Travel restrictions for very high risk countries

Travel from 'very high risk' countries to New Zealand is currently restricted.

'Very high risk' country category

The Government has created a ‘very high risk’ country category that will significantly reduce the number of people with COVID-19 flying to New Zealand.

Countries that have been designated as very high risk

The following countries currently meet the threshold of being very high risk:

  • Brazil
  • India
  • Pakistan
  • Papua New Guinea

Who can travel directly from a very high risk country

Travellers to New Zealand from very high risk countries are temporarily restricted to:

  • New Zealand citizens
  • partners and dependent children of New Zealand citizens, or
  • parents of dependent children who are New Zealand citizens.

Partners of New Zealand citizens can be a spouse, civil union partner or de facto partner.

If you're a non-New Zealand citizen, you must hold a valid visa to enter New Zealand. 

Reasons you can travel to New Zealand at Immigration NZ (external link)

If you cannot travel directly from a very high risk country

All other travellers, including people holding residence class visas, must spend at least 14 days outside of very high risk countries before flying to New Zealand.

You can transit through a very high risk country without having to spend 14 days outside the country before you travel to New Zealand. There is no limit on the amount of time you may spend transiting through a very high risk country, but you must remain airside. This means you'll remain at the airport and not enter the country.

You must have a negative pre-departure test

All travellers from very high risk countries must have evidence of negative nasopharyngeal RT-PCR (PCR) test result from a government-approved laboratory. The test must be taken within 72 hours of departure.

Pre-departure tests to enter New Zealand

The Ministry of Health publishes lists of laboratories in very high risk countries that are approved to conduct COVID-19 tests.

Lists of approved laboratories (external link)

Some people could get an exemption

The Director-General of Health may grant exemptions for humanitarian reasons. 

You can find out more about the exemptions process at the Managed Isolation and Quarantine website.

Apply for an exemption (external link)

How a country is designated as very high risk

Countries have been designated very high risk where:

  • there have been more than 50 cases of COVID-19 per 1,000 arrivals to New Zealand from those countries in 2021, and
  • there are more than 15 travellers on average per month.

Why these restrictions have been put in place

Resurgence of COVID-19 is happening in a number of countries, and there are further waves of infections in many countries as new variants of the COVID-19 virus arise.

This means New Zealand expects to see more returnees with COVID-19 from these areas. This increase in cases will place pressure on our managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) systems and workforce and increase the risk of a community outbreak.

The New Zealand Government has responded by creating a very high risk country category that will significantly reduce the number of people with COVID-19 flying to New Zealand.

The Government will review this decision regularly.

Advice for people returning to New Zealand

Register with SafeTravel

If you're a New Zealander in a very high risk country, make sure you register your travel and contact details with SafeTravel.

Register at SafeTravel to get the latest travel advice for the country you're in (external link)

Reduce your risk of being exposed to COVID-19

In the 14 days before leaving there are things you can do to help reduce your risk of being exposed to COVID-19 and bringing it to New Zealand with you:

  • Avoid going to high-risk events like parties, social gatherings or crowded places.
  • Avoid contact with people who have COVID-19 or who are contacts of people with COVID-19.
  • Stay home as much as possible to limit your contact with other people.
  • Wash and dry your hands often, cough into your elbow and avoid touching your face.
  • Keep your distance from people you do not know.
  • Wear a face covering when you cannot keep your distance.

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