Six months ago, this was easier, hop online, book a flight, apply for visas and you were on the way. Today the border is closed to anyone who is not a New Zealand citizen or resident. Around 75% of border exemptions are declined and local media is full of stories from separated families desperate to reunite. How do you get yourself and your loved ones back in these challenging times? If coming home is top of mind, consider these points:
Is your NZ passport up to date? If it has less than 6 months left before it expires – renew now. If you are a Permanent Resident is your NZ visa connected to your current passport? If you renewed your passport, get the visa transferred ASAP (it could take 6 to 8 weeks or longer).
If you or your immediate family are not NZ citizens or residents, they will need border exemptions and visas before they travel. Sort these out before booking flights.
Children born overseas to one parent who is a kiwi by birth should allow the children to register for NZ citizenship followed by an application for a NZ passport.
At the time of going to print most visa applications are not being processed for anyone offshore. Take professional advice for solutions.
Carefully plan your journey. Several countries may require you to get border exemptions for the flight path home. Transiting via Australia, for example, is no longer straightforward – even for NZ passport holders!
New Zealand has strict quarantine rules on arrival, including requirements to spend 14 days in managed isolation or quarantine. Check out the rules for managed isolation on arrival on the NZ Covid-19 website here.
There are now charges for the costs of managed isolation if you are returning for less than 90 days and do not qualify for an exemption. Charges start at $3,100 for the first person in the room, with $950 for additional adults and $475 for additional children (aged 3 to 17 years) sharing that room. There is no charge for children under the age of 3. Read more here.
If you are maintaining your current employment when you move to New Zealand, you and your employer can become subject to New Zealand employment laws and taxes. Consider these carefully before arriving, and seek advice.
Consider your tax implications on arrival. If your intention is to be in New Zealand for the medium term, consider whether you will become a New Zealand tax resident. Typically, you will be a tax resident if you are in New Zealand for longer than 183 days during any 12-month period, in which case tax may be due by reference to your first day of arrival in New Zealand.
If you have been stuck in New Zealand for longer than 183 days due to Covid-19 and become New Zealand tax resident, temporary relief is also available if you leave New Zealand within a reasonable time after you are no longer practically restricted from travelling. Details are available on the Inland Revenue website here.
Tax exemptions also exist for ‘transitional residents’, who are generally persons who have been outside of New Zealand for a continuous 10-year period. If you are a transitional resident, you may benefit from an income tax exemption of up to four years for any foreign-sourced income. Tax advice should be taken before returning to New Zealand.
While changes have been made to the Overseas Investment Act in connection with Covid-19 and requiring consent in a wider range of circumstances, returning New Zealanders should not need to obtain Overseas Investment Office (OIO) consent to purchase property in New Zealand.
Returning New Zealanders with Student Loans should also consider their obligations and if payments are due, consult with the Inland Revenue early.
DLA Piper is a global business law firm. If you need any employment advice contact Partner, Laura Scampion or for tax advice contact Partner, David Johnston.
Malcolm Pacific Immigration have been in business for over 35 years and are the largest firm of immigration advisers in NZ. For professional immigration advice contact David Cooper, CEO, or Daniel Thomson, Director Client Service with any queries.
Join the Kea community, NZ’s online home for returning Kiwis.
We’re here to support returning Kiwi. Here’s our list of resources to help you plan your return and next steps.
Looking for a new role in New Zealand? Visit the Kea job portal and find your next career opportunity.