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New Zealand Department of Internal Affairs : What's new : Important Notice for New Zealand passport holders planning travel to the United States Skip to Access Key assignments for this site
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Important Notice for New Zealand passport holders planning travel to the United States


New Zealanders visiting the USA are now required to hold a machine readable passport in order to qualify for the US visa waiver.

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.

New Zealanders who do not have a machine readable passport will be required to obtain a machine readable passport or a USA entry visa prior to travelling (for further information see important information about machine readable passports).

Please note nearly all New Zealand passports are machine readable - less than four per cent are non-machine readable.

The USA authorities require that all new passports issued from 26 October 2006 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.

You should note that this new requirement:
  • Applies only to passports issued from 26 October 2006. If you have an existing valid machine-readable passport 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 www.usembassy.org.nz

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

For further information see the FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) or contact us.

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Last updated: 27/02/2006