The government has acknowledged the rising concerns of new strains of COVID-19 for the New Zealanders. The Government says they continue to monitor overseas developments very closely, and are constantly reviewing and strengthening New Zealand’s response to COVID-19.

The Government today announced that passengers from any destination -excluding Australia, Antarctica and some Pacific Islands (Fiji, Cook Islands, Niue, Samoa, Tokelau, Tonga, Kiribati, New Caledonia, Tuvalu, Marshall Islands, Vanuatu, Federated States of Micronesia, Solomon Islands, Nauru and Palau) - will be required to undergo Day 0/1 testing upon arrival in New Zealand, starting from Monday, January 18.

Routine Day 3 and Day 12 tests will continue as usual.

“We are also expanding the pre-departure test requirement to all countries and territories excluding Australia, Antarctica and the Pacific Islands listed above.

“Our 14-day managed isolation and quarantine system provides one of the strongest border defences anywhere in the world. These are additional measures to further reduce the risk of people infected with COVID-19 boarding flights while infected,” Minister of Covid-19 Response, Chris Hipkins said.

New Zealand is at Alert Level 1 and we currently have no cases of COVID-19 in the community. No Alert Level change is currently oin the cards.

“The decision to change Alert Levels will be made if/when there is community transmission. It is a careful decision, made by a group of ministers or Cabinet. They seek advice from senior officials including the Director-General of Health. We are well prepared to change levels if we need to.

“Everyone needs to play their part by using the NZ COVID Tracer app, scanning QR codes, turning on the Bluetooth contact tracing feature, washing their hands and staying home if sick to unite against COVID-19,” Minister Hipkins said.

Pre-departure testing for UK and US arrivals

Travellers from the UK or the US must have a negative COVID-19 pre-departure test, if they arrive in New Zealand after 11.59pm (NZT) on 15 January 2021. 

Pre-departure testing is an additional measure to further reduce the risk of new COVID-19 cases in New Zealand, in line with our elimination strategy. It is complementary to existing testing requirements, such as Day 0/1 testing.  

The test must be taken no more than 72 hours before the scheduled departure time of the first international leg of a flight. 

New Zealand is currently accepting results from the following types of pre-departure tests:  

  • PCR and RT-PCR tests,  
  • LAMP tests, or  
  • antigen tests.  

All tests must be processed at a laboratory. A hard copy or electronic copy of the test result from an accredited laboratory will be acceptable proof of a negative test.  

Upon arrival in New Zealand, travellers will be required to produce either hard copy or electronic proof of a negative test result to a Customs officer during passport processing.

Travellers are strongly advised to check with their airline about New Zealand’s pre-departure testing requirements, and to check the requirements for other countries they will transit through, as these may be different to New Zealand’s requirements.  

From 29 January 2021, arriving in New Zealand from the US or UK without evidence of an approved negative test or medical certificate will mean a fee or fine of not more than $1,000.

Please go to the Unite Against COVID website to learn more.

Exemptions to pre-departure testing

Certain categories of people will be exempt from the pre-departure testing requirement:

  • Children under two years of age (up to 24 months)  
  • People who can present a medical certificate verifying they unable to undertake a test for medical reasons but have been examined no earlier than 72 hours before departure and do not exhibit symptoms of COVID-19. 
  • People who can present a medical certificate verifying they have recovered from COVID-19 and are no longer considered infectious. 

In rare cases, the requirement of a test 72 hours in advance may be extended to 96 hours, if a person’s flight has been delayed or cancelled, or test results haven’t been received in time. In this situation, the flight must be rescheduled or rebooked to depart within 24 hours. 

All travellers, including anyone exempted from the pre-departure testing requirement, will still be required to complete the 14 days mandatory isolation which applies to all arrivals into New Zealand.