News Travel

New Zealand scraps on-arrival tests, vaccination mandate, mask-wearing on flights

From tomorrow you'll no longer need to be vaccinated to travel to New Zealand, with mandatory on-arrival testing scrapped and mask-wearing on flights becoming optional.

New Zealand has been reopening its borders with progressively fewer restrictions over the last few months, after being largely closed off from the rest of the world for two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Initially the country opened to to fully vaccinated visitors from 60 visa waiver countries including Japan, the UK and the USA in early May 2022, with pre-departure testing removed from traveller’s checklists in mid-June 2022.

Now there’s more good news for those travelling to New Zealand from overseas, with the country announcing that it is scrapping its “traffic light system”, and along with it some additional requirements currently placed on travellers.

Vaccination requirement removed

Currently, in order to travel to New Zealand, you must have proof of full vaccination in digital or paper form if you are aged 17 or older, unless you are a New Zealand citizen or an Australian Citizen living in New Zealand.

From Tuesday 13th September 2022, international travellers will no longer need proof of COVID-19 vaccination in order to enter New Zealand, regardless of their nationality or home country.

From 11:59pm (NZT) on 12 September 2022, air and sea travellers and crew do not need proof of vaccination to enter New Zealand.

This applies to people entering New Zealand from anywhere in the world. Please check with your travel provider, for example your airline, as they may still require proof of vaccination.

New Zealand Government

New Zealand is now open to those holding nationality from visa-free countries, and for those wishing to apply for a visa.

Most inbound international visitors heading to New Zealand will still be required to:

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.

On-arrival testing now only “encouraged”

Currently you are required to take two post-arrival rapid antigen (RAT / ART) tests when you arrive in New Zealand from overseas, 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.

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Here’s how it currently 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.

In more good news for travellers, the legal requirement for these tests will be removed from Tuesday 13th September 2022, which will make the tests optional, not compulsory.

Travellers arriving in New Zealand will still be encouraged to return RAT / ART test results on Day 0/1 and Day 5/6 of their trips, but it will not be a requirement to do so, as it is now.

“The requirement to test on Day 0/1 and Day 5/6 will now be encouraged, rather than required.”

Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister of New Zealand

Back in June this year, New Zealand’s COVID-19 Response Minister said that around 90% of international arriving travellers complied with the required post-arrival testing regime, and only around 2-3% of those participating tested positive.

Mask wearing relaxed

As part of these latest relaxations, New Zealand is also removing its mask mandate across all settings nationwide, except in healthcare settings and aged-care facilities.

This will have the effect of removing mask-wearing policies on both domestic and international flights from 13th September 2022, when travelling with airlines that do not impose mandatory mask-wearing unless dictated by authorities of the origin or destination country.

As most of you know, since 29th August 2022 that includes Singapore Airlines.

Singapore Airlines cabin crew still wear masks on all flights, but routes like New Zealand are going mask-optional for passengers. (Photo: Singapore Airlines)

New Zealand already allows passengers flying out of the country to follow either the airline’s mask-wearing requirements, or those of the country they are travelling to or through, whichever is stricter, so it’s the inbound direction that gains a benefit.

Singapore Airlines has now updated its mask-wearing policy, meaning that from tomorrow with the departure of SQ297 to Christchurch at 7.50pm on 13th September 2022, and on all NZ-bound services thereafter, the carrier’s flights will become mask-optional.

Here’s how SIA’s mask requirements will look from 13th September 2022, with New Zealand’s upcoming relaxation.

Masks required

Masks optional

Singapore Airlines Flights
to/from Singapore
(updated 12 Sep 2022)

Country Mask Requirement

Flying from Singapore

Flying to Singapore
Europe    
Denmark
France
Germany
Italy
Spain
Netherlands
Switzerland
UK
North America    
Canada
USA*
North Asia    
China
Hong Kong
Japan
South Korea
Taiwan
South East Asia    
Brunei
Cambodia
Indonesia Since 1 Sep
Malaysia
Myanmar
Philippines
Thailand
Vietnam
South West Pacific    
Australia Since 9 Sep
New Zealand From 13 Sep
West Asia & Africa    
Bangladesh
India
Maldives
Nepal