Everything You Need To Know About The New Zealand ETA

New Zealand, also known as The Land of The Long White Cloud, has been featured in countless magazines and blogs as a top travel destination. It accommodates and pleases all sort of travelers – from young adrenaline-rush-seekers to businessmen and women and families. In a beautiful, well-balanced combination of dazzling and eclectic landscapes, lush and unique flora and fauna, and a rich culture that merges modernized trends with Maori traditions, New Zealand is a place more than worthy of any bucket list.

But as with any nation, New Zealand has a series of immigration policies, based on preset international agreements, that determine who enters the country, what kind of activities they are allowed to conduct, and how long they can stay. Many travelers who wish to visit New Zealand for a short period of time have to undergo the application process for an NZ visitors visa. However, for citizens of the 60 countries currently enrolled in the NZ agreement for visa exemption, no visa stamp on the passport has been necessary – up until this year.

The NZ eTA and the NZ visa-waiver countries

Starting on 1 October 2019, the Government of New Zealand will introduce a new immigration regulation directed at those travelers who are currently allowed to go on short-term visits to NZ visa-free. The New Zealand Electronic Travel Authority – or simply NZ eTA – was inspired by the U.S. ESTA and the Canadian eTA, in the sense that it will be a fully-online process that screens travelers prior to their arrival and grants them an electronic authorization to board a carrier on the way to New Zealand. This automatic system has proven to be effective not only in improving domestic security but also facilitating passport control and other border crossing procedures, thus ameliorating travelers experiences.

Therefore, if you hold a passport from one of the countries listed in the New Zealand visa-waiver agreement (see the list below) you will be required to be in possession of a valid Electronic Travel Authority when visiting New Zealand for tourism, short-term study and business purposes from October 2019 onward.

Czech Republic
Estonia (citizens only)
Hong Kong (residents with HKSAR or British National (Overseas) passports only)
Korea (South)
Latvia (citizens only)
Lithuania (citizens only)

Macau (Macau Special Administrative Region passports only)
Portugal (with the right to live permanently in Portugal)
San Marino
Saudi Arabia
Slovak Republic
Taiwan (permanent residency cardholders only)
United Arab Emirates
United Kingdom (must be in possession of a United Kingdom permanent residency)
United States of America (USA nationals included)
Vatican City

Why the introduction of the NZ eTA?

There has been a great increase in the number of foreign travelers visiting New Zealand over the past decade, with estimates for even higher numbers in the years to come. Among these visitors who come for short-term trips, the vast majority enjoys an agreement with the New Zealand Government and don’t need to apply for a visa when arriving by sea or air. Initially, this accord, known as the traveling visa waiver, was implemented to support the local tourism industry by posing less bureaucratic burdens on travelers. But the fact that a traveler doesn’t have to apply for an NZ visa prior to arrival, means that security agencies only become aware of them when they are already on the way. This not only makes border checks and customs processes slower but also decreases the scope of gathering important information that could prevent or help manage potential immigration-related issues. Therefore, as technological developments allow for the creation and interaction of electronic systems and databases, the New Zealand Government has decided to adopt a new measure for assessing travel security and immigration matters, as well as making border crossing procedures faster and smoother.

Below are the main points the new NZ Electronic Travel Authority aims to address:

  • improve border security and diminish risks related to immigration and domestic safety

  • tackle smuggling and trafficking

  • mitigate biosecurity threats

  • make the visitor’s experience hassle-free and efficient

  • endorse international agreements and multilateral relationships between New Zealand and other countries

  • keep up to date with the necessities of the NZ government, stakeholders, and travelers

How will the NZ Electronic Travel Authority process work?

As of October 2019, foreign travelers eligible to the new NZ Electronic Travel Authority will have to submit an online application and pay a processing fee prior to departing on their trip to New Zealand. The eTA process will be easy, fast, and straightforward to complete – no consulate appointments, interviews or long waiting periods. Travelers will be able to request a Travel Authority either by filling up an online form and attaching all required travel and personal documentation. Should the application be approved, the eTA system will send the travel authorization directly to the applicant’s email address, grating him/her the right to go on multiple trips to NZ within a period of 2 years.

On top of the eTA processing fee, travelers will be subject to paying the NZ IVL – International Visitor Conservation and Tourism Levy. This new levy introduced by the Government of New Zealand is a means to call forth a financial contribution from visitors to be reverted directly on the development of tourism infrastructure and conservation efforts across the country.

