Friday, September 21, 2012

Tourist Visa to New Zealand: A Guide for Filipino Travelers

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Have your documents ready if you want to visit New Zealand.
“Why do I have a Philippine passport?” This is my friend’s usual rant before his trips abroad. I did not understand this until l had to apply for a tourist visa on my own and assist some folks in their visa applications. But instead of coming up with a list of rants, I thought it would be better to share my experience in applying for or assisting someone in submitting a visa application. Here’s my step-by-step guide on how to apply for a tourist visa to New Zealand as well as some tips.  (Note: Don’t read this if you’re planning to immigrate, work or stay in New Zealand for more than 6 months).

Step 1:  Download the Tourist/Business Visitor Visa Applicationform (INZ 1189) and fill-up all required information.
-         The 12-page form is for travelers intending to stay in New Zealand for less than 6 months for tourism or business purposes. Make sure to write in English and use capital letters. You will need the details of your current passport when filling up the form. Do not forget to affix your signature on the form as well.

Step 2: Prepare all the requirements that must be attached to your visa application form. The requirements are:
a)      A valid Philippine passport and photocopy of the passport’s biopage (the page with your photo, name, date, etc.)
-        If you don’t have one or if your passport is about to expire in 6 months, make sure to work on that before you apply for your visa.   
b)      2 recent passport-size photographs (4.5cm x 3.5 cm) of yourself
-         Your full name must be written on the back of each photo and the photos must be less than 6 months old.
c)      Manager’s Cheque (Bank draft) payable to  “PIASI”
-        You can request for a manager’s cheque from  your bank. Personal checks or credit card payments are not allowed. The cheque must include the service fee and the applicable courier fee.  Take note that you need to pay the bank for the issuance of the manager’s cheque (as well as requests for bank certificates).
-        As of August 2012, the service fee was 500 pesos and the courier fee for direct lodgment in Manila was 200 pesos (Total of PHP 700). Make sure to check the Immigration New Zealand (INZ) website for an updated list of applicable fees.

For the next items, original and photocopy of these documents must be prepared:
d)      Travel itinerary or flight bookings  
-        Your itinerary should match the number of days you intend to stay in New Zealand. If you’re heading to Australia first before going to New Zealand, make sure to include that in your itinerary, too.
-        If you’re worried that you may not be granted a visa, consider purchasing a ticket departing from the Philippines to New Zealand (or from Australia to New Zealand) first. You may book a return ticket once your visa application’s approved. Another option is to avail of those budget flights to New Zealand so that you won’t hurt your wallet. The risk is that such flights cannot be rebooked.
e)      Evidence of funds for support
-        These include your savings account passbook, bank certificates, credit card statements (which show your credit limit) and other documents that can prove your sources of funds or assets such as a land title.
-        A good credit and savings history would help prove your capability to support your travel to New Zealand. Thus, if you are not paying your credit card bills in full, make sure to settle them before you apply for a visa.  Also, make regular deposits and withdrawals to your savings account. Do not simply deposit a large amount of cash to your bank account because that may appear suspicious.
-        A personal rule I follow when submitting evidence of funds is that the money I have should reflect more than the total cost of roundtrip tickets, accommodations, tours, food, travel insurance and pocket money.   
f)       If you’re employed: Evidence of employment
-        This refers to your employment certificate, written on the company letterhead and bearing the company’s stamp and signature of the company head or the head of the human resource department. The employment certificate must indicate your name, position, salary, length of employment, leave approval, as well as your employer’s name and contact details.
g)     If self-employed or running your own business: Business or company registration certificate which proves ownership and your company’s bank statements.  
h)     Clear copy of any visa issued to you (e.g., U.S. Visa, Taiwan Visa, etc.)
i)       Letter of invitation or copy of correspondence with your business contacts if traveling for the first time to New Zealand for business purposes.

There are other requirements in case you’re traveling for family-related purposes (e.g., family reunions or weddings). Please refer to the INZ Visitor Visa checklist for more information.

Step 3:  Place your completed application form and all requirements in a long brown envelope.
Make sure to review all your documents and check if these are complete before placing them inside the envelope. Incomplete requirements can affect your visa application.

Step 4:  Lodge your application.
Applying for a visitor’s visa to New Zealand is surprisingly less complicated than applying for a visa to the U.S.  There is no need to schedule an online appointment or talk to a consul.  Just bring all the requirements to the VIA Center, located at the 3rd floor of Allegro Center, 2284 Chino Roces (Pasong Tamo) Extension, Barangay Magallanes, Makati City. Lodging of applications is from 8:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. (Monday to Friday) and 8:30 a.m. to 12:00 noon (Saturday).

