The brand new New Zealand Electronic Travel Authority visa has been officially launched online in preparation for its full implementation on October 1st, 2019.
From now, visitors planning trips to the island nation will be able to apply via a web application form for an electronic travel authority in time for the full launch in 2 months time, when it will become obligatory for entry into the country. The New Zealand eTA will allow visitors a stay in the country of up to 90 days and is fully completed online, rather than requiring a visit to an embassy.
The application for the new eTA will need to be completed by visitors from over 60 visa waiver countries either arriving via plane or cruise ships. This includes citizens of all EU states, the United States, Canada, and Britain.
A Simplified Process of Entering New Zealand
This development has come as tourist numbers to New Zealand continue to increase and the government seeks to streamline the immigration process for tourists and improve safety and security. It will be obligatory to have an eTA from October onwards if you are traveling from a country with a visa waiver agreement with New Zealand.
The NZeTA is valid for 2 years and allows multiple entries through the nation via its airports and seaports. It is electronically delivered and can be presented via print-out on arrival to New Zealand. The NZeTA functions in a very similar way to the ESTA Visa Waiver system currently in use in the United States, which is also obtained online and allows a similar period of access to the country.
Getting the travel authorization simply requires submitting details about your passport and some personal information. It takes 72 hours or less to process and is applied for fully online. A small fee will also need to be paid to cover the administration costs as well as an additional tourist levy of NZ$35. It will also be possible to check the visa status online once approved. This will make it easier to ensure that an older eTA is still valid before embarking on a trip to the country in 2021 and beyond.
The International Visitor Conservation and Tourism Levy (IVL) which this new system will contribute to will additionally fund improvements to New Zealand’s tourism infrastructure and assist with the protection of the country’s unique ecosystem. It is hoped over its first five years of implementation it will raise as much as NZ$450 million for these purposes.
Exemptions from the New NZeTA
There are some situations where the new NZeTA won’t be obligatory to visitors from visa waiver countries. This will mainly apply to crew and passengers of docking non-cruise vessels or overseas military personnel landed in a NZ harbor. The exemption will also cover invited foreign dignitaries and anyone visiting under the Antarctic Treaty for scientific missions to the Southern Ocean and Antartica.
Australian citizens and citizens of some Pacific Islands will additionally be exempt from the new visa, being able to pass through immigration with just an appropriate passport as before. Additionally, British citizens will still be able to stay for a maximum of 6 months in the country as they were previously, although this will only be permitted to holders of a valid eTA.
The new eTA is in many ways an evolution of the current rules, although gives the government a lot more control of who it permits entry into the country. If you are traveling to New Zealand later this year check the visa requirements to ensure you’re eligible. It is hoped that once the new system is fully up and running that it will permit the nation to allow in many more tourists per year without the additional disruption and workload normally generated by such a jump in numbers.