New Zealand Adding ETA Requirement For Visitors

Filed Under: Travel

New Zealand is one of my favorite countries in the world, and soon travelers from some countries will find themselves filling out forms online (and paying a small fee) to visit the country.

New Zealand adding new ETA requirement

From October 1, 2019, New Zealand will require an Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) for visitors from Visa Waiver Countries (this includes countries like the United States). This will also include paying an International Visitor Conservation and Tourism Levy.

As it’s described, the ETA will “improve the way travelers are assessed before they arrive in New Zealand, and help reduce the time needed for border clearance and strengthen border security.”

Who will need an ETA for New Zealand?

An ETA will be required for those visiting from a visa waiver country, those traveling through New Zealand from a transit visa waiver country, cruise ship passengers, and permanent residents of Australia.

When do you need to request a New Zealand ETA?

You’re supposed to request your ETA well in advance of your trip, as it can take up to 72 hours for it to be approved. If you don’t hold a valid ETA when you check in for your flight, you won’t be allowed to board.

They say that you may be able to request one at check in, but they can’t guarantee that it will be processed or approved in time.

So it sounds to me like in practice these will usually process much faster than 72 hours, but you never know.

How much does a New Zealand ETA cost?

The ETA process can be completed either through New Zealand Immigration’s website or app. They’ll be up starting in July, so you can’t apply yet. Interestingly the pricing is different depending on which you use. The cost is:

  • 9NZD for requests submitted through the mobile app
  • 12NZD for requests submitted using the website

The ETA will be valid for multiple visits and up to two years.

It’s said that the fee will “contributed directly to the tourism infrastructure and to help protect and enhance the natural environment [visitors] will enjoy during their stay in New Zealand.”

Is an ETA a visa?

I’ve intentionally avoided going down this rabbit hole until now, because this gets some surprisingly strong opinions (see my recent post about the EU adding an ETA/visa requirement for visitors).

A visa is defined as follows:

an endorsement on a passport indicating that the holder is allowed to enter, leave, or stay for a specified period of time in a country.

To me this 100% is an electronic visa, since that’s exactly the purpose of this. But then there are semantics:

  • Some suggest it’s not a visa because this applies to people from visa waiver countries
  • At the same time, Australia acknowledges that their ETA program is a type of visa

Really it all comes down to how countries want to market things. To me, when you have to fill out an application, pay money, and have to be approved, it’s a type of visa. Others will disagree, though I’ve never understood how they justify differentiating something like a Vietnam e-visa from this.

Bottom line

While I’m generally not a huge fan of countries adding fees to visit, this fee isn’t a big deal at all, and if the money is going towards preserving New Zealand, I especially don’t mind. This is something to be aware of, though.

(Tip of the hat to YHBU)


  1. Call it whatever.

    It’s an official (greedy) government (extortion) money for people without visa and legal way of mining (spying) information/biometrics of travellers.

    If they just want money, they would have already added that to your ticket in forms of government fees.

  2. @ Eskimo – have you ever served in the armed forces? Have you ever defended anything (other than your Apple laptop)?…
    Every country is OBLIGATED to defend its borders, and to weed out unwanted. This is the first step. Good move, NZ!

  3. InsanityNow – it has nothing whatsoever to do with the massacre. A huge proportion of Kiwis dislike foreigners visiting/migrating (no matter how much tourists insist the person they were handing over money to was nice to them – wonder why!). This has been years in the making and I fully expect the amount to keep creeping up.

  4. Given the recent ads by Air New Zealand suggesting transiting through NZ to get to Australia, it’s interesting that this also applies to transit passengers. That would mean applying for a transit ETA for NZ and a visitor’s ETA for Australia. I wonder what that will do to, e.g., YVR-AKL-SYD itineraries.

    Next development: someone will put out an app to track ETA expiries.

  5. @Callum — “A huge proportion of Kiwis dislike foreigners visiting/migrating…” That’s complete BS. As a Kiwi who now lives permanently abroad and travels widely, I can’t think of a more tolerant and accepting society. And just to be clear, I don’t actually like NZ for several reasons, but that isn’t one of them.

  6. It probably has as much to do with that family running amok not too long ago as it does the Aussie Nazi-nutbar.

  7. @Malc — well said! Also as a Kiwi from an immigrant family, I now live in one of the biggest US cities permenantly and travel to at least 10 countries every year. I struggle to find a genuinely more inclusive and unified society than NZ. The inclusiveness of NZ and the caring nature of fellow kiwis contributed largely to the difficulty of making a decision to live overseas for me.

