Border closures and exceptions

Key information on current border closure and exceptions.

New Zealand citizens and resident visa holders travelling to New Zealand

The New Zealand border is currently closed to most travellers. New Zealand citizens and permanent resident visa holders can travel to New Zealand. Resident visa holders can also travel to New Zealand (excluding those whose resident visa was granted while they were outside of New Zealand, and who haven’t yet entered New Zealand to activate their visa).

Immediate family of New Zealand citizens and resident visa holders

Partners, dependent children and legal guardians of:

  • New Zealand Citizens or permanent resident visa holders, and
  • New Zealand resident visa holders who are travelling to New Zealand for a second or subsequent time, and
  • New Zealand resident visa holders whose resident visa was granted in New Zealand

may make a request to travel to New Zealand. They must be travelling to New Zealand on the same flight as the New Zealand citizen or resident visa holder. This process will provide this group of people with certainty that they can travel to New Zealand rather than risk being denied boarding for flights to New Zealand. Details of how to make a request can be found below.

Resident visa holders who have not yet travelled to New Zealand on that visa

You are subject to the current travel restrictions and cannot travel to New Zealand.

Australian citizens and permanent residents who normally live in New Zealand

Australian citizens and permanent residents who normally live in New Zealand can make a request to travel to New Zealand. This process will provide this group of people with certainty that they can travel to New Zealand rather than risk being denied boarding flights to New Zealand. Details of how to make a request can be found below.

Travel ban exceptions process

People can contact Immigration New Zealand to be considered for an exception to the border closure. Consideration will only be made for people with exceptional circumstances who have a critical purpose for travelling to New Zealand. The starting point for any consideration is that for the protection of New Zealand the border is closed. Exceptions are only in place for extreme circumstances.

You must have a critical purpose for travelling to New Zealand, and:

  • meet health and character requirements for temporary entry
  • be a bona fide applicant
  • meet the funds or sponsorship requirements for visitors
  • meet onward travel requirements.

See more details of these criteria

Critical purposes for travelling to New Zealand

Essential health workers

A health care worker is a current or new employee where the employee holds a key clinical or non-clinical position working in:

  • a District Health Board
  • New Zealand Blood Service
  • hospice or palliative care
  • a primary care practice such as urgent care or a medical or healthcare centre
  • aged residential care, respite or continuing care facility.

A new employee is a staff member with a signed offer of employment from one of the listed agencies and who has a commencement date from March to June 2020.

The key clinical or non-clinical positions eligible are:

  • Medical Doctors
  • Nurses
  • Midwives
  • Psychiatrists
  • Psychologists
  • Physiotherapists
  • Technical and support staff working in:
    • Theatre
    • Laboratory
    • Radiology
    • Cardiology Blood service
    • Nuclear medicine
    • Oncology
    • Haematology
    • Pathology
    • Hyperbaric medicine
    • Mortuary
    • Research Staff
  • Support staff working in:
    • Aged care (including rest homes)
    • Palliative/hospice care
    • Mental health
    • Child health
    • Forensic care

People under this exception must work in one of these occupations. For example, they must have an offer of employment or support from a New Zealand employer or the Ministry of Health. Consideration will be given as to whether the person holds the necessary qualifications and registration (if required) to work in New Zealand.

Partners and dependent children of essential health workers who will accompany them may also be included in the request.

Any other essential workers agreed by the Government

The COVID-19 All of Government Officials group will identify and consider exceptions for essential workers. This will be limited to workers in occupations which are critical to delivering the response to COVID-19 and/or maintaining critical infrastructure.

Exceptions will be decided by the Government following advice from officials. Only people specifically identified as essential workers by the COVID-19 All of Government Officials will be granted visas under this exception type.

Partners and dependent children must be invited individually to apply under this exception. This will only happen when it is appropriate to do so based on the circumstances of the essential worker.

Citizens of Samoa and Tonga

This exception is only for citizens of Samoa and Tonga making essential travel to New Zealand. It does not apply to their partners or dependent children. Any family member must have their own critical purpose for travelling to New Zealand.

Partners and dependent children of New Zealand work, student or visitor visa holders

This exception is only for partners and dependent children who already hold a work, student or visitor and normally live in New Zealand. Your partner or parent must also be in New Zealand (that is, you are outside New Zealand and they are inside).

Humanitarian reasons

The starting point for any consideration is that the New Zealand border is closed. However, an exception may be made in extremely limited cases.

Factors that an immigration officer will consider include:

  • the person’s connection to New Zealand and to the place they are currently located
  • whether New Zealand is their primary place of residence, and how long they have been away from New Zealand
  • other options available to the person
  • the impact of not giving an exception
  • whether the Ministry of Health or a District Health Board supports the provision of any medical treatment that may be required.

Where medical treatment is required or likely, support from the Ministry of Health or a District Health Board will normally be required.

Making a request to travel to New Zealand

If you are not a New Zealand citizen or resident but are eligible to travel to New Zealand by meeting one of the exceptional circumstances described above, you can make a request to Immigration New Zealand. You can make a request if you already have a New Zealand visa, if you have submitted an application for a visa, or if you do not have a visa.

To make a request, complete the request form:

Request for travel to New Zealand

An immigration officer will assess your request. If they are satisfied that you are eligible to travel to New Zealand they will contact you with information about what to do. We understand that there may be some urgency around your situation. As we are dealing with high numbers of requests for assistance we are currently aiming to respond within two working days, however this timeframe may be longer depending on enquiry volumes and the complexity of requests we receive.

Before submitting a request, consider the availability of flights to New Zealand and travel restrictions for any country you may need to transit on the way to New Zealand.