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 the 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
  • Transiting through Hong Kong to get to New Zealand
  • Transiting through Singapore to get to New Zealand
  • Transiting through Australia to get to New Zealand
  • Travelling to the United Kingdom
  • Other frequently asked travel questions - New Zealanders in the UK
  • British nationals in New Zealand - how to get assistance
  • NHS advice
  • Consular assistance

Please note that at this time, there is no one to answer the switchboard at the New Zealand High Commission in London as staff are adhering to United Kingdom Government guidelines and working from home. Please send the High Commission an email on enquiries@nzhc.uk and include your telephone number (including area code) if you would like someone to call you back. Please check your spam/junk folder if you do not hear back from us within one working day of sending your email.

General travel advice

We currently advise that unless you are returning home to New Zealand, you do not travel at this time. Due to the extensive travel disruptions caused by the global outbreak of COVID-19 New Zealanders overseas may need to take steps to stay safely where they are and shelter in place and follow UK Government guidance (external link).

However, for those seeking to return home, we understand that the options for returning to New Zealand are now extremely limited. We would encourage those planning to return home to contact a travel agent specialising in long haul flights and/or Airlines directly to assess possible options, and to do so as soon as possible.

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. People wanting to return should use commercial flight options where they exist. The feasibility of NZ Government-assisted departure flights is being considered where there are no commercial options for New Zealanders who want to return home, but there are no guarantees these will be possible in the extremely complex and rapidly changing global situation.

Travelling to New Zealand

If you are able to get a flight, and a voucher for Managed Isolation in New Zealand, then New Zealand citizens, permanent residents and residents with valid travel conditions can still come to New Zealand (excluding people granted a resident visa outside New Zealand and who are travelling to New Zealand on that resident visa for the first time).

If you are a partner or dependent child (aged 19 years or under if they hold a temporary visa, or 24 and under if they hold a resident visa) of a New Zealand citizen or resident, and your visa is based on this relationship (for example, a dependent child visa) you can travel on that visa and do not need to request a border exception.

If you do not have a visa based on your relationship with a New Zealand citizen or resident, you should request a border exception even if you ordinarily live in New Zealand. If your request is approved, you will then be invited to apply for a visitor visa, another visa that suits your circumstances, or to vary your existing visa to allow you to travel.

Partners or dependent children of New Zealand citizens or residents who are not travelling together, are not on a relationship-based visa or are not ordinarily resident in New Zealand will still be subject to the border restrictions, unless they meet another border exception criteria.

Anyone who is unsure about whether they need to request an exception is able to make a request through the form on the Immigration New Zealand (INZ) website and INZ will either process your request or advise you that you are able to travel on your existing relationship-based visa.

Full and up to date details on the requirements can be found on the INZ website (external link).

If you require further advice or clarification on the above, we recommend contacting the INZ Contact Centre directly on +64 9 952 1679 (outside NZ) or 0508 225 288 (within NZ).  INZ have also set up a dedicated phone line for COVID-19 related immigration queries. Their contact number is +64 9 952 1679. Note this is a New Zealand number. 

Managed Isolation in New Zealand

As per New Zealand Government instructions (external link), everyone entering New Zealand must go into managed isolation or quarantine for at least 14 days. They must then test negative for COVID-19 before they can go into the community. It is not possible to request the location of the local managed isolation or quarantine accommodation.

When travellers arrive in New Zealand they disembark in small groups and are met by NZ Government officials at the gate. Travellers are then screened at the airport for COVID-19 symptoms on arrival.

If travellers have a domestic transit flight, they will not be allowed to connect to that flight. Travellers are then transported, directly from the airport, to either a managed isolation facility (if they have no symptoms), or to a quarantine facility (if they have symptoms). All travellers who arrive in New Zealand will be tested for COVID-19 at their respective facilities. Details of how and when the testing will happen will be provided at the facility. It is not possible to request the location of the local managed isolation or quarantine accommodation. 

For information on what this means, and what to do when you arrive in New Zealand, please see the NZ Government's COVID-19 website (external link).