    @Callum — hope our experiences help shape your view on NZ.

  8. If you define a “visa” as giving a country money in return for any sort of dispensation to enter, sure. Diplomatically and practically there is a world of difference between a Visa and advance processing through ESTA/ETA-type schemes. If you don’t care about all of that, then fine. Call it peaches.

  9. Call it whatever one wants. Rationalize it however one wants – “preserving” New Zealand?? It’s an additional step and cost to visiting NZ. Not a deal breaker in the least. They should just have it tacked to your airline ticket. People complain about visa fees being imposed haven’t looked at the cost of an airline ticket with the actual fare excluded.

  10. It’s a bit more than $11 – the ETA will also be the mechanism for collecting the new $35 international traveller tax that comes in at the same time.
    They were both proposed about a year ago and will share the same collection platform.

  11. NZ has a population of what 4 million people? No idea why people take this country seriously. They get a seat at the U.N. While Long Island In NY has a population of 7 million. And the only respect they get are the NY Mets. And most people think the Mets are a joke.

  12. @Sgan Aloof

    Pun intended.
    Obviously you never served in one. In the armed forces they teach you to read and think. I never at once said remove border checks or security. Charging more money doesn’t make the country safer either.

    Oh, I don’t use Apple laptop, I think Kiwi tastes much better if it cost the same.

  13. As an Ex-pat NZer this feels much more like reciprocity for the proliferation of ETA’s out there with US, Canada, soon to be Europe. If we NZers are going to be subject to it elsewhere I have no problem reciprocating.

    I chose to ignore the ignorant comments regarding the tragedy 10 days ago from people who don’t know any better and ask that they respect our inclusive society.

  14. So it seems I slightly misread earlier. Transiting from a transit visa waiver country will require an ETA, but it seems this doesn’t apply to people transiting from a visa waiver country. There are two separate lists of countries in play. So, @Rob, if you are from a transit visa waiver country, such as Bermuda, then, yes, you will need an ETA to transit. (Presumably they won’t ding you for the International Visitor Levy.) And if you’re from a visa waiver country, such as Croatia, then apparently you won’t need an ETA to transit. Links to the two lists are found on the NZ Government page linked at the top of the article.

    That said, as to the origin of these things, in my view it’s a symptom of the increase in security and surveillance being built into Western culture. Interesting that the Five Eyes are all now in process of being covered by these. I doubt the airlines are upset, too, as it reduces their liability with respect to having to transport people refused entry.

    I had the privilege of visiting New Zealand last year and thoroughly enjoyed it. Beautiful country and wonderful, hospitable people. I’d go back in a heartbeat. Immigration was fast and easy, so I seriously doubt that the ETA will expedite things. It was faster to get through immigration in New Zealand than it was on my return home. Customs was another story, as it took quite an effort to convince them I didn’t have any fresh fruit.

    And, to be honest, $12 isn’t much of a money grab. Even the $35 IVL seems like nickels and dimes compared to the amount of VAT I paid for goods and services on my visit.

  15. I have visited New Zealand since I was kid and have been coming back to this once beautiful country until last year to find out it has been changed drastically. NZ is no more as calm as it used to be. There are so many Chinese investment and immigration there to make it more like a Chinese oversea territory now . How can you find it charming when you walk on a remote country side in south island and suddenly a downtown neighborhood is all of Chinese signs and souvenir stores to sell baby formula? Now NZ government dares to charge ETA to its once non-visa required allies?

  16. @shannon please stay home. You’re “observations” are unnecessary and excessively exaggerated and mostly untrue.

    Anyone who thinks that countries should not adapt to changes in the tourist mix are myopic

  17. Correction to the correction:

    I’ve dug deeper and according to the NZ Government fact sheet for the tourism industry,

    “Passengers from a visa waiver country or a transit visa waiver country who are transiting through New Zealand are also required to hold an ETA from 1 October 2019, even if New Zealand is not their final destination.”

    So my initial reading was in fact correct.

