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Quarantine-Free Travel to New Zealand: What You Need to Know

The MIQ-free or quarantine-free travel bubble in New Zealand is now available to fully vaccinated New Zealand citizens and residents in Australia.

As it continues to dismantle coronavirus border barriers in the face of a rising home outbreak, New Zealand is abandoning a requirement that inbound passengers isolate themselves.

On Monday (February 28), Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced that the need that vaccinated travelers isolate for a week after arrival will be lifted on Wednesday. Tourists are still not permitted to come, so the reforms will first apply exclusively to returning New Zealanders.

Travellers must still test negative for the virus both before and after leaving.

“I know this will be welcome news to the members of our team overseas, eager to travel home to see loved ones as soon as possible,” Ardern said. “We can’t wait to see you.”

The tourism sector applauded the reforms, however officials requested greater assurance about when tourists might return. Since the epidemic began, international tourism used to account for around 20% of New Zealand’s foreign revenue, but it has all but vanished.

Quarantine-Free Travel to New Zealand: What You Need to Know

Ardern announced on Monday that her government is contemplating reopening the gates to tourists sooner than the existing deadlines of July for Australians and October for international visitors.

Quarantine-free travel

The MIQ-free or quarantine-free travel bubble in New Zealand is now available to fully vaccinated New Zealand citizens and residents in Australia. With the prospect of foreign travel once again in view, there are a few additional elements to be aware of.

The idea of bidding farewell to required hotel stays for properly vaccinated visitors to Aotearoa is nearing. Our foreign borders have been all but locked for over two years, and more than 200,000 individuals have finished stints in MIQ. That’s about to change – and it has for some, such as fully vaccinated New Zealand residents and citizens in Australia.

When is the start of quarantine-free travel?

The gradual border reopening began on February 28 with quarantine-free travel for vaccinated Australians. The move ushers in a new chapter in the pandemic, one in which Covid remains a danger, but vaccination has reinforced our defenses. Overseas excursions will no longer be limited to emergencies and those who can afford to stay in MIQ upon their return. Leisure will soon be a sufficient motivation to travel.

When it comes to overseas travel, though, pandemic-weary Kiwis will be looking for peace of mind. With Covid still circulating, there’s an additional layer of complication that means travel will be different than previously.

Travelers should “prepare for the unexpected,” according to Jo McCauley, CEO of Southern Cross Travel Insurance. “The environment for travel is much more complex to navigate, but I am optimistic about what will occur over 2022. We’ve watched how other countries have started to open up which demonstrates an evolution around how nations are managing Covid risk when it comes to travel.”

Does the New Zealand government have a list of safe travel destinations?

They do, and keeping up with that knowledge is critical, according to McCauley.

“We always advise that customers go to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s Safe Travel website. It’s a really great source of advice for any travel advisories that are currently on the country you’re hoping to travel to. They have travel advisories which are at four different levels – level one (exercise normal safety and security precautions) up to level four (do not travel).” 

According to McCauley, visiting the Safe Travel website is a vital step in ensuring that your travel insurance would pay out if you have a claim in that destination – “with a lot of travel insurance policies, if the travel advisory says to avoid non-essential travel or to not travel to a particular destination, the insurance may not cover for an event related to the reason for the advisory.”

How to check rules and regulations of travel destination?

It’s crucial to rely on official instructions and legislation, so avoid social media and news sources in favor of visiting the official government website of the nation you’re visiting, or contacting that country’s diplomatic mission in Aotearoa.

Is Covid coverage possible with travel insurance?

It’s the case with a lot of travel insurance companies. There are, however, a few limitations. All fully vaccinated clients who go to countries that satisfy Safe Travel’s level one (“exercise normal safety and security precautions”) and two (“exercise increased caution”) automatically receive a level of insurance from Southern Cross Travel Insurance. If you or a relevant person’s vacation is impacted by a pre-departure Covid diagnosis or contracting Covid while on the road, they’ll pay Covid-19 medical expenditures and certain travel adjustment charges. It’s usually a good idea to study the fine print of your insurance policy. Fortunately, Southern Cross has simplified theirs. “We’ve invested in reviewing and rewriting our travel insurance policies in plain English,” McCauley explains.

Will insurance cover lockdowns?

Regrettably, this is improbable. Southern Cross does not cover lockdowns, according to McCauley, and she is unaware of any other insurers in New Zealand who do. “It’s simply because the cost to provide that cover would make insurance unaffordable. Government directives are one of the general exclusions of the policy, and lockdowns are considered to be a government directive.”

Should I hire a travel agency or can I DIY?

While it is feasible to organize a vacation on your own, travel agencies have been a popular choice throughout the epidemic, according to McCauley. “I do hear that a lot of travellers are using travel agents now to give themselves assurance that they can get guidance and advice on all the rules and regulations.”

Is vaccination a requirement to travel?

Both yes and no. Vaccination is required by several airlines. Many countries have also made vaccines (including boosters) essential for foreign visitors, so while vaccinations aren’t required if you live in Aotearoa, they’re almost certainly required if you wish to go to other countries. It’s likely that some nations will begin to eliminate or alter these limitations, so double-check before leaving. While it is possible to enter Aotearoa as an unvaccinated New Zealand citizen or permanent resident, you must first pass through MIQ – even if vaccinated visitors are exempt.

Quarantine-Free Travel to New Zealand: What You Need to Know

What documents are honored as proof of vaccination?

To obtain an international travel vaccination certificate, go to the My Covid Record website, register or login, and then request an International Travel Vaccination Certificate. You may also do this by calling 0800 222 478 or visiting a participating pharmacy in person.

Are there any restrictions that apply just to airlines?

There are, and the number varies per airline. Read up on the policies of your preferred airline about Covid. If having space between you and other passengers is vital to you when buying a seat, see if your airline automatically does so. If not, you might want to consider paying a little extra for a more spacious seat. Furthermore, you’ll almost certainly need to wear a mask for the length of your journey — except while eating or drinking.

What kind of mask is the most effective?

Although different countries have different recommendations, the agreement is that N95 and P2 respirator masks are the most effective.

What are the regulations apply to expiring passport?

You must have more than six months remaining on your passport before it expires in order to use it to depart and enter countries. Before booking your travel, double-check the expiration date.

Do I need to take a pre-departure test before flying?

Many places need documentation of a negative Covid test prior to leaving. Make sure to schedule an appointment far enough ahead of time to get your findings, yet within the destination’s pre-departure timeframe — this usually involves getting tested at least 72 or 48 hours before departure. You should also expect to pay for a test, which might cost up to $180.

Is there any circumstance in which I wouldn’t need insurance?

“We would always recommend customers get travel insurance at the time they actually commit to any costs,” says McCauley. “Regardless of what’s going on in the world at the moment with Covid, we still have people travelling with us that are requiring our support for unexpected events that have nothing to do with Covid.” 

International travel has been a faraway fantasy for over two years, but it suddenly appears to be within reach. According to Kantar study commissioned by Southern Cross this year, over two-thirds of New Zealanders expect to go internationally in the next two years, and while we can’t predict what the world will look like then, we can at least find some safety when we fly the coop.

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