New Zealand passport

New Zealand passport
New Zealand passport
Uruwhenua Aotearoa
The front cover of a contemporary New Zealand biometric passport
The front cover of a contemporary New Zealand biometric passport
Date first issued 23 November 2009 (current version)
Issued by  New Zealand
Type of document Passport
Purpose Identification
Eligibility requirements New Zealand citizens
Expiration 5 years after acquisition

New Zealand passports (in Māori: Uruwhenua Aotearoa) are issued to New Zealand citizens for the purpose of international travel. The Department of Internal Affairs is responsible for issuing New Zealand passports.



In 1948, following the creation of New Zealand citizenship with the passing of the British Nationality and New Zealand Citizenship Act, the Department of Internal Affairs began issuing New Zealand passports for the first time. Between 1948 and 1977, New Zealand passports bore the words 'New Zealand citizen and British subject'.[1]

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.[2][3]

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 1996, the New Zealand High Commission in London began issuing machine readable passports.[4] By 2003, only around 4% of all New Zealand passport holders still held a non-machine readable version.[5]

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.[6][7] 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.[8] 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 has also meant that all New Zealand passports issued on or after 26 October 2004 are machine readable. Remaining non-machine readable New Zealand passports (M series) are still valid and will expire by 25 October 2014 at the latest (only around 2% of New Zealand passport holders still have a non-machine readable version).[9]

All passports issued on or after 24 April 2005 - both adult and child - have a maximum validity of five years as a result of the Passports Amendment Act (2005). Passports that were issued prior to this date continue to remain valid until the date of expiry as stated on the biodata page. On the same day, 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.

On 4 November 2005, the Department of Internal Affairs began issuing New Zealand biometric passports (EA series).[10] 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.[11]

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.[12] Unlike the previous biometric passport, photographs on the biodata page are now laser engraved in black and white for extra security.[13]

The Department of Internal Affairs plans to have a new passport design within 5 years of the last launch (i.e. before November 2014) in order to keep ahead of fraudsters who seek to counterfeit New Zealand passports.[14]

Entitlement to a passport

Only New Zealand citizens are entitled to be issued New Zealand passports. 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 for details.


  • Regular passport (black cover) - Issued for ordinary travel, such as vacations and business trips
  • Diplomatic passport (red cover)[15] - Issued to New Zealand diplomats, top ranking government officials and diplomatic couriers
  • Official passport (green cover) - Issued to individuals representing the New Zealand government on official business
  • Emergency travel document (black cover) - Issued for urgent travel

Obtaining a passport

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.

Regular passports cost NZ$153.30 (adult) and NZ$81.70 (child) when issued in New Zealand, AU$162 (adult) and AU$83 (child) in Australia and £76 (adult) and £40 (child) in the United Kingdom. Additional fees may apply for expedited services and delivery.

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.[16]

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. Given that the maximum validity of New Zealand passports is 5 years (for both adults and children), 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.

Physical appearance

New Zealand passports are black, with New Zealand Coat of arms emblazoned 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 is on the bottom. Passports prior to November 2009 were navy blue.

Biodata page

The design of the biodata page

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

  • Photo of passport holder
  • Type (P)
  • Issuing state
  • Passport No.
  • Surname
  • Given names
  • Nationality
  • Date of birth
  • Sex
  • Place of birth (Passports Issued after December 2005 will only include city of birth)
  • Date of issue
  • Authority
  • Date of expiry

The information page ends with the Machine Readable Zone.

Passport note

The 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.)


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 full five 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.[17] It was not until a year later that the Israeli Government formally apologised to the New Zealand Government for its actions.

Israeli spies (2011)

A combination of unusual events immediately following the death of an Israeli, Ofer Mizrahi, in the 2011 Christchurch earthquake aroused the suspicion of the New Zealand Government, which decided to investigate whether he and his companions had links to Mossad. In particular, 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,[18] as well as other highly sensitive intelligence files. The story then gained media attention worldwide after it was revealed by The Southland Times in July 2011.

Mizrahi, who died in the earthquake after being crushed by falling masonry in a parked van, was found in possession of at least five foreign passports. All of his travelling companions, Michal Fraidman, Liron Sade and Guy Jordan, met with Israeli officials and left New Zealand within twelve hours of the earthquake (despite the chaos and difficulties relating to travel and communication in the immediate aftermath of the earthquake), having been personally escorted by Shemi Tzur, the Israeli ambassador, to the airport.[19] Not long afterwards, the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu phoned the New Zealand Prime Minister, John Key, four times to enquire about the four Israeli travellers.[20]

Further suspicions regarding the real identity of Mizrahi were raised when The Southland Times revealed that, despite media reports within Israel describing him as a popular person, a Facebook tribute page had only received five comments.

Although no conclusive evidence could be found to implicate the four Israeli backpackers, leading security experts, such as Paul Buchanan,[21] have nonetheless continued to argue that there remain many unanswered questions surrounding the affair.


See also


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ [2]
  3. ^ [3]
  4. ^ [4]
  5. ^ [5]
  6. ^ [6]
  7. ^ [7]
  8. ^ [8]
  9. ^ [9]
  10. ^ TVNZ: Government introduces e-passport
  11. ^ NZ Herald: Microchips in passports double price
  12. ^ [10]
  13. ^ [11]
  14. ^ [12]
  15. ^ [13]
  16. ^ Foreign & Commonwealth Office: The new UK Emergency Passport
  17. ^ [14]
  18. ^ [15]
  19. ^ [16]
  20. ^ [17]
  21. ^ [18]

External links

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