Going to New Zealand? Don’t forget to get permission first

Dec 25, 2019

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Headed to New Zealand? Don’t forget to apply for entry and pay a fee first. As of Oct. 1, 2019, the New Zealand government requires travelers from a list of 60 countries, including the United States, to apply for an Electronic Travel Authority (NZeTA) prior to entering the country. The NZeTA waives the need for a visa, but must be requested and approved before the traveler enters New Zealand — even just to transit through to another destination.

TPG Lounge reader Leela S. posted her cautionary anecdote about the NZeTA requirement on Christmas Eve, saying, “Shout out to Virgin for the ‘reminder’ email, or I would have had a nasty airport surprise.” Leela further stated that the simple process took less than five minutes to approve her application, although the site says to allow up to 72 hours for processing.

New Zealand’s official website claims that the new NZeTA  will “enhance security and reduce immigration risks, address smuggling and biosecurity risks, improve the traveler experience, support New Zealand’s international relationships and agreements, [and] adapt to the changing needs and requirements of the government, stakeholders and travelers over time.”

There’s one other thing…

In addition to implementing entrance requirements for all travelers arriving from visa waiver countries, New Zealand also began implementing a new levy on visitors as of Oct. 1, 2019. The International Visitor Conservation and Tourism Levy (IVL) is valid for the duration of your NZeTA, and costs NZ$35 — just over $23. You’ll pay for it at the same time that you apply for the NZeTA.

Both the NZeTA and IVL are required for cruise travelers as well, although you will not need to apply for one beforehand if you’re arriving by cruise ship.

Here’s what travelers can expect:

The NZeTA costs just NZ$9 ($6) through the dedicated app, or NZ$12 ($8) through the online form. Regular traveler NZeTAs are valid for two years, while international airline crew NZeTAs are valid for five years.

I tested out the application process for TPG, following the instructions on the site. You’ll need to have a valid passport, a Visa or MasterCard credit or debit card and an email address handy for your application:

The online application requires all of the standard information, with a few interesting write-in options for questions such as “place of birth.” I guess you could get creative with this, as long as it aligns with public records if you had to provide proof to back up your response.

One progressive little touch? There’s a non-binary option for gender. Nicely done, New Zealand.

There’s a section for Australian national residents, who must apply for the NZeTA but are not required to pay the NZ$35 for an IVL. Australian citizens are exempt from both the NZeTA and IVL requirements.

Since you’ll need an NZeTA even if you’re passing through to another country like Australia, you’ll pay the same fee regardless. The difference, however, lies in the IVL fee. You won’t be charged for it if you don’t enter the country, but can’t visit New Zeland

So if you think there’s a chance that you might want to step foot in the country over the next two years, it could be worth checking “Yes, I will be coming to New Zealand to visit.”

After I submitted my payment, I began checking my application to see how quickly it would process. Thus far, it’s been nearly an hour and no success yet, so I’m assuming that my experience will fall somewhere between Leela’s five-minute approval and the 72 hours warned by the New Zealand government.

Dec. 26, 2019 UPDATE: It took about 42 hours for me to receive my NZeTA approval, although that was over Christmas Day. All in all, a very easy, straightforward process.

Featured Image by Ian Montgomery/EyeEm.

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