COVID-19: New Zealanders in the UK - Frequently Asked Questions
This information addresses some of the frequently asked questions we're receiving from New Zealanders travelling or living in the United Kingdom.
Where to find information about COVID-19 in the UK and NZ
For up-to-date guidance on the UK Government's COVID-19 response, please refer to GOV.UK (external link) website.
For up-to-date guidance on the NZ Government's COVID-19 response, please refer to the COVID19.GOVT.NZ (external link) website.
The following information covers:
- General travel advice
- Travelling to New Zealand
- Other frequently asked travel questions - New Zealanders in the UK
- British nationals in New Zealand - how to get assistance
- NHS advice
- Consular assistance
We currently advise that unless you are returning home to New Zealand, you do not travel at this time.
Almost all flights to New Zealand have now ceased, and even booked travel is being disrupted, so we recognise that not all New Zealanders who want to return home are able to do so.
The Government is committed to helping New Zealanders overseas where we can, but the international situation is complex and changing quickly, and some things are out of our control. Assisted departure flights should not be relied upon to get home.
If you choose to remain travelling (i.e. away from where you normally live) despite our advice, the ability of the New Zealand Government to provide consular assistance may be limited due to restrictions on movement and other services.
If you are able to get a flight, please note that only New Zealand citizens, permanent residents, residents with valid travel conditions and their immediate family (partner or spouse, legal guardian and dependent children under the age of 24) can now enter New Zealand. Immediate family members cannot travel by themselves. They must travel with the New Zealand citizen or resident family member on the same flight to New Zealand. Australian citizens and permanent residents who normally live in New Zealand can still enter New Zealand.
As per Government instructions, everyone entering New Zealand must self-isolate for 14 days immediately upon arrival.
New Zealanders should refer to the SafeTravel website (external link) for travel advisory updates. We encourage all New Zealanders living and travelling overseas to register on SafeTravel (external link) so that we can relay important information to you if the situation changes where you are.
UK travellers (who are not New Zealand citizens, permanent residents or immediate family) should follow Foreign & Commonwealth Office guidance against non-essential international travel as of 17 March 2020. You should also refer to the UK Foreign & Commonwealth's country-by-country Travel Advice (external link).
Your travel insurance may be affected by the outbreak of COVID-19 in your country of destination and the level of our travel advice for that country, especially if we advise against travel to that destination.
My flight has been cancelled/changed, what should I do?
Flights across the world are significantly reducing in capacity and the ability to transit through other countries and territories is reducing due to COVID-19 border restrictions. Almost all flight routes back to New Zealand have ceased, and even booked travel is being disrupted. We strongly recommend contacting your airline, travel agent or travel insurance provider immediately for the latest information.
For details on countries and territories which have COVID-19 related border restrictions affecting foreign nationals, including travellers in transit, please check the International Air Transport Association (IATA) website before you travel. The IATA website (external link) is being continually updated.
What are the best routes for getting back to New Zealand from the UK?
We are aware that the options for returning to New Zealand are now extremely limited. Almost all flights have ceased, and even booked travel is being disrupted. At the time of writing, we are aware there may still be options with Qatar Airways, however, we are aware that seats are difficult to secure, prices may be high, and availability could change at any time. Travellers are strongly encouraged to use a Travel Agent to make any bookings, and we recommend you use a Long Haul Specialist Agent.
We recognise that not all New Zealanders who want to return home will be able to do so, and that this may be distressing for you, your whānau and friends. The situation is now at a point where the best option for many expatriate New Zealanders is to stay where you are and follow the instructions of the UK authorities.
The Government is committed to helping New Zealanders overseas where we can. The international situation is complex and changing quickly, and some things are out of our control. Assisted departure flights should not be relied upon to get home.
I am flying back to New Zealand, will I be allowed in under the current border restrictions?
New Zealand citizens, permanent residents, residents with valid travel conditions and their immediate family (partner or spouse, legal guardian and dependent children under the age of 24) can still enter New Zealand. Immediate family members cannot travel by themselves. They must travel with the New Zealand citizen or resident family member on the same flight to New Zealand. You can find up to date information on New Zealand’s border restrictions, and who is still permitted to enter New Zealand on the Immigration NZ website (external link).
REMINDER: All those travelling to New Zealand, including citizens, permanent residents, residents with valid travel conditions and their immediate family must isolate themselves for 14 days upon arrival in New Zealand and register with Healthline.
Will the NZ High Commission/Government provide funds to get New Zealanders home?
As a New Zealand citizen overseas, you have no right or claim to financial assistance from the New Zealand Government. Refer to the SafeTravel financial difficulties page (external link) for advice if you find yourself in financial difficulties overseas.
When/how will you notify me if the situation gets worse?
