Everything You Need to Know about the New Zealand Visitor Visa Application - the New Zealand Visa for Visitors

This is the visa to for visiting friends and family, and sight-seeing and travelling as a tourist.
Author Profile Photo for Michael Yoon
Michael Yoon
Principal Immigration Lawyer
Icon for Guide article

What is a New Zealand Visitor Visa and Who Needs to Apply?

A visitor visa allows foreign nationals to travel to New Zealand for tourism, visiting friends or family, or short-term study. It does not permit employment in New Zealand. Most passport holders need a visitor visa to enter New Zealand, unless they are from a visa waiver country or hold a valid New Zealand permanent residence visa.

The purpose of the visitor visa is to facilitate temporary stays in New Zealand while ensuring applicants meet health, character, and bona fide visitor requirements. The visa allows holders to stay in New Zealand for a specified period, typically up to 6 months in a 12-month period if you are issued a multiple entry visitor visa, or up to 9 months in any 18-month period if you are issued a single entry visitor visa.

Visa Waiver Countries and the New Zealand Electronic Travel Authority (NZeTA)

Nationals of certain countries do not need to apply for a visitor visa before travelling to New Zealand for short stays. These visa waiver countries include:

  • United Kingdom
  • United States of America
  • Canada
  • Japan
  • South Korea
  • Singapore
  • Malaysia
  • Brunei
  • Several European countries like Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Sweden, and others

However, citizens of visa waiver countries must request a New Zealand Electronic Travel Authority (NZeTA) before their trip. The NZeTA is an online authorisation that allows eligible visitors to travel to New Zealand for tourism, business, or transit purposes. It is valid for multiple visits within a 2-year period, with each stay limited to 3 months.

To get an NZeTA, applicants must:

  1. Hold a passport from a visa waiver country
  2. Pay the NZeTA fee and International Visitor Conservation and Tourism Levy (IVL)
  3. Provide personal and travel information
  4. Meet health and character requirements

The NZeTA application can be completed online or through the mobile app. It is recommended to request an NZeTA well in advance of the planned travel date, as processing can take up to 72 hours. Upon approval, the NZeTA is electronically linked to the traveller's passport.

It's important to note that Australian citizens do not need to apply for a visitor visa or NZeTA. They can travel to New Zealand using a valid passport and will typically be granted a resident visa upon arrival. However, if you are an Australian permanent resident, you need an NZeTA unless you also hold citizenship of a visa waiver country.

Types of New Zealand Visitor Visas

New Zealand offers several types of visitor visas depending on the purpose and duration of the stay. The two main categories are:

General New Zealand Visitor Visa

The general visitor visa is for individuals travelling to New Zealand for holidays, sightseeing, visiting friends or family, or short-term study. Key points about this visa include:

  • Allows stays of up to: 6 months in a 12-month period if you are issued a multiple entry visitor visa, and up to 9 months in an 18-month period if you are issued a single entry visitor visa.
  • Applicants must demonstrate sufficient funds to support themselves during their stay
  • Applicants must have a genuine reason for visiting and intend to depart New Zealand at the end of their stay
  • Study is permitted for up to 3 months in a 12-month period
  • Work is not permitted on this visa

Special New Zealand Visitor Visa Categories

In addition to the general visitor visa, there are several special visitor visa categories for specific purposes:

  1. Guardian of a Student Visitor Visa: For parents or legal guardians accompanying an international student under 18 years old.
  2. Business Visitor Visa: For individuals conducting business activities, such as attending meetings or negotiations, for up to 3 months.
  3. Culturally Arranged Marriage Visitor Visa: For individuals marrying a New Zealand citizen or resident in a culturally arranged marriage.
  4. Medical Treatment Visitor Visa: For individuals coming to New Zealand to receive medical treatment or consultation.
  5. Parent and Grandparent Multiple Entry Visitor Visa: Allows parents and grandparents of New Zealand citizens or residents to visit for up to 6 months at a time, over a 3-year period.
  6. Partners and Dependent Children of Work or Student Visa Holders: Allows partners and dependent children to stay in New Zealand for the same duration as the primary visa holder.

These special visitor visa categories have specific eligibility criteria and supporting document requirements. Applicants should carefully review the details for their chosen category before applying.

New Zealand Visitor Visa Requirements and Eligibility

To be eligible for a visitor visa, applicants must meet several requirements related to character, health, financial capacity, and genuine intent to visit.

Good Character Requirements for New Zealand Visitor Visa

All visitor visa applicants must be of good character. This means they must not have:

  • Been convicted of any offences resulting in a prison sentence of 5 years or more
  • Been involved in terrorist activities, criminal organisations, or other activities that pose a risk to New Zealand's security or public interest
  • Provided false or misleading information in their visa application

Applicants may need to provide police certificates to demonstrate their good character, particularly for stays exceeding 24 months.

Health Requirements for New Zealand Visitor Visas

Visitor visa applicants must be in good health and not pose a public health risk. The specific health requirements depend on the intended length of stay and the applicant's country of origin:

  • Stays of less than 6 months: No medical certificates required, unless requested by Immigration New Zealand
  • Stays of 6-12 months: A chest x-ray certificate may be required if the applicant is from or has spent more than 3 months in a country with a high incidence of tuberculosis
  • Stays exceeding 12 months: A full medical examination and chest x-ray are required

Pregnant applicants and children under 11 are generally exempt from the chest x-ray requirement.

Sufficient Funds and Onward Travel Arrangements for New Zealand Visitor Visas

Visitor visa applicants must demonstrate that they have sufficient funds to support themselves during their stay in New Zealand. The minimum required funds are:

  • NZD $1,000 per month for accommodation and living expenses, or
  • NZD $400 per month if accommodation has been prepaid

In addition, applicants must have a ticket or sufficient funds to purchase a ticket out of New Zealand to a country they have the right to enter.

Evidence of Genuine Intent to Visit New Zealand

Immigration officers assess whether an applicant is a bona fide visitor by considering factors such as:

  • The applicant's ties to their home country (e.g., employment, family, property)
  • The applicant's travel history and compliance with previous visa conditions
  • The applicant's stated purpose for visiting New Zealand and whether it aligns with their circumstances
  • The likelihood that the applicant will depart New Zealand at the end of their stay

Providing compelling evidence of the visitor's genuine intent to visit and depart as required can support the visa application.

Applying for a New Zealand Visitor Visa

The process of applying for a visitor visa to New Zealand involves several steps, including choosing the appropriate application method, preparing the necessary documents, and paying the application fee.

Online vs Paper Applications for New Zealand Visitor Visas

Visitor visa applications can be submitted online or by completing a paper application form. The online method is generally faster and more convenient, with benefits such as:

  • Streamlined application process
  • Ability to save and resume the application
  • Secure payment of the application fee
  • Reduced processing times

Paper applications may be necessary for certain visa categories or if the applicant is unable to apply online. The completed form, along with supporting documents, must be submitted to the nearest Immigration New Zealand office or Visa Application Centre.

Required Documents for New Zealand Visitor Visa Applications

The specific documents required for a visitor visa application may vary depending on the applicant's circumstances and the visa category. However, common documents include:

  1. A valid passport with at least 3 months remaining beyond the intended departure date from New Zealand
  2. Recent passport-sized photographs
  3. Proof of sufficient funds, such as bank statements or a sponsorship form
  4. Evidence of onward travel arrangements, such as a flight itinerary or ticket
  5. Medical certificates, if required based on the intended length of stay and country of origin
  6. Police certificates, if required based on the intended length of stay and country of origin
  7. Evidence of the purpose of the visit, such as a letter of invitation or a confirmed booking for a tour or event

It is crucial to provide high-quality scans or copies of the supporting documents, as well as certified translations for any documents not in English. Incomplete or poor-quality documentation can delay the processing of the visa application.

New Zealand Visitor Visa Application Fees and Processing Times

Visitor visa application fees vary depending on the application method and the applicant's country of origin. As of 2024, the fees for online applications range from NZD $211 to $247, while paper applications cost between NZD $231 to $265. Additional fees may apply for certain visa categories or services.

Processing times for visitor visa applications depend on the volume of applications received and the completeness of the application. As a general guideline:

  • Online applications: 50% of applications are processed within 5 working days, and 90% within 13 working days
  • Paper applications: 50% of applications are processed within 10 working days, and 90% within 25 working days

It is recommended to apply well in advance of the intended travel date to allow sufficient time for processing and to avoid disruptions to travel plans.

Illustration for Just Imagine

Just Imagine.

What would you rather be doing? Go for a walk, listen to your favourite music, spend more time with your loved ones. Leave your stress and worry behind. Contact us today.

New Zealand Visitor Visa Conditions and Duration of Stay

When a visitor visa is granted, it comes with specific conditions that the visa holder must adhere to during their stay in New Zealand. Understanding these conditions and the permitted duration of stay is essential for maintaining compliance and planning travel arrangements.

New Zealand Visitor Visa Conditions

Visitor visas are subject to several standard conditions, including:

  1. No work: Visitor visa holders are not permitted to work in New Zealand, including self-employment or volunteer work.
  2. Limited study: Visitors can study for up to 3 months in a 12-month period. Students enrolled in a course lasting more than 3 months must apply for a student visa.
  3. Sufficient funds: Visitors must maintain sufficient funds to support themselves during their stay and to purchase a ticket to depart New Zealand.
  4. Health insurance: While not a mandatory condition, it is strongly recommended that visitors obtain comprehensive health insurance for the duration of their stay.
  5. Compliance with New Zealand laws: Visitors must abide by all New Zealand laws and regulations during their stay.

Failure to comply with these conditions can result in the cancellation of the visa and the requirement to leave New Zealand immediately.

Maximum Stay Durations for New Zealand Visitor Visas

The duration of stay permitted on a visitor visa depends on the visa category and the applicant's country of origin. The most common maximum stay durations are:

  • 3 months: For visa waiver country nationals visiting New Zealand for tourism or business purposes. This is called the visa waiver visitor visa.
  • 6 months: For visitors from the United Kingdom, who are granted a longer stay on arrival with the visa waiver visitor visa. Otherwise, for visitors from any other country on a multiple entry visitor visa, it’s a 6-month stay in a 12-month period.
  • 9 months: The maximum stay allowed on a single entry visitor visa within an 18-month period. This duration is calculated backwards from the last day the visitor intends to be in New Zealand.

Multiple Entry Visitor Visas for New Zealand

Some visitor visas allow multiple entries into New Zealand within a specified period. These visas are particularly useful for frequent travellers or those who plan to visit New Zealand several times over an extended period.

The most common multiple entry visitor visa is the parent and grandparent multiple entry visa, which allows eligible parents and grandparents of New Zealand citizens or residents to visit for up to 18 months over a 3-year period, with a maximum stay of 6 months per visit.

To be eligible for a multiple entry visitor visa, applicants must demonstrate strong ties to their home country and the ability to support themselves financially during their visits to New Zealand.

Extending a New Zealand Visitor Visa or Changing to Another Visa

If a visitor wishes to stay in New Zealand beyond the expiry date of their current visa, they must apply for a new visa before their existing one expires. It is important to note that holding a valid visa is essential for maintaining lawful status in New Zealand.

Applying for a New Visitor Visa in New Zealand

Visitors who want to extend their stay in New Zealand for tourism or family reasons can apply for a new visitor visa. The application process is similar to the initial visa application, and applicants must demonstrate that they continue to meet the visa requirements, including:

  1. Having sufficient funds to support themselves during their extended stay
  2. Maintaining good health and character
  3. Having a genuine reason for extending their stay
  4. Intending to depart New Zealand at the end of their stay

It is recommended to apply for a new visitor visa at least 2 weeks before the current visa expires to allow time for processing and to avoid becoming unlawful in New Zealand.

Changing to Another New Zealand Visa Type

In some cases, visitors may wish to change their status to a different visa category, such as a student visa or a work visa. This process involves applying for a new visa and meeting the specific requirements for the chosen category.

Common visa transitions include:

  • Visitor to student visa: Visitors who want to enrol in a course of study lasting more than 3 months must apply for a student visa. They must provide evidence of acceptance into an approved educational institution and demonstrate the ability to support themselves financially during their studies.
  • Visitor to work visa: Visitors who have been offered employment in New Zealand must apply for a work visa. They must provide evidence of the job offer, meet the relevant skill and qualification requirements, and satisfy the health and character requirements for the visa.
  • Visitor to resident visa: In limited circumstances, visitors may be eligible to apply for a resident visa, such as through the Partnership Category or the Skilled Migrant Category. These applications are complex and require significant evidence of the applicant's eligibility and commitment to living in New Zealand permanently.

Consequences of Overstaying a New Zealand Visa

Visitors who remain in New Zealand beyond the expiry date of their visa become unlawful and may face serious consequences, including:

  1. Deportation: Unlawful visitors may be deported from New Zealand and barred from returning for a specified period.
  2. Ineligibility for future visas: Overstaying can negatively impact future visa applications, as it demonstrates a lack of compliance with visa conditions.
  3. Difficulty entering other countries: A record of overstaying in New Zealand may result in difficulties obtaining visas for other countries.

To avoid these consequences, visitors must ensure they apply for a new visa or depart New Zealand before their current visa expires.

Arriving in New Zealand as a Visitor

Upon arrival in New Zealand, visitors must present their valid visitor visa (or NZeTA) and passport to an immigration officer. The officer will assess the visitor's eligibility to enter the country based on factors such as health, character, and the purpose of the visit. They may ask questions about the intended length of stay and financial capacity. It is crucial to answer these questions truthfully and provide any requested documentation, such as proof of onward travel or sufficient funds.

Visitors must also complete a New Zealand Traveller Declaration before arrival. This declaration is an online form that collects information about the visitor's travel history, health, and any goods they are bringing into New Zealand. It also serves as an application for entry permission.

The immigration officer may verify that the visitor still meets the health and character requirements they declared in their visa application. This may involve checking for any criminal convictions or health conditions that could pose a risk to New Zealand.

It is important for visitors to be aware of New Zealand's biosecurity regulations and to ensure they comply with all customs and immigration requirements upon arrival. Failure to declare prohibited or restricted items can result in fines or penalties.

Frequently asked questions

No, visitor visa holders are not permitted to work in New Zealand. This includes paid employment, self-employment, and volunteer work. If you wish to work in New Zealand, you must apply for a work visa.
The processing time for a visitor visa application varies depending on the application method and the applicant's country of origin. As a general guideline, online applications are processed within 3 weeks for 80% of applications. Paper applications may take longer.
Staying in New Zealand beyond the expiry of your visitor visa is considered overstaying and can have serious consequences. You may be deported from New Zealand and barred from returning for a specified period. Overstaying can also negatively impact future visa applications for New Zealand or other countries.
If you wish to extend your stay beyond the expiry of your current visitor visa, you must apply for a new visitor visa before your current one expires. You cannot extend your existing visa. The application process for a new visitor visa is similar to the initial application, and you must demonstrate that you continue to meet the visa requirements.
To be eligible for a visitor visa, you must:
  • Be of good character and not have any criminal convictions or security risks.
  • Be in good health and meet the health requirements, which may include a chest x-ray or medical examination depending on your length of stay and country of origin.
  • Have sufficient funds to support yourself during your stay in New Zealand (NZD $1,000 per month or NZD $400 if accommodation is prepaid) and a return ticket or enough money to buy one.
  • Be a genuine visitor who intends to leave New Zealand at the end of your authorised stay.
The documents required for a visitor visa application include:
  • A valid passport with at least 3 months remaining beyond your intended departure date from New Zealand.
  • Completed visitor visa application form (online or paper).
  • Recent passport-sized photographs.
  • Proof of sufficient funds, such as bank statements or a sponsorship form.
  • Evidence of onward travel arrangements, such as a flight itinerary or ticket.
  • Medical certificates and chest x-ray certificate, if required.
  • Police certificates, if required.
The visitor visa application fee varies depending on the application method and your country of origin. As of 2024, the fees for online applications range from NZD $211 to $247, while paper applications cost between NZD $231 to $265. Additional fees may apply for certain services.
Yes, you can include your partner and dependent children (aged 19 or under) in your visitor visa application. They will need to meet the same health and character requirements as you and provide their own supporting documents.
If you are transiting through Auckland International Airport and will not be staying in New Zealand for more than 24 hours, you may not need a transit visa. However, you may need an NZeTA if you are from a country that requires one. If you are transiting through another airport or plan to stay longer than 24 hours, you will need a visitor visa.
If your visitor visa application is declined, you will receive a letter explaining the reasons for the decision. You may be able to appeal the decision or reapply for a visitor visa with new information or evidence.
Illustration for We're Here to Help

We're Here to Help.

If you have doubts or questions — Let's work it out together. Contact us today.
Author Profile Photo for Michael Yoon
Last modified on 3 July 2024 by
Michael Yoon
Principal Immigration Lawyer
Michael has been working as a lawyer in New Zealand since 2006. Over the years, he has successfully helped thousands of clients to get their desired outcome. Clients find Michael knowledgeable, approachable and professional — a trusted expert.

Remember, New Zealand immigration laws and policies change constantly, without warning.

Take action now so you don't miss out. Contact Immigration Lawyer NZ to discuss your situation today.

Don't Miss Out!

Icon for Google
5.0
300+ Google Reviews
chevron-up