More information can be found on the NZ Ministry of Health website. (external link)

Managed Isolation Allocation System:

The New Zealand Government’s new Managed Isolation Allocation System is live. Under this system everyone flying to New Zealand must have a voucher confirming they have been allocated a place in a managed isolation facility before they can book their flight. Airlines will not be permitted to board passengers to New Zealand who do not have a voucher, unless they are exempt from using the Managed Isolation Allocation System.

Please note, demand for space in MIQ is particularly heavy between now and Christmas. Some dates may be fully booked and it may not be possible to secure a place on your preferred date. You should not book and pay for a flight until you have secured a place in MIQ.

This system is designed to manage the flow of in-bound travellers. It also means managed isolation facilities will be more able to cater to the different needs of individuals and family groups. Travellers can get their voucher from the Managed Isolation Allocation System online portal: www.miq.govt.nz (external link)

How to get your voucher:

There is a four-step process to get your Managed Isolation Allocation Voucher:

  1. Create a registration for an individual passenger or a family travelling together
    Enter passenger details of the individual or everyone in the group travelling together. Couples should complete a 'family registration'.
  2. Hold accommodation
    Select the intended day of arrival in New Zealand for the individual or group. A 14-day stay in managed isolation, starting on this day, will be held for 48 hours while they book their flights.
  3. Book flights, ensuring the date the flight arrives in New Zealand matches the date entered in the Managed Isolation Allocation System 
    Return to the website and enter these flight details into the system to confirm the managed isolation allocation.
  4. Print or download the voucher
    The voucher will also be instantly emailed once the allocation has been confirmed. Airlines will ask travellers to present their voucher, either a printed physical copy or on their mobile device, before boarding their flight. A group travelling together will be issued a single voucher for all passengers in the group.

Further information about the Managed Isolation Allocation System is available on the MIQ website (external link).

If you have specific queries relating to the Managed Isolation and Quarantine, you can email: enquiries@miq.govt.nz , call +64 4 8881670 from outside of New Zealand, or 0800 476 647 (0800 ISOMIQ) from New Zealand.

Managed Isolation Charges:

The New Zealand Government has announced that Managed Isolation and Quarantine (MIQ) charges for passengers entering New Zealand will come into force as of 12.01am on 11 August 2020 NZST (1.01pm, 10 August BST). This is in order to share the costs in a way that reflects the benefits to both the New Zealand public of having a robust system, and those who leave and enter the country.

The charges for MIQ are set at NZ$3,100 for the first or only person in the room (whether that is an adult or a child) with NZ$950 for each additional adult and NZ$475 for each additional child (3-17 years old, inclusive) sharing that room, all GST inclusive. There will be no charge for children under the age of 3 if they are staying in a room with another person. Returnees who need to pay will get an invoice at the end of their stay in managed isolation and will generally have 90 days to pay. Information about how to pay the fee will be provided on the invoice. 

Further details regarding the scheme, including information about exemptions and waivers to the charges, can be found at the dedicated MIQ website (external link).

For queries relating to the Managed Isolation and Quarantine charges, you can email: enquiries@miq.govt.nz , or call +64 4 8881670 from outside of New Zealand, or 0800 476 647 (0800 ISOMIQ) from New Zealand between 8am and 10pm, Monday to Sunday, NZST (9pm – 11am BST).

Transiting through Hong Kong to get to New Zealand

We understand that New Zealanders can fly to New Zealand, via Hong Kong, flying from London Heathrow on Cathay Pacific to Hong Kong, and Air New Zealand from Hong Kong to Auckland. 

The journey must be booked as one journey, with tickets and boarding passes issued for the whole journey from the origin airport, luggage is checked all the way through to Auckland (so that passengers remain airside at Hong Kong), and a pre-flight COVID test will be undertaken by Cathay.

