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Pilot Project For Passengers Between the US and NZ

Hon Maurice Williamson
Minister of Customs

11 November 2009
Media Statement

Pilot Project to Facilitate Passengers Between the United States and New Zealand

"New Zealanders travelling on selected Air New Zealand flights to Los Angeles will shortly have an improved travel experience as a result of a joint project between U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the New Zealand Customs Service, and Air New Zealand." says Minister of Customs Maurice Williamson.

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

“Thanks to the cooperation of U.S. 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 travelling to the United States have been required to complete an application for entry on the Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA).

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

“Currently, all New Zealanders travelling 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.

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“To remove this duplication the United States, through U.S. 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 U.S. Customs and Border Protection, New Zealand travellers will be the first in the world to experience easier processing by U.S. 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 U.S. 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”, says Mr Williamson.

The pilot will start on 12 November and will run for 30 days. It will cover travellers 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 http://www.cbp.gov/xp/cgov/travel/id_visa/esta/

ENDS

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