Superyacht and Crew Entry: New Zealand Border Covid-19

A Letter from the Director,

New Zealand Covid-19 UPDATE: August 2020

It is time for a factual Covid update from down under regarding yacht and crew entry in to New Zealand. There has been a lot of information circulating via various media with news out of NZ as the Government grapples with establishing a secure border control.

I have tried to convey below the current situation as it stands and the way forward that is being planned.

There has been a lot going on down here in New Zealand, up until the 12th of August we were 102 days of Covid free NZ with 90% of the population going about life saying “what Covid?” which you can hardly blame them for. The Auckland region has now gone in to level 3 lockdown with the rest of the country moved to level 2. Regardless of the recent small community cluster the Real Estate market hasn’t slackened off, highways are clogged again and it is business as usual or from home for most in fact some are even doing better because the Kiwi is spending money at home.

 For those of us at the coal face though it has been an interesting couple of months with most of our time being taken up with lobbying Government, writing supporting documents for our NZ Marine Industry Association to present to cabinet. 

It has been a very fluid time with changes to rules and application procedures changing weekly if not daily in some cases.

Creating procedures for applying the policies has and still is a challenge for the people inside Immigration NZ and the Health Department so there has been quite a time lag with processing any applications whether they be crew visa extensions or applications for entry. 

Though it has been tough, progress is being made now and we currently have in place a process for bringing vessels into NZ for Refit and Repair along with their crews which is pretty straight forward.

  1. As vessel agent, we send an application to the Ministry of Health for a maritime exemption
  2. When permission is granted we apply to Immigration NZ along with the approval letter from MOH.
  3. INZ approve in principal and we then submit an application to travel to NZ for each crew member.

Each crew member must have a Covid test in the country of departure and supply the test results so we can forward to MOH, a health report is maintained for each crew member whilst in transit and upon entry the vessel goes to a pre approved quarantine berth for the 14 days isolation period. A Covid test is taken on day 12 for the results to be available for day 14.

Step 2 for Border control is Crew rotation arriving by Air. Although a few managed to gain entry before July 12th there has been a total block since this time when the legislation was changed. We are optimistic that this will be relaxed in the coming weeks as we have been heavily involved in getting the legislation changed to include Yachts for crew changes. Since writing we have had a Captain permitted to enter, once the approval was granted the visa application process was very quick with a 6 month multiple entry visa issued in just 2 days. 

Step 3 is approval for limited numbers of HNWI, high net worth individuals, in an owners party to enter to join their vessel by air. Again a huge amount of work is going on in the back ground from not only the NZ Marine Industry but also the tourism industry especially the high end private lodges to enable this to happen. Previously our optimism that this would happen was based on early Covid hope now we can confirm our optimism is based on hard facts and knowledge of the state of play within Government brought about by our lobbying.

The planned entry for our HNWI is to be able to quarantine for the required 14 days either on board or in an approved Lodge.  Realistically one would not expect this to happen until after the NZ Election scheduled for the 17th of October 2020 but it may also very well happen before as there is now a substantial push from the general population to get our borders open be it limited, very tightly controlled and in a safe manner.  

We will keep you updated as confirmed changes are made but in the mean time we are here to answer any questions that you may have. The information available is becoming more clear now so we should be in a position to answer any questions with some confidence.

With best wishes to all.

Phil Tomlinson
Director, 37South

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