Travel and Border Control

Planning to travel to the Cook Islands

The Cook Islands current Section 9A Notice for Refusal of Entry under the Entry, Residence and Departure Act 1971-72, signed into effect from 12 May 2020 and still active, is as follows;

All persons are denied entry into the Cook Islands unless there is an exemption provided (in writing) by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration.

Effective from 11.59pm Monday 18th January 2021 (CKT), the following persons are exempted for entry into the Cook Islands, provided they additionally meet the entry criteria specified below;

  1. Cook Islanders (as verified via Cook Islands Status stamp)
  2. Permanent Residents of the Cook Islands
  3. Cook Islands work permit holders
  4. Cook Islands resident permit holders

Entry Criteria

  1. Must have spent the last 14 days in New Zealand and/or the Cook Islands, prior to entry intothe Cook Islands

Clinical/medical criteria to be administered by Te Marae Ora Ministry of Health prior to departure from Auckland, New Zealand;

  1. Requires approval from the Secretary of Te Marae Ora
  2. Provides a negative COVID-19 test within 96 hours prior to departure from Auckland, NewZealand

Pilot’s and crew aboard commercial Air New Zealand flights may also be exempted from the above restrictions under entry criteria, terms and conditions determined by Te Marae Ora Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration.

All requests for entry into the Cook Islands must be sought from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration (Te Kauono Tutara e te Mana Tiaki) on email: [email protected] or phone: +682 29347.

>> Notice of Amended Travel Advisory dated 14 January 2021

Planning to travel to New Zealand

Quarantine-Free Travel (QFT) from the Cook Islands to New Zealand will commence from 20, January, 2021.

This means that people travelling from the Cook Islands to New Zealand are no longer required on arrival to enter a managed isolation facility for 14 days. This does not change in any way the current eligibility for people to travel from New Zealand to the Cook Islands.

To be eligible for travel a person must:

  • not having been overseas outside of the Cook Islands or New Zealand in the past 14 days;
  • having maintained physical distancing (to the greatest extent practicable) from any person, at the airport at which they arrive, who did not arrive from the Cook Islands;
  • having worn a face covering while in the airport at which they arrived in New Zealand; and
  • there are no reasonable grounds (as determined by a suitably qualified health practitioner) to suspect that the person may have COVID-19. That might include, among other things:
    • - having had contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case within the past 14 days;
    • - having any COVID-19 symptoms; and
    • - be awaiting a COVID-19 test result

Non eligible passengers will be required to follow New Zealand Government protocols. Before you travel, you must secure your place in a managed isolation facility. It is important to note that managed isolation chargers apply. For more information visit https://www.miq.govt.nz/

Immigration eligibility
Anyone travelling from the Cook Islands as part of the quarantine-free travel will be exempt from New Zealand’s current border restrictions. This means that normal immigration requirements will apply.
Most travellers from the Cook Islands are likely to be New Zealand or Australia citizens and therefore do not require a visa or NZeTA (New Zealand Electronic Travel Authority).

Individuals who are eligible to travel visa-waiver or who require a visa will need to apply for an NZeTA or visa. They must be in the Cook Islands when they apply.
Individuals who have an existing valid visa or NZeTA can still use this, they do not need to apply for a new one. Any visas which have been granted will only be valid for travel between the Cook Islands and New Zealand.

Your Questions Answered

Faq’s For Planning Travel To The Cook Islands

How Do I Request for Entry?

All requests for entry into the Cook Islands under this provision must be sought from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration (Te Kauono Tutara e te Mana Tiaki) on email: [email protected].

Who is Allowed Into the Country?

