Living in New Zealand – should you purchase health insurance?
A number of migrants travelling to New Zealand are not fully aware as to their eligibility for publically funded health care and disability services in New Zealand, if medical treatment is required during the course of their stay.
In most instances, you will be eligible for publically funded health care and disability services if the following applies:
- Your visa is for period of two years or more (or you hold a visa which, which together with previous visas allows you to reside continuously in New Zealand for two years or more).
- You are a pregnant partner of a person is eligible for publically funded health care and disability services, and you require maternity-related services.
- You are a dependant child (under 18 years of age) of a person who is eligible for publically funded healthcare.
There are a number of other circumstances which deem migrants eligible for publically funded healthcare and disability services. Therefore you should seek professional advice to confirm whether this applies to you.
If you are not eligible for publically funded healthcare, and you require treatment in New Zealand, you will be required to pay for the full costs of your care. Therefore, you we strongly recommend you apply for and obtain appropriate medical insurance before travelling to New Zealand that will cover you for the duration of your temporary stay.
South Africa – Visitor Visa changes
From 21 November 2016, South African citizens are no longer eligible for a visitor visa waiver. This means that South Africans can not longer travel to New Zealand for a holiday without first making a formal visitor visa application to Immigration New Zealand (INZ).
INZ has advised that these changes are being made as there has been an increase in the number of non-genuine South African visitors being refused entry to New Zealand at the boarder.
If any South African nationals are planning to travel to New Zealand for a holiday, or are looking to consider migrating permanently and therefore wish to undertake a “Look, See, and Decide (LSD) trip”, they should submit a formal visitor visa application at least six weeks prior to their travel. In relation to the latter, professional guidance and assistance should be sought, especially if a person is travelling for an employment interview (which is actually allowed under the policy as long as an offer of employment has not been made prior to travel).
Interestingly, INZ has now added Mauritius and Seychelles to the list of countries for whose citizens are eligible for a visa waiver. Therefore, if you a national of either country, are seeking a visitor visa for three months or less, and your visit is not for medical consultation or treatment, a visa waiver may apply to you.
If you are intending to travel to New Zealand, and you are unsure about whether you require a visa, you should seek professional advice and assistance.
Driving in New Zealand
Driving in New Zealand can be a very different and often challenging experience for many new migrants. Unfamiliar signage, narrow and winding rural roads, and extreme weather conditions require a high level of concentration and vigilance on New Zealand roads.
Visitors and new residents are able to drive for up to one year in New Zealand on an existing driver’s licence from their home country or with an International Driving Permit. It is essential that this licence remains valid and doesn’t expire during this period. If the licence is not written in English, it must be accompanied by an English translation. The licence or permit must be carried on drivers at all times while driving in New Zealand, and those caught without a valid licence on them can be fined.
After the initial one year of using an existing driver’s license, newcomers to New Zealand must obtain a New Zealand licence to continue driving in this country. This may involve a theory and / or practical test depending on your country of origin. For example, UK drivers do not have to sit any tests if they have held a current UK licence for at least 2 years, while drivers from countries where the driver licensing systems are very different are required to sit both tests. To find out more about the requirements, visit the New Zealand Transport Agency website.
It’s important that new and visiting drivers familiarise themselves with the rules around driving in New Zealand. Some of the most important are:
- Drive on the left-side of the road.
- Keep to the legal speed limits: the maximum speed in urban areas is 50 km per hour (unless otherwise indicated on signage – e.g. 30 km in some inner-city roads and 40 km in school zones) and 100 km per hour on the open road / motorways. This may be extended to 110 km on some motorways soon. These limits should be adjusted in adverse weather conditions. Do not pass other cars when there are double yellow lines marked in the middle of the road; these indicate that it is too dangerous to pass. Tourists and new drivers are often caught out on deceptive corners and intersections on the open road.
- Drivers and passengers must wear approved seat belts at all times. This is enforced by police and punishable by a fine. Child restraints are compulsory, and age and size appropriate car seats must be used by all
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is a crime in New Zealand and this law is strongly enforced by police. The legal limit is 50mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood. There is a zero limit for drivers under 20 years of age.
- Drivers cannot text or call on a handheld mobile phone while driving.
Unfamiliarity with New Zealand roads and driving conditions remains one of the biggest causes of accidents with new residents and visitors. Distances on a map may appear short but hilly, narrow and windy roads, combined with such features as single-lane bridges and unsealed surfaces, can significantly extend a journey. Many visitor and new resident drivers also misjudge the stopping distances in bad weather, particularly on the open roads. Other traps for newcomers are treacherous, icy roads in winter, sheep or livestock on the open roads, unfamiliar signage, and the frustrating impact of roads laden with campervans and caravans in the holiday season. Patience and vigilance are required by all drivers on New Zealand roads, with extra attention needed by those new to the country.
