Border controls: closures,  exceptions and mandatory quarantine27 Mar 2020

NZ have announced immigration instructions, effective on and after 30 March 2020, to allow people not included, or exempt under the current travel ban, to be granted a visa or a Variation of Conditions to travel to New Zealand.

As part of continuing efforts to eliminate coronavirus, the Government has also put mandatory quarantine requirements in place for those who are permitted entry to New Zealand. Beginning at midnight on 9 April 2020, anyone entering the country will have to undergo 14 days of quarantine or managed self-isolation in a government-approved facility. The Government will cover the cost of accommodation in these facilities.


If you are not a New Zealand citizen or resident, but are eligible to travel to New Zealand under one of the prescribed exceptional circumstances, you can make a request to travel to New Zealand.

You are able to make a request (by submitting an Expression of Interest) if you already have a New Zealand visa, if you have submitted an application for a visa, or if you do not have a visa.

Once you have made a request, using the formal INZ procedure, it will be assessed by an immigration officer. If satisfied of your eligibility, the officer will then contact you to invite you to apply for a Variation of Conditions for a critical purpose.

Exceptions are only in place for where there is a critical purpose for being in New Zealand. The threshold for exceptional circumstances is extremely high. As at 22 April, INZ have received 4,545 requests from people who believe they are eligible to be granted an exception to the border closure. Of the 4,356 requests decided so far, only 883 have met the criteria and have been invited to apply for a visa.

The following sets out some information on the general case-by-case approach under different exceptions:

Humanitarian reasons

The starting point for any consideration is that the New Zealand border is closed. However, Immigration border officers have the discretion to make humanitarian exceptions in extremely limited cases.

As an example, an 18 month old baby’s grandmother was given an exception to travel so that she could travel with the baby (a New Zealand citizen) to enable the baby to be reunited with mother and father in New Zealand.

The COVID-19 All of Government Officials group will identify and consider exceptions for essential workers. This will be limited to workers in occupations which are critical to delivering the response to COVID-19 and/or maintaining critical infrastructure.

Exceptions will be decided by the Government following advice from officials.

Essential health workers

This exception applies to people who hold the necessary qualifications and registration (if required) to work in NZ.

The following key health occupations fall under this exception:

  • Medical Doctors
  • Nurses
  • Midwives
  • Psychologists
  • Physiotherapists
  • Technical and support staff working in:
    • Theatre
    • Laboratory
    • Radiology
    • Cardiology Blood service
    • Nuclear medicine
    • Oncology
    • Haematology
    • Pathology
    • Hyperbaric medicine
    • Mortuary
    • Research Staff
  • Support staff working in:
    • Aged care
    • Palliative/hospice care
    • Mental health
    • Child health
    • Forensic care
Any other essential workers agreed by the Government.

Residence visa holders travelling to New Zealand

If you hold a residence visa and this is not your first time travelling to New Zealand you can enter New Zealand.

Residence visa holders who have not yet travelled to New Zealand on that visa

You are subject to the current travel restrictions and cannot travel to New Zealand.

Partners, dependent children and legal guardians

You may travel to New Zealand if you are traveling with:

  • New Zealand citizens or permanent resident visa holders
  • New Zealand resident visa holders where the resident visa was granted in New Zealand
  • New Zealand resident visa holders where the resident visa holder is arriving in New Zealand for a second or subsequent time where they are travelling with that New Zealand citizen or resident visa holder

Or, if you are a visitor, student or work visa holder who is ordinarily resident in New Zealand and the partner or dependent child of a temporary student or work visa holder who is in New Zealand.

Australian citizens and permanent residents who normally live in New Zealand

Australian citizens and permanent residents who normally live in New Zealand can still travel to New Zealand.

Citizens of Samoa and Tonga

You are able to travel to New Zealand if making essential travel to New Zealand.