Passengers need to ensure they meet all transit/entry requirements, which include:

1. Passengers are required to be booked under the same ticket for the whole journey, from London to Auckland,

2. Passengers must be through-checked for the whole journey, with boarding passes issued and bags tagged to final destination, from London to Auckland,

3. Passengers must fulfill all entry requirements at their transit point and final destination (please note, Government border restrictions apply),

4. Transit time must be within 24hrs and passengers must stay airside at Hong Kong airport,

5. Pre-flight mandatory temperature screening and 3 health declaration questions will be in place. For flights from London, the temperature screening and health declaration will be done by Cathay Pacific at Heathrow Airport.  The Airport Authority will conduct checks by interviewing transit passengers to ensure airlines comply with the required measures.

More information is available on the Hong Kong Airport website (external link) and the Hong Kong Government's dedicated COVID-19 website (external link).

Transiting through Singapore to get to New Zealand

We understand that New Zealanders can fly to New Zealand, via Changi from London Heathrow, as well as Amsterdam, Paris, Barcelona and Zurich on Singapore Airlines. The journey must be booked on one ticket. Transfer to flights operated by other airlines is not permitted.

To allow for transit to occur in Singapore travellers are required to:

• Complete a pre-departure health declaration form. This will be provided after booking and must be completed before travel,

• Wear a face mask throughout the flight and in Changi Airport. Care packages including a mask will be provided to all passengers, however we encourage you to also consider carrying your own covering for use in the airport. Passengers who refuse to wear a mask may be denied travel,

• Remain seated apart, and stay in their designated zone of the plane,

• Be temperature screened on arrival to Singapore and stay in their designated ‘transit holding area’ until boarding of the following flight. Transiting passengers will deplane last in Singapore and be escorted by a Singapore Airlines staff member to this designated area.

More information on Singapore's transit requirements is available here (external link).

It is possible for passengers coming from New Zealand (Auckland and Christchurch) and Australia to transit through Singapore if travelling on a Singapore Airlines flight, and are then able to carry on to any destination, given they’re travelling on an airline in the same network (Star Alliance).

Transiting through Australia to get to New Zealand

The New Zealand Government cannot provide definitive advice on the Australian Federal or State Governments’ border requirements.  It is the responsibility of New Zealanders to seek the most up-to-date information and ensure passengers comply with Australia’s border requirements (external link).  We understand that all Australian states will now charge for quarantine. We cannot provide definitive information about Australian quarantine arrangements. You should make contact with the relevant Australian State authority for further information about specific quarantine arrangements in each state.

We are aware that most of the commercial flights available all transit through Australia and therefore you MUST complete relevant transit exemptions prior to travel, which at a minimum will require New Zealand citizens receiving an exemption from relevant State authorities’ quarantine requirements (for example, from the New South Wales Government for flights to Sydney and Victoria Government for flights to Melbourne (additional exemptions are required for New Zealand Permanent Residents and NZ Critical Worker Visa holders- detailed further down)).

We urge New Zealanders travelling via Australia to monitor transit requirements set out by the Australian Government, see the Australian Home Affairs website (external link) for more information and consult with your travel agent and/or airline on transit requirements. Please note Australia has different levels of government with different responsibilities. The Federal Government is responsible for immigration, and the State/Territory Governments are responsible for health. Most States/Territories have implemented mandatory quarantine for arriving international travellers (usually 14 days). 

Wherever possible, passengers should plan to arrive and complete their transit in Australia within an 8 hour same day transit window. However, we understand that this transit window may not be possible due to the timing of flights. If you require transit through Australia that is between 8-72 hours, you must apply for an exemption from the appropriate State Government where the airport you are transiting is located. It is passengers’ responsibility to apply for these transit exemptions prior to travelling and we recommend you do so at the earliest possible opportunity using the links below. Any passenger who is transiting for longer than 72 hours must adhere to Australia’s 14 day mandatory quarantine.  No travel within Australia is allowed, even if this is to meet a departing international flight.

We understand New Zealand citizens, permanent residents of NZ, and their accompanying partners/dependents are able to transit Australia on the way home if the following conditions are met:

  1. A valid ticket for onward travel to New Zealand must be held, and should be shown on request;
  2. Passengers with a transit period of up to 8 hours must remain airside at the airport (i.e. do not attempt to pass through immigration) and maintain social distancing, cough etiquette and hand hygiene.
  3. You are not able to transit through Australia if you are presenting with any COVID-19 symptoms, or have been in Italy, South Korea, Iran or China in the last 14 days.

