Exemptions from managed isolation

Managed isolation or quarantine (MIQ) is a vital tool in helping to stop the spread of COVID-19 in New Zealand. Exemptions from staying in MIQ are rare.

Travellers must have a Managed Isolation Allocation System voucher securing their place in a managed isolation facility. If you don’t have one, do not go to the airport because you will not be allowed to board a plane to New Zealand without a voucher unless you are exempt from using the system.

Find out who does not need to use the allocation system to enter NZ

The grounds for an exemption from the requirement to enter a managed isolation and quarantine facility are set out in the COVID-19 Public Health Response (Isolation and Quarantine) Order 2020.

COVID-19 Public Health Response (Isolation and Quarantine) Order 2020(external link) — New Zealand Legislation website

These do not include the inability to secure a Managed Isolation Allocation system voucher.

Managed isolation is our best defence

Managed isolation is an important part of keeping New Zealand safe. If you are entering New Zealand, you must stay in managed isolation for a minimum 7 days and test negative for COVID-19 before you can go into the community.

A small group of people may be exempt from managed isolation as per the COVID-19 Public Health Response Order 2020.

COVID-19 Public Health Response Order 2020(external link) — New Zealand Legislation

We need to balance your exemption request with the importance of helping to stop further spread of COVID-19.

Post MIQ self-isolation

People will be required to isolate at home until they have taken a test on day 9 and been notified of the result. The Ministry of Health has provided clear guidance on what’s required when they depart MIQ.

Self-isolation for international arrivals post-MIQ(external link) — Ministry of Health NZ

Any positive cases following the 7-day stay in MIQ will be treated like any other community case under the Ministry of Health public health programme, which may or not may result in a return to MIQ.

Note: MIQ cannot process applications for an exemption to this period of self-isolation as we do not have legal authority to do so. Any queries related to self-isolation should be addressed to the Ministry of Health.

Exemptions are rare

Exemptions from managed isolation are approved in very few circumstances. Applications for exemptions are considered on a case-by-case basis and the threshold for approval is very high. An exemption will only be approved where we can be confident that the health risk of transmission is low.

Some exemptions are granted for people before they enter New Zealand while others are granted for people to leave managed isolation. Most exemptions are granted for people in New Zealand to join unaccompanied minors, for people in transit, or people whose medical needs require hospital-level care.

Exemptions for exceptional circumstances, such as to visit a dying relative, are only approved when the public health risk is assessed to be low. In a small number of cases, exemptions are approved for a temporary period and you will need to return to the managed isolation facility to complete your period of managed isolation.

No exemptions from quarantine

No exemption will be possible if you have become symptomatic with COVID-19 during your stay in managed isolation and have been moved to a quarantine facility.

How we assess an application

We assess each type of exemption based on the requirements in the Isolation and Quarantine Order. Further to this, applications for temporary or early release due to exceptional circumstances are evaluated using the public health risk assessment tool provided by the Ministry of Health. MIQ decision makers have no ability to override this assessment tool and grant an exemption where the tool designates an applicant as too high-risk for approval.

The key factors in assessing all applications

  • The public health risk of transmitting COVID-19 to the community is of paramount importance.
  • Generally, a negative day-3 test result and a full health assessment are needed in order to consider an exemption to leave isolation.
  • An exemption for temporary or early release will not be possible if you leave from a country where the COVID-19 health risks are high.
  • Complying with any conditions of your exemption release plan is an important factor.

Applications are processed based on urgency. We’ll contact you to let you know the outcome of your application, or if we need more information.

We encourage you to apply as soon you are aware of your situation. This allows more time for your application to be assessed. 

Strict conditions for granting an exemption

Your application will only be granted if there are exceptional reasons for not entering MIQ on your arrival or for leaving the facility once you are there. Your application will likely be declined if:

  • you or anyone you’re isolating with has arrived from a high-risk country, as determined by Ministry of Health
  • you or anyone you’re isolating with has COVID-19 symptoms
  • you or anyone you’re isolating with is in a quarantine facility
  • you were on the same flight as someone that has tested positive for COVID-19
  • we cannot mitigate the public health risk of COVID-19 spreading through your proposed activities.

Who can apply?

Anyone returning to New Zealand or in MIQ can apply for an exemption.

Exemptions will only be issued in very limited circumstances for exceptional reasons. Exemptions may be considered for:

Joining a person in managed isolation

Transiting through New Zealand

Medical needs

Exceptional circumstances

Related information

A small number of people will be exempt from using the Managed Isolation Allocation System and from presenting a voucher or other confirmation of allocation when boarding their flight.

Find out more about who does not need to use the voucher allocation system to enter New Zealand

Find out about charges for managed isolation including waivers

If you need help registering, completing or submitting the form, email:

enquiries@miq.govt.nz

If you have queries once you have submitted your form, email:

IsolationExemptions@mbie.govt.nz

Last updated: 26 November 2021