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.

Australian citizens or permanent residents who are partners of NZ citizens or residents

From 5 October 2020, if you are an Australian citizen or permanent resident and in a genuine and stable relationship with a New Zealand citizen or resident, you can request to travel to New Zealand based on your relationship. You may include any dependent children.  If your Request to Travel is successful, you will be granted a single-entry Resident Visa to travel to New Zealand.

In your Request to Travel, you will be asked to provide proof of your relationship with your partner. This evidence can include, but is not limited to: 

  • the description of your partnership, including details of any previous shared living arrangements
  • any supporting documentation that demonstrates your partnership (including marriage certificate, joint tenancy agreement or joint bank account)
  • confirmation of your identity, your partner’s identity, and any dependents included in your Request to Travel
  • recent travel movements of you and your partner
  • evidence that your New Zealand partner supports your Request to Travel to New Zealand.

If you include dependent children, you need to supply evidence of the relationship, such as a birth certificate, adoption certificate or evidence of legal guardianship.

Partners from visa-waiver countries

From 5 October 2020, if you hold a passport from a country on the visa-waiver countries list, and are in a genuine and stable relationship with a New Zealand citizen or resident, you can make a Request to Travel to New Zealand based on this relationship. You may include dependent children. If your request to travel is approved, you will be invited to apply for a visitor visa to travel to New Zealand. 

You will need to meet all the requirements of this visa. If this visa is approved, you will be granted a visa up to 6 months and can travel to New Zealand.

In your visa application, you will be asked to upload evidence of your relationship to your partner. This evidence can include, but is not limited to: 

  • a description of your partnership, including details of any previous shared living arrangements.
  • any supporting documentation that demonstrates your partnership (including marriage certificate or joint bank account)
  • travel movements of you and your New Zealand partner
  • evidence that your New Zealand partner supports your travel to New Zealand
  • any other evidence showing a commitment to a shared life

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.

Dependent children can be included in applications.

Normally resident work visa holders

Temporary work visa holders who are currently outside of New Zealand but who have maintained a job or business in New Zealand and have lived here for some time prior to departing may be eligible under the new border exception category. 

Departure date and visa held

To be eligible you must have departed New Zealand between 1 December 2019 and 9 October 2020 and held one of the following visas at the time you left New Zealand

  • Essential Skills Work Visa, granted on the basis of work assessed as:
    • mid-skilled
    • higher-skilled
    • at or above the median wage
  • Entrepreneur Work Visa
  • The following Work to Residence visas:
    • Talent (Accredited Employer) Work Visa
    • Talent (Arts, Culture and Sports) Work Visa
    • Long Term Skill Shortage List Work Visa
    • Skilled Migrant Category Job Search Visa
    • South Island Contribution Work Visa
    • Global Impact Work Visa.

Current job and continuation of business operation

You must be currently employed in the same job you had when you left New Zealand, or continue to operate the same business if you held an Entrepreneur Work visa, and have retained your job while outside of New Zealand.

This means:

  • that you must have been employed in a job at the time you left New Zealand
  • that your job must be consistent with the conditions of your visa
  • that you have maintained your employment relationship continuously since you have left New Zealand.

If you have resigned or were made redundant you cannot return under this category, even if your employer is able to re-hire you.

Providing a statutory declaration

Your employer will need to provide a witnessed statutory declaration, declaring you are still employed in your same job when you left New Zealand, if your request is successful.

If your request is successful, you will need to provide this statutory declaration from your employer declaring you are still employed in your same job when you left New Zealand. Providing false or misleading information on a statutory declaration is a serious offence that can lead to civil or criminal proceedings.

Making a Statutory declaration

Living in New Zealand

Additionally, applicants must have lived in New Zealand for more than 2 years before leaving, or between 1 and 2 years.

If they lived in New Zealand for between 1 and 2 years they must also have:

  • had 1 or more dependent children with them in New Zealand for at least 6 months of that 12-month period;
  • have parents or adult siblings who are currently in, and who are ordinarily resident in, New Zealand; or
  • submitted their application for their current resident visa by 10 August 2020.

To qualify as having lived in New Zealand, the applicant must have been in New Zealand for at least 273 days (9 months) of each 12-month period before the date of their departure.

Visa expiry

If an applicant’s existing visa expires before 1 January 2021 they must have made another visa application before 10 August 2020.

Partners and dependent children

Expressions of interest may include partners and dependent children who held or currently hold a temporary visa or resident visa based on their relationship with the principal applicant and include any children born overseas after 1 December 2019 while the applicant was unable to return to New Zealand.

Resident visa approved after you have left New Zealand

If you have been approved a resident visa since you left New Zealand and your request under this category is successful we will get in touch with you.

Exceptions approved

Exception requests are expected to take two weeks to consider. This is in line with timeframe for ‘other critical worker’ border exceptions.

We are monitoring the number of visas approved under this category and if the number looks likely to exceed 850 visas for principal applicants (excluding any partners or children) we will consult the Government

Request for travel to New Zealand

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 before 31 March 2021 or earlier.

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 by the Nursing Council of New Zealand, and
    • are enrolled in a Competence Assessment Programme which starts before 31 March 2021
  • 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.
Note

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.

Travel to and from Pacific Islands

Cook Islands, Niue, Samoa, Tokelau, Tonga essential travel

The New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) will assess essential travel requests from governments of Cook Islands, Niue, Samoa, Tokelau and Tonga in consultation with New Zealand Managed Isolation and Quarantine.

Nominated travellers undertaking key activities will use existing Immigration New Zealand processes to request travel to New Zealand.

Citizens of Samoa and Tonga

You can request to travel to New Zealand 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.

Entry for PhD and postgraduate students

The Government is allowing up to 250 international PhD and postgraduate students who have been nominated by their education provider to return to New Zealand to continue their studies.

PhD and postgraduate students may be eligible for this exception to the border restrictions if they hold, or have held, a visa to study in New Zealand in 2020 but have been unable to enter the country. Eligible students who would like to be considered should contact their education provider.

Eligibility and identification | Ministry of Education

Partners and dependants of nominated students may be included in applications, in line with current visa requirements.

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.

maritime.arrivals@mbie.govt.nz

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