The New Zealand Government moved New Zealand to COVID-19 Alert Level 4 on 11:59pm on Wednesday 25 March. For more information on what this means, visit the New Zealand Government’s dedicated COVID-19 website.
Advice for New Zealanders currently overseas
Do not travel overseas at this time. Transport and transit options to return to New Zealand have reduced significantly. Even booked flights may be cancelled.
We recognise that not all New Zealanders who want to return home 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 where we can. But the international situation is complex and changing quickly, and some things are out of our control. Assisted departure 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 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 self-isolation requirements on return to New Zealand, see the Immigration New Zealand and New Zealand Ministry of Health websites.
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 – family and whānau, friends and workmates, especially if you are self-isolating. Further tips can be found on the Government’s website (www.covid19.govt.nz);
- 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 country page on the SafeTravel website. For urgent consular assistance after-hours please contact 0064 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.
New Zealanders returning to New Zealand
On Wednesday 25 March, the New Zealand Government introduced further self-isolation requirements international arrivals into New Zealand. Every passenger entering New Zealand will be screened for COVID-19 on arrival. Passengers will be disembarked in small groups and met by Government officials at the gate. When passengers disembark the plane health officials will discuss self-isolation and transport arrangements and answer any questions passengers may have.
- If passengers have a domestic transit flight, they will not be allowed to connect to that flight.
- If a passenger is symptomatic on arrival, they will be tested and placed in an approved isolation facility for 14 days.
- If a passenger is not symptomatic on arrival, they will be asked to explain their plan for self-isolation and transport arrangements to that place.
- If passengers have a suitable self-isolation plan and transport arrangements, they will be escorted to their transport. They will also be checked on by Police within 72 hours to ensure you are in self-isolation.
- If passengers have a suitable plan for self-isolation, but do not have suitable transport arranged, officials will arrange transport if that is possible within the local area. If transport is not possible, they will be placed in local accommodation, which has been approved for isolation for 14 days and will need to remain there even if your test result is negative. If you require hospital care, that will be arranged.
- If passengers have no suitable plan in place for self-isolation, they will be placed in local low-level quarantine accommodation, which has been approved for isolation for 14 days. They will be transported there directly from the airport.
- If passengers are placed in managed accommodation for the 14 day low-level quarantine isolation period, further information will be provided on what will happen after that, including planned transport through domestic flights.
For more information on these updated international arrival procedures see the Ministry of Health website and read the passenger arrival factsheet on managed self-isolation. Further information on self-isolation can be found here.
Current border measures
As of Thursday 19 March, most foreign travellers can no longer enter New Zealand. New Zealand citizens, permanent residents, residents with valid travel conditions and their immediate family (partner or spouse, legal guardian and dependent children under the age of 24) can still come to New Zealand. 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. Australian citizens and permanent residents who normally live in New Zealand can still come to New Zealand.
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).
We are aware of some countries (including Thailand and Fiji) now requiring a recent medical certificate before boarding a plane to transit through their countries. If this is the case, please get in touch with your specific airline to get the most up to date information on travel requirements.
Advice for New Zealanders transiting through Australia
We understand from the Australian Government, that New Zealand citizens, residents and immediate family with an onward flight to New Zealand are able to transit Australia to New Zealand, unless otherwise directed by airport authorities (for example, if they have a temperature – all arrivals are being asked to complete a form).
Transit passengers should seek to ensure the transit is as short as possible and must not leave the airport.
However, the New Zealand Government does not provide advice on the immigration 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.
Given the strengthened border measures in New Zealand and Australia, travellers should allow extra time for check in given the likely requirement for non-Australian passport holders to be individually checked for permission to transit Australia en route to New Zealand. This permission will likely involve reference back to head office for confirmation and so may take time given current call volumes.
Advice for New Zealanders considering overseas travel
The New Zealand Government is now 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.
Information on cruises
All cruise ships which have sailed from a foreign port have been banned from entering New Zealand ports until 30 June.
New Zealanders are advised not to travel overseas at this time, including on overseas cruises, due to COVID-19. The virus can spread quickly on board cruises due to the close contact between passengers. Some cruise ships have been put into quarantine, and countries have denied entry to ports, which can have significant consequences for travellers. If in doubt, consult a medical professional before travelling.
If you choose to continue your plans for a cruise despite our advice, and you're concerned about the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on your plans, please contact your travel agent or cruise operator for specific information. Please also check the Australasia website of Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), which outlines the protocols they put in place for the health and safety of cruise passengers and crew in response to COVID-19. All CLIA member cruise lines are required to implement these protocols.
For further travel advice and information about COVID-19, please see our COVID-19 web page here.
Reviewed:26 Mar 2020, 14:45
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