New Zealand considers introducing ETAs for tourists

Plans to strengthen New Zealand border security by requiring most airline and cruise passengers to provide better information before leaving their home country have been released for consultation by Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway.

“Our tourism industry is in great health, leading to a huge increase in the number of people coming to New Zealand in recent years, so we need to manage our arrivals and our border security more effectively,” explained Lees-Galloway. “To help with this the Government proposes to establish an Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) for most international visitors who are granted a visa on arrival in New Zealand, for which public consultation is now open,” he added.

Under an ETA, applicants would provide similar information to what they would using the present arrival card. This includes declarations of any criminal convictions. The ETA would last two years and cost about NZ$9.

However, it is believed that holding an ETA will help speed up the process at the border as the information will be quicker for border staff to access.

“New Zealand citizens and residents will be exempt from an ETA, along with holders of valid New Zealand visas and Australian citizens,” Lees-Galloway continued. “Most visitors and transit passengers from countries that do not require a visa to travel to New Zealand would need to hold an ETA, similar to the process already used by many other countries.”

The Minister also announced the opening of public consultation on a review of immigration fees and levies to ensure they reflect the actual costs of providing services and managing risks associated with immigration. The last review was carried out in 2015.

“This review aims to correct the over and under recovery in different visa categories that have emerged over time,” Mr Lees-Galloway says. “The proposed overall increase in fees and levies will help fund a number of initiatives announced in this year’s Budget such as extra immigration staff at the border and increased funding for the Immigration Advisers Authority.

“The proposed increase in visa fees and levies is a small part of the total cost of visiting, working or studying in New Zealand.  New Zealand charges remain competitive compared to other countries such as Australia, the United Kingdom and Canada.”

Final decisions on the ETA and visa fees are expected in September. If the proposed changes are adopted, any introduction of an ETA would happen in the second half of 2019 whereas fees and levy changes are expected to come into effect this November.

Article published 18th June 2018