Exemptions for exceptional circumstances

You can apply to be considered for this exemption to leave managed isolation if you have an exceptional reason. It allows us to consider the personal circumstances you are facing and balance that with protecting the New Zealand public from COVID-19.

Who can apply

For your application to be approved it will need to meet exceptional reasons. An exceptional reason could include you:

  • to be considered to visit a close family member who is terminally ill, or
  • for other exceptional circumstances that will be considered on a case by case basis.

Other exemptions for medical reasons, to join someone, or transiting New Zealand

Requirements for exceptional circumstances release

Your application will only be granted if there are exceptional reasons for leaving the facility. You will likely be declined if:

  • you or anyone you’re isolating with have COVID-19 symptoms
  • you or anyone you’re isolating with is in a quarantine facility
  • you are a close contact of someone with COVID-19
  • 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.

It may be harder to get an exemption if you leave from, or have recently been to, a country where the COVID-19 health risks are high.  There is a high threshold for approvals given the public health risk.

Health confirmation

Permission will rarely be granted within the first seven days because the COVID-19 health risks are higher at this point in time. Generally, a negative day 3 COVID-19 test and full health assessment are needed for a release to be granted.

Travel plan

If an exemption is granted, in almost all cases the New Zealand Government will provide any transport required to mitigate public health risks. This will be in your agreed release plan.

Complying with leave conditions

You must agree to adhere to the conditions of your release plan before an exemption can be granted This will include keeping 2 metres apart from family and loved ones.

This could mean the time you spend with family and loved ones is monitored with less privacy than you expected. You should think about whether you are comfortable with this before you apply.

It is likely any release from managed isolation will be temporary and under escort. You will be monitored the entire time, and likely returned to the closest managed isolation facility to complete your 14 days isolation.

Any non-compliance of the requirements in the release plan will result in an immediate return to managed isolation.

How to apply

We encourage you to apply before you book and leave for New Zealand where possible. This allows more time for your application to be assessed.

Get the information you’ll need ready

You’ll need:

  • the full name on the passport you use to enter New Zealand and check into the facility
  • your date of birth
  • your passport number
  • your planned date of arrival in New Zealand, or the flight number and date of arrival and time if they’re booked or you have arrived
  • the city you’re arriving at and the country you left from
  • a statement of your reasons for needing an exemption, why it cannot be delayed, plus any supporting evidence such as medical letters
  • your plan for isolation if you’re applying to isolate in a place other than a managed isolation facility.

For applications to visit a terminally unwell family member, you will need to supply medical evidence of their illness.


Apply online if you believe you have exceptional reasons to be considered for an exemption.

Apply for exceptional circumstances exemption(external link)

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If you need help completing the form or for any other enquiries please email IsolationExemptions@mbie.govt.nz.

What happens next

Your application will be assessed. We’ll contact you if we need more information. 

We run a stringent assessment based on what you want to do, and what is needed to manage public health risk. We look at your health risk, and the risk associated with your individual circumstances, such as where you apply to go, who you may come into contact with, and your ability to meet the requirements of your release plan.

If your application is considered too high risk for spreading COVID-19, or it is deemed that the risk cannot be appropriately managed, your application will likely be declined.

If your application is successful

If your exemption is successful you must follow the agreed release plan. You’ll be monitored, and all requirements will be strictly enforced until your 14 days are complete.

If your application is unsuccessful

If your exemption is unsuccessful you will need to complete 14 days in managed isolation.

New information

If your application is unsuccessful but you now have new information that supports your application, you can resubmit it for assessment. Send your new information to IsolationExemptions@mbie.govt.nz.

Your rights

If you believe you have been treated unfairly, or if you have not received a decision promptly, you can complain directly to the Ombudsman.

Last updated: 11 August 2020