New Zealand introduces ESTA-style visa waiver: what you need to know

The electronic NZeTA will be a must-have for most visitors to New Zealand, including travellers in transit.

By Chris C., September 18 2019
New Zealand introduces ESTA-style visa waiver: what you need to know

New Zealand's US ESTA-style 'electronic travel Authorisation', or NZeTA, comes into effect from 1 October 2019, and most international travellers visiting the Land of the Long White Cloud will need to sign up for the visa waiver before entering the country.

Australian citizens travelling to New Zealand on an Australian passport will be exempt from the NZeTA, although permanent residents of Australia who are not Australian citizens and thus hold another country's passport will need to obtain an ETA – as will visitors from other visa-waiver countries like the United States, Canada and the UK.

Applying for a New Zealand Electronic Travel Authority

The NZeTA applies to short stays, tourism or business visits, and must be issued at least 72 hours before checking in for a flight to New Zealand.

Travellers can determine if they need the visa waiver at the Government's official NZeTA website, and apply online at a cost of NZ$12 or via the NZeTA apps for Android and iPhone) for NZ$9.

The eVisa arrives via email and is valid for two years or until your passport expires, whichever comes first.

A single ETA covers multiple entries into New Zealand for business or tourism – you don’t need to reapply with every journey, or separately for holidays and business trips.

It's worth noting that passengers in international transit will still require an NZeTA, even if they don’t cross the border into NZ.

NZ is adding a Tourism Levy

New Zealand is also introducing an International Visitor Conservation and Tourism Levy (IVL) of NZ$35.

Australian permanent residents are exempt from the IVL, even though they still need the NZeTA – most everyone else will find the tourism levy is collected at the same time at the NZeTA charge, bringing the total cost of obtaining visa-free travel authorisation to NZ$44 via the mobile app, or NZ$47 online.

Travellers won’t need to pay the IVL again until they need to apply for a new ETA.

Why are the ETA and IVL being introduced?

As travellers visiting New Zealand under visa-waiver arrangements don’t apply for a pre-arranged visa, the New Zealand Government only learns of their identity “once they are en route to New Zealand,” says Immigration New Zealand.

“We are unable to screen these travellers in advance for border and immigration risks,” the Department explains, adding that “the Electronic Travel Authority aims to deal with these issues and is part of wider government efforts to make border crossing as seamless as possible.”

As for the pricier International Visitor Conservation and Tourism Levy, the NZ Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment shares that it “ensures our international visitors contribute to the infrastructure they use and help protect the natural environment they enjoy.”

Travellers should also ensure they apply for their ETA via official channels to protect their personal information and to avoid being overcharged, given that many unofficial websites already target travellers seeking to apply for the similar US ESTA and Canadian eTA.

Also read: USA lengthens ESTA processing times – no more instant approvals

Chris C.

Chris is a a former contributor to Executive Traveller.

19 Aug 2011

Total posts 24

Hi Chris, do you know if transiting passengers (not Australian or NZ citizens, or Australian PRs) need to pay the IVL, or is it just the ETA?

My take of the requirements based on the article:
AU/NZ Citizens travelling on AU/NZ passports: No need to pay for ETA or IVL whether transiting or entering NZ
AU PRs: Need to pay ETA (but not IVL) when transiting or entering NZ
Other citizens: Need to pay ETA and IVL when entering NZ. Need to pay ETA when transiting - unclear whether IVL is charged.

24 Apr 2012

Total posts 2482

Hi chanvw, we can't provide readers with 1:1 advice, but can suggest you direct your enquiry to the NZ Government once the service becomes available, to verify the specific rules as applicable to a specific passport type and reason for travel.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

21 May 2017

Total posts 1

This is hardly request for individual immigration advice, it's a general (and obvious) question about a whole class of travellers that would be useful for readers. If you don't have the information or the NZ authorities haven't published it yet it would be great if you could follow up with the NZ authorities to try and get some clarity on whether transiting passengers will be slugged with the tourism levy or not.

No IVL for AU PRs:

  • There will be some exemptions, most notably Australian citizens and permanent residents and people from many Pacific Island countries.

“ensures our international visitors contribute to the infrastructure they use and help protect the natural environment they enjoy.” This is absolute BS.. Visitors already pay GST on ALL their local costs. A two week visit that costs say NZ$ 300 per day, the visitor will have paid NZ$550 in GST, plus paid wages to people that will have also been taxed. They will have paid exorbitant petrol taxes as well. This is yet another rort on travellers. I hope that there is a big decrease in visitors to NZ (I am a NZ citizen so I am unaffected). I am heartily sick of governments all around the world seeing taxes rather than savings as the solution to all problems.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

05 Jan 2015

Total posts 15

So why should the locals have to pay for the extra services and facilities that drop in and fly by night visitors use?

A couple of bucks of GST and few dollars in fuel excise doesn't go the Regional Council to provide for basic facilities such as local roads, water, parks, sewage and footpaths.

If you don't tax then you don't get services - just have a look at the dozens of bankrupt Counties in the USA to see what happens when you don't collect income to provide essential services.

User pays, cause if they don't then you are.

05 Jul 2016

Total posts 22

To be fair, NZ travellers visiting other countries should also have to pay a similar amount in that country. Why should the locals have to fund everything and the kiwis use it for free?

25 Jan 2012

Total posts 29

I've read so many articles about the issues around free campers, and tourists overloading public facilities around the country. Hopefully these fees will be directed to improving these facilities and resolving these issues, making it basically a win win for everyone.

I doubt $35 per person is going to break someone's travel budget.

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