New Zealand Gradually Reopens Its Borders to Travellers

New Zealand has announced its gradual plan of reopening the country's borders. The 5-stage process will last at least until October.

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New Zealand officials have announced that the country will soon start the gradual reopening of the country's borders. The process, however, is expected to last until October at the earliest. 

The emergence of the Omicron variant worldwide thwarted New Zealand's reopening plans. The country's borders have been remaining closed for almost two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with only one exception of a travel bubble with Australia. The reopening is expected to be executed in 5 stages and will start this month.

First travelers allowed in February and March

From February 27th, the country's authorities first plan to allow New Zealand vaccinated citizens and residents returning from Australia.

From March 13th, in turn, those citizens and residents coming from other countries all over the world will be allowed to enter New Zealand.

In both cases, travelers will be subject to a 10-day self-isolation upon arrival. 

Reopening plans for further months

In July, the country's authorities plan to welcome fully vaccinated travelers from Australia and other countries who can travel to New Zealand visa-free, including the United States.

A 10-day self-isolation will be necessary for them as well. New Zealand authorities also announced that by October, all visa categories will be reopened, including student visas. 

Entry requirements

All visitors to New Zealand will need to perform a pre-departure test (currently it is a PCR test that must be taken within 48 hours of the planned departure time).

Additionally, they will be required to take three rapid antigen tests at the airport - on Day 1, 5, or 6, and one extra test. 

Visa-free countries

Stage 4 of the reopening plan will allow travelers from visa-free countries to enter New Zealand. They will be able to travel to New Zealand under the same conditions as before the pandemic, which means that they still need to obtain a New Zealand eTA.

New Zealand eTA is necessary to enter the country both via air and sea. NZeTA enables multiple stays up to 3 months while remaining valid for 2 years.

Its holder is allowed to enter New Zealand many times throughout eTA's entire validity period. 

Since NZeTA processing time is 3 business days, eligible applicants should remember to submit an online application early enough to receive their travel authorizations on time.

New Zealand well-prepared for the reopening of its borders

By the time New Zealand starts the border's reopening, it will be one of the most vaccinated countries on the globe prepared for new COVID-19 outbreaks and possible new variants detected in the future.

A phased reopening approach is aimed at reducing the risk of a significant increase in coronavirus cases, at the same time prioritizing the return of New Zealand citizens and residents, as well as skilled workers, to the country. 

The current reopening plan was already announced in November 2021 when fully vaccinate New Zealanders were expected to return from Australia quarantine-free in January 2022. However, it was postponed due to the emergence of Omicron and its global widespread. 

Key stages of the NZ reopening plan

  • Fully vaccinated New Zealanders returning from Australia will be allowed to return to their home country from 27th February.
  • Fully vaccinated visitors from the remaining countries in the world, including skilled workers, will be allowed to NZ from March 13th.
  • Up to 5,000 international students will be allowed to NZ from April 12th.
  • Approximately from July, Australian citizens and other travelers from visa-free countries will be allowed to visit NZ.
  • In October, NZ will welcome all other visitors, including students, who may enter NZ visa-free.
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