Critical purpose reasons you can travel to New Zealand

You may be able to travel to New Zealand while the border is closed if we consider you have a critical purpose to travel.

List of critical purpose reasons to travel

You can only submit an expression of interest to travel to New Zealand while the border is closed if one of these critical purpose reasons applies to you.

Family members of NZ citizens or residents who do not hold relationship-based visas

If you are a partner, dependent child, or legal guardian of a New Zealand citizen or resident and you do not have a visa based on this relationship — like a partner visa — you may be able to travel to New Zealand, but you must be travelling with your New Zealand citizen or resident family member or normally live in New Zealand.

You should submit a request to travel to confirm that you can travel.

Partners and dependent children of NZ work or student visa holders

You must:

  • already hold a work, student or visitor visa and normally live in New Zealand
  • have a partner or parent who is currently in New Zealand and holds a work or student visa.

Critical health workers

You will need to be a current or new health or disability worker in a role needed to deliver critical services in New Zealand. If you are a new employee, your start date must be from March to 31 December 2020.

Critical health and disability workers are:

  • registered health practitioners as set out in the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act 2003
    Responsible authorities under the Act | Ministry of Health
  • internationally qualified nurses who:
    • are invited to come to New Zealand from the Nursing Council of New Zealand, and
    • are enrolled in a Competence Assessment Programme which starts before 31 December 2020
  • a worker that installs, operates or maintains medical equipment
  • paramedics and ambulance workers (including air and road)
  • technical and support staff working in:
    • theatre
    • laboratory
    • radiology
    • pharmacy services
    • cardiology blood service
    • nuclear medicine
    • oncology
    • haematology
    • pathology
    • hyperbaric medicine
    • mortuary
    • research staff
    • workers delivering mental health and addictions services, aged care, respite, home care and support, child health, palliative and hospice care, forensic health and disability support.

This does not include roles that are indirectly related to the provision of health and disability services, or corporate functions such as human resources, office administration or property maintenance.

You may need to provide evidence of your qualifications or registration.

If you have a dependent partner or children, you can also include them in the request. You must be able to prove you are in a genuine and stable relationship with your partner.

Critical health and disability workers may work in:

  • a District Health Board
  • the New Zealand Blood Service
  • a hospice or palliative care
  • a primary care practice such as urgent care or a medical or healthcare centre
  • an aged residential care, respite or continuing care facility, including care in a person’s home or community facility
  • a government or Non-Government Organisation delivering health and disability services
  • organisations that provide, operate and maintain medical equipment
  • private employers delivering health and disability services.

Citizens of Samoa and Tonga

If you are a citizen of Samoa or Tonga you can request to travel if:

  • you are making essential travel to New Zealand, and
  • your government has received agreement from the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade to let you travel.

Any family member requesting to travel must have their own critical purpose for travelling to New Zealand.

Humanitarian reasons

We may allow travel for humanitarian reasons in extremely limited cases. Our decision will take into account:

  • your connection to New Zealand, whether New Zealand is where you normally live, and your current location
  • how long you have been away from New Zealand
  • other options you have available
  • the impact of not allowing you to travel.

If you are requesting travel so you can receive medical treatment you must get approval from the Ministry of Health or a District Health Board before you make your request.

Other critical workers

If you are an employer or a supporting agency, you can request to bring workers into New Zealand based on them being ‘other critical workers’. Requests from individual workers will not be considered.

These requests are considered on a case-by-case basis and will only be granted in very specific and limited circumstances.

Find out what the criteria is for an 'other critical worker' and how you can request for them to travel to New Zealand on our page of Covid-19 information for New Zealand employers.

NZ employer COVID-19 information

Replacement cargo ship crew arriving by air

If you are replacement cargo ship crew you can request to travel to New Zealand by air to join a cargo ship soon departing New Zealand. You need to make the request to travel, not your employer.

We may ask you for:

  • a copy of a seaman’s book with evidence you are a crew member on the ship
  • correspondence from the ship owner, authorised agent or employer of crew detailing your role on the ship and intended crew replacement dates
  • correspondence from the New Zealand-based shipping agent confirming the crew movements and arrival and departure dates of the ship.

If we say you can travel, when you arrive you must travel quickly and directly by private transport to your ship or managed isolation facility.

Health guidelines for maritime sector | Ministry of Health

Ship crew arriving by sea

Ship owners, authorised agents and employers of crew can submit a request for foreign crew to travel to New Zealand by sea. Requests from individual marine crew will not be considered.

To request for your ship crew to travel here by sea, you will need to fill out and email a paper form.

Approval in Principle for Marine Crew arriving by the maritime border request form (INZ 1350) PDF 259KB

You will need to include:

  • the ship permission approval document from the Ministry of Health, if required
  • a copy of their passport page, including a photograph and passport information
  • completed form
  • a letter from the employer or shipping agent.

Complete the form and email with Ministry of Health approval document — if required.

How to make a request to travel

If you think you meet the criteria for critical purpose travel, you will need to submit an expression of interest using our online travel request form.

Border restrictions: who can enter New Zealand or request to travel