New Zealand Travel Restrictions & Exceptions

Ready to travel spelled out with Scrabble tiles with a Covid pass

Like most of the countries in the world, New Zealand has also closed its border to almost all travelers to prevent the spread of Coronavirus. New Zealand has recorded only 1,154 confirmed Covid-19 cases since the virus arrived on February 26. There was a sustainable effort that helped the country to stop the spread of Coronavirus successfully and was widely praised worldwide for handling the crisis. When the entire world was going through an economic crisis, New Zealand was able to loosen up the lockdown restrictions and get back to normal. Currently, there was one death due to Covid-19 in August and the country went back to Lockdown again till mid-September. 

New Zealand is one of the most preferred countries to study, work, and settle. Though there are travel restrictions due to Covid-19 and many visa applicants are waiting for their visas to get approved, we are keeping a positive approach here. Many of RGV clients got their work visa and resident visa approved during Covid-19. Let’s understand the travel restrictions and exceptions here: 

Who can travel to New Zealand now without new requests?

The country borders are banned to most of the travelers and new visa applications, and requests are only accepted in rare scenarios. One can travel to New Zealand without requesting special permission only if 

  • He/she is a New Zealand citizen or a permanent resident
  • He/she has valid travel conditions (Not for someone who got a resident visa outside New Zealand and never used it to travel there)
  • He/she is a diplomat who holds a post in New Zealand

Who can travel to New Zealand with Special Permission?

New Zealand Immigration has recently announced a New border exception for

  • Someone who has a job or business in New Zealand and hold a valid work visa, resident visa, or an essential skills visa and had worked in New Zealand for at least 2 years previously or stayed there for a minimum 1 year
  • Spouse and dependent children of these visa holders

However, this process will be done in phases and currently, only 850 visa holders will be able to get this special request. To know more, check here.

Who can apply for a Critical Purpose Visa?

Rest anyone wishes to travel to New Zealand for a critical purpose can request for approval. The reason for travel must be listed on the list of critical purpose reasons to travel. One can refer to this list mentioned on the New Zealand Immigration site or click here to visit the page. 

How to request to travel under a critical purpose?

If anyone who meets the criteria to travel under the critical purpose must submit an online request form. If you are travelling as an ‘other critical worker’ then you need to ask your employer to do this for you. Once New Zealand Immigration agrees that you have a critical reason then you will be asked to apply for: 

A Critical Purpose Visitor Visa (If you do not already have a visa)


A Variation of Your Visa (If you already have a work or student visa)

Once the request is submitted you are expected to get a response within 2 working days. However, it may vary depending on your request and the complexity of it. Also, before you apply for the visa, make sure you check your country restrictions, flight availability and any other country regulations where you may need to transit on the way.