Pre-departure testing

All travellers to New Zealand (except those from exempt locations) are required to have a COVID-19 test taken and a negative result returned within 72 hours of their first scheduled international flight.

New measures are in place for travellers from very high risk countries.

Permitted travellers from very high risk countries will be required to provide evidence of a negative nasopharyngeal RT-PCR (PCR) test from a government-approved laboratory, taken 72 hours prior to travel. This will replace the usual pre-departure test requirement in place for high risk countries. Visit the Ministry of Health website for a list of government-approved laboratories for each country.

COVID-19: Advice for travellers(external link) — Ministry of Health

More information about new measures for travellers from very high risk countries 

What is happening?

All travellers arriving in New Zealand except those from Australia, Antarctica and most Pacific Islands, are required to test negative for COVID-19 before departing for New Zealand.

You need to have had both your COVID-19 sample taken and your result returned no more than 72 hours before the scheduled departure time of your first international departure. You also need a valid managed isolation voucher and any relevant travel documentation.

A pre-departure test is a measure to keep us all safe. Pre-departure tests are also a legal requirement for most countries that are transit hubs.

You should check airline and country pre-departure testing requirements for every country you are going through on your journey to make sure you comply with them all, not just New Zealand’s.

You are still required to stay in managed isolation for at least 14 days, and be tested for COVID-19 at least 3 times – within 24 hours of arrival (day 0/1), day 3 and day 12.

Why is this necessary?

The Government has been monitoring overseas developments and is concerned about high rates of infection, the new variants of the virus and their potential to spread more rapidly.

This additional measure reduces the risk of COVID-19 spreading on flights and into our communities.

Journeys that require a pre-departure test

Type of journey Do I need to get a pre-departure test?
My journey starts in a specified country (i.e. all countries except Australia, Antarctica and most Pacific islands*), and I fly direct to New Zealand. Yes, you must get a pre-departure test within 72 hours of the scheduled departure time of your international departure.
My journey to New Zealand starts in a specified country (i.e. all countries except Australia, Antarctica and most Pacific islands*) (i.e. the first leg), with transit legs in other countries (which are not a specified country) before I arrive in New Zealand. Yes, you must get a pre-departure test within 72 hours of the scheduled departure time of your first international departure.

You must also check any pre-departure travel requirements imposed by other countries you will be travelling through on your way to New Zealand. They may be different from the New Zealand requirements.
My journey to New Zealand starts in a country which is not subject to New Zealand’s pre-departure testing requirements, and then I will be transiting through a specified country (i.e. all countries except Australia, Antarctica and most Pacific islands*) (and possibly other transit stops) before I arrive in New Zealand. If you are going to be in a specified country (i.e. all countries except Australia, Antarctica and most Pacific islands*) for longer than 96 hours during your journey, you will need to be tested before leaving that country.

If you are transiting a specified country (i.e. all countries except Australia, Antarctica and most Pacific islands*) and are there for less than 96 hours, you do not need to be tested.

You must also check any pre-departure travel requirements imposed by other countries you will be travelling through on your way to New Zealand, as these may be different from the New Zealand requirements.

A test may be required by the airline or another country before you depart from your original destination, for example.
I am travelling to New Zealand, but will only be transiting airside (i.e. not leaving the airport) through New Zealand, not staying. If you are staying airside while transiting through New Zealand, you do not need to be tested (but you may need to be tested as per the requirements of your destination country).

If you are NOT staying airside while transiting, you are not exempt, and will need to be tested as per New Zealand’s requirements.

If your transit time requires you to stay overnight in an MIQ facility (this includes persons permitted to enter New Zealand for the purpose of transiting to a Pacific island) you must have evidence of a negative pre-departure test.

Find out more about transiting through New Zealand

Who doesn't need to have a pre-departure test

Some people are exempt from the pre-departure testing requirements, these include:

  • Travellers from Australia, Antarctica and most Pacific islands, including Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, New Caledonia, Niue, Palau, Samoa, Solomon Islands Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, and Wallis and Futuna
  • Children under 2 years of age (24 months)
  • Travellers who can't take a test due to medical reasons
  • Travellers from locations where required pre-departure testing standard is not available

Find out more about when you don’t need a pre-departure test on the the Unite Against Covid-19 website(external link)

Testing

Tests must be processed by a laboratory recognised in the country of origin as authorised or accredited to conduct tests. Some testing laboratories allow samples to be taken at home – in these cases, a sample can be taken at home, but the sample must be analysed by the laboratory.

You are required to have a COVID-19 test (of a type approved by the New Zealand Director-General of Health) no more than 72 hours before the scheduled departure time of the first international flight (leg) of your journey to New Zealand. This means you need to have had both your COVID-19 sample taken and the result returned within 72 hours of the scheduled departure time of your first international departure.

You should allow sufficient time to book the test and get your result. You should contact the local health authority of the country that you are in for information about COVID-19 testing locations and booking arrangements (if available). Most health authorities advertise COVID-19 testing locations on their websites.

For more information on types of test, to check if you are exempt from testing, and what to do if testing is not available in your country visit the Unite Against COVID-19 website.(external link)

Submitting proof of a negative result

At check-in, you can expect to provide evidence of a negative COVID-19 test taken no more than 72 hours prior to departure. If you are exempt from pre-departure testing requirements for medical reasons, you will need to provide a medical certificate.

You are responsible for bringing your test results or medical certificate to the airport and providing the required information. Without the information you may be denied boarding and be subject to an infringement fine.

Either a paper copy or an electronic copy of your negative test result, or a Fit to Fly Certificate will be accepted.

Find out more about submitting proof of a negative result on the Unite Against COVID-19 website(external link)

Hold on to all documents and treat your test results and voucher for managed isolation with the same importance as your passport, as you may be asked to show these as you transit and on arrival in New Zealand.

Vouchers for managed isolation

Managed Isolation and Quarantine is working hard to accommodate people who might be impacted by the new testing requirements and will work with you on a case-by-case basis. Please remember spaces in managed isolation are limited, and there is currently very high demand. You might not be able to travel on your preferred dates but we will support you to be able to travel to New Zealand on a suitable date.

Managed Isolation Allocation System portal(external link)

Pre-departure test scenarios and answers

More information

Last updated: 04 May 2021