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Our mission is to support & advocate for people with criminal records to be able to move on positively in their lives. Find out more

Travelling to New Zealand

Do I need a visa?

You may need a Visitor Visa if you intend to stay temporarily in New Zealand. You can use the Visa Wizard to check.

If you are a UK passport holder who can provide evidence of the right to reside permanently in the UK you can be granted a Visitor Visa for up to 6 months under the Visa Waiver System. You will be required to complete an arrival card on the aircraft/ship on your way to New Zealand. You must also:-

  • Hold a valid ticket out of New Zealand to a country you have the right of entry to
  • Have enough money to support yourself during your stay
  • Hold a passport valid for 3 months beyond the date you are leaving New Zealand

If you are not eligible to travel through the Visa Waiver System, then you will need to apply for a Visa.

The following people will not be eligible for a Visa unless a character waiver is granted:-

• People with criminal convictions for immigration, citizenship or passport offences
• People convicted of offences for which they have been imprisoned
• People who have provided false or misleading information
• Certain excluded, deported or removed people
• People wanted for questioning, under investigation for, or charged or convicted of criminal offences over a set threshold

Unsubstantiated allegations and civil matters are not sufficient to demonstrate that a person is not of good character. People are, however, required to declare whether or not they are under investigation by a law enforcement agency in any country.

In the case of character waivers, each application is considered on its individual merits and taking into account, for example, the seriousness of an offence, the number of offences and how long ago the offence occurred.

Good character

Under sections 15 and 16 of the Immigration Act they will not grant you a visa if:

  • you have been convicted and sentenced to imprisonment for 5 years or more (this applies even if any of your offences have later been taken off the record)
  • in the past 10 years you were convicted and sentenced to imprisonment for 12 months or more
  • you are subject to a period of prohibition on entry to New Zealand under section 179 or 180 of the Immigration Act 2009
  • you have been deported or removed from New Zealand under any enactment (whether before or after the commencement of the Immigration Act 2009)
  • you are excluded from New Zealand under any enactment
  • you have, at any time, been removed, excluded, or deported from another country
  • you have been involved in terrorist activities, or belonged to or supported any organisation involved in terrorist activities
  • it is believed you are likely to commit – or to assist others to commit – criminal or drug offences, or an act of terrorism, in New Zealand
  • it is believed you are likely – due to any international circumstances – to be a danger to New Zealand’s security or public order
  • it is believed you are associated with an organisation or group that has criminal objectives or is engaged in criminal activities and for that – or any other reason – you’re considered to be a threat to the public interest or public order of New Zealand.

They carry out character checks on everyone 17 years or over included in residence applications or applying for temporary entry for 24 months or longer. They may also undertake a character check on anyone else that they consider may not meet their character requirements.

Providing evidence of good character

You’ll have to provide a police certificate as evidence of your good character.


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Photo of Head of Advice, Debbie Sadler
Debbie Sadler
Head of Advice

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