The New Zealand Government has announced a five-stage plan to open New Zealand’s border. We have summarised key points below:

Step one

From 11:59pm Sunday 27 February 2022 fully vaccinated Kiwis and other currently eligible travellers will be able to travel to New Zealand from Australia utilising a self-isolation system.

Step two

From 11:59pm Sunday 13 March 2022 fully vaccinated Kiwis and other currently eligible travellers from the rest of the world will be able to travel to New Zealand utilising a self-isolation system. As part of step two, expanded border exception will be implemented for critical workers, and skilled workers earning at least 1.5 times the median wage will be eligible to enter New Zealand, along with highly skilled workers’ family members who may have been separated from their loved ones. Opening of Working Holiday Scheme visas.

Step three

From 11:59pm Tuesday 12 April 2022 New Zealand will further extend border extension to include a large international student cohort of up to 5,000 students for entry ahead of semester 2 and temporary visa holders who still meet relevant visa requirements.

Step four

From no later than July 2022 Australian’s and all other visitors and business travellers who can normally enter New Zealand without a visa will be allowed to travel to New Zealand.

Step five

From October 2022, all visa categories will re-open and normal visa processing will resume.

Self-Isolation

Self-isolation is only available for fully vaccinated travellers who are eligible to enter New Zealand. Travellers will need to self-isolate for 10 days. Travellers will be provided three rapid antigen tests at the airport, one for use on day 0/1, and one for use on day 5/6, with one extra for backup.

Anyone who tests positive will need to take a PCR test at a Community Testing Centre or GP for whole genome sequencing in order to quickly identify and respond to new variants coming across the border.

Our thoughts

This recent announcement is very positive news, in particular the adoption of a self-isolation system which will remove a significant hurdle for travel to New Zealand. For employers who are looking to secure foreign nationals to supplement their work force, this is positive news as there is a clear easing of border and visa requirements. For our other clients this will also allow for easier travel to New Zealand e.g. to allow families to be reunited.

It is important to note that the finer details of the policy to open New Zealand’s has not been released yet and border exceptions appear to be required until 12 April 2022.

Unless there is a significant change in relation to Covid-19, we would be surprised if further delays were implemented or another U-turn was made by the government.

Our advice

We recommend contacting us if you have any questions or wish to plan travel to New Zealand.

The information set out above is current as of 3 February 2022.