Map to the VIA Center in Makati
(Downloaded from the Immigration New  Zealand Website)
Upon arrival at the center, you’d be asked to sign the visitor’s logbook. Then you’d be issued a form and a queue number. Fill-up the form, take a seat and wait for your turn to be called. A VIA staff will then review your documents then ask you give your payment to the cashier. You will be issued a receipt and a slip of paper that your visa application has been received.

The decision for granting a visitor’s visa remains with the Immigration New Zealand office. Average processing time is 15 working days. There’s no need to go back to VIA to find out the status of your visa application. Your passport and other documents will be returned via courier once a decision has been made.

Alternatively, you can lodge your application through the VIA Call Center. This requires a higher courier fee (PHP 350 as of July 2012) which can be included in the bank draft/manager’s cheque.  Your passport and other documents will be picked up then returned to your delivery address.

On a personal note, I think that aside from strong evidence of financial capacity to support one’s travel, having a visa from another county expedites the application process.  A colleague with a US visa received his visa in 10 days while my mother, who has US, Schengen and China visas, was granted a New Zealand visitor visa in less than a week.
By the way, application for a visitor’s visa to Australia is also done at the VIA Center in Makati (It’s literally across the New Zealand booths). Find out how you can lodge a visitor’s visa to Australia in my next post.(Coming soon!)  
Getting to the VIA Center in Manila:  
Take the MRT, get off at Magallanes station (head to the exit at Alphaland Mall), then ride a jeep with a “Gate 3” signage. Ask the driver to drop you off at the Allegro Center. It’s about 2 blocks away from the GSK (Glaxo-SmithKline) office. You’ll know you’re at Allegro when you see a building with a Starbucks café.



  1. Well, this tourist visa guide is really helpful, specially for those who want to travel to New Zealand. With this guide, they can surely get the visa that they want. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Happy 2013, Rain. All the best for you this new year! :)

  3. How did you bring your money to NZ? Did you bring cash or what?

  4. Is a 17 year old Filipino allowed to travel in NZ alone?

  5. Hi Rain!

    I just got back from Australia and I'm planning to go back again on May but with a side trip to NZ for 2 weeks for the snow. How do you think I should apply for both visa? apply simultaneously? or apply for my Aussie tourist visa first then the NZ TV?


  6. Anyone who plans to enter a foreign land needs to declare his intentions of staying abroad. Every country have different Visa rules which are planned by their own government. This article is really informative.

  7. This comment has been removed by the author.

  8. Re: the purchase of a ticket, what if I'm denied a visa, can I refund the money? Thanks

  9. They also help the passengers with their visa and all such additional formalities and transportation.

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  10. My cousin is now leaving in new Zealand and hearing from him I think its great there. I want to visit new Zealand someday too :)

  11. My tourist visa application is with the Immigration Officer and I have provided all the needed information, pertaining documents and strong proof I have suffice funds and job here in the Philippines however, when it was mentioned about visiting a boyfriend, they have quite been very tedious on our personal ties. Was asked on phone bills, pictures, letters, timeline of how we met etc. My boyfriend was even surprised about this. Is this quite normal? I have travelled only in Asia, HK, Macau, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia and my first time to visit NZ. I am really wanting to spend quality time with my boyfriend more than anything else.

  12. you might need bank certificate i can help is my contact number 09065176052

    1. I tried calling you but it seems that your number is not working...

  13. is it ok to include old passport in the application? because my US visa is in my old passport? or will a copy of the visa suffice?

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  16. This is very helpful! Everything I want to know is here in this article already. Thank you for sharing this blog. Also, I found this fantastic deal travellers to New Zealand shouldn't miss!

  17. Hi Rain. My partner and I is planning to visit NZ. What about sponsorship? You havent discuss about the sponsorship. If you can, i would love to. Yes i dont have sufficient fund to support myself but my partner has the ability to pay all expenses. Hope you will help me with this. Thank you and Good day!

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  19. Thanks for the information! Can I lodge the application together w/ my Dad's in the same envelope? My Dad and I are travelling together for 15 days to NZ.

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  22. Informative Blog!It's great help for tourist specially for those who want to travel to New Zealand. Thanks for sharing.

  23. Hi there. You don't know how helpful this is ��
    I really appreciate it. Btw, if I'm targeting Jan 2018 as my travel date, when should I start preparing the docs for visa app? Once approved, how long will it be valid?

  24. Great..It's very informative blog.It's great help for tourist.Thanks for sharing.


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