Transit through Melbourne/Victoria

We understand that all scheduled passenger international flights from Melbourne have been cancelled until further notice. We suggest New Zealanders who have booked, or wish to book flights via Melbourne, talk to their travel agents and airlines about the status of their upcoming flights, and possible options to return to New Zealand. See this link (external link)for more information.

Transit through Sydney/New South Wales

Due to the fact that Sydney is experiencing significant pressure on quarantine capacity (including those transiting), the NSW Government has now introduced a cap of 350 arrivals per day, with a cap of 30 passengers per flight. This cap includes passengers who are transiting Sydney for more than 8 hours.

All persons arriving in New South Wales from overseas are required to undertake 14 days of mandatory quarantine at a designated quarantine facility. This includes those transiting Sydney Airport for between 8-72 hours and who are required to go “land side” (i.e. pass through Immigration). However, it is possible to apply for an exemption to this quarantine for transit, details are below.

Transit under 8 hours
New Zealand citizens, permanent residents of NZ, and their accompanying partners/dependents have been permitted by the Department of Home Affairs to transit through NSW and may be allowed to remain at Sydney International Airport before taking their connecting flight if:

  • The connection to their departing international flight in the same day as you arrived (i.e. less than 8 hours)
  • The passenger passes the health assessment on arrival at Sydney Airport (i.e. they do not have any symptoms of COVID-19)
  • They remain ‘airside’ whilst connecting to another flight (i.e. they do not enter NSW by passing through customs and quarantine)
  • They adhere to social distancing and personal hygiene requirements

Transit via Sydney Airport between 8-72 hours
New Zealand citizens, permanent residents of NZ, and their accompanying partners/dependents who have been permitted by the Department of Home Affairs to transit through Australia with a longer transit duration (between 8 and 72 hours), can enter NSW by passing through customs and quarantine but will be deemed to be ‘land side’ and subject to the NSW Health Minister’s Orders (external link).
 
As such, you will need to apply for a NSW quarantine exemption if you need to go through immigration (i.e. to collect baggage) or if your departure flight is between 8 to 72 hours after the arrival flight. To avoid the mandatory 14 quarantine at a NSW Government-designated facility, passengers need to request an exemption at least 14 days prior to their travel via the NSW authority’s online portal (external link), and cannot travel to Sydney unless this exemption is granted. If the exemption is approved by NSW Health, transport will be arranged by the relevant government agency for transiting passengers between the airport and the mandatory quarantine hotel.
 
All transiting passengers must also pass the health assessment on arrival at Sydney Airport (i.e. they do not have any symptoms of COVID-19) and adhere to social distancing and personal hygiene requirements. No domestic onward travel is allowed, even if this is to meet a departing international flight.

The NSW Government has now begun charging international travellers for their hotel quarantine accommodation. Travellers who purchased their flights before 11:59pm 12 July AEST will be excluded from quarantine fees. Conditions apply and evidence will need to be supplied. These travellers will still be required to quarantine in government arranged accommodation. The NSW Government will invoice travellers at the end of the stay.

If you are entering NSW in order to transfer to another flight (i.e. transit), you are still be required to go into government arranged accommodation, but may finish the quarantine early in order to meet your connecting flight. You must also seek the exemption from the 14 day quarantine as per the instructions above.

  • If you are required to be accommodated for over 24 hours an invoice will be calculated based on the time spent (pro-rata) and you will need to pay the fee on departure.
  • If you are in transit for less than 24 hours you will not be charged a fee.

More information on this process can be found here (external link).

If a traveller has not yet received their exemption within 48 hours of travel
If a traveller has applied for a NSW quarantine exemption and has not received a reply within 48 hours of their flight, they can contact the NSW Quarantine Exemptions Unit on +61 2 8741 4619 or MOH-COVID19-Quarantine@health.nsw.gov.au to inquire about the status of their application.  Please note that this phone number and email address are currently (as of 14 May 2020) monitored seven days a week, from 0800 to 2000 hours (Australian Eastern Standard Time, AEST).