    The fact sheet (pdf) is here

  18. Hmmm what’s the big deal? I’m from New Zealand and we have to pay an ESTA fee to visit the USA or even transit the USA so it seems only fair we impose the same

  19. this is because of the shooting. I just wish people would return to normal after shootings instead of blocking websites encoring the news searching phones for vpns at airport and if you refuse you pay a 5k fine and are deported. INSANITY

  20. As much as there’s speculation about the shooting it will not make much difference. The apparent shooter is Australian and even with the ETA Australian citizens are still entitled under the trans-tasman agreement. This would more be to follow how the EU/US/ etc all require ETAs

  21. How anyone can become excited over a $15 immigration fee, when from nowhere NYC hotels are suddenly extorting $30+/night “resort fees”. Makes those crazy wifi charges look reasonable as at least you could choose not to go online.

  22. Adam has hit the nail on the head – this would have been planned long some time in advance. With Australian passport holders being exempt from this, it clearly has nothing to do with the recent tragedy and the timing is most likely a mere coincidence.

  23. @Rob C Australian passport holders would’ve been exempted anyway. Under the TT agreement as we get equivalent rights as a NZ citizen (and vice versa)

  24. @Woot “Well, the US stsrted this bs, so dont complain…”

    The US has started a lot of BS; such as, passengers not allowed to carry liquids and/or aerosols into the plane cabin, cash reporting requirements if traveling with $10,000 or more, ETA requirements prior to checking in and boarding the flights, etc…

    I hope other countries’ airlines don’t follow that fcking cuntry’s airlines’ policy of requiring passengers to pay fees for checked baggage. FCUK YOU MURICA for creating and starting so much unnecessary hassles to people living in other countries!

  25. Eh why is it cheaper to pay on your device than on the website? Sneaky feckers trying to get people to use their mobile devices, opening themselves up for further surveillance and data mining. What a joke. In the space of a few weeks that country has gone beserk.

  26. I just read the “Factsheet for the tourism sector” PDF at the bottom of the NZ gov webpage Ben provided the link to. They want your photo too. This is a visa in everything but name.

  27. This coupled with the draconian IT search powers makes NZ (and AU) a no-go nation for anyone pursuing a self-sovereign life style. SE Asia / ASEAN is being far more sensible. The irony about the “preserving NZ for whites” thing is that the whites are the Johnny some latelys to NZ in bigger picture terms. It’s the originals who should be telling whitey to go home to Europe. Same for Australia – whites out. At least the Sith African blicks have the right idea. White colonial powers need to have done the genocide thing properly (as USA did and Israel is trying to do), or move out 100% when they had back power. Sticking around is simply inviting the inevitable.

  28. If I needed any more reasons not to visit my least favourite country on this planet I could add this tax.

    Work used to take me to NZ quite often and as I learned more about it I grew to detest the place and the people. I know that puts me at odds with many others but it’s a good job we’re all different.

  29. America starts a lot of things, some are bad and some are not. Charging for bags? Isn’t the other airlines adopting it just as bad as the ones started? Dunno how some can shift the blame to US airlines on this. All those european airlines that followed suit are as guilty. Fuel surcharges? Yep european airlines are as guilty. But yeah, blame everything on US, if that makes you sleep at better at night.

  30. We are visiting NZ in October and had heard nothing of this SO thank you very much for that info.

  31. Not to go down the rabbit hole but since a visa is defined as “an endorsement on a passport” and this travel authorization does not have such an endorsement on your passport then, by definition, an ESTA or similar advanced processing is not a visa.

  32. First line of wikipedia entry on a travel visa

    “A visa (from the Latin charta visa, meaning “paper that has been seen”)[1] is a conditional authorization granted by a country to a foreigner, allowing them to enter, remain within, or to leave that country”

    Sounds like ESTA or ETA to me.
    As per wikipedia:

    “A visa most commonly takes the form of a sticker endorsed in the applicant’s passport or other travel document. ”

    So an endorsement in a passport is just the physical form that a visa sometimes takes. There are many eVisas out there that are just digital in a nature and are not in your passport but they’re still visas. ESTA/ETA are just visas with a different name so that they can live a legal grey area. But in terms of how they work, they’re essentially visas.

  33. I have no problem with visas, electronic or otherwise – I’m used to it as someone from India. My issue is more with tourist fees – I read that NZ was contemplating those as well, similar to what Venice has enforced and other cities/countries are contemplating. My general rule of thumb is: if the locals are SO unhappy with tourists, I should respect their choice. Don’t want me there? No problem – I won’t come. It’s a self-respect thing. Add to that the widespread racism a non-white person can expect to encounter, and it makes for a particularly unattractive proposition.

  34. I am so confused. If I am transiting in AKL as part of an ORD-AKL-SYD RT ($1500 mistake fare deal) do I need to get this new ETA? Information on their website makes no sense.

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