Starting October 1, 2019, U.S. citizens along with citizens of other countries who have a visa waiver agreement with New Zealand will need to obtain an Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) before entering the country. For most travelers, obtaining the authorization will involve a quick online registration, payment of a small fee for the ETA, and an additional International Visitor Conservation and Tourism Levy (IVL) payment charged in the same transaction.
Travelers who must already obtain a visa for their trip, including those on a Working Holiday Visa, will not need to obtain this authorization.
Why do I need to obtain this authorization and pay a fee?
The Electronic Travel Authority requirement is being implemented in order to better assess travellers before arrival and lessen the time spent in border clearance, as well as enhance border security. The IVL fee allows you to contribute to tourism infrastructure and the conservation of the natural environment - both very important things for your enjoyment in New Zealand, as well as those who follow you!
The ETA is similar to the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) already used in the United States.
Process and costs
For most travelers the ETA process should be relatively easy, with a quoted 72-hour turnaround time. You can start applying for the ETA and pay your IVL from July 2019 onwards. You can do this in one of two ways:
- Download an app on your mobile phone, which will save you a few bucks on the fee
- Apply through the New Zealand immigration website
The ETA costs $9 NZD through the app or $12 NZD through the New Zealand immigration website. The IVL costs an additional $35 NZD. You will pay these fees in the same transaction.
The ETA and IVL are valid for up to 2 years, for multiple visits to New Zealand.
When should I apply for my ETA?
The New Zealand government will start issuing ETAs through their website or mobile app starting in July 2019. The ETA will be required starting October 1, 2019. When flying into New Zealand, you will need to prove you have this ETA, or else you may not be allowed to board your flight.
Which countries does this apply to?
This authorization applies to all countries with a visa waiver agreement with the New Zealand government. Cruise ship passengers of any nationality, Australian permanent residents (noncitizens), and any cruise or airline crew members are also required to obtain an ETA.
Melissa worked with InterExchange between 2016 and 2019, helping U.S. citizens planning to travel abroad. She traveled to Spain and Ghana before moving to Japan for three years. She now lives in the almost-foreign country of New York City.