Entering NZ With Criminal Record. My Experience January 2019

By Harry53 - 27 Jan 19 2:57 PM

I am writing this to save potential travellers the agony of being refused entry, with a criminal conviction.

I recently flew to Auckland thinking I did not need any back up documentation as I am an English citizen and I did not require a Visa. Yes I have a criminal record, which is only 2.5 yrs old now, and I did read the NZ immigration website before booking my flight and travelling. The one thing I did not appreciate was, that to enter NZ you must be able to prove you are of a good character. Turning up with a criminal record makes them nervous. How do they know you are a reformed and good person without some evidence from your home country? Simply, they do not. 

Since my marriage breakup and my new life (I had a 2 yr suspended sentence), I have been nothing but honest. So arriving at NZ, I filled in the LANDING CARD and ticked the box admitting I had a conviction, and was refused entry in the Philippines in 2017 (8 weeks after being allowed in!!). Ok, lets be transparent and honest here. Lying on the card and on the automatic immigration touch screen  was a crime and there was no way I needed any more stress. So I openly accepted the interview with a really nice immigration lady official, and always believing that I could enter. My trip was for 5 weeks travelling and visiting my daughter, but after waiting 30 minutes, the lady returned to reluctantly say I was not allowed entry. 

Why? Well although the Embassy website states that I might need a Police certificate, no one actually told me that is what I needed. It was also my fault as I could have called the Embassy and asked the question; but I did not. Under Section 109/113 of the Immigration Act 2009 I was refused. All was not lost though, as I was reliably informed that I can return to NZ but I will need a Visa and POLICE CERTIFICATE.

What happened next was actually a good experience. I was allowed to shower and change, and wander around the airport to eat, before returning on the evening flight. Everyone was really nice to me at Auckland and in Malaysia when I had a stop over.

On the flights back I was not allowed any alcohol as it is a safeguard against rejected or refused entry people who may become very aggressive. 

On reflection I could have denied having a criminal record on the touch screen at immigration and walked in to start my holiday. However I feel it is best to be 100% honest as this is my new life and why would I want the extra worry of getting caught out again. Once is enough in my life.

I hope this has been useful.

By AB2014 - 2 Apr 19 9:55 AM

Harry53 - 28 Mar 19 6:03 PM
AB2014 - 5 Feb 19 1:31 PM
Mr W - 4 Feb 19 7:18 PM
Sorry to hear this Harry and thanks for sharing your experience. That's a looooooong way to go to be told no.
Forgive me if this is a stupid question, did you have to purchase the flight back? I ask so I can prepare extra funds for if that situation ever happens to me.
I hope you manage to get in next time and it would be great to hear about that experience too Smile


I don't know Harry's circumstances, and I certainly can't speak on his behalf, but to get into New Zealand on the waiver system, you need to have a return ticket. That probably applies to a lot of countries with visa waiver schemes.

I had booked a return ticket as i was booked in for a Flying Kiwi 4 week trip and a visit to my daughter. I do not think any country would allow anyone in without an exit date

Well, many people arrive with an open return, so there's no date specified. In those circumstances, they are relying on the traveller not overstaying. It has happened in the UK, normally on the visa waiver programme but in theory it could happen with a traveller from any country who has a visa and an open return.