Many countries now require visitors from supposed-to-be visa-free countries to apply for ETA (Electronic Travel Authority) or similar scheme before entering the country.
ETA is easier to obtain as compared to the visa. The former requires only online submission and the results would be made available within a short time, a few days max. However, filling up the form for the ETA – especially for the USA – may be quite daunting. It is not difficult but simply time consuming.
Until I applied for ETA for New Zealand, NZeTA. From 1 October 2019 New Zealand will require visitors from visa-free countries to obtain NZeTA prior to the travel.
The New Zealand Immigration provided two options to apply NZeTA: through web or mobile app. Interestingly, it costs NZD 3 less to apply using the app as compared to the web. Out of curiosity I chose to apply using the app.
Searching the on Google App Store (well, I am an Android user) app was easy. The installation was a breeze without any issues.
The application process was surprisingly easy. Upon opening the app, I was prompted with the welcome page.
Followed by acknowledgement for the usual privacy and term and use.
The next step caught me a bit off guard. It prompted me to take a picture of the passport.
However, rather than taking the picture of the whole passport, the app actually scanned the Machine-Readable Zone (MRZ) area. The screen would show a blue bar where you should align the MRZ. As a result, capturing the MRZ was a breeze!
The next step was quite interesting, it asked me to do selfie!
It took me a few attempts to do the selfie. Once completed, the app displayed the information captured from the MRZ, with the picture on the top-left corner. It asked me to confirm the details.
After that, the app asked a series of questions, starting from whether I want to stay in NZ or coming as a transit passenger, whether I am an Australian permanent resident, and so on. Interestingly, the ‘expected’ answer is always highlighted.
After answering all the questions, I proceeded to pay the ETA and the International Visitor Conservation and Tourism Levy (IVL). The payment was done using credit card and it was a fuzz free. I did not use the feature to take picture of the credit card – which I believe would help me to key-in the credit card details; I chose to key-in the card details myself. The only missing is there was no 2 FA for the credit card transaction.
And that’s it! The whole process was completed in less than 10 minutes, all from within the app itself. It was a great experience!
The app made it easy for anyone who applied for NZeTA. There was no need to upload any additional documents or pictures. The app also reduces or even eliminates error by using MRZ to fill up the details; no need for the applicant to type all the details manually.
The selfie is also interesting. There is no need for the applicant to rush to to instant photo booth or photo studio to take the picture, which would delay the whole application process.
The app practically eliminates all frictions in applying the NZeTA. It is a great innovation from The New Zealand Immigration. As a citizen, friction-less transactions such as what the app offered is the one I am looking for when transacting with the Government; and as a public servant such app is the yardstick for a good Government eServices.