Joint US-New Zealand project to improve travel experience

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“New Zealanders traveling on selected Air New Zealand flights to Los Angeles will shortly have an improved travel experience as a result of a joint project between US Customs and Border Protection, the New Zealand Customs Service, and Air New Zealand,” said Minister of Customs Maurice Williamson.

The project will see one less form to fill out for New Zealanders traveling to the United States through Los Angeles.

“Thanks to the cooperation of US Customs and Border Protection with the New Zealand Customs Service and Air New Zealand, passengers won’t need to fill out what’s known as the I-94W arrival form.”

New Zealand is a member of the United States’ Visa Waiver Program. Since January 2009, all New Zealanders traveling to the United States have been required to complete an application for entry on the Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA).

Mr Williamson said, “This application is completed on the Internet and is required for all travellers from Visa Waiver countries. If travelers don’t register online, they won’t be permitted to enter or transit through the United States.

“Currently, all New Zealanders traveling under the visa waiver programme also have to complete a paper form (the I-94W) when they arrive in the United States. This form replicates the same information they’ve entered onto the ESTA website.

“To remove this duplication the United States, through US Customs and Border Protection, wants to conduct a pilot project to remove the paper form and test the accuracy of the ESTA website process.”

Under a pilot arrangement between Air New Zealand and US Customs and Border Protection, New Zealand travelers will be the first in the world to experience easier processing by US Customs and Border Protection by not having to fill out the paper form.

“Air New Zealand and the New Zealand Customs Service have worked hard over the last 12 months to bring this arrangement into place. We were chosen for the pilot as an excellent example of the positive cooperation between US Customs and Border Protection and New Zealand. It also demonstrates the trust and confidence the United States has in Air New Zealand systems.

“The choice of New Zealand to be the first in the world to trial this new system is another demonstration of the close relationship between our two countries.

“Based on current timelines the United States will not be going paperless with any other airlines until 2010”, said Mr. Williamson.

The pilot will start on November 12 and will run for 30 days. It will cover travelers on Air New Zealand Flight NZ6 to Los Angeles and if it proves successful, may be expanded to Air New Zealand transit Flights NZ1 and NZ2.

More information on ESTA is available at www.estanewzealand.com .