Trisha Shetty (Editor)

New Zealand passport

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Issued by  New Zealand
Purpose  Identification
Type of document  Passport
Eligibility requirements  New Zealand citizens
New Zealand passport
Date first issued  4 November 2005 (biometric passport) 23 November 2009 (current version)
Expiration  10 years after acquisition

New Zealand passports (in Māori: Uruwhenua Aotearoa) are issued to New Zealand citizens for the purpose of international travel by the Department of Internal Affairs. New Zealand has a passport possession rate of around 75% of the population and there are around 1.5 million New Zealand biometric passports in circulation. It is ranked as one of the most powerful passports in the world.



New Zealand participates in the Five Nations Passport Group, an international forum for cooperation between the passport issuing authorities in Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States to "share best practices and discuss innovations related to the development of passport policies, products and practices".

1900s: Passports introduced

Few countries required passports before the First World War, and they were not then usually required for overseas travel. By 1900 there were occasional requests for New Zealand passports, which were personally signed by the Governor. In 1905 MP George Fowlds decided to return to Scotland for his father’s 100th birthday. He decided he needed a passport when his ship was about to leave; an inconvenience both for the department and the Governor who had to sign it. A single passport covered a man and his wife and children, but did not include a photo or any personal details like age, height or eye colour.

In the First World War the British Government required passports in 1915, and New Zealand followed from November 1915, with an increased workload for the department and for police. 1,108 passports had been issued in 1909, but 6,000 were issued in the nine months from 15 November 1915 to 21 August 1916. The number was kept high by civilian travel after the war, over 4,300 in 1921, and the number hovered at that level until the Depression. The number then fell from 4,722 in 1930 to 2,455 for the year ended 31 March 1934.

1950s: New Zealand citizenship introduced

After the creation of modern New Zealand citizenship with the passing of the British Nationality and New Zealand Citizenship Act, 1948 (which came into force on 1 January 1949), residence in New Zealand no longer qualified British or Commonwealth citizens for a New Zealand passport, and they had to apply for New Zealand citizenship then for a passport, with increased work for the Department of Internal Affairs. In 1950 the number of passports issued topped ten thousand, twice as many as were issued in 1939. . Between 1948 and 1977, New Zealand passports bore the words 'New Zealand citizen and British subject'.

Starting on 1 July 1981, the Fraser Government announced that New Zealand citizens could no longer travel to Australia without passports, as it was felt that too many people who were not entitled to travel without passports to Australia were passing themselves off as New Zealanders.

1990s: Machine-readable passports introduced

In 1992, the Department of Internal Affairs started issuing machine-readable passports in New Zealand, whilst New Zealand overseas posts continued to issue manual passports. Since 24 February 1992, children's names have no longer been endorsed in the passports of their parents. In February 1997, the New Zealand High Commission in London began issuing machine readable passports.

In December 2000, French was removed from the biodata page of the New Zealand passport and replaced with Māori - this change was brought about by the Department of Internal Affairs to reflect the status of Te Reo Māori as an official language of New Zealand and to give "New Zealanders travelling abroad a passport that more accurately reflects their national identity".

In 2001, the Department of Internal Affairs took over responsibility for the London Passport Office from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

2000s: Non-machine-readable passports phased out

By 2003, only around 4% of all New Zealand passport holders still held a non-machine readable version.

On 26 October 2004, New Zealand diplomatic posts stopped issuing manual passports and, on the same day, began issuing short-term machine-readable emergency travel documents for New Zealand citizens who need to travel urgently. One of the reasons for reducing the number of non-machine readable passports in circulation was to increase the security of New Zealand passports; another was that, starting on this day, New Zealanders travelling to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program were required to enter on a machine readable passport.

From this date onwards, all New Zealand citizens applying for a passport overseas have had to send their application to the Passport Office in New Zealand, Sydney or London. It also meant that all New Zealand passports issued on or after 26 October 2004 were machine-readable. Remaining non-machine readable New Zealand passports (M series) were still valid and expired by 25 October 2014 at the latest (only around 2% of New Zealand passport holders still have a non-machine readable version).

2005: Biometric passports introduced, and validity reduced to 5 years

On 4 November 2005, the Department of Internal Affairs began issuing New Zealand biometric passports (EA series). In order to cover the higher costs associated with the production of biometric passports (compared with the previous machine readable passports), the application cost increased from NZ$71 to NZ$150 for adults and from NZ$36 to NZ$80 for children.

All passports issued from 24 April 2005 to 29 November 2015 - both adult and child - have a maximum passport validity of five years as a result of the Passports Amendment Act (2005). Passports that were issued prior to 24 April 2005 remained valid until the date of expiry as stated on the biodata page. From 24 April 2005, New Zealand passports were no longer endorsed with name changes, which meant that, for example, changing to a married name required applying for a new passport.

