Now Live: New Zealand’s New ETA Application

Filed Under: Travel

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.

Bottom line

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)

  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.

  35. All you Americans complaning about the tourist fee obviously have no idea that the US charges $10 of the $14 ESTA fee for ‘tourist promotion’

  36. Phil Duncan – That’s because very few people take any active interest in the countries they are visiting – just expressing amazement that people are friendly to them while they’re trying to get their money!

    New Zealand is very similar to a rural US area. The people are ignorant, dislike foreigners, don’t care about the environment (the idea that New Zealand is a green country is beyond absurd) and don’t particularly care about each other (perfectly happy to live in a low wage/high expense economy because the poor just don’t work hard enough and deserve it) – all with an obnoxiously arrogant “New Zealand is the best!” attitude. People are shocked about the recent “send them back” stuff in the US? I hear that here constantly.

    All that being said, it’s a beautiful country (though most countries are) and a great place for a holiday.

  37. Rob C – Correct, this has been talked about for years. The only thing a typical New Zealander likes about foreigners visiting is their wallet, and people are angry that many tourists have the audacity to do things like sleep in their RV instead of paying for a hotel every night so aren’t “contributing enough”.

  38. NZ border control already discouraged me from future visits to the country, I only considered transfer at AKL. But now they want to know everything about me, even when I’m not getting into the country.

  39. If NZ is so good why do a massive proportion of them come to Australia and Immigrants just using the NZ as the backdoor residency method to Aus??? Collecting better wages and more opportunities in Aus while NZ is simply fully sold off to Asians.
    Been to Auckland lately? Chinese Mandarin or Cantonese will soon probably be listed as a national langauge to go with the street and shop front signage there.

  40. Time for AA to cut LAX-AKL flight, or at least make it seasonal. First, the flight only had load factor of ~60% of a tiny 787-8 on average. Then, virtually no connecting traffic. Finally, $12+$35 (conservation fee) is just outrageous, many will reconsider their plans to visit, especially when they have couple this with another Australian ETA (since most travellers visit both countries in one trip)

    Screw you, Jacinda Ardern and your phony immigration minister Iain Lees-Galloway. You’re putting NZ tourism at real risk.

  41. @ Lucky – Part of this is really poorly worded as Australian Citizens Are Exempt From All Of This but if you are NOT an Australian citizen and only a permanent resident (living in Australia) then you do have to pay this

    You said “ and permanent residents of Australia “ which makes it out to say anyone living in Australia needs this. Sorry thanks just trying to clarify and not cause confusion

  42. Wow, there seem to be a lot of hate for NZ requiring foreigners to pay for a visa fee. What’s the big deal? Lots of countries require such a thing. It’s not like they are charging $150 per head. If you can’t comfortably pony up $30usd, then why would NZ want you there in the first place? At the end of the day, there is no benefit for NZ unless tourists are dropping coins… preferably lots of it. I’ll be going to NZ for the first time in October so sadly I’ll have to pony up for a evisa or whatever NZ government wants to call it. $30 is the least of my worries. I’m more concern about driving on the “other side” of the road! Lol

  43. I think the whole reason for not labelling ETA as visas is because EU will retaliate for any country who imposes visas on its citizens (soon to be an anacronism as ETIAS is the next ETA to be introduced).

  44. Thank God you posted this!
    I booked my Australian/New Zealand trip back a few months ago when Quantas had that crazy first class sale using points.
    I got the Australian Visa but everything online said I did not need one for New Zealand. That would have been a buzzkill not being allowed into the country. Lol

  45. 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.

  46. Visa = authorization to travel to AND enter a country (clearance for entry is made beforehand by a consulate official, upon arrival the clearance is just being cross checked by the immigration official)
    ESTA/ETA = authorization to travel to a country (Clearance for entry is made upon arrival by the immigration official)

  47. “Visa = authorization to travel to AND enter a country (clearance for entry is made beforehand by a consulate official, upon arrival the clearance is just being cross checked by the immigration official)”

    No. See UK Border Force series on numerous South Asian nationals having their student *visas* (actual stickers in their passprots) revoked at Heathrow because they are suspected of working (in UKBF speak “change of circumstances”) (one shot had a UKBF Heathrow official stamp “CANCELLED” on the sticker)

    “ESTA/ETA = authorization to travel to a country (Clearance for entry is made upon arrival by the immigration official)” yes – the Leigh Van Bryan and Emily Bunting “destroy America” case in 2012 (at least Bryan had an ESTA, per his deportation notice on Daily Mail).

  48. NZ is struggling to have money to fund tourist infrastructure, even the likes of public toilets are coming out of a budget meant to be for preserving our wildlife

  49. @Percy Smith: so why is your experience from the UK Border in contradiction to the definition of a visa made in my earlier post? As I mentioned, visas are being cross checked upon arrival – and in your referenced cases visas were obviously revoked because their carriers failed the cross check.

  50. The visas were valid on departure, so carriers did no wrong. The visas were revoked at Heathrow on arrival.

    In the UK Border Force series, most revoked visas were multi-entry student visas, and the holders did work in excess of 20 hours/week during their first stay.

  51. As someone who lives in New Zealand, I can say with some authority that the ETA has primary been introduced as the mandatory mechanism to capture the tourism levy. We’ve had enough of tourists dumping their rubbish in our national parks and ramping up our road toll, so decided that charging the people who directly benefit from our natural environment and roads was the best thing to do. Currently the Department of Conservation doesn’t have the budget to conserve, and is spending time and resources cleaning up the mess of tourists. All the money collected will shore up their bottom line. Consider it a ‘user pay’ model which is highly entrenched in New Zealand culture. The reason why it hasn’t been tacked onto airfares is because A) these fees will not apply to citizens of select Pacific nations, and Australia, and B) the increased cost in monitoring the collection mechanisms among the many airlines that fly to New Zealand.

    I read the white paper on the introduction of this programme, so don’t try to refute me 😉

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