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

Dec 25, 2019

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

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.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

WELCOME OFFER: 80,000 Points


CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Plus earn up to $50 in statement credits towards grocery store purchases within your first year of account opening.
  • Earn 2X points on dining including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out and travel. Plus, earn 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
  • With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories.
  • Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on eligible orders over $12 for a minimum of one year with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
  • Get up to $60 back on an eligible Peloton Digital or All-Access Membership through 12/31/2021, and get full access to their workout library through the Peloton app, including cardio, running, strength, yoga, and more. Take classes using a phone, tablet, or TV. No fitness equipment is required.
Regular APR
15.99%-22.99% Variable
Annual Fee
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.