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Important Notice for New Zealand passport holders planning travel to the United States

Recent reports in the New Zealand and international media have indicated that all holders of passports from visa waiver countries will need to obtain a USA entry visa before commencing their travel to or via the USA from 26 October 2004.

These reports are not correct in respect of New Zealand. New Zealand passport holders will continue to be able to enter the USA, after 26 October 2004, without a visa under the terms of the visa waiver arrangement with the USA.

The visa waiver arrangement covers 27 countries, including New Zealand that do not require their citizens to obtain a visa if entering or travelling through the USA on a machine readable passport, for a period of up to 90 days for business or holiday purposes.

The USA authorities require that all new passports issued from 26 October 2004 will need a biometric identifier to continue to meet the visa waiver requirements. The identifier will be a personalised digitised photograph of the passport holder contained on a microchip embedded in the passport.

New Zealand plans to meet this deadline.

You should note that this new requirement:

  • applies only to passports issued from 26 October 2004. If you have an existing valid machine-readable passport (click here for important information about machine readable passports) which will be current for the time of your visit to the USA, then you can enter the USA without a visa subject to the rules of the visa waiver programme; and
  • will not result in any changes to the passport application process.

If you are travelling to the USA for other than business or holiday purposes and/or for a period of more than 90 days then you will need to obtain a visa in the usual way. You can find out more information at

These new requirements apply only to travellers entering under the conditions of the USA visa waiver programme. Your passport must be machine-readable. Click here for information about machine-readable passports.

Passports that are not machine readable will continue to qualify holders for the visa waiver programme until 26 October 2004. However holders of such passports are advised to apply for a machine readable passport well in advance of that date if they intend to travel to the USA. The Department of Internal Affairs issues machine readable passports at all its offices in New Zealand as well as in Sydney and London. Passports issued at New Zealand MFAT (Ministry of Foreign Affairs) offices overseas are not machine readable.

If you require further information please click here for FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) or contact us.

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Last updated: 15/01/2004