The government has cleared the air on whether 1000 international students recently approved to return to New Zealand will have to pay for the compulsory Managed Isolation and Quarantine charges.

Responding to a query sent by the Indian Weekender following the announcement by the Education Minister Chris Hipkins last week a Managed Isolation and Quarantine spokesperson confirmed that those international students who have left NZ before border closures would be exempted from the cost of MIQ.

Earlier on Thursday, January 14, Minister Hipkins while announcing the decision allowing 1000 previously enrolled international students back into the country had said, “The students will return to New Zealand in phases, beginning with a cohort of 300 that will be able to return from April, with the remaining students returning throughout the year as MIQ availability allows.”

“The students would need to book their space through the allocation system and would be billed the standard charges for managed isolation,” Hipkins said.

This announcement had created some confusion, especially as it appeared to be in contradiction to a previous announcement by the government in July last year at the time of setting up of “co-payment of MIQ charges” that exempted all temporary visa holders who were ordinarily resident in NZ and had left shores before borders were closed on March 19, 2020.

International students are anyway required to do more to support themselves in New Zealand, with the living expenses that are required for international students to be granted a visa now raised to $20,000 – up from $15,000, along with enduring exorbitantly higher travelling costs in the current restricted global travel environment.

The Indian Weekender had sought a clarification on this from the office of the Minister of Education, which was eventually responded by the office of the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment.

“The Government recovers some of the costs for managed isolation to share the costs in a way that fairly reflects the benefits to both the New Zealand public of having a robust system, and those who leave and enter the country.

“Temporary visa holders will have to pay, unless they left New Zealand on or before March 19 2020, and were ordinarily resident in New Zealand as of March 19 2020. Ordinarily resident means having lived in New Zealand for 183 days (six months) in a total of the previous 12 months,” the official spokesperson said.

This response clears the confusion and now all those international students who were enrolled in universities and educational institutes and were living in NZ and were innocuously caught overseas at the time of the border-closing will be exempted as per the government policy from MIQ charges.

Border exception details

Students with questions about this border exception should contact their providers. The Ministry of Education will continue to work with tertiary education providers to manage this process.

To be eligible for this border exception, students must

  • hold, or have held a visa to study in 2020.
  • be studying towards a bachelor’s degree level or above qualification.
  • have studied in New Zealand in 2019 or 2020 toward their current qualification.
  • be returning to study with their current provider.
  • need to be in-country to complete their study.

Priority will be given to students who are closest to graduation.

Charges for managed isolation

$3,100 for the first or only person in the room (whether that is an adult or a child) with $950 for each additional adult and $475 for each additional child (3-17 years old, inclusive) sharing that room, all GST inclusive. There will be no charge for children under the age of 3 if they are staying in a room with another person.

If you are liable to pay, you will be charged per room.


Note: This exemption will not be applying on any future new international students who are allowed to enter to NZ in future. For more information on who is liable for charges please visit: