ESTA for New Zealand Citizens -

ESTA for New Zealand Citizens

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As part of the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), citizens from New Zealand are able to visit the US using an ESTA instead of applying for a visa. The ESTA is a much faster and simpler way to get travel authorization to visit the US, so New Zealand citizens can benefit from their country’s agreement with the US government.

What Is the Visa Waiver Program?

The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) enables citizens of specific nations to visit the United States for tourism or business (visitor visa purposes) for stays of 90 days or less without acquiring a visa.

Not all countries are VWP participants, and not all visitors from VWP nations are permitted to use the program. Travelers who use the VWP are required to apply for permission through the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA), undergo screening at the port of entry into the US, and participate in the US-VISIT program run by the Department of Homeland Security.

ESTA Requirements and Important Information

  • Can be used for multiple visits to US
  • ESTA has a limit of maximum 90 days
  • Required for travellers either flying or arriving by sea to the US
  • ESTA links to biometric passports
  • ESTA is issued for two years, or until passport expires
  • Can be used for tourism, business, medical or transit
  • Children are required to have their own ESTA
Application for New Zealand Citizens

How New Zealand Citizens Can Benefit From Using ESTA

Anyone with a NZ citizenship who wants to visit the US for business, tourism, medical or transit purposes can apply for an ESTA as travel authorization. The trip must be for no longer than 90 days in length but the approved ESTA will be valid for two years, or until the expiry of the passport it is linked to. During that period of validity, the ESTA holder is able to make multiple trips to the US using the same ESTA each time. However, if the linked passport expires, a new ESTA must be obtained for the new passport for any future trips to the US.

Applying for a US visa can take a while and involves attending an interview at the US Embassy, so being able to apply using a simple online form is a huge benefit to New Zealand citizens. The application fee is also considerably less for an ESTA than for a US visa, which is another of the advantages.

How New Zealand Citizens Can Apply for ESTA

Citizens from New Zealand can apply for an ESTA by filling in the online ESTA form. They are required to provide information such as personal details and passport details and to answer a set of eligibility questions. The US Department of Homeland Security will use the information to pre-screen the applicant to identify any potential risks to the US. For example, they will be screened for terrorism links, criminal convictions and some medical conditions can also be a reason for an application to be denied.

Citizens from New Zealand should be extremely careful when completing the ESTA application form, as any errors could delay the application. It is recommended that the application is submitted at least 72 hours before the planned travel date. This should hopefully provide enough time to resolve any issues that may arise with the application.

Important Advice for ESTA Application

Applying for the ESTA well in advance of the travel date is important and another factor to remember is that any kind of error could lead to the ESTA being declined. Therefore, it is vital that you check through all of the information you complete before you submit the application. If you need to re-apply for the ESTA, this could disrupt your travel plans.

How Long Is an ESTA Valid for?

An ESTA is valid for two years, or until the user's passport expires, whatever comes first. While the Esta is valid, there is no limit on the number of entries to the US, provided that the visit does not exceed 90 days.

When should I apply and how long does it take to get ESTA approval?

Applying for an ESTA can be done at any time prior to boarding a flight, although the US Customs and Border Control suggests that travelers apply at least 72 hours in advance.

Application processing and approval typically take a few minutes. It can sometimes take longer.

What if my ESTA is Declined?

If your ESTA application is declined, there could still be a solution to enable you to travel to the US. You may be able to obtain a US tourism or business visa, depending on the purposes of your travel. To apply for a US visa, you will need to complete a DS-160 form and then book an appointment to attend an interview at the US Embassy.

New Zealand US Embassy Address:

US Embassy Wellington
29 Fitzherbert Terrac
New Zealand

There is also the US Consulate General in Auckland.

Benefits of ESTA for New Zealand citizens:

  • Speedy processing time
  • Use for tourism, business, medical or transit
  • Can stay in US for up to 90 days
  • Quick to complete application
  • Submit ESTA form using mobile or desktop
  • Use for multiple visits to US

When Should New Zealand Citizens Apply for a Visa Rather Than an ESTA?

NZ citizens should apply for a visa rather than an Esta in the following situations:

  • If their ESTA application is rejected.
  • They have overstayed their visa or ESTA in the past.
  • They don't have a valid e-passport.
  • They plan to stay longer than 90 days.
  • They organize a stay in the USA for employment and study.

Ineligibility for ESTA

Some tourists might not be qualified for visa-free entry to the United States under the VWP. These are:

  • persons who have been arrested - even if the arrest did not result in a criminal conviction
  • persons with a criminal record (even if they are subject to a pardon, amnesty, or other acts of clemency)
  • individuals with certain serious communicable diseases
  • persons who have been denied admission to the US
  • persons who have been deported from the US
  • Individuals who have previously overstayed their visa waiver program

The Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015 have made it illegal for people to travel on the VWP if they have visited or were physically present in Iran, Iraq, North Korea, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, or Yemen on or after March 1, 2011 (with some exceptions for travel for diplomatic or military purposes in support of a VWP country).

Written by Abisola Fikayomi

Abisola is an accomplished writer interested in US Travel, immigration, passports and visas. She’s passionate about exploring new places and cultures and willing to share her experiences, expertize and findings with others. That is her primary drive for specialising in this industry.


Yes, New Zealand citizens can travel to the US without a visa, because they are in the Visa Waiver Program, and they can enter the US with an ESTA (provided they meet the ESTA requirements).
Most often, the application for Esta is processed and approved in a very short period of time - in a few minutes. In some rare situations, it may take a little longer than that.
The ESTA application can be completed via mobile phone, so it is also possible to apply at the airport - it is necessary that the internet is available.
Esta can be denied to persons who: have been arrested; have a criminal record; have certain infectious diseases; have been refused admission to the USA or have been deported from the USA; have previously exceeded their visa waiver program; who visited Iran, Iraq, North Korea, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria or Yemen on or after March 1, 2011.
Esta is not necessary before booking a flight. However, it is better to have the ESTA approved before booking and paying because it may happen that the ESTA is rejected.