Transit through Brisbane/Queensland

We understand the QLD Government has now introduced a cap of 500 arrivals per day until further notice. This may mean some flights will no longer be viable and therefore may not operate. If this affects your intended travel, we strongly encourage you to contact your Travel Agent or Airline immediately to assess your options.

All persons arriving in Queensland from overseas are required to undertake 14 days of mandatory quarantine at a designated quarantine facility. This includes those transiting Brisbane Airport for between 8-72 hours and who are required to go “land side” (i.e. pass through Immigration).

  • If the individual has up to 8 hours until the departing international flight, they should remain in the airport and be permitted to onward travel, maintaining social distancing and hand hygiene.
  • If passengers require transit via Brisbane Airport between 8-72 hours and wish to seek an exemption from the 14 day mandatory quarantine requirement, you are advised to contact the Queensland State Health Emergency Coordination Centre (SHECC) at SHECC@health.qld.gov.au or +61 7 3708 5242.

We recommend that New Zealanders seeking an exemption from the Queensland authorities provide the following information when making a request:

o   Your passport details and contact details, including a copy of the photo/details page;
o   Onward flight details and evidence of this confirmed booking; and
o   Any special circumstances that might support your case for an exemption

Queensland authorities will ultimately be responsible for granting an exemption and if you require an exemption, we recommend you seek one at the earliest possible opportunity.

Anyone arriving in Queensland from overseas will be charged fees for quarantining in government arranged accommodation. The fee payable for one adult is A$2,800 for 14 days of quarantine accommodation, which covers the “negotiated rate” for a hotel room (including linen and cleaning) and meals. More information can be found on the Queensland Government website (external link).

If you are entering Queensland in order to transfer to another flight, you are still be required to go into government arranged accommodation at the airport, but may finish the quarantine early in order to meet your connecting flight. You must also seek an exemption from the 14 day quarantine.

  • If you are required to be accommodated for over 24-hours an invoice will be calculated based on the time spent (pro-rata) and you will need to pay the fee on departure.
  • If you are in transit for less than 24 hours you will not be charged a fee.

Information for New Zealand Permanent Residents, or NZ Critical Worker Visa holders, transiting Australia:

In addition, New Zealand Permament Residents with a foreign (including UK) Passport or a Critical Worker Visa, seeking to transit Australia for less than 72 hours on return to New Zealand must complete a two stage process in order to travel.  It is critical that you complete both steps well in advance of your departure day – otherwise you may be refused boarding. You must also ensure that you provide evidence of this visa being granted (i.e. a copy of the visa or approval letter) when applying for these Australian transit exemptions. If you do not provide this, your exemption may be declined and you will be unable to travel.

  1. Seek an exemption from the relevant state government that your flight transits through if required. Each state has slightly varying requirements.  Most routes back to New Zealand require a transit through New South Wales (Sydney) or Victoria (Melbourne) and an exemption is not required for Victoria.
  2. If you are not from a transit without visa country (you can check your eligibility here (external link)) you must also seek a 771 Class Transit visa at the Australia Home Affairs website (external link). When applying, the applicant must use a UK address (this can be a hotel or temporary accommodation)

If your transit is over 72 hours passengers will also need to seek an exemption from the Australian Federal Government. To transit, the Australian Border Force Commissioner will need to grant you an exemption.  You can apply for that here (external link).  

Travelling to the United Kingdom

From 8 June, there will be new rules in place for entering the UK because of coronavirus (COVID-19), and these rules will be reviewed every three weeks. All residents and visitors must adhere to these measures once in place, and there are two important steps you must follow. You will find further and up-to-date details on the UK Government website (external link).

Do not travel if you have coronavirus symptoms, and please note that at this time the New Zealand Government’s advice for New Zealanders remains do not travel overseas at this time except for returning home.