2009: New passport design introduced

On 23 November 2009, the Department of Internal Affairs launched a new (and the current) version of the biometric passport (LA series), supplied under a contract with the Canadian Bank Note Company at a cost of just under $100 million over five years. One of the motivations for a new passport design was to ensure that it would remain difficult to produce counterfeit New Zealand passports. Unlike the previous biometric passport, photographs on the biodata page are now laser engraved in black and white for extra security.

2014: Passport validity increased to 10 years again

On 29 May 2014, after considering the Petition of Kyle Lockwood, the Government Administration Committee recommended to the New Zealand government that ten-year passports be reinstated. The committee concluded "On the evidence received, we are not convinced that the reduction in detected fraudulent passports is a result of the shorter validity period. It seems more likely to us that the introduction of biometric passports has lessened fraud and counterfeiting. The international standard among countries such as Australia, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America, who use similar biometric passports, is ten years. The biometric security features have led countries such as China, Canada and the Netherlands to reintroduce ten-year passports. We support the intent of the petition." Law changes were passed in 2015 and since 30 November 2015, 10-year passports are available again for New Zealanders.

Passports issued (by year and kind)

The number of New Zealand passports and travel documents issued by year is as follows:

Entitlement to a passport

Only New Zealand citizens are entitled to be issued New Zealand passports, however, other travel documents are available from the Department of Internal Affairs for New Zealand refugees or residents who are unable to obtain passports from their home countries but need to travel; see New Zealand Refugee Travel Document and New Zealand Certificate of Identity.

Application procedure

The Department of Internal Affairs is responsible for issuing New Zealand passports. The Department of Internal Affairs issues passports from its offices in Auckland, Christchurch and Wellington in New Zealand, as well as overseas offices in Sydney and London. New Zealand embassies, High Commissions and consulates outside of Sydney and London are not able to issue passports, although diplomatic officers may be able to provide application forms and assist in communicating with an issuing office.

Adult passports now can be applied through online for both first time and renewals. Processing time is 10 working days plus delivery, unless an urgent or call-out service is requested. There are online fees for Australia and the UK as well as New Zealand.

Urgent travel

In emergencies, some New Zealand embassies, High Commissions and consulates may be able to issue an Emergency Travel Document with a validity of only one year intended to assist New Zealand citizens who do not have the time to obtain a passport in time to travel. An application for a New Zealand Emergency Travel Document (ETD) costs NZ$350 and includes the fee for a full replacement passport before the expiration of the ETD. In countries where there is no New Zealand diplomatic post, New Zealand citizens who need to travel urgently and whose passport has expired, been lost or been stolen can be issued with an Emergency Travel Document at a cost of £95 by a British foreign mission as long as this has been cleared with the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Endorsement indicating New Zealand citizenship

As an alternative to obtaining a New Zealand passport, New Zealand citizens with another nationality and a foreign passport/travel document can apply for an endorsement indicating New Zealand citizenship from Immigration New Zealand (INZ). The endorsement can either be physically affixed inside the foreign passport/travel document or can be electronically linked in INZ's database to the foreign passport/travel document. An endorsement indicating New Zealand citizenship is valid for the duration of the foreign passport/travel document it is endorsed in or electronically linked to. An endorsement indicating New Zealand citizenship costs NZ$130 for first time applications and NZ$80 for subsequent applications, which means that it is cheaper than obtaining a regular adult New Zealand passport. The fee for the endorsement is completely waived if electronically linked to or affixed inside a passport issued by Austria, Finland, Greece, Iceland, Israel, Italy or Turkey. Given that the maximum validity of New Zealand passports is 10 years for adults and 5 years for under 16 year olds, an endorsement indicating New Zealand citizenship may work out to be an even more economic option if affixed inside or linked electronically to a foreign passport/travel document which has a longer validity (e.g. 10 years). It is also easier to obtain an endorsement indicating New Zealand citizenship than a New Zealand passport overseas, since an endorsement can be issued at INZ offices in Apia, Bangkok, Beijing, Ho Chi Minh City, Hong Kong, Jakarta, London, Moscow, Mumbai, New Delhi, Nuku’alofa, Pretoria, Shanghai, Singapore, Suva, Sydney and Taipei, whilst New Zealand passports are only issued overseas by the Department of Internal Affairs in Sydney and London. However, New Zealand citizens with dual/multiple nationality travelling on a passport/travel document issued by another country may be unable to access New Zealand consular assistance whilst overseas and may not be able to enjoy as many visa exemptions. For example, a dual New Zealand and Samoan citizen travelling only on a Samoan passport with an endorsement indicating New Zealand citizenship affixed inside is unable to obtain a Special Category Visa (SCV) upon arrival in Australia and must obtain an Australian visitor visa before travelling, since to obtain an SCV a New Zealand citizen must present a valid New Zealand passport.

