Opinion: Aaron Martin, principal lawyer at New Zealand Immigration Law, explains how the new quarantine voucher system will work for people returning to New Zealand.
Starting 3 November, all travellers to New Zealand will be required to present a Managed Isolation Allocation voucher before being allowed to board their flight.
The New Zealand government has quietly unveiled the first details about its Managed Isolation Allocation System, an online portal that goes live on 5 October at 8am. At this time, a registration link will allow anyone intending to travel to New Zealand to secure a voucher that allocates them to a managed isolation facility.
The voucher, proof of your 14-day quarantine accommodation booking, must be presented before boarding your flight. A grace period ending 3 November at 12am aims to ease the transition, but after that, the voucher will become a legal requirement for anyone entering the country.
An agent may complete the voucher form on your behalf but must enter their details when creating the account. Families and couples travelling together complete just one registration form. Note that, due to limited capacity, travellers will have no say in what city or facility they are housed in.
Plans for the voucher system were first announced in July. Provisions will be put in place to manage urgent situations where people need to return to New Zealand, with details to come at a later date.
Quota System to Manage Quarantine Capacity
Since June 18, 1,855 critical workers plus their dependents have been invited to apply for a visa. The quota system is designed to ensure that when your visa is granted, there is actually a place for you to stay when you get here.
With 32 facilities distributed in five cities, managed isolation effective capacity is 7,330, with a total capacity of 7,881. (Effective capacity allows for a 24-hour turn-around between arrivals and departures to allow for sanitising and deep cleaning requirements.)
If Labour is re-elected, 10 percent of these spots will be allocated to critical workers, which means that more than 1,450 will be allowed into the country each month. This combined with a less rigid definition of what constitutes a critical worker, from “skills not obtainable here” to “skills not readily obtainable here,” is mostly a positive thing for work visa holders, though there are a few possible kinks.
The voucher holds your managed isolation reservation for 48 hours while you go look for flights, so we advise that you have a good idea of flight availability and prices before getting your voucher. And as with any overseas trip, the further you plan ahead, the better – both for yourself in terms of affordability and flexibility and for those tasked with managing everyone coming in.
How It Works
Here’s a quick rundown of the steps involved.
- Register online starting 5 October at 8am. One registration per individual passenger, couple, or family travelling together.
- Select your arrival date to hold accommodation for 48 hours while you book your flight. Your 14-day stay in managed isolation starts on this day.
- Book your flight, ensuring your arrival date in New Zealand matches the date entered in the Managed Isolation Allocation System. Enter your flight details into the system to confirm your allocation.
- Print or download the voucher (one per group), which will be emailed once your allocation has been confirmed. You must present this voucher, either printed or digitally, before boarding your flight.
My advice to applicants: Be careful when you book your flight, as it’s up to you, the applicant, to coordinate the availability of a quarantine facility in conjunction with your flight. Also bear in mind that if you are not a resident, you and anyone travelling with you will have to pay for your stay.
While there is no cost to secure a voucher, should your flight plans change or fall through, you will have to start the process over again from the back of the queue. The Managed Isolation Allocation System is certainly a step in the right direction, but it will be interesting to see what challenges unfold.
Looking for Immigration advice from a trusted advisor? Contact the team at NZIL we can assist you with applying for your visa.