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.
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)