1.  Before travelling to the UK
You will need to provide your journey and contact details when you travel to the UK. To do this you must submit the online Public Health Passenger Locator Form found at this link (external link). Please note that you cannot submit this form until 48 hours before your arrival time in the UK, but you are able to complete the form, save your information and submit later. If you do not return to the form within 7 days of starting, your information will be deleted. To complete this form you will need to provide:

  • your passport information
  • your travel details, including times and dates
  • the address where you will stay in the UK (if applicable)

You might need to show that you’ve completed the form when you check-in for your flight, and when you arrive at the UK border so we suggest you carry proof of completion (such as a screenshot of the confirmation or printed version) with you. If you refuse to fill in the form, you may be fined. You also may not be allowed to enter the UK (unless you’re either British or a UK resident). The UK government will use this information to contact you if you or someone you’ve travelled with develops coronavirus symptoms, and to check that you’re self-isolating for the first 14 days after you arrive in the UK. You also need to ensure that you have the right to come into the United Kingdom at the time of entering.

You must complete this form even if you are only entering the UK to transit before further onward travel. You do not need to complete the form or self-isolate if you’re travelling from (and have been there for 14 days or more) Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man.

2.  Self-isolation when you arrive
Once you arrive, you will not be allowed to leave the place you’re staying at for the first 14 days you’re in the UK except in very limited situations. You should avoid using public transport if possible to get to the place where you will self-isolate. You can self-isolate at: home, the home of a friend or family member, or in a hotel, hostel, Bed & Breakfast (B&B) or other suitable place. You are able to self-isolate in more than one place if necessary (i.e. move from a hotel into a home, if your home is not immediately available). You can self-isolate with household or family members you’ve travelled with and join family/friends already in the UK.

Only if absolutely essential, you are able to leave, or be outside, the place where you are self-isolating in order to:

  • depart the UK, i.e. to leave the country within 14 days of arrival
  • obtain basic necessities including food and medical supplies for those in the same household
  • seek medical assistance
  • fulfil a legal obligation, including attending court or to participate in legal proceedings
  • to access critical public services in exceptional circumstances (childcare or educational facilities, social services, services for victims, services provided by DWP)
  • attend a funeral for a member of their household or a close family member
  • avoid injury or illness or to escape a risk of harm.

Further information including details about how to get further support while in self-isolation is all available on the UK Government website (external link).

Please note: As of June 15th 2020, it is mandatory to wear face coverings while using public transport in England. You will be breaking the law if you fail to do so and could be fined. A face covering is a covering of any type which covers your nose and mouth. You should remove your face covering if asked to do so by a police officer or other relevant person. Detials on face coverings, who doesn't need to wear one, and how to make your own, can be found on the UK Government website (external link).

Transiting in the UK

If you are transiting but remaining airside (arrive in the UK but staying within the airport and not passing border control), you’ll still need to provide your journey and contact details by completing the Public Health Passenger Locator Form found at this link (external link). You will not need to self-isolate for 14 days as you are only transiting via the UK. You will not need to show anything as you will not pass through the UK border, however we suggest carrying a copy with you if possible as a precaution and in case it is requested when you are checking in for your flight.

If you are transiting/transferring through the UK but do need to pass border control (i.e. to travel to a different airport for your onward flight), you will still need to complete the Public Health Passenger Locator Form and you must then travel directly to the port/airport from which you will leave the UK and/or travel home. You do not need to complete the 14 day self-isolation, but should avoid using public transport to travel between airports wherever possible.

If your onward flight is not immediately after your arrival to the UK, but is due to depart less than 14 days after arriving, you must undertake self-isolation on arrival. You may end this early to go directly to the port you’ll leave the UK from, avoiding public transport wherever possible.

Other Exemptions

There are other reasons why you might not need to complete the form or enter self-isolation on arrival. A full list of those who may not need to is available at the UK Government website (external link)

Other frequently asked travel questions

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 limited, however there are currently commercial options available. Travellers are strongly encouraged to use a Travel Agent to make bookings as agents are able to assist passengers in keeping up to date with changes and can provide support with re-arrangements and cancellations. We recommend you use a Long Haul Specialist Agent.

