Planning a vacation can be a joyful task. Reading travel blogs, searching for attractions, activities to plan your day to day itineraries, checking Airbnb and flight deals may be a starting point. What most How to Plan a Vacation Guides appear to miss is checking whether you’d be able to lawfully enter the travel destination to even begin your planned itinerary. If you chose New Zealand as your next travel destination, read this blog carefully.

New Zealand allows travellers with passports issued by certain countries to visit New Zealand without holding a Visa permitting travel to New Zealand. These countries are called Visa Waiver Countries. At current, there are 60 countries on the List of Visa Waiver Countries which can be found here.

If you are from one of the 60 countries, you may not need to apply for a Visitor Visa  in advance of your planned date of travel to New Zealand, which is usually done by completing an Application Form with payment of a fee to Immigration New Zealand. But you will still need to apply for both a Visa and entry permission on arrival to New Zealand. This is done by completing an Arrival Card which will be given on the plane before your arrival to New Zealand, and which looks like this. Depending on the information entered on the Arrival Card and the information you provide to the Border Officer at the New Zealand border, you may either be:

  • granted entry permission and Visa Waiver Visitor Visa allowing you to enter New Zealand or
  • denied entry permission where you would have to return home or to a country you have the right to enter (this is also called turnaround)

If you are granted entry permission, you will also be granted a Visa Waiver Visitor Visa at the same time. This is because the grant of entry permission has no effect unless the person also holds a Visa, unless you already hold a permanent resident visa or a resident visa granted in New Zealand.

Entry permission and Visa Waiver Visitor Visas are granted to those who:

  • are in good health; and
  • are of good character; and
  • genuinely intend to visit New Zealand for up to 3 months (or 6 months for UK citizens) from the date of arrival to New Zealand; and
  • have sufficient funds to stay; and
  • have a travel ticket out of New Zealand to a country where they have the right to enter.

Once granted, this Visa allows you to stay in New Zealand as a “genuine visitor” for a period of up to 3 months (6 months for visitors from UK) from the date of arrival to New Zealand. The Border Officer will stamp your passport as you enter New Zealand which will note the date you entered New Zealand and the expiry date of the Visa Waiver Visitor Visa you hold. The conditions of this Visa are similar to a standard Visitor Visa, which allows the holder to travel and/or study for up to 3 months in any 12 month period, but does not allow the holder to undertake employment in New Zealand.  The only difference is that this Visa has single entry travel conditions which means it will expire when you leave New Zealand.

Entry permission can be refused if:

  • you do not meet all of the above listed requirements; and
  • you refuse to let the Border Officer take your photo or to provide them with your fingerprints or an iris scan if and when requested; and
  • you provide (or have provided) false or misleading information in a visa application to an immigration officer or on any part of your Arrival Card

If you have been previously found to have breached your visa conditions; overstayed your Visa; were deported and/or served a deportation liability notice and/or a deportation order; or you have any other character issues in New Zealand or any other countries you’ve visited and/or lived in the past, you can be stopped from travelling to New Zealand from the departing country or be refused entry permission when you arrive at the New Zealand border.

If you are unsure whether you would be granted entry permission and a Visa Waiver Visitor Visa at the New Zealand border or whether you would need to apply for a Visitor Visa before you travel to New Zealand, contact us today for clarification.