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.
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.