New Zealand to axe pre-departure COVID-19 tests for travellers earlier than planned

Jun 16, 2022

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Travellers heading to New Zealand in the coming weeks will be pleased to know the country’s entry rules are changing.

From Tuesday, 21 June, eligible travellers from around the globe heading to New Zealand won’t need to take a pre-departure COVID-19 test to gain entry.

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Specifically, this new rule comes into effect for “travellers whose first international flight to New Zealand departs after 11.59pm (NZT) on Monday, June 20”, says its government’s website — though anyone arriving before this time will still need to arrange their pre-departure test in order to get in.

Travellers planning to enter New Zealand will still need to be fully vaccinated (with only a few exceptions to this rule, including under 16s and those who can prove they are medically exempt), as well as take two lateral flow tests (LFT) — also called rapid antigen tests (RAT) — once they’ve landed, one on their first day and the other on day five/six, reporting any positive results.

Originally, these new rules were set to come into effect on 31 July, but were brought forward — as the NZ government’s Unite against COVID-19 arm explained: “The challenges pre-departure tests pose to visitors are now no longer outweighed by the public health benefits.

“We’ve taken a careful and staged approach to reopening our borders to ensure we aren’t overwhelmed with an influx of COVID-19 cases.

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“Our strategy has worked and as a result, it’s safe to lift pre-departure test requirements much sooner than planned… with cases continuing to decline despite over 387,000 arrivals since borders reopened, there is evidence this measure can now be lifted.

“Around 90% of international arrivals undertake their required testing once they are in the country, with only a 2-3% positivity rate. So we don’t anticipate a significant increase in border cases once the requirement is lifted.”

July will also usher in a few changes to New Zealand’s visa applications, further opening up the country.

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From July 4, those with an Accredited Employer Work Visa or wanting to apply for a Work Visa will be allowed entry. And from 11.59pm on 31 July, “all visa categories including tourist, visitor and student visas will reopen for applications for travellers from anywhere in the world”, though, again, most people do need to be vaccinated in order to enter New Zealand.

For the full list of New Zealand’s current entry requirements, visit its government website here.

Featured photo by DEA / C. DANI I. JESKE / De Agostini via Getty Images.

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