NZ Road Feature – What you need to know:
Roundabouts are a good way to keep traffic moving in busy roads where traffic lights are not needed, but can be confusing (and scary) for drivers from the USA and other countries where roundabouts don’t exist. Extra vigilance is needed on these as many drivers (even New Zealanders) fail to indicate correctly when entering and exiting.
Livestock on rural roads
Farmers use many roads throughout New Zealand to move cattle or sheep from one paddock to another. To the delight of tourists and frustration of New Zealand drivers in a hurry, this means that drivers and passengers get a close-up view of some of the country’s most populous residents as they slowly pass.
If you’re not used to this fundamental change of direction, it can be tricky to negotiate right-hand turns (across traffic), roundabouts (especially getting on and getting off), and backing out, then orienting yourself to the left-hand side of the road. Many accidents happen when newcomers revert automatically to their familiar side of the road after driving for a while. Take breaks often and never drive while tired or jetlagged.
Article provided by Lisa Burdes – Skilled Migrant Business Advisor at the Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce.
The Chamber offers free settlement support and resources to employers of migrants in Canterbury. This service is fully funded by Immigration New Zealand (INZ). If you have questions about living and working in New Zealand, you can visit http://www.newzealandnow.govt.nz, email your query to email@example.com or ring the INZ Contact Centre on +64 9 914 4100.
New Zealand needs skilled and talented migrants now more than ever
Another year rolls by and it seems another Earthquake sends another reminder to us all in NZ, that we live in the “shaky isles”. The recent earthquake in Kaikoura was a huge reminder of how susceptible we are to natural disasters and how the New Zealand economy is so dependent on our transport network to allow us to get and send goods from and to the world. New Zealand has learned invaluable lessons from the Christchurch Earthquake event some six years ago and now we need to quickly ensure these learnings add value through out NZ.
The foresight of the New Zealand government some seventy years ago with the formation of EQC, has protected us somewhat from the financial burden associated with rebuilding our infra structure. Sadly the downstream consequences of the fear created by these natural events, is difficult to assess. New Zealand needs skilled and talented migrants now more than ever, to not only assist with repairs but just as importantly to drive the on going economic development of New Zealand. These economic benefits are directly associated with an increase in both the size and level of our skilled population.
The overall activity in New Zealand economy continues to be very high , although our GDP is at a low level. The spotlight now turns to the underlying economy to drive prosperity going forward.
A strong manufacturing & Services sector is vital as our economy needs to transition away from reconstruction & construction generally, to give us the diversity a healthy economy requires.
Employment levels throughout New Zealand are relatively stable with a rate of 4.9 % nationally.
Article provided by Steve Baker – Enterprise Recruitment and People.
Enterprise Recruitment and People has a national presence. We remain interested in providing obligation free advice to offshore candidate’s about their chances of securing employment in New Zealand.
Migration debate can only intensify
Last month I noted that pressure has been building up for a change in immigration rules. This month we can report on the first of what are likely to be a number of changes ahead of and probably just after next year’s general election expected in November.
The government has temporarily suspended new applications for migrants to bring in their parents. This move has been driven by a surge in the number of people claiming benefits in New Zealand in spite of requirements that applicants be able to support themselves or be supported by their child.
In Australia a recent study estimated the cost of this unexpected welfare support to be in the hundreds of millions. The total will be considerably less in New Zealand but still in the millions. Most affected will be Chinese and Indian families which have accounted for near 70% of all such parent applications.
The government has also raised the number of points which skilled migrants need to enter New Zealand from 140 to 160.
The intention is to reduce expected migrant numbers over the next two years by 5,000 or 2,500 per annum. This is very small compared with the gross inflow into New Zealand of 125,000 foreigners, students, and returning Kiwis. Thus any impact on the housing market will be extremely limited and debate about the impact of strong migration inflows on already stretched housing markets is likely to continue.
Thus there may be a more broad based cutback in migrant numbers next year aimed at curtailing this housing pressure. But on top of that there is rapidly growing debate regarding young unemployed Kiwis finding it harder to secure employment because of the surge in work visas and allowing students studying in New Zealand to work.
It is likely to be true that many of these unemployed people are unwilling to work for the remuneration on offer. But this laziness argument will be easily countered by those suggesting that if employers were forced to pay more to secure people locally because they could no longer easily get them from overseas then this would greatly assist the willingness of these young people to secure employment.
As we head into election year the migration debate can only intensify – as it has done for every election since the 1990s. The argument that New Zealand needs skilled migrants to fill jobs in growing sectors and in construction particularly will stay the hand of the government from making any radical changes. Nonetheless, as is being seen in the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, and many other countries, the high tide mark for willingness of locals to accept large migrant inflows has been reached. From here, globally, rules will tighten.
The challenge for New Zealand will be to craft a skills-focussed migration policy which will attract the number of people demanded across many sectors. Chances are the points required will be lifted further.
Article provided by Tony Alexander – Chief Economist, Strategy & Business Performance, BNZ.
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