Return travel to New Zealand without a passport

In general, to establish his/her right to enter New Zealand, a New Zealand citizen is required to present a valid New Zealand passport or a passport issued by another country that is electronically linked or physically affixed with an endorsement indicating New Zealand citizenship.

However, a New Zealand embassy, high commission or consulate or an Immigration New Zealand branch can request that the immigration officer at a port of entry in New Zealand not demand to see a passport of a New Zealand citizen in urgent or compassionate circumstances (e.g. death or serious illness) where there is not enough time for a New Zealand passport to be issued.


The current version of New Zealand passports issued since November 2009 are black, with the New Zealand coat of arms emblazoned in silver in the centre of the front cover. The words "NEW ZEALAND PASSPORT" and "URUWHENUA AOTEAROA" are inscribed above the coat of arms in silver. The standard biometric symbol appears at the bottom of the front cover. Both the front and back covers have silver ferns embossed on the outside edge.

Regular passports issued prior to November 2009 had a navy blue cover.

Passport note

Passports contain a note from the issuing state that is addressed to the authorities of all other states, identifying the bearer as a citizen of that state and requesting that he or she be allowed to pass and be treated according to international norms. The note inside New Zealand passports states:

The Governor-General in the Realm of New Zealand requests in the Name of Her Majesty The Queen all whom it may concern to allow the holder to pass without delay or hindrance and in case of need to give all lawful assistance and protection.

and in Māori:

He tono tēnei nā te Kāwana-Tianara O te Whenua o Aotearoa i raro i te Ingoa o Kuini Erihāpeti ki te hunga e tika ana kia kaua e akutōtia, e whakakōpekatia te tangata mau i te uruwhenua nei i ana haere, ā, i te wā e hiahiatia ai me āwhina, me manaaki.


The textual portions of New Zealand passports are printed in both English and Māori. (Previously English and French.)

Biodata page

The biodata page of the current version of the New Zealand passport includes the following data:

  • Photo of the passport holder (in black and white)
  • Type (Momo): P
  • Issuing state (Whenua): NZL
  • Passport No. (Tau Uruwhenua)
  • Surname (Ingoa whānau)
  • Given names (Ingoa āke)
  • Nationality (Iwi tūturu): NEW ZEALAND
  • Date of birth (Rā whānau)
  • Sex (Tāne-Wahine)
  • Place of birth (Wāhi whānau) (Passports issued after December 2005 will only include the city of birth)
  • Date of issue (Rā timatanga)
  • Date of expiry (Rā mutunga)
  • Authority (Te Mana Tuku)
  • The information page ends with the Machine Readable Zone.


    Under the Passports Act 1992, the Minister of Internal Affairs has the power to refuse a passport, for example, on grounds of national security.

    The Minister also has the discretion to issue a passport for less than the current ten-year validity period.

    Israeli spies (2004)

    In 2004, two Israeli intelligence agents working for Mossad, Eli Cara and Uriel Kelman, were convicted and jailed for attempting to obtain New Zealand passports through submitting fraudulent applications. A third suspected Mossad agent, Zev William Barkan, who was a former Israeli diplomat based in Europe was involved in stealing the identity of a tetraplegic Aucklander to obtain a passport fraudulently in his name. It was not until a year later that the Israeli Government formally apologised to the New Zealand Government for its actions.

    Israeli spies (2011)

    Even after apologizing to the New Zealand Government for efforts to fraudulently obtain New Zealand passports, the Israeli Secret Service (Mossad) was caught using New Zealand passports for covert activities. Following the death of an Israeli, Ofer Mizrahi, in the 2011 Christchurch earthquake, the New Zealand Government investigated whether he and his companions had links to Mossad. There were concerns that the travellers may have been trying to infiltrate the police national computer system to gain access to information which could be used to clone New Zealand passports,

    Mizrahi, who died in the earthquake after being crushed by falling masonry in a parked van, was found in possession of more than one foreign passport. His travelling companions, Michal Fraidman, Liron Sade and Guy Jordan, met with Israeli officials and left New Zealand within twelve hours of the earthquake. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu phoned New Zealand Prime Minister, John Key four times to enquire about the four Israelis. However, no conclusive evidence could be found to implicate the backpackers.

    Visa requirements

    New Zealand citizens travelling on a New Zealand passport enjoy the privilege of visa-free access to over 170 countries and territories around the world, including all European Union member states according to the Visa Restrictions Index. It is ranked 7th on the Visa Restrictions Index, tied with the Greek passport.

    Foreign travel statistics

    According to the statistics these are the numbers of New Zealand visitors to various countries per annum in 2015 (unless otherwise noted):


    New Zealand passport Wikipedia