While an actual tourist visa isn’t required for most US citizens visiting New Zealand, there is an electronic permit all travelers must get before arriving in the country.
Note that this guide does not take into account any additional, temporary requirements in place during the Covid pandemic. For the most up-to-date Covid requirements, visit the New Zealand embassy website.
- Visa needed for US citizens: Permit required (not technically a visa)
- Visa types for US citizens: New Zealand Electronic Travel Authority (NZeTA)
- Visa application: Online
- Visa issued: Online
- Cost: $9-12 NZD
- Timing: 72 hours in advance
- Length of validity: 2 years
- Max length of stay: 3 months
Who Needs a Permit to Visit New Zealand?
Unless you’re a citizen of New Zealand or Australia, you’ll need to get some kind of visa or permit before you land in New Zealand.
The options for US citizens vary depending on how long you plan to stay.
Travelers from New Zealand’s list of “visa waiver” countries (which includes the United States) don’t need a visa, but they do need a permit (and the process is very similar to what it would be if it were technically called a visa). There is also a transit visa for some people who are just traveling through Auckland International Airport en route to another country. The list of “transit visa waiver” countries does not include the United States, but rather than a separate transit visa, New Zealand simply requires US passport holders to get the same permit they’d need if they were going to stay in the country.
What Types of Permits are Available for US Citizens?
US tourists (including those going to New Zealand during a cruise) must obtain a New Zealand Electronic Travel Authority—known most commonly as an NZeTA—which is valid for two years. This isn’t technically a visa, but you can’t get into the country without it. Holders of an NZeTA can stay in the country for up to 90 days.
How to Apply for a New Zealand Visa
There’s a mobile app for the NZeTA, and the country’s Immigration website makes it easy to search for and compare visas that may suit your situation. You can then consult the documents and conditions required for each visa. We’ll cover the process for the New Zealand Electronic Travel Authority (NZeETA) for US passport holders below.
Required Documents and Information
- Passport that’s valid for at least 3 months after your departure date
- Credit or debit card (Visa or Mastercard) and an email address
Note: Travelers entering New Zealand must also pay an International Visitor Conservation and Tourism Levy (known as the IVL). You’ll pay this mandatory NZD $35 fee at the same time as you pay for your NZeTA.
If you use the mobile app, the application itself should take you no more than five minutes to complete. Processing time may take up to 72 hours, but may also take just 10 minutes.
Process of Applying for a New Zealand Travel Permit
You must apply for an NZeTA before you arrive in New Zealand (you can’t get it in the airport after you land). In addition to your valid passport, the only other things you’ll need to apply are a valid credit or debit card (Visa or Mastercard) and an email address. Note that since this is an electronic document, you won’t get paper documentation to put into your physical passport.
- Make sure you have the appropriate documents (valid passport and credit/debit card) and information (email address)
- Download the mobile app
- Fill out the application on the app (you can complete it on the website, too, but it will cost a little more)
- Find out whether your NZeTA has been granted; you’ll receive an email and your status will be updated in the mobile app (in many cases, as quickly as 10 minutes after you submit the application; in other cases, it may take up to 72 hours)
- Keep the app on your mobile device during your travels through New Zealand