New Zealand reopened its borders to fully vaccinated visitors from 60 visa waiver countries including Japan, the UK and the USA on 2nd May 2022, after being largely closed off from the rest of the world for two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Pre-departure and post-arrival testing has been a mandatory requirement for travellers since then, but the good news is that New Zealand will drop the requirement to produce a negative test before you board your flight, starting next week.
Scrapping this requirement brings New Zealand in line with most other countries that have reopened their borders post-COVID, including Australia, Canada, Singapore, Thailand, the USA and all of Europe.
However, reportable post-arrival antigen testing will be maintained for those touching down in “The Land Of The Long White Cloud” until further notice, as will the pre-departure traveller declaration form, so we’re not quite at the pre-COVID experience yet.
Pre-departure testing ends on 21st June
New Zealand originally planned to lift its pre-departure COVID-19 test requirement by 31st July 2022, as part of its phased border reopening strategy.
Like its initial border opening, this restriction is now happily being lifted around six weeks ahead of schedule, saving travellers aged 2 and above the inconvenience and cost of arranging a pre-departure swab.
Remember New Zealand Time (NZT) is currently 4 hours ahead of Singapore Time (SGT+4).
The first non-stop flights from Singapore to New Zealand which will therefore not require pre-departure testing are:
- 20th June: SQ285 Singapore – Auckland 10.45pm (2.45am NZT on 21st June)
- 21st June: NZ281 Singapore – Auckland 8.40am (12.40pm NZT on 21st June)
- 21st June: SQ297 Singapore – Christchurch 7.50pm (11.50pm NZT on 21st June)
Unfortunately those heading to Christchurch via SQ297 at 7.50pm on Monday 20th June miss out on the testing relaxation, by just 9 minutes!
You will need a PDT if you’re travelling on this flight, since it pushes back at 11.50pm NZT on 20th June.
Current PDT requirements
If your first international flight to New Zealand departs on or before 20th June 2022 (based on 11.59pm NZT, which is 7.59pm that evening SGT), you’ll be subject to the pre-departure test requirement, which is one of the following:
- A PCR test taken a maximum of 48 hours before the scheduled departure of your first international flight to New Zealand; or
- A supervised rapid antigen test (RAT / ART) taken a maximum of 24 hours before the scheduled departure of your first international flight to New Zealand; or
- A supervised loop-mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP) test taken a maximum of 24 hours before the scheduled departure of your first international flight to New Zealand
Supervised tests must be done in the presence of a health professional, for example a medical practitioner, nurse or pharmacist. You can also use a tele-health service, like the Tele-ARTs available in Singapore.
Children aged under two years (i.e. aged 0-1) are exempt from the PDT requirement.
You can refer to our continually updated list of the cheapest pre-departure test options available in Singapore if you will still require a PDT to travel to New Zealand, now starting at only S$50 for a PCR test, S$18 for a clinic ART test or S$9 for a Tele-ART.
You will need to upload your pre-departure result to your New Zealand Traveller Declaration, which remains a pre-departure requirement.
For full details including the required format for the test results, see this guide.
Recently recovered travellers must still take a PDT
If you have recently recovered from COVID-19, unfortunately you still need a pre-departure test to travel to New Zealand if your flight departs or before 20th June 2022 (11.59pm NZT).
You then have to cross your fingers that the result is negative, because if not you’ll then have to be assessed by a health practitioner who will need to confirm you have no current symptoms of COVID-19.
The medical assessment can be done in person or remotely, and you must then be provided with a document confirming that you are no longer infectious with COVID-19.
You will then need to travel with your positive pre-departure test result, and the doctor’s confirmation.
For departures on or after 21st June 2022 (00.00am NZT), this process is obviously no longer required since PDTs will be a thing of the past.
IATA Timatic and airlines are up-to-date
The good news is that with sufficient advance notice of New Zealand’s testing requirements ending (as opposed to an Indonesia-style “oh by the way, they finished earlier this morning!” type announcement), airlines and travel databases are already well clued up on the change.
That means you should come up against no issues at the check-in desk when departing for New Zealand without a PDT from 21st June 00.00am NZT onwards.
Post-arrival testing remains
One aspect of quarantine-free travel to New Zealand that’s not ending is the requirement for international travellers to take two post-arrival rapid antigen (RAT / ART) tests, and report the results via a weblink.
RAT / ART testing is regardless of your vaccination status and applies to travellers aged 6 months or older on Day 0/1 and Day 5/6 of their arrival in New Zealand.
