In March I noted how New Zealand is adding a new ETA requirement for visitors from select countries as of October 1, 2019, and the application process is now live. With this, travelers will need to fill out forms before their trip, and pay a 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 this 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, though they also note that it can be approved in as little as 10 minutes. 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 & IVL cost?
The ETA process can be completed either through New Zealand Immigration’s website or app. 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.
What I didn’t realize is that there’s a separate International Visitor Conservation & Tourism Levy of 35NZD. I was under the impression that the surcharge was included in the 9-12NZD, but as it turns out, that’s separate. So total you can expect to pay 44-46NZD.
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.”
How does the ETA process work?
The whole reason for this post is that New Zealand’s ETA application is now available online. You just need to enter basic personal details, including any criminal history, your passport details, and more.
Not only is applying through the app cheaper, but you can also then scan your passport, which might save you time. The entire application should take just a couple of minutes.
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 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.
While we knew this was coming, it’s now possible to apply for your New Zealand ETA online. The process is easy, and the ETA as such costs just 9-12NZD.
What I wasn’t initially aware of is that there’s a separate 35NZD IVL. While I’m generally not a fan of these kinds of fees, New Zealand is one of the most beautiful countries in the world, and I hope they actually use the money to conserve the country, rather than just to boost revenue.
(Tip of the hat to Johnathon)