Learn all about the New Zealand visitors visa - who needs one before arrival, who doesn't and the qualifying criteria.

New Zealand Visitors Visa

new zealand visitor visaA New Zealand visitors visa is required if you are planning on visiting New Zealand. The process differs depending on whether you are from a visa waiver country or not. Where you are not applications for a New Zealand visitors visa should be made before entering New Zealand and the visa should be in your possession by the time you travel.

Also note a visitors visa may be applicable even if you are just traveling through New Zealand, where an application for a transit visa may be required.

Visitors visa for those from a country enjoying the visa waiver

What is a visa waiver country?

If you are coming to New Zealand from a visa waiver country it means you do not have to obtain a New Zealand visitors visa before your arrival. However, there are still requirements that must be met.

Visa waiver does not mean Visa free

Those who are fortunate enough to be traveling from a visa waiver country need not apply for a New Zealand visitors visa before traveling. Do not assume that a visa waiver means you do not need a visa! You still require a visitors visa, it is just applied for and issued at the airport on arrival.

Note: If the you are from a visa waiver country but going to New Zealand to look for work you may still need a visa.

Requirements for applicants from Visa Waiver Countries for Visiting New Zealand.

  • Proof that you intend to leave the country. For example onward or return plane tickets.
  • Proof of sufficient funds for your stay. This must equate to a minimum of NZ$1000 per person per month of the visit. This may be in the form of cash, traveller’s cheques, bank drafts, or, credit cards with sufficient credit. If your accommodation has already been paid for, the proof of sufficient funds is lowered to a minimum of NZ$400 per person per month. Proof of these funds will be required in the same format as above along with proof that you have paid for your accommodation.
  • Instead of sufficient funds you may also have an acceptable sponsor. In this case a declaration from the sponsor will be required stating they will pay for accommodation and maintenance.
  • That your trip to New Zealand has a lawful purpose.
  • You are a bone fide applicant.

What is a lawful purpose for visiting New Zealand?

A lawful purpose for a visitors visa constitutes the following:

  • A holiday.
  • A sightseeing trip.
  • A family and / or social visit.
  • Participation in an amateur sport.
  • A business consultation.
  • Receiving medical treatment.
  • You are a guest of the government.

Please note that as a visitor you may not work in New Zealand at all.

Other areas where a ‘lawful purpose’ for a visitors visa may apply

  • Short-term study

If you hold a visitors visa, you may take part in study or training courses when the courses duration does not exceed three calendar months in total per visa. Should you have permission to stay in New Zealand as a visitor for more than 24 months, then the same three months stipulation would apply to each 12 month period.

Children that are of a school age

A holder of a visitors visa who is of a school-going age is permitted to attend an appropriate learning institution. This can be for a maximum of one single period of study for up to three months per calendar year. It is a requirement that the study period is completed within the calendar year. Also note that those who have finished term four of the previous year on a visitors visa may not commence term one of the next year on a visitors visa.

Circumstances that fall outside of this criteria would require the applicant (student) to obtain a student visa.

What is a bona fide visitor?

First and foremost it a visitor who genuinely seeks to stay in New Zealand on a temporary basis. The bona fide criteria also means you must have been determined as an applicant who remain in New Zealand lawfully, will not breach your visitor visa conditions and are able to leave or be deported from New Zealand if required.

How do Immigration New Zealand decide if I am a bona fide applicant for visitors visa?

Immigration New Zealand will consider various factors. They give the below as examples of some, but not all, of the factors taken into account.

  • Any evidence of genuine and lawful purpose that you have submitted
  • The ability to leave New Zealand or be deported to your country of citizenship
  • Your immigration history in New Zealand
  • Your personal circumstances such as any family ties in your home country and in New Zealand
  • Any personal, financial, employment or other commitments in your home country and in New Zealand
  • Any other circumstances that may discourage you from leaving New Zealand when your visa expires.

What’s the process for visa waiver countries for visiting New Zealand?

As you do not make an application for New Zealand visitors visa before entry, by virtue of the fact you are from a visa waiver country, you are deemed to have applied by the completion of your New Zealand passenger arrival card. If you are subsequently allowed to enter New Zealand you will also be granted a visitors visa.

As the visitors visa is granted at the airport is electronic, do not be surprised if you do not receive a stamp or label on your passport.

How long can I stay in New Zealand?

The easiest way to calculate how long you can stay is:

  • Look at your intended departure date from New Zealand
  • Count back 12 months from this date
  • Within this 12 month period you can stay no longer than 6 months.
  • Each visit is limited to 3 months at a time. Unless you are from the UK and then it can be for 6 months.

Requirements of citizens for non visa waiver countries for visiting New Zealand

What are the requirements for a New Zealand Visitors Visa

If you do not qualify for a visa waiver then you must meet the conditions below:

  • Passport requirements – Your passport must be presented with your New Zealand visitors visa application. It must have an expiry date of 3 months beyond the date of your visit. This period is reduced to one month if your country of citizenship has a local consul in New Zealand.
  • Proof that you intend to leave New Zealand. It is essential that you can prove that you intend to leave New Zealand within the validity period of your visitors visa. This can be shown with either an open ended or confirmed airplane ticket. Your intention can also be proven with written confirmation from a travel agent that they have booked you such a ticket. In both cases the ticket or confirmation must either be back or forward to your country of citizenship or back or forward to a country you have permission to enter.
  • Proof that you have sufficient funds for your stay. Proof must be given of NZ$ 1000 per month per person. This is reduced to NZ$400 where you can provide proof of booked accommodation. Such proof can take the form of cash, traveller’s cheques, and credit card with sufficient credit on them or bank drafts. Where sponsorship is taking place instead of proving you have sufficient funds an undertaking of your accommodation and maintenance costs must be given.
  • That you have a lawful purpose for a visitors visa (as above)
  • That you are a bona fide applicant for Visitors Visa.

How long can I stay in New Zealand?

The easiest way to calculate how long you (holiday makers) can stay is:

  • Look at your intended date of departure from New Zealand
  • Count back 18 months from this date
  • You can stay no more than 9 months during this period.

There is a possible exception to this where you are considered a genuine visitor / tourist. In these instances, you may apply after 9 months for a further 3 months to complete your travels.

General Information on the New Zealand visitors visa

What can’t I do on a New Zealand Visitors Visa?

Holders of a New Zealand visitors visa may not:

  • Work whilst in New Zealand (unless on a work visa).
  • Study for more than three months while in New Zealand (unless you are granted a student visa).
  • Break any of New Zealand’s laws.
  • Stay beyond the time period specified on the New Zealand Visitors Visa.

Enquire about your New Zealand visitors visa here

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