Final call for New Zealand departure cards

Departure cards no more at New Zealand entry points.
Departure cards no more at New Zealand entry points.

That last-minute burden of filling out a departure card before taking flight out of New Zealand will be a thing of the past come November, when travellers will no longer need to complete the bothersome documents.

Seamless departure

“This will improve the experience of all travellers departing New Zealand, enabling a faster and smoother process ahead of the busy holiday period,” said Immigration Minister Iain-Lees Galloway. “It will also save more than 100,000 hours of time currently spent by travellers completing more than 6.5 million departure cards per year.

“The removal of departure cards will align with international best practice. Few other countries have departure cards with the level of detail required by the New Zealand one.

“This also brings us closer to seamless travel between Australia and New Zealand for the benefit of Trans-Tasman travellers and businesses,” he said. “Travellers will be able to travel departure card-free on both sides of the Tasman. Australia removed their departure card last year.”

Paperless trail

Customs Minister Meka Whaitiri said the cards are no longer needed for their original purpose, which was to account for all passengers crossing the New Zealand border. “We have smarter systems now that capture passenger identity information and travel movement records electronically.”

“Information captured by the departure cards is now mainly used for statistical purposes. Stats NZ has developed an alternative way to produce migration and tourism statistics, based on actual movements rather than passengers’ stated intentions on the departure cards” said Meka Whaitiri.

Electronic systems will capture who is leaving New Zealand accurately. Tourism and migration statistics currently rely
on departure cards, which ask travellers how long they have been in New Zealand and how long they intend to be away. From November, Stats NZ will switch to a new system that measures actual time that travellers are in New Zealand and how long they are away.

Removing the arrival card is more difficult. Arrival cards collect important traveller declarations that are used by border staff to manage immigration, smuggling and biosecurity risks. Officials are in the early stages of exploring alternative means of capturing this information, but there are no set timeframes.

The New Zealand Customs Service will advise passengers of the exact date when departure cards will be removed closer to the time. The New Zealand Government has released an online Fact Sheet.

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