New Zealand will axe departure cards in November 2018

New Zealand will axe departure cards in November 2018

New Zealand will follow Australia's lead in scrapping departure cards for outbound travellers.

The white and orange paper slips will be phased out in November this year, the NZ Government announced over the weekend, although inbound passengers will still need to complete an arrival card.

The move will be especially welcomed by Australian business travellers who regularly dart across the Tasman. 

"Information captured by the departure cards is now mainly used for statistical purposes," noted NZ Customs Minister Meka Whaitiri.

"This also brings us closer to seamless travel between Australia and New Zealand for the benefit of Trans-Tasman travellers and businesses. Travellers will be able to travel departure card-free on both sides of the Tasman."

It's estimated that travellers leaving New Zealand fill out around 6.5 million departure cards each year, but Whaitiri says the government's Stats NZ arm "has developed an alternative way to produce migration and tourism statistics, based on actual movements rather than passengers' stated intentions on the departure cards."

Both the Australian and New Zealand governments have long talked up ways to remove 'barriers to movement' between both countries, and in 2009  plans were set up – but never enacted – to trial a clearance system similar to that used in Europe across European Union countries

There was also talk of trialling a cloud passport which would replace physical passports with digital passenger information and biometric data stored on government servers for access by border agencies.

Airlines have also pitched in, with Qantas CEO Alan Joyce last year renewing the push for 'seamless' trans-Tasman travel which would make flying to New Zealand no different to crossing into another Aussie state.

“We think that Australia-New Zealand should have as seamless access as possible" Joyce told a meeting of the Trans-Tasman Business Circle in Wellington.

Joyce affirmed that such an arrangement "would make it easier for business travellers and it would make tourism a lot easier," while admitting there would also be an upside for Qantas: New Zealand flights could depart from domestic rather than international airports.

"From an infrastructure perspective what it does is improve our efficiency dramatically because we can use domestic terminals."

David Flynn
David Flynn is the editor of Australian Business Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.


  • eminere


    27 Aug, 2018 01:15 pm

    This is great news.
    No member give thanks

  • Nick  Sydney 348

    Nick Sydney 2

    27 Aug, 2018 01:36 pm

    Next step is to treat these as domestic flights to be truly seamless.
    No member give thanks

  • Bob Burgess

    Bob Burgess

    27 Aug, 2018 01:52 pm

    If you're a Qantas Platinum frequent flyer be careful what you wish for, domestic departure for Qantas NZ flights would mean no access to the QF International First lounge, just the domestic business lounge.
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  • GoldCanyon340


    27 Aug, 2018 02:53 pm

    I never want that to happen.... much prefer Tasman flying after a First Lounge visit!
    No member give thanks

  • Graham Steele


    27 Aug, 2018 03:32 pm

    Isn't this Back to the Future. I recall in the 70s when I first came here you did not need a passport to Aus - NZ flights
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  • Alan Su


    27 Aug, 2018 05:33 pm

    Now if only Oz can follow NZ and remove the requirement for you to hold on to your SmartGate ticket on arrival till quarantine!
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  • highflyer


    28 Aug, 2018 03:16 am

    I never understood why they bothered with a Smartgate Ticket. Most other countries where i have visited that use similar smart gates, the passport is all you need. What a waste of "paper" and time, often having to hold onto another piece of useless paper.
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  • Chris Chamberlin


    28 Aug, 2018 08:23 am

    The tickets are required because the system prints an extra letter onto the ticket as you go through the SmartGate barrier, which tells the staff member manning the exit whether you’ve been flagged for any type of extra screening or there’s anything else to ask you about. That’s why they always ask for it after looking at your incoming passenger card (if you haven’t given them the ticket already), because otherwise the officer at passport control writes the appropriate letter or code onto your IPC.
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  • Tom Wilson


    28 Aug, 2018 12:18 pm

    Interesting. A form of "profiling". I wonder how other nations, those who don't ask you to hang onto the ticket, go about recognizing and taking aside those who've been flagged?
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  • cavemanzk


    28 Aug, 2018 03:58 pm

    And ditch the SmartGate kiosks you have to get the ticket from too! AKL has been using the newer version without needing an ticket for arrivals for over an year now (Same as what AU depatures now have).
    No member give thanks

  • Tom Wilson


    28 Aug, 2018 08:04 am

    I'm with steeleg and Mr Joyce - let's go back to the sensible arrangements of the 1970's.
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  • Brian Williams


    29 Aug, 2018 03:26 pm

    Won't happen during Obergruppenfuhrer Duttons reign in charge of 'Border Protection'
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  • Philip Devlin

    Dr Travel

    28 Aug, 2018 11:08 am

    Great news!
    Often at AKL there a bottle necks just to hand over the card you filled out 30 seconds easrlier!
    No member give thanks

  • Pablo


    28 Aug, 2018 06:27 pm

    This is great news! It is always a time waster at AKL, particularly since the refurb as you spend more time waiting in line to hand these in than going through the smart gates.
    No member give thanks

  • anthony watts

    anthony watts

    31 Aug, 2018 08:13 am

    You can blame little johnny Howard for the current trans Tasman travel chaos. Back in the late 80s/90s the highest level advice was to (re)create a single zone. It didn't get up because Howard was frightened of his perception of the "Maori problem" in Sydney.
    May it be rectified asap.
    No member give thanks


24 Jul, 2019 12:51 pm


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