All persons are denied entry into the Cook Islands unless there is an exemption provided (in writing) by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration. Effective from 11:59pm Monday 18th January 2021 (CKT), the following people are exempted for entry into the Cook Islands, provided they meet the entry criteria specified below;

  1. Cook Islanders (as verified via Cook Islands Status stamp)
    1. What if I don’t have my Cook Islands Status stamp in my passport? If your birth place is outside of the Cook Islands, we may need more information, please email: [email protected] and we will assist you.
  2. Permanent Residents of the Cook Islands
  3. Cook Islands work permit holders
  4. Cook Islands resident permit holders
    1. What if my work or resident permit expired in the last 3 months, while outside of the Cook Islands? You must have a valid permit for travel and entry into the Cook Islands. Please email: [email protected], your passport bio data page and most recent permit stamp and we will assist you.
To Get Approval for Travel What Must I Do?
  1. Undergo a COVID-19 test within 96 hours of your flight departing Auckland, which must be negative
  2. Advise and seek approval from Te Marae Ora
  3. Complete the exit health clearance process at Auckland International Airport
  4. Visit your GP for a health check if you feel unwell, and ensure you have adequate medicine supplies
1.1 How Do I Arrange a Covid-19 Test?
  • COVID-19 tests are available at community-based testing centres in Auckland.
  • Please contact your usual GP in New Zealand for further information regarding testing centres. If you do not have an Auckland based GP, please contact Te Marae Ora on email: [email protected]
  • When you present for your test, ensure you have a mobile number and email address so that the test results can be sent to your phone and / or email. Forward the results to Te Marae Ora on email: [email protected].
  • If you require further assistance contact your GP. It will be the responsibility of the traveller to make the necessary arrangements and cover any associated cost with undertaking COVID-19 testing prior to departure.
1.2 When Should I Arrange My Covid-19 Test?
  • As soon as possible.
  • COVID-19 tests must be arranged within 96 hours of your flight departing Auckland.
1.3 Can I Travel to the Cook Islands Before I Have Received My Covid-19 Test Results?
  • No.
  • If you know you will not be receiving the results of your COVID-19 test prior to your check-in, please contact Te Marae Ora directly by either;
  • Email: [email protected] or Phone: Cook Islands +682 29 110
1.4 What if I Am Travelling From Australia (or Another Country)?
  • You cannot travel directly to the Cook Islands from Australia (or any other country). You will be required to stay in New Zealand for 14 days.
  • New Zealand requires all arrivals to enter their managed isolation facilities for 14 days.
  • Please check the New Zealand COVID-19 website for applicable charges to enter their managed isolation facilities.
2.1 What Happens When I Have Provided Te Marae Ora My Test Result?
  • Once Te Marae Ora has received the results of your COVID-19 test result (negative), your details will be communicated to Immigration Cook Islands who will provide final approval for you to travel to the Cook Islands.
3.1 What Should I Remember to Do When I Am at Auckland International Airport?
  • When moving through the airport, please remain vigilant and maintain physical distancing as much as possible from other persons.
3.2 Where is the Health Clearance Service at Auckland International Airport?
  • Exit health clearance services are clearly marked inside the departure's terminal. This service is provided for all passengers departing Auckland for Rarotonga.
  • This involves a health questionnaire and temperature check undertaken by health officials.
3.3 What Do I Do When I Enter the Departures Terminal?
  • You will need to present a record of your test results (mobile, email, paper) before you undergo your exit health screen. Once you have obtained clearance, join the queue for check-in and proceed through customs to your boarding gate.
3.4 What Happens When I Am on the Plane?

It is mandatory for all passengers to wear face masks at all times. Face masks will be provided by flight attendants. You will be handed a number of forms and brochures for you to read & complete. These include the Cook Islands Immigration & Customs arrival card, Cook Islands Health declaration form, The Cook Islands Promise brochure and CookSafe QR card with a registration form.

What Happens When I Arrive in Rarotonga?
  • On arrival into Rarotonga we ask that you keep your mask on at all times.
  • Upon entering the arrivals hall, present your health arrivals declarations card to the health official. Should you require further health assistance, the health booth will be available.
  • Give your completed CookSafe registration form to a health official before you enter the customs terminal.

Faq’s For Planning Travel To New Zealand

When Will People Travelling From The Cook Islands Be Able To Start Quarantine-free Travel To NZ?

Quarantine-Free Travel (QFT) from the Cook Islands to New Zealand will commence from 20, January, 2021 (Cook Islands time).
This means that people travelling from the Cook Islands to New Zealand are no longer required on arrival to enter a managed isolation facility for 14 days.
Today’s announcement does not change in any way the current eligibility for people to travel from New Zealand to the Cook Islands.

Who Is Eligible For Quarantine-free Entry To NZ?

