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NZ Maritime border controls

There are restrictions on the maritime vessels that may arrive into NZ. Strict isolation or quarantine requirements are also in place for those arriving at the maritime border.


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 the testing, isolation and quarantine of arriving crew. 
  • Requirements for the majority of arrivals by sea to isolate or quarantine on board their ship or at a MIQ for at least 14 days since the last port of call or since it last took crew, and requires every person on board the ship to meet the low-risk indicators (including a negative COVID-19 test) before any person may enter the NZ community.
  • If persons arriving by sea cannot appropriately isolate or quarantine on board their ship, they will be transferred to a MIQ facility.
  • Introduces infringement offences under the COVID-19 Act.

More information about the Maritime Border Order requirements are found on the Ministry of Health’s website.

Any costs incurred would likely be at the crew’s expense, including any Managed Isolation Facility charges.

NZ-registered vessels and New Zealand citizens

NZ-registered vessels are able to enter NZ provided the skipper is reasonably satisfied that every person on board is either an NZ 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-NZ citizens on board must meet the necessary visa requirements.

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

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 NZ unless they have an exemption from the Ministry of Health.

Vessels may be exempt if there is a compelling need for the vessel to arrive in NZ 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 NZ.

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

Ideally vessels will not begin their travel to NZ 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.

Trans-Tasman Quarantine Free Travel

The maritime border remains closed during Trans-Tasman Quarantine Free Travel periods. This includes small craft and yachts coming to NZ from Australia with foreign citizens on them, unless they have been granted an exemption under the Maritime Border Order from the Ministry of Health in NZ.

For more information on Trans-Tasman Quarantine Free travel visit the COVID-19 website.

Download the Vessels arriving in New Zealand Guide (PDF 205 KB).