19 March 2012

Airlines face fines over New Zealand visa checks

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Under new immigration rules, international airlines which do not ensure that passengers have the appropriate New Zealand visa or permission to enter the country will be fined.

New Zealand visa

Airlines flying into New Zealand will face fines if they have failed to check passengers' credentials properly.

Almost 800 passengers were stopped at the country's airports in 2011, for reasons including false documentation, criminal convictions or simply not having a New Zealand visa.

New Zealand immigration authorities are then forced to process the failed entrants, which can take up to 72 hours and cost NZ$600 (£310) per passenger for food and police supervision.

The government has since introduced new legislation which will require airlines to properly check passengers' documents before allowing them to board the plane. Failure to do so will result in a fine of an as yet undetermined amount, although it is likely it will be enough to cover the cost of processing each failed passenger while reflecting 'the seriousness of each offence and the level of deterrence sought'.

"The introduction of this system will enable immediate, efficient and proportionate action to be taken when carriers breach their obligations," said Peter Elms, acting manager of intelligence, risk and integrity at Immigration New Zealand.

"A carrier that commits an infringement offence may be issued an infringement notice, and then is liable to pay an infringement fee."

Immigration Minister Nathan Guy said the new rules are expected to come into effect around June.

"It's important we protect our borders and encourage compliance with the law," said Mr Guy.

The new fines are similar to policies already in place in the UK, the US, Australia and Canada.


The New Zealand Visa Bureau is an independent migration consultancy that specialises in helping people apply for a New Zealand Working Holiday Visa.

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