With regards to the eTA form, applicants will be required to answer various travel, health, and security-related questions, as well as provide personal data such as full name, residential address, passport details, and travel itinerary. Once the form has been duly completed and sent, and both fees have been paid and the eTA processed, the traveler will be able to embark on a flight or ship headed to New Zealand.

A breakdown of the mandatory information for an NZ eTA application form is listed below:

  • Full name (as shown on passport)

  • Date of birth

  • Passport information

  • Address, phone number, valid email

  • Purpose of travel and criminal history declarations

  • Biometric data (depending on the chosen channel for the application, a passport photo will be captured automatically)

Who will be eligible for an NZ eTA?

Not every foreign traveler intending to visit New Zealand is eligible for an NZ Electronic Travel Authority. In order to successfully apply for an eTA, the visitor must fit into one of the following categories:

  • Travelers who don’t need to apply for an official holiday visa before coming to New Zealand for a period of 3 months or less. E.g. visa-waiver nationals, cruise ship crew and passengers, and airway crew.

  • While Australian passport-holders will not be asked to hold an NZ eTA to travel to New Zealand, those who are only in possession of a permanent resident card will have to go through the application process.

  • Passengers of cruise ships who are traveling with a passport from one of the visa-exempt countries will be asked for an NZ eTA

  • Passengers of cruise ships who are not eligible to the NZ visa-waiver agreement can either apply for a standard visitors visa or request an eTA. However, if a visa-required national arrives in New Zealand by plane and wants to join a cruise ship, he/she will have to bear a valid visa.

  • Bearers of resident or temporary New Zealand visas, as well as citizens of NZ, can enter the country without an eTA.

Who will NOT require an NZ Electronic Travel Authority?

While the implementation of the NZ eTA will be relevant to most travelers visiting New Zealand as of October 2019, for some the immigration policies and procedures remain the same. Travelers who will NOT need to apply for an eTA are those who:

  • are required to apply for a valid NZ visa prior to leaving for the trip

  • are in possession of a visa for New Zealand which is still valid

  • are permanent residents or citizens of New Zealand

  • are citizens of Australia and bear an Australian passport.

When to submit an NZ eTA application?

It is advisable that travelers who are eligible to an eTA submit their applications as soon as their trip is confirmed so as to allow enough time for processing the authorization. Although most applications only take a few minutes to be assessed, some cases may require up to 72 hours before a response is given. A few rare applications can take even longer to process, which usually means there is a lack of relevant information or an error has been made while completing the form. A reliable estimate for how long in advance to submit your NZ eTA application is 1 week before the date of departure.

It is important to bear in mind that you will not be allowed on the plane or ship without a valid eTA accompanied by the registered passport. While travelers without an electronic authority can request the eTA at the check-in desk, the system cannot guarantee that an approval will be sent in time for boarding the carrier. The pre-registration phase for the New Zealand eTA begins in July 2019, but the new measure will only be officially implemented on the 1st of October, 2019.

What will be the cost of the New Zealand eTA and IVL?

In case your trip to New Zealand happens before October 1st, 2019, you will not have to apply nor pay for an NZ eTA or IVL. From October onward, though, there will be a cost for the Electronic Travel Authority, which will vary according to the channel you use for submitting your application. The amount for the IVL is per traveler and will be deducted out of the applicant’s credit or debit card together with the eTA fee. Both payments will validate an eTA and IVL for up to 2 years, with multiple entries permitted.

New Zealand Electronic Travel Authority – Important Info

  • the NZ eTA is NOT an actual visa

  • foreign travelers who are in possession of a valid eTA do not require an NZ visa

  • travelers need to meet the basic NZ visa requirements before being able to apply for an eTA

  • the NZ eTA application is done fully online, without having to process documents through an embassy or consulate

  • it should take no longer than 10 minutes for an applicant to complete and submit the eTA application

  • the majority of eTA approvals are submitted within a few minutes

  • in rare cases, further information may be requested and the approval of the eTA delayed

  • applicants can pay for the NZeTA wit a debit or credit card

  • each NZ electronic authorization lasts for 2 years – unless the registered passport expires beforehand

  • should the circumstances of an applicant change to the point of affecting the answers given in the application, the validity of the given eTA may be compromised

  • in order to successfully apply for an NZeTA, the applicant must be a citizen of one of the 60 countries eligible to the NZ visa-exemption agreement

  • it is advised to thoroughly review the information provided on the application form before submission in order to avoid potential complications. Any mistakes or omissions may result in the delay or refusal of the respective New Zealand eTA

  • double-nationality-applicants with more than one travel document must make sure to use the same passport to apply for an eTA and enter New Zealand