Here’s how it works:
- Passengers are provided with RAT / ART kits free of charge, including a set of instructions, at the airport after landing.
- Results from both RAT / ART tests must be reported, whether they are negative or positive.
- Passengers will receive an email from the New Zealand Ministry of Health after completing their traveller declaration with instructions and a link to report the test results.
- If a result is invalid, it is necessary to take another RAT / ART test.
- If the result is positive, travellers must self-isolate for seven days and then take a PCR test.
This differs from post-arrival testing in places like New South Wales (Sydney) and Queensland (Brisbane), since no self-isolation period applies for either of the post-arrival ART tests in New Zealand, but also in that you must report the result from both tests, while those Aussie states simply rely on an ‘honour system’.
According to New Zealand’s COVID-19 Response Minister, around 90% of international arriving travellers currently comply with the required post-arrival testing regime, and around 2-3% of those participating test positive.
You must be fully vaccinated
In order to travel to New Zealand, you’ll still have to show proof of full vaccination in digital or paper form, if you are aged 17 or older.
Some groups are exempt from this requirement, including:
- New Zealand Citizens
- New Zealand residents (visa holders)
- Australian Citizens living in New Zealand
- Those who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons
New Zealand accepts any vaccine that has been approved by at least one government health authority or approval authority, provided you have completed the a full primary dosage course.
A booster dose is not currently required for travel to New Zealand.
A full list of approved vaccines and requirements is available here.
Here’s the latest process for Singapore Citizens and those from one of 60 visa waiver countries travelling to New Zealand on or after 21st June 2022.
Travel to New Zealand
- Have a COVID-19 vaccination certificate showing that you were fully vaccinated at least 14 days before departure (see here for the latest approved vaccines / combinations); and
- Obtain an Electronic Travel Authority (NZeTA); and
- Complete a Health Declaration before check-in; and
- Take a self-swab rapid antigen test (ART / RAT) on the day of arrival or the following day (Day 0/1) and report the result; and
- Take a self-swab rapid antigen test (ART / RAT) on Day 5/6 and report the result.
Requesting an NZeTA will cost you NZ$9 via the mobile app or NZ$12 via the online form, and is valid for multiple entries over a two-year period. You’ll also have to have to pay for an IVL, which funds tourism infrastructure, at NZ$35, on top of the NZeTA cost.
If you are not a citizen of a visa-waiver country, you will have to apply for a visitor visa to enter New Zealand, though do note that this service is not available until 31st July 2022, as part of the country’s phased border reopening plan.
Hopefully this date will also come forward as New Zealand transitions towards pre-COVID border measures faster than originally expected.
Countries still requiring pre-departure testing
You’ll still be subject to the following pre-departure testing requirements when travelling to these popular countries:
Testing before travelling to selected countries
based on fully vaccinated travellers departing from Singapore by air
|Country||Test type||Test timing||Exemptions|
||48h before departure||—|
|Japan||PCR||72h before departure
||Age 5 or below|
|Myanmar||PCR||72h before arrival||Age 5 or below|
|Qatar||PCR||48h before departure
||Age 3 or below
Vaccinated Qataris and residents
|PCR 2 days before departure
ART 1 day before departure
|Age 5 or below|
|Taiwan||PCR||2 days before departure
With New Zealand joining the likes of Australia, Thailand, the Maldives, all of Europe, Canada and recently the USA in axing pre-departure testing, for most of our readers it’s only South Korea that remains the standout destination open to travellers but still insisting on these swabs.
The country has, however, removed vaccination as a requirement for travellers, in common with Vietnam, the Maldives and Laos, though this isn’t useful for our Singapore-based readers, the vast majority of whom are at least double-jabbed.
You’ll no longer need a pre-departure test when travelling to New Zealand if your flight departs at or after 8pm Singapore Time on Monday 20th June 2022 (which is 0.00am on 21st June in New Zealand).
While this removal of PDTs is great news for Singapore residents, it also comes just in time for New Zealand’s peak July school holidays.
That means it will be a great relief for Kiwi families planning overseas trips next month, ensuring they can return without the hassle of arranging costly supervised tests, nor fear that a positive result may leave them stranded abroad.
For most of our readers, this pretty much leaves South Korea as the only destination popular with visitors from Singapore still requiring a pre-departure test, from next week onwards.
(Cover Photo: Skycolors / Shuterstock)