Previously, Americans visiting New Zealand could simply show up, passport in hand, and enter the country. However, starting this fall – or spring, for Southern Hemisphere dwellers – the island nation will require some extra minutes of pre-departure planning.
Though the United States is one of 60 visa-waiver countries, Americans and other nationals from this group will need to apply for a New Zealand Electronic Travel Authority (NZeTA) for travel starting Oct. 1. The new requirement applies to visitors arriving by plane or cruise ship who plan to stay in the country for a maximum of three months; passengers in transit must also obtain an NZeTA.
The form will become available in July on the New Zealand Immigration’s website and mobile phone app. The cost: 9 New Zealand dollars (about $6) for the app submission and 12 New Zealand dollars (about $8) for the online form. Visitors must also pay the new International Visitor Conservation and Tourism Levy, which is earmarked for tourism infrastructure and environmental protection. The fee costs 35 New Zealand dollars, or $23.
The New Zealand Embassy in Washington said the application should take about five minutes to complete. The form will ask for such basic information as your name, address, date of birth and passport details as well as your travel plans and questions about health and security. Applicants should hear back electronically within 48 to 72 hours. The embassy said travelers with a clean criminal record will most likely receive a green light. Those who are declined will need to apply for a visitor visa.
According to the immigration office, the electronic document will “improve the way travelers are assessed before they arrive in New Zealand, and help reduce the time needed for border clearance and strengthen border security.” The embassy said upon arrival, travelers can bypass the immigration official for a kiosk, though they will still need to meet with a customs agent and declare any prohibited or restricted items, such as honey, used outdoor gear or butterfly knives.
The new rule levels the playing field. New Zealanders must apply for an Electronic System for Travel Authorization to enter the United States.