumstances are changing quickly, and we do not have an exhaustive list of available options. Always check with your airline/travel agent that you have current information about your transit options to ensure you will be able to travel to your final destination. Country specific travel restrictions (including transit restrictions) are also available on the International Air Transport Association (IATA) website.

Further details of New Zealand's transit arrangements with other countries can be found on the Immigration New Zealand website (under the heading ‘Transiting and Departing from New Zealand’). 


Transiting the United States

In early April New Zealand entered into a Reciprocal Transit Arrangement with the US. It allows “New Zealand citizens, New Zealand residents and third country nationals who have an approved ESTA or valid visa [to] transit the United States of America, so long as they have not been physically present in any of the following regions for the 14 days prior to entry into the United States: Brazil, Iran, China, United Kingdom, Ireland and any country in the Schengen zone”. Foreign nationals who visited Brazil, China, Iran, European Schengen area, United Kingdom in the past 14 days cannot enter the US. The Department of Homeland Security (US Customs and Border Protection) advises “there is no delineation between those attempting to enter for transit versus those attempting to enter for business or other”.

Transiting Australia

We understand from the Australian Government, that New Zealand citizens, residents and immediate family who wish to transit Australia on their way home to New Zealand are subject to both Australian Federal and State Government requirements.

At the Federal level, the Australian Border Force are permitting transits of up to 72 hours for New Zealanders, requiring transits of more than eight hours to leave the airport. We are aware that State Governments have 14 days mandatory quarantine requirements for those arriving from overseas.

The New Zealand Government does not provide advice on the immigration and transit requirements of other countries, which can be subject to change quickly. Travellers are strongly encouraged to monitor the Home Affairs website and liaise with their travel agent/airline/insurance provider for up-to-date information.

Current border measures in New Zealand

Most foreign travellers can no longer enter New Zealand. New Zealand citizens, permanent residents, residents with valid travel conditions can still come to New Zealand. Immediate family of New Zealand citizens and residents (partner or spouse, legal guardian and dependent children under the age of 24) must seek approval from Immigration New Zealand using the limited exceptions process. Immediate family members cannot travel by themselves. They must travel with the New Zealand citizen or resident family member on the same flight to New Zealand. New Zealand Australian citizens and permanent residents who normally live in New Zealand must also seek approval from Immigration New Zealand using the limited exceptions process.

For further information regarding these border changes, visas and exemptions please read the information on the Immigration New Zealand website or contact Immigration New Zealand on +64 9 952 1679 (outside New Zealand) 0508 225 288 (within New Zealand).

Staying safe wherever you are

If you are unable to return to New Zealand, we encourage you to take the following steps to stay safely where you are:

  • Follow the advice of local authorities. Be ready to comply with local isolation or quarantine requirements and to rely on the local health system. Find out how to access healthcare in case it becomes necessary to do so;
  • Take care to minimise your risk of exposure to COVID-19 by following the advice of the World Health Organisation and New Zealand Ministry of Health;
  • Find suitable accommodation;
  • Make sure you have access to enough medication if you are overseas for longer than planned;
  • Keep your family and friends regularly informed of your plans and well-being;
  • Monitor local media for developments;
  • Be prepared for logistical and financial disruption. Make sure you can access money to cover emergencies and unexpected delays. New Zealanders facing financial hardship overseas should seek assistance from family or friends or contact their bank in the first instance. Check with your insurance provider to see if they can help;
  • Look after yourself – your emotional and mental wellbeing is important. Stay in touch with your usual supports – whānau, friends and workmates, especially if you are self-isolating. Further tips can be found on the Government’s COVID-19 website.
  • Register on SafeTravel and keep checking the website for updates;
  • For more detailed country-specific advice, check the office travel advice of the US, UK and Australia too; and
  • Contact your nearest New Zealand Embassy or Consulate if you require consular assistance. Contact details are listed in each destination page on the SafeTravel. For urgent consular assistance after-hours please contact +64 99 20 20 20 (monitored 24 hours a day).

Please note that in some cases the ability of the New Zealand Government to provide consular assistance may be limited due to restrictions on movement and other services.

Ministry of Social Development support for clients overseas

From 20 April, for MSD clients who are stranded overseas because of COVID-19, their benefit, New Zealand Superannuation or Veteran’s Pension will continue to be paid or may be resumed where payments are on hold or have stopped, from the date that they expected to return to New Zealand (or earlier if that person is in severe hardship, or not at all if that person no longer qualifies). See here.

This is a temporary solution intended to support New Zealanders while they are unable to return home.

Financial assistance for New Zealanders in Australia

The Australian Government has announced that New Zealanders working in Australia are among those who can qualify for Australia’s “JobKeeper payment”, a new wage subsidy scheme.

We recommend New Zealanders check with their employer to see if they are eligible for the payment, which will be paid directly by employers. It may be helpful for New Zealanders to alert their employers to their visa status. New Zealand citizens receive a subclass 444 Special Category Visa on entry to Australia unless they are Australian permanent residents or citizens, or have applied for another kind of Australian visa.

Further information is available from the Australian Tax Office.

Advice for New Zealanders considering overseas travel

The New Zealand Government is advising that New Zealanders do not travel overseas at this time due to the outbreak of COVID-19, associated health risks and travel restrictions. There may be a higher risk of contracting COVID-19 overseas. You may come in contact with more people than usual, including during long-haul flights and in crowded airports. Health care systems in some countries may come under strain and may not be as well-equipped as New Zealand’s or have the capacity to support foreigners.

COVID-19 and travel disruptions

Overseas travel has become more complex and unpredictable, and many countries are introducing entry or movement restrictions.  Most flights to New Zealand have ceased. A number of these border restrictions apply to New Zealanders, including those seeking to transit through these countries or territories to New Zealand, as well as those arriving via cruise ship. These are changing often and quickly. Your travel plans may be disrupted. You may be placed in quarantine or denied entry to some countries.

If you still wish to return to New Zealand, consult the International Air Transport Association (IATA) website and the immigration website of the relevant country before you travel for more information on border restrictions. For information on Australian border restrictions, visit the Australian Home Affairs website. As border restrictions continue to change, sometimes with little or no notice, check these websites regularly.

The New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade does not provide immigration advice for entry to other countries and territories. The border authorities of the country or territory you are travelling to determine your eligibility for entry.

For further travel advice and information about COVID-19, please see our COVID-19 web page here.

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