Guide: Getting critical workers to New Zealand

Guidance for meeting the requirements to travel to New Zealand under Covid-19.

New Zealand citizens and permanent resident visa holders do not need to apply for a border exception or a visa.

Request border exception

The process to have a border exception granted should take approximately two weeks from the request date.

Request border exception for an 'other critical worker'

As an employer, you or your agent can apply for a border exception to bring a worker into New Zealand, if they meet the criteria as an 'other critical worker'. Employers must request the exception on behalf of the employee by completing the 'Employer request for critical worker exception' form(external link) on the Immigration New Zealand (INZ) website.

Employees must meet the border exception criteria for 'other critical worker'.

Employers can apply directly to INZ for either:

  • a short-term critical worker (less than six months) demonstrating your employee has unique experience and technical or specialist skills not readily obtainable in New Zealand
  • a long-term critical worker (more than six months) demonstrating your employee has unique experience and technical or specialist skills not readily obtainable in New Zealand
  • a worker for a time critical role for the delivery of an approved major infrastructure project. For a list of approved projects visit the bringing workers to New Zealand page on the INZ website.

If you have questions, please contact classexceptions@mbie.govt.nz

Apply for a visa and a managed isolation voucher

The process to have a visa and managed isolation voucher granted should take approximately two weeks from the application date.

Apply for a visa

If the border exception for your employee is approved, INZ will email them directly with an 'Invitation to Apply' for a visa to allow them to travel to New Zealand.

Your employee will need to apply for the visa according to instructions from INZ, in addition to checking the visa requirements of any countries they will transit through on their way to New Zealand.

Apply for a managed isolation voucher

Vouchers for staying at a managed isolation facility can be booked at the same time the employee applies for a visa. You do not need a visa decision to start the process of securing a voucher.

Confirm a place in a managed isolation facility

Secure a managed isolation allocation voucher

All travellers to New Zealand, except eligible passengers from Australia and the Cook Islands, must complete a minimum 14-day stay in managed isolation or quarantine.

Employees travelling to New Zealand must create a registration and get a voucher confirming their place in managed isolation before boarding their flight.

Get a managed isolation voucher(external link) - miq.govt.nz (Managed Isolation System online portal).

If the system is showing no available spaces, continue checking the Managed Isolation Allocation System. Places become available as people's travel plans change.

There is currently high demand for managed isolation and capacity is limited. Employees might not be able to enter New Zealand and begin managed isolation on their preferred date. We recommend you plan your projects months in advance.

How the voucher system works(external link) - miq.govt.nz.

Time sensitive travel allocation requests

Travellers can only apply for a time sensitive travel allocation if travelling to New Zealand:

  • for work purposes
  • to undertake time sensitive tasks in specified areas of work; and
  • for work that will have significant consequences, whether human, social, environmental, economic for New Zealand's international relations.

As well as meeting these criteria travellers must also have been unable to book the preferred date in the Managed Isolation Allocation System, and have received an endorsement from a relevant Government agency.

More information on time sensitive travel allocation requests(external link) - miq.govt.nz

Get a negative COVID-19 test prior to departure

A pre-departure negative COVID-19 test result is required for travellers to New Zealand, except those from Australia, Antarctica and most Pacific Islands(external link).

When checking in for their flight, employees need to provide evidence of a negative COVID-19 test taken no more than 72 hours before the scheduled departure time of their first international departure.

Employees should check the airline and country pre-departure testing requirements for every country they are going through on their journey to New Zealand. They will need to comply with requirements for all countries en route, not just New Zealand's.

More information on pre-departure testing(external link) - miq.govt.nz.

Last updated: 10 May 2021