To be eligible for travel a person must:

  • not having been overseas outside of the Cook Islands or New Zealand in the past 14 days;
  • having maintained physical distancing (to the greatest extent practicable) from any person, at the airport at which they arrive, who did not arrive from the Cook Islands;
  • having worn a face covering while in the airport at which they arrived in New Zealand; and
  • there are no reasonable grounds (as determined by a suitably qualified health practitioner) to suspect that the person may have COVID-19. That might include, among other things:
    • - having had contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case within the past 14 days;
    • - having any COVID-19 symptoms; and
    • - be awaiting a COVID-19 test result

Immigration eligibility
Anyone travelling from the Cook Islands as part of the quarantine-free travel will be exempt from New Zealand’s current border restrictions. This means that normal immigration requirements will apply. Most travellers from the Cook Islands are likely to be New Zealand or Australia citizens and therefore do not require a visa or NZeTA (New Zealand Electronic Travel Authority).
Individuals who are eligible to travel visa-waiver or who require a visa will need to apply for an NZeTA or visa. They must be in the Cook Islands when they apply.
Individuals who have an existing valid visa or NZeTA can still use this, they do not need to apply for a new one. Any visas which have been granted will only be valid for travel between the Cook Islands and New Zealand.

Who Is Eligible To Travel To The Cook Islands From New Zealand?

The QFT announcement does not change in any way the current eligibility for people to travel from New Zealand to the Cook Islands.

When Will Wider Two-way Quarantine-free Travel Between The Cook Islands And New Zealand Commence?

Preparation to resume free movement in both directions is underway, but for now restrictions on who can enter the Cook Islands are still in place. For New Zealanders considering any international travel, the New Zealand Government continues to advise all New Zealanders not to travel overseas at this time.

Are There Any Conditions For People From The Cook Islands Travelling To Nz To Meet Before They Can Return To The Cook Islands?

The current criteria to enter the Cook Islands remains unchanged.

What Will Travellers From The Cook Islands See/have To Do At The Rarotonga International Airport Before Their Departure?

Processes for departing passengers at Rarotonga International Airport will largely continue as they operate currently, including a pre-departure health check.
In addition, passengers will be provided with information about what is expected when they arrive in New Zealand.
In-flight communications will include information on using the NZ COVID Tracer App, mask-wearing requirements in New Zealand, observing good COVID hygiene, and what to do if people feel unwell.

What Will Travellers From The Cook Islands See/have To Do At Auckland International Airport On Arrival In New Zealand?

Arriving passengers will complete arrival health questions on their passenger arrival card.

In addition, New Zealand public health officials will be undertaking random temperature checks of passengers on all flights arriving from the Cook Islands into New Zealand.

What Will Happen To A Traveller If They Are Unwell At Their Departure Airport?

A health professional will make an assessment and provide advice to the airline on whether they can travel. Airlines can refuse to board an ill traveller if required.

What Will Happen To A Traveller If They Become Unwell During The Flight?

Normal ‘sick’ traveller protocols will apply while on board aircraft. A health official will then make an assessment on arrival in New Zealand.

What Will Happen To A Traveller If They Are Unwell On Arrival In Nz Or During Their Stay In Nz?

If a passenger is unwell on arrival in New Zealand, a health official will make an assessment. If they have any symptoms of COVID-19 they (and those travelling with them) may be required to transfer to a quarantine facility for 14 days.
If a passenger develops any symptoms of COVID-19 whilst in New Zealand they must isolate where they are and call Healthline on 0800 611 116 for advice on a COVID-19 test.

Will Travellers From The Cook Islands Have Access To The Nz Tracer App?

Yes. Travellers from the Cook Islands visiting under the quarantine-free travel arrangement are urged to download and track their movements using the NZ COVID Tracer app.
Click here to find out more about the NZ COVID Tracer App.

We recommend all visitors keep track of the 3 Ws:

  • Where you went.
  • When you went there - date and time; and
  • Who you met.

If travellers do not have a mobile telephone, we encourage them to use whatever method works for them, like the NZ COVID Tracer booklet. Tracer booklets will be available to Cook Islands travellers coming to New Zealand.