New Zealanders travelling or residing off-shore are encouraged to register their details with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade's (MFAT) SafeTravel website (external link). If you are registered on SafeTravel, you will receive an email advising you of any updates to the travel advisory risk level or significant updates to government advice.
Registering your travel with us also means that it will be easier for us to contact you in an emergency and to send you updated advice even before you leave NZ.
I can't leave the UK, what do I do?
If you are unable to return to New Zealand, you should shelter in place and take steps to stay safely where you are. This means following the advice of local authorities, primarily the UK Government which as at 23 March 2020 states you must:
- only go outside for basic necessities (as infrequently as possible), health reasons or essential work
- stay 2 metres away from other people, and
- wash your hands as soon as you get home.
More details are available at GOV.UK website (external link).
Essential services are still open, so we encourage you to:
- make sure you have access to enough medication for longer than usual (ideally up to three weeks)
- keep your family and friends regularly informed of your plans and well-being
- monitor local media for developments, and
- find out how to access health care in case it becomes necessary to do so.
You should also make sure you can access money to cover emergencies and unexpected delays. New Zealanders facing financial hardship overseas should seek assistance from family or friends or contact their bank in the first instance, otherwise check with your insurance provider to see if they can help.
For further details, please refer to other sections of our website on information relating to access to healthcare while in the UK and suggestions of UK based NZ Professional Groups who may be able to support you to look for jobs during this time.
How can I find temporary accommodation in the UK?
Hotels in the UK are permitted to accommodate non-UK citizens who are unable to travel back to their country of residence due to COVID-19. However some hotels are choosing to close, or have been booked out for key workers in the UK. We recommend confirming accommodation bookings with your travel agent, or via hotels directly. Please also note that most hotel bars and restaurants will be shut. It may also be possible to use travel search enginges to generate options for accommodation, but we would again strongly urge you to check any availability advertised on these sites with the hotel directly.
Am I eligible for the UK's job retention scheme?
We understand that non-UK nationals who are paid through PAYE and were on the payroll in the UK by 28 February can access the 80% furlough scheme. Note that, in addition to UK Government policy, employers have discretion over eligibility for the scheme (i.e. employers decide who to furlough and seek a subsidy for).
For further information, and to check if you may be eligible for the scheme, please see UK guidance here (external link).
My UK visa will be affected by COVID-19 restrictions, what do I do?
The UK Home Office has announced it will extend visas temporarily for those individuals who are currently unable to return home due to travel restrictions or self-isolation requirements related to coronavirus (COVID-19).
If you’re in the UK and your leave expires between 24 January 2020 and 31 May 2020, your visa will be extended to 31 May 2020. Further information, along with additional advice for UK visa applicants and temporary UK residents can be found on the UK Government website (external link). You MUST contact the Coronavirus Immigration Help Centre to update your records if your visa is expiring.
Who can the High Commission help?
Consular services are available to New Zealand citizens outside New Zealand (whether or not they normally live in New Zealand). New Zealand citizens who also hold citizenship of another country ("dual nationals") may not be entitled to assistance from the New Zealand Government if they entered a country on their non-New Zealand passport, or if they are in the country of their other nationality.
As a UK national in New Zealand, the British High Commission are your best point of contact for consular assistance: British High Commission, Wellington (external link).
The British High Commission has established a register for British nationals in the New Zealand in order to identify those in need of assistance. The form can be found on their Facebook and Twitter pages, or at this link (external link).
Please sign up for this service so they can communicate with you directly.
I entered New Zealand on a visa, what do I do?
Holders of a work, student, visitor, limited or interim visa with an expiry date of 2 April to 9 July 2020 inclusive who are in New Zealand on 2 April 2020 will have thier visas automatically extended to 25 September 2020. Confirmation of extensions will be emailed to all visa holders. For NZeTA holders, this notification will be sent to the email address used in your NZeTA application.
The NHS is continuing to update their guidance on COVID-19 (external link) including ways to avoid catching the virus, what the symptoms are and course of action you should take if you are concerned you may need medical help.
There are various ways that you can take action yourself to contain the spread:
- wash your hands with soap and water often – do this for at least 20 secondsalways wash your hands when you get home or into work
- use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not availablecover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze
- put used tissues in the bin straight away and wash your hands afterwards
- try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell
- touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean
- If you think you have symptoms (external link) and may need medical help, do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital. You should firstly consult the 111 online questionnaire (external link). Only call 111 if you cannot get help online.
If you are a New Zealand citizen and require emergency consular assistance please call +64 99 20 20 20 (outside New Zealand) or 0800 30 10 30 (within New Zealand) although please note this does not include providing tailored advice for any intended travel.
For further information and answers to frequently asked questions see our dedicated COVID-19 information page on SafeTravel (external link).