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NZ Maritime border controls

There are restrictions on the maritime vessels that may arrive into New Zealand.

Reconnecting New Zealand

From 31 July 2022, New Zealand’s maritime border will reopen to currently prohibited foreign flagged vessels including cruise ships, recreational craft, and specialist vessels.

Further information about arriving in New Zealand via sea from 31 July will become available on the Ministry of Health website.

From 11.59pm, 2 May 2022 people arriving in New Zealand via sea will no longer be required to go to a Managed Isolation and Quarantine (MIQ) facility. They will be required to self-test for COVID-19 on arrival and self-isolate on-board if they test positive for COVID-19. Self-isolation may also extend to other people on board the same craft. Arrivals may have to isolate elsewhere if the vessel is not suitable – this will be considered by Health officials. For more information including testing requirements for those arriving on board via sea visit Ministry of Health’s website.

Key elements of the Maritime Border Order are:

  • Foreign ships are banned from arriving in New Zealand, with a range of exceptions, including:
    • fishing ships and cargo ships
    • those that have been granted permission if there is a humanitarian reason or a compelling need for the ship to be delivered to a NZ business.
  • Requirements for testing of arriving passengers and crew and self-isolation for people who test positive for COVID-19.
  • Requirement for the master of the ship to notify the medical officer of health of COVID-19 test results for crew on-board.
  • More information about the Maritime Border Order requirements are found on the Ministry of Health’s website.

NZ-registered vessels and New Zealand citizens

New Zealand registered vessels are able to enter New Zealand provided the skipper is reasonably satisfied that every person on board is either a New Zealand citizen or meets New Zealand’s visa requirements.

Foreign flagged vessels and foreign citizens

Foreign flagged vessels are not permitted to arrive unless certain criteria are met and an exemption has been granted by the Ministry of Health.

Additionally, any non-New Zealand citizens on board must meet the necessary visa requirements.

Permission must be sought from Immigration New Zealand for non-New Zealand citizens on board to enter New Zealand.

Immigration requirements

As well as applying for an exemption for their vessel from the Ministry of Health, foreign crew must first request an immigration border exception (unless they are exempt).

If Immigration New Zealand grant this exception, crew must then apply for and be granted a visa. Crew must then apply for a Ministry of Health exemption for their vessel to arrive.

Visit the Immigration NZ website for more information on this process.

Exemptions for foreign vessels to enter NZ

Foreign vessels are not permitted to arrive in New Zealand unless they have an exemption from the Ministry of Health. This includes small craft and yachts coming to New Zealand from Australia with foreign citizens on board unless they have been granted an exemption.

Vessels may be exempt if there is a compelling need for the vessel to arrive in New Zealand for:

  • reprovisioning and/or refuelling OR
  • the purpose of delivering the vessel to a business which includes for the purpose of repairing or refitting the vessel AND
  • the Director-General of Health has granted the vessel permission to arrive in New Zealand.

Exemptions should be sought before the vessel departs for New Zealand and must be obtained before the vessel arrives in New Zealand.

Ideally vessels will not begin their travel to New Zealand before receiving a decision, so as to avoid the need to change plans mid-journey if they are declined. Applications take 15-20 days to process.

Full details on exemptions and how to apply are on the the Ministry of Health's website.