NZ launches e-Travel Authority to shore up border security

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of New Zealand has officially launched the country’s new Electronic Travel Authority (NZeTA), requiring visa-wavier entrants to NZ to submit their details for entry approval.

The Authority, first announced in October last year, will give the NZ Government the ability to screen visa-waiver travellers offshore for border and immigration anomalies before gaining entry to the country.

“[When] people don’t have to apply for visas, we only learn about them once they are en route to New Zealand,” the Government said on its announcement of the eTA scheme last year. “We are unable to screen these travellers in advance for border and immigration risks and have a reduced ability to make entering New Zealand smoother and faster as technology evolves.”

The NZeTA will be enforced from 1 October and required for all visitors from visa waiver countries – comprising 60 territories or sovereign states. Visa-waiver visitors without an NZeTA will be stopped at check-in from boarding their flight or cruise.

The Government has released a dedicated mobile app for NZeTA applications, available on iOS and Android platforms; however, requests can also be through NZ's e-visa application website.

Applicants will need to provide passport and contact details, as well as declarations of criminal history and travel intentions. Some “biometric information” will also be captured; although, at this stage, this remains limited to just a snapshot of an applicant’s passport.

New Zealand and Australian citizens will be exempt from the NZeTA; however, Australian permanent residents will now be required to hold an eTA.

The NZeTA scheme is expected to enhance NZ’s existing border security provisions, according to the Government, reducing illegal immigration, smuggling, and biosecurity risks.

“The NZeTA is a quick and easy way to ensure we know more about people travelling to New Zealand from visa waiver countries,” said Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway.

Requests for an NZeTA are expected to take less than 10 minutes to complete by applicants and up to 72 hours to process by the Foreign Affairs office.

This will “bring New Zealand’s border control into line with international best practices, with the United States, Canada and Australia already having electronic travel authorities,” Lees-Galloway said.

The NZeTA will cost NZD$9 via the mobile app and NZD$12 through the website. Visitor requesting an NZeTA will also be concurrently charged NZD$35.00 for the mandatory International Visitor Conservation and Tourism Levy (IVL), raising funds to support environmental conservation and biodiversity schemes within NZ.