On Arrival How Will Arriving Quarantine-free Cook Islands Travellers Be Separated From Travellers Arriving From Countries With Covid-19?

Initially flights are only from the Cook Islands to Auckland International Airport. Auckland Airport will use a streamlined Safe Travel Path to process passengers arriving quarantine-free from the Cook Islands. The Safe Travel Path creates separation from other arriving passengers by giving Cook Islands flights exclusive use of the international terminal for arrivals processing. During the 90 minutes prior to the Cook Islands arrival, all parts of the Safe Travel Path will undergo a comprehensive clean to Ministry of Health standards before being used by quarantine-free passengers arriving from the Cook Islands.

The Safe Travel Path is created by:

  • Using flight scheduling to ensure no other international flights arrive within 90 minutes of an arriving Cook Islands flight, to provide a time ‘firebreak’ for cleaning
  • Rigorous cleaning of terminal areas along the Safe Travel Path between flights
  • Escorting passengers off Cook Islands flights when terminal cleaning has concluded and following an arrivals path through the terminal marked out with stanchions and barriers
  • Dedicated border processing lanes and facilities, which will be blocked off when not in use by Cook Islands passengers
  • A baggage reclaim carousel and baggage trolleys used exclusively by travellers arriving quarantine-free from the Cook Islands. When not in use the carousel will be blocked off and trolleys will be sanitised and stored ready for the next Cook Islands flight
  • A double-layer physical barrier in the public area of the arrivals hall blocking access to the terminal exit path used by travellers going into managed isolation or quarantine.

Customs will continue supporting the disembarkation process.

Does The Commencement Of Qft From The Cook Islands Have Any Impacts On The Miq System?

No. Any people from the Cook Islands already in Managed Isolation and Quarantine (MIQ) facilities when Quarantine-Free Travel commences, will need to complete their 14 days in managed isolation.

What Happens If I Have A Voucher In Managed Isolation And Quarantine?

If you are coming from the Cook Islands by air, and you are eligible to enter New Zealand, you will no longer need a voucher for managed isolation if arriving in New Zealand after quarantine-free (QFT) entry commences. Managed Isolation and Quarantine (MIQ) will email you, to advise they have cancelled your voucher.

Does The Qft Travel Arrangement Include Boaties? I.e. Can People From The Cook Islands Travel By Sea-craft As Well As Aircraft?

No. The New Zealand maritime border remains closed. Quarantine-free air travel only has been opened from the Cook Islands to New Zealand. This does not extend to the maritime border. Small craft and yachts coming to New Zealand that have foreign citizens on them, will not be allowed to enter the country unless they have been granted an exemption by the Ministry of Health in New Zealand.

What If There Is A Resurgence Of Covid In Nz, Will Cook Islanders Be Communicated With, And Will They Be Allowed Back To The Cook Islands?

If there is any change in the COVID-19 status of either country, the New Zealand Government’s Unite Against COVID-19 website http://www.covid19.govt.nz/ will carry the latest advice for travellers. Similarly, the official Cook Islands COVID-19 website will provide travellers with the latest information: Cook Islands Government COVID-19 info – Travel and Border Control Airlines are experienced at communicating with their passengers when travel is disrupted, and they will also be an important source of information for travellers if there is a COVID-19 resurgence in New Zealand affecting travel.
It will be the traveller’s responsibility to manage any travel disruption due to COVID-
All travellers should make plans based on the possibility that their return could be delayed and/or they may be required to enter a period of isolation upon their return.

What You Need To Know

Our Commitment

The Cook Islands Promise is our joint commitment to protect all Cook Islands residents, and international visitors from the severe acute respiratory syndrome virus widely known as COVID-19.

Contact Tracing System

A simple and secure contact tracing system which sees all residents and visitors issued with a personal QR card. All businesses and government departments use a smart phone or tablet to download a free app to scan residents and visitors into their premises.

Why is contact tracing important?

If a COVID-19 case has been identified, the Health Department will need to trace people who may have been exposed to the infected individual through the process of contact tracing. This process keeps the Cook Islands and its’ visitors safe and urgently send care for those who need it. Contact tracing is best practice for those on the island in order to prevent widespread infection of COVID-10.

Planning to travel?

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