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If I'm travelling to New Zealand which doesn't require a visa (visa waiver), then should I provide a round-trip flight ticket during check-in?

I heard I need to have a round-trip flight ticket during check-in because the airline doesn't want to incur any loss if I were refused entry to New Zealand.

  • I'm actually asking about during the check-in, will most airlines allow me to go with only one way ticket? See the edit. – spiritact Nov 8 '16 at 16:53
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    Most airlines will not allow you to check in if you do not fulfill the destination country's entry requirements. If you have a ticket that ends in New Zealand, and you're not a citizen or resident of New Zealand or Australia, they'll probably deny boarding unless you can show that you have another ticket for "travel to a country where you have a right of entry." – phoog Nov 8 '16 at 17:49
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    As @phoog says, and note that with a round-trip ticket they're less concerned because your trip back is paid for. If they deliver you on a one-way ticket and you are turned back at the frontier they may end up footing the bill for deporting you back to wherever. – Spehro Pefhany Nov 8 '16 at 19:12
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    @SpehroPefhany also, if the traveler has a round-trip ticket, the airline cannot be fined for bringing the traveler without a round-trip ticket. – phoog Nov 8 '16 at 21:02
  • In practice in my experience most airlines either don't ask or are happy with a verbal declaration of the stay length. I do a little bit of travel on oneway tickets and to my recollection no one has ever asked me to provide evidence of onward travel. Only exception was JAL once, when I was transiting Beijing onto a separate ticket without a visa. – Calchas Dec 6 '16 at 8:41
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For the New Zealand Visa Waiver Visitor Visa you do need

a travel ticket out of New Zealand to a country you have the right to enter.

Even more specific

Onward travel
You must have a travel ticket out of New Zealand to a country you have the right to enter at all times during your visit.

You’ll be asked to show us your travel ticket when you check-in or arrive in New Zealand.

While I do not know whether this will be checked by all airlines for all passengers, they sure have the right (and obligation) to. To be on the safe side, do purchase and show a return ticket. If you are unsure about your date of travel, you might consider purchasing a more expensive flexible ticket or a ticket that can be refunded.

  • if I buy a ticket out of New Zealand to Singapore or Philippines (both are visa waiver countries), will this work? – spiritact Nov 8 '16 at 18:08
  • This depends on whether with your nationality (and personal circumstances) you are always eligible to enter those countries. Usually it is fine, but I have no experience with NZ. @spiritact – mts Nov 8 '16 at 18:16
  • Ok, I have to consider buying a round-trip ticket to avoid the headache. Round-trip ticket will be easier to go through; the only concern is the fixed date of the ticket :-( – spiritact Nov 8 '16 at 19:05
  • @spiritact if it helps: may times round-trip tickets are also by far cheaper than two one-ways combined, up to the point that it is not uncommon to discard the return for a new flight from the very beginning. – mts Nov 8 '16 at 20:09
  • 5 I agree. I'm still confused regarding the policy of IMZ. I'll buy a ticket to Singapore first which is where I'm planning to stay there for a while after I visit NZ. If i I provided the ticket to SIN (I have the right to enter that country without a visa under their visa waiver program) will they accept my ticket from AKL to SIN? – spiritact Nov 8 '16 at 20:17
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In addition to mts answer regarding airline rules for traveling New Zealand.

From the official Air New Zealand website :

Entering New Zealand on a one-way ticket

People travelling to New Zealand on a one-way ticket must be one of the following:

  • a New Zealand passport holder

  • an Australian passport holder a holder of a current permanent resident visa of Australia or

  • a holder of a current Australian Resident Return Visa allowing an indefinite stay

  • other foreign national holding a valid New Zealand Resident Visa, New Zealand Permanent Resident Visa, or New Zealand Citizen Endorsement

  • a holder of a New Zealand visa that clearly states “Return/onward ticket not required”

    All other visitors to New Zealand must possess a return or onward ticket to a country to which you have right of entry. If you are a visitor to New Zealand making a separate international journey from and returning to New Zealand before departing New Zealand on your onward ticket (e.g. travelling to Fiji and then returning to New Zealand), please remember to take your onward ticket with you. You will need to present this when checking in for your return flight to New Zealand.

If you do not hold an appropriate passport, visa or return ticket you may be required to purchase a ticket out of New Zealand to a country that you have right of entry prior to you being able to travel. Such tickets are non-refundable until you are fully able to satisfy the entry requirements of New Zealand.

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When you check in with your airline, they will check Timatic to determine if you have the correct documents for your destination and any transit points.

For an American traveling to NZ with a change of flights in Australia, the airline will be told:

Warning:
- Holders of passports issued by USA traveling under the New Zealand visa-waiver, must hold return/onward tickets. (SEE NOTE 53749)
NOTE 53749: Exempt are holders of authorization issued by New Zealand's immigration authorities waiving the return ticket requirement.

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