We encourage all New Zealanders living and travelling overseas to register on SafeTravel (external link) and update your details, including if you relocate or depart from a country. This allows us to contact you directly with any further significant updates.

The Government is committed to helping New Zealanders overseas where we can. This is an increasingly difficult situation and we understand the uncertainty many travellers are facing. We know that for many New Zealanders, you may be facing difficult choices about staying where you are or looking at options for returning home. We also recognise that not all New Zealanders who want to return home are able to do so. New Zealanders who cannot return home for the time being should continue to take steps to stay safely where they are. Our main concern is that you are safe, whatever decision you make.

I am flying back to New Zealand, will I be allowed in under the current border restrictions?

If you are able to get a flight, and a voucher for Managed Isolation in New Zealand, then New Zealand citizens, permanent residents and residents with valid travel conditions can still come to New Zealand (excluding people granted a resident visa outside New Zealand and who are travelling to New Zealand on that resident visa for the first time). 

Partners, dependent children (aged 19 years or under if they hold a temporary visa, or 24 and under if they hold a resident visa) of New Zealand citizens or residents, who hold a visa based on their relationship with a New Zealand citizen or resident partner or parent, are also permitted to travel to and enter New Zealand without first seeking approval.

If you do not have a visa based on your relationship with a New Zealand citizen or resident, you should request a border exception even if you ordinarily live in New Zealand. If your request is approved, you will then be invited to apply for a visitor visa, another visa that suits your circumstances, or to vary your existing visa to allow you to travel.

Partners or dependent children of New Zealand citizens or residents who are not travelling together, are not on a relationship-based visa or are not ordinarily resident in New Zealand will still be subject to the border restrictions, unless they meet another border exception criteria.

Anyone who is unsure about whether they need to request an exception is able to make a request through the form on the INZ website and INZ will either process your request or advise you that you are able to travel on your existing relationship-based visa.

You can find full details surrounding the requirements for travelling to New Zealand on Immigration New Zealand's website (external link).

If you require further advice or clarification on travelling to New Zealand while current border measures are in place, we recommend contacting the Immigration NZ Contact Centre +64 9 952 1679 (outside NZ) 0508 225 288 (within NZ)​.

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. For information on what to do once you reach New Zealand, please see the NZ Government COVID-19 website. (external link)

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.

We know that cost may be a barrier for some in booking flights home. Please weigh up the cost of booking a flight home now against the cost of you personally staying where you are. If you do not think you have the resources to safely shelter in place where you are for an extended period, talk to your family and friends in the first instance to see how they might be able to support you. You can also contact your nearest New Zealand Embassy or High Commission for advice.

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 Guidance on how to take care of yourself, which is available at GOV.UK (external link).

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.

Am I eligible for the UK's job retention scheme?

We understand non-UK nationals who are paid through PAYE and were on the payroll 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 guidance, and to check if you may be eligible for the scheme, please see the GOV.UK website (external link). HMRC is working to update this guidance so please check back regularly.

If your role has already been disestablished, we would encourage you to speak with your employer directly if you think you may be eligible for the scheme.

Information on how to contact HMRC is available here. (external link)

My UK visa will be affected by COVID-19 restrictions, what do I do?

The UK Home Office 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). 

Further and more specific guidance relating to all UK Visa Categories can be found on the GOV.UK website. (external link)

Please note: The New Zealand High Commission does not have any role in the UK immigration process, nor in any decision to allow passengers to stay in or re-enter the UK once their UK visa has expired.

If you intend to leave the UK but have not been able to do so and you have a UK visa or leave that expires between 1 November and 30 November 2020 you may request additional time to stay, known as ‘exceptional assurance’, by completing the online form (external link).

If you are granted ‘exceptional assurance’ it will act as a short-term protection against any adverse action or consequences after your leave has expired. If conditions allowed you to work, study or rent accommodation you may continue to do so during the period of your exceptional assurance. Exceptional assurance does not grant you leave. After you’ve completed the form, you’ll be told what you’ll need to submit to show why you can’t leave the UK.

