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 UNITEFORRECOVERY.GOVT.NZ (external link) website.

The following information covers:

  • General travel advice
  • Travelling 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@newzealandhc.org.uk and include your telephone number (including area code) if you would like someone to call you back.

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, please note that 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) 0508 225 288 (within NZ).

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.

  • Under current border restrictions only New Zealand Citizens, Permanent Residents and their legal partners can enter New Zealand. This means no one arriving from overseas will be permitted to self-isolate at home.
  • The New Zealand Govenment is paying the cost of the accommodation and meals in these facilities.
  • Passengers will need to bring everything needed for 14 days in isolation/quarantine as they will not be permitted to leave the facility. For example, passengers will need to bring sufficient and suitable clothing, baby supplies, personal medications, and hygiene products/toiletries to cover 14 days. You can find more information on what to pack here [PDF, 67 KB].
  • Passengers will have regular contact with the government repatriation team who will coordinate all movement and welfare support
  • Appropriate isolation will be arranged in hotels by the New Zealand Government.
  • No end date has been set for managed isolation requirements when entering New Zealand.
  • Further information is available on the New Zealand Government’s dedicated COVID-19 (external link) website and the Ministry of Health (external link)website. 

These requirements could continue to change over coming weeks – please check the websites above for any updates. Border restrictions are likely to be in place for New Zealand for an extended period of time.

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.

Transiting through Australia to get to New Zealand

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.

Transit through Melbourne
The Victoria State Government of Australia has asked the Australian Federal Government to divert all international flights from Melbourne for the coming two weeks. Effective from 30 June, it will not be possible to transit Melbourne for 2 weeks.

We suggest New Zealanders who had booked a flight transiting Melbourne talk to their travel agents and airlines about the status of their upcoming flights, and possible options to return to New Zealand.

Transit through Sydney
Due to the fact that Sydney is experiencing significant pressure on quarantine capacity (including those transiting), we understand that the NSW Government has now introduced a cap of 50 persons per incoming flight and a total cap of 450 arrivals per day. This restriction will be in place from now until at least 18 July.

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.

Transit through Brisbane
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 on return to New Zealand must complete a three stage process in order to travel.  It is critical that you complete all three steps well in advance of your departure day – otherwise you may be refused boarding.

  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. 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)
  3. Seek an exemption from the Australian Federal government.  To transit, the Australian Border Force Commissioner will need to grant you an exemption by completing this form (external link).

If your transit is longer than 72 hours through any Australian State, you will be required to undertake self-quarantine for 14 days in the port where you arrive.

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 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?

If you are able to get a flight, 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 which states that you must stay at home as much as possible, work from home if youc an, limit contact with other people, keep your distance if you go out (2 metres apart where possible), and wash your hands regularly and as soon as you get home. More details and up-to-date information can be found on the UK Government's Coronavirus 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 
  • 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 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 July 2020 your visa will be extended to 31 July 2020 if you cannot leave the UK because of travel restrictions or self-isolation related to coronavirus (COVID-19).

If you have already had your visa extended to 31 May 2020 your visa will be extended automatically to 31 July 2020. While the UK Government has offered this extension to help those who are unable to get home prior to 31 July 2020, those currently in the UK on temporary visas should return home as soon as it is safe and possible to do so. We strongly encourage any New Zealanders in this position to assess commercial options available prior to 31 July 2020 as soon as possible. 

You must still request an extension if you haven’t already done so by updating your records with the Coronavirus Immigration Team (CIT) using this portal (external link) if your visa is expiring and you cannot leave the UK at present but are not planning to stay in the UK in the long term.

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

Please note that we are unable to intervene in the Home Office's visa processes.

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?

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 visitors who travelled to New Zealand visa waiver, this notification will be sent to the email address used in their New Zealand electronic travel authority (NZeTA) application. 

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)