More information is available here. (external link)

If you have UK immigration queries related to COVID-19, please email the Coronavirus Immigration Help Centre: CIH@homeoffice.gov.uk .  You will usually get a reply within 5 working days. Do not send follow up emails - they may delay you getting a reply.

You can also call the Coronavirus Immigration Help Centre. If you’ve emailed the help centre already, please do not contact them by phone.

Telephone: 0800 678 1767 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm)
Calls to this number are free of charge within the UK.
Check call charges with your phone provider if you’re calling from abroad.

The Coronavirus Immigration Help Team can provide you with further advice on what you need to do to request ‘exceptional assurance’. This will include providing details of the reason why you are unable to leave the UK and supporting evidence, for example, a confirmed flight ticket with a date after 30 November or confirmation of a positive coronavirus test result.

We strongly suggest keeping a note of all of your conversations with the Coronavirus Immigration Team, any emails you send and receive from them, and any other documentation from airlines and travel companies which show your attempts to leave the UK in a timely manner. This may assist you to prove, if asked, that you made a concerted effort to depart the UK in good faith in line with their requirements, and that you were keeping them updated of your situation.    

If you have further UK visa or immigration queries, we suggest you contact the United Kingdom Visas and Immigration (UKVI) service directly. For your convenience, their contact details are:

Website: www.gov.uk/visas-immigration (external link)

Phone: 0300 123 2241

Monday to Thursday, 9:00am to 4:45pm / Friday, 9:00am to 4:30pm

Please note: Call charges apply – see:  www.gov.uk/call-charges (external link)

Additional contact details: www.gov.uk/contact-ukvi-inside-outside-uk (external link)

If you’re unable to confirm a flight booking prior to the deadline of your visa expiring, you will need to consider travelling outside of the UK. The NZ Government guidance remains as Do not travel unless returning to New Zealand, and the UK Government has changed their travel advice to include exemptions for travelling to certain countries and territories that no longer pose a high risk for travellers. You may therefore be best placed to consider travelling through these countries in order to return to New Zealand. Information on these countries is available here. (external link)

If you do need to travel, we encourage you to register on SafeTravel (external link) and update your details, including if you relocate or depart from a country. This allows us to contact you in an emergency situation, send important travel information, or provide consular assistance while you are overseas. We also strongly encourage you to seek options to take out comprehensive travel insurance.

Applying for Long-Term Stay in the UK:

If you decide to stay in the UK long-term, you should apply for the necessary leave to remain in the UK. You’ll also be able to submit an application form from within the UK where you would usually need to apply for a visa from your home country.

You’ll need to meet the requirements of the route you’re applying for and pay the UK application fee.

The terms of your leave will remain the same until your application is decided. If you are switching into work (external link) or study (external link) routes you may be able to commence work or study whilst your application is under consideration. 

More information is available at: www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-advice-for-uk-visa-applicants-and-temporary-uk-residents (external link)

Leave expiring after 31 October:

If your leave expires after 31 October, you can submit an application form from within the UK where you would usually need to apply for a visa from your home country. You’ll need to show your application is urgent, for example if you need to start a new job or course of study, please provide full details of this in a covering letter with your supporting documents.  You’ll need to pay the fees and meet all requirements of your visa as normal, except the need to submit the application in your home country.  This is being kept under review.  

See the GOV.UK website (external link)for more information.

Can I freeze my UK visa if I go home?

The UK Home Office is responsible for the administration of UK visas. As we understand it, the Home Office currently has no plans to 'freeze' the remaining time left of visas while someone is out of the UK, nor is it possible under their current policy.

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.

I am a British national currently in New Zealand – how can I get assistance?

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?

The New Zealand Government is automatically extending current onshore visitor visas that are due to expire between 4 September and the end of October 2020 by five months.  Some visitor visa categories will not be extended. These include the critical purpose visa holders, guardians of students, and partners or dependants linked to a work visa holder whose visa was extended previously.

INZ will contact all those eligible for the extension by mid-September.  

For further details please see the Immigration New Zealand website (external link).

NHS advice

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:

Do:

  • 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

Don’t:

Consular assistance

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)