Onward Travel Tickets

We are due to fly out to New Zealand in less than two weeks and still have not decided how long we want to stay and hence when we want to leave! - but we are also aware that we must have an onward travel ticket as one of the criteria to be allowed entry into NZ.

I have been told about companies that you can buy a reservation ticket from that is legal but gets cancelled 48 hours after you purchase it - so, in effect, you use it to get into NZ but then you are free to book your onward ticket at your leisure.

I have to admit, it sounds like the perfect solution but I am nervous! - has anyone used these type of tickets before?

The company that has been recommended to me is onwardticket.com


I haven’t used them, but I have it at the ready should I need it at an airport. I’ve also read many travel mavens who recommend this approach in a pinch.

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I haven’t used them either, but housesitter-friends who have been on the road for 5 years recommended it to me as well. They used it for Mexico and Asia and never had any issues. Not sure about New Zealand though…

Hi Collin, thats an interesting thought.
We are quite easy going on travel dates too, so see the onward travel requirement could be restricting.
Its a fair number of years since we did long haul back packing but i remember that we were able to change our dates along the way which we did do several times.
So we had a return ticket but could change either the return or stopover dates fairly easily.
I wander if they still do this? Worth asking.

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Hi @Colin. Thanks for the tip.

My husband and I were caught trying to board a Qantas flight from Sydney to Auckland, and Qantas wouldn’t let us board until we purchased flights leaving NZ.

We purchased refundable tickets, showed them to the Qantas folks, flew to Auckland, and immediately canceled the tickets. So that’s another way to do it (BTW the NZ authorities didn’t even ask about our onward plans or our planned duration of stay.)


Why not ask @Smiley what she has done?

Hi Colin have not tried Onward but had a similar thing on this trip to South America and when I went to Indonesia.
Look for cheap refundable tickets out. They don’t have to back to the UK just out, or onward.
As long as you can change or cxl you will be fine.
Have fun you two!

  1. There is a 24 h flight cancellation rule set by the Department of Transportation by which all airlines operating to, from and within the US must comply. The same rule is implemented by many other countries around the world. Iow, most airlines around the world will honor a cancelation within 24h. Some airlines, e.g. Emirates and Qatar will hold your ticket for 3 days for a small fee.

  2. If a traveler is denied entry into a country, airlines are responsible for all transportation expenses. Typically it is airlines and not countries that require an onward ticket. You can sign a waiver at the check-in stating you´ll be responsible for your onward ticket should you be denied entry. Note, you may have to ask to speak to a manager as most of the check-in staff is not aware of this law.

We’ve been private messaging. I’ve actually bought a ticket to Samoa.


They didn’t ask me either when I checked in at Heathrow on Monday, however I believe they know whether you’ve bought a flight out of NZ as it’s linked to your passport


Oh, I hadn’t thought of that @Smiley. Technology is finally connecting the dots behind the scenes. That makes sense.

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Not sure what country you are from but as a US citizen (with a UK spouse) I’ve decided to apply for a visitor visa to make up the difference on our allowed time in NZ (he gets 6 months, I get 3). If this doesn’t get approved (or I don’t hear back in time) I’ll get a refundable ticket, although the fine print does say you must have a ticket OR proof that you have the finances to buy one down the line. So bank statements should work if you aren’t sure when you’ll fly out.

It does say either or but in my two recent experiences of entering NZ (July 2019 & 2 Nov 2022) they were only interested in whether I had a ticket out of NZ. They didn’t ask me about my finances at all. I didn’t want to risk the refundable ticket option but did lots of research as to where to go & picked Samoa, flying there on 30 April, just within the 6 months’ limit


Hi Colin,
Just wondering what you ended up doing and how it went?
We’re still hoping that proof of finances will be enough, but it’s good to have a plan B.

Hi @CoolCatAunt - In the end, we bottled it and bought a ticket to Australia. This is where we intended to go anyway, but had no idea when - so we just plumped for a random date and bought our tickets hoping that we can book sits afterwards to fit in. Not ideal but the best solution we could think of.

The actual experience was that we booked the whole journey with Korean AIR, The flights were Athens- Vienna ( with Aegean air ) Then Vienna - South Korea - Auckland (with Korean Air)

When we transferred at Vienna as we were at the Korean Air check-in desk the lady asked us if we had an onward journey booked, I said yes. she asked when and I told her. ( I think she wanted to know that the date was within our 6 months visa allowed time). She DID NOT ask us to show any proof. It was not as if they were super busy as we were the only people checking in at the time so it was all very superficial - a simple question that we just had to answer. Knowing this now, the next time I would be far more comfortable booking an onwardticket.com ticket as I could have answered truthfully with one of those. I am still not sure if I would risk just having enough cash to show as if they asked the question, I would have to say that we did not have an onward ticket booked and if they insisted it could be a faff trying to book one at the airport .

At South Korea, as we were boarding we were asked if we had a NZ-eTA, We said yes and for that, we had to show it to them so be sure that you do not forget to purchase one of those before you fly. I opened the App on my phone at home before we left and took a screenshot of the NZ-eta’s, then at the gate showed them the screenshots - I always do this in case I have any problems connecting to WIFI at the airport.

Good luck


This year I flew into KUL-EDI with an onward ticket AMS-KUL. I had all my sits planned albeit haphazardly as I wanted to finalise early. I realised that there were more sits the nearer it is to the dates and in better locations rather then when planning much earlier.

For 2023, I have decided to start with Ireland in May and perhaps go to Northern Ireland and northern parts of Scotland. My initial flight will be KUL- DUB but I have no idea where I will be at the end. I can stay 6 months in UK and 3 months in most EU countries.

The idea of the onwardticket is very interesting to me and I look forward to anyone here in THS to share their experience in using it.

Hi @Anne.323
As an American and frequent UK traveler since ‘97, onward ticket has never been required. You can travel to Europe and back to the UK maintaining that total days spent in Europe does not exceed 90 days.
If you leave the UK before 6 months for example 90 days you can re-enter the UK for another 6 months.
Do some research and always best to check with official government sites but in a nutshell , there is no 180 days in a year rule. It’s an 180 consecutive days limit.
Again do your research from official sources.
Travel well

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The confusion may be because there is a Schengen area where the limit is 90 days in each 180 day period. Not all EU countries are in the Schengen area, and not all European countries are in the EU. UK is in Europe, but not the EU or Schengen.

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Thought I’d update everyone here now that we’ve made it safely and (relatively) easily into New Zealand!
We’re a couple, I’m from the US and he’s from the UK. This means I get 3 months of visa-free travel while he gets 6 months. The last time we came in we were asked for proof of onward travel (which we had bc we were only staying 1 month.) This time around we are staying longer, but unsure how long exactly.

We knew it would be longer than 3 months, which meant I needed to apply for a visitor visa. This is FREE for US citizens and allows you to enter for 6 months at a time, for up to 2 years. I had to submit a bit of information, but other than that it was straightforward and I got a response in a few days.

So, the time came and we went to check in for our flight online. I was given an e-boarding pass but my partner got a prompt to show proof of onward travel at check in. Hmmm.

We got to the airport and are basically told that there is nothing they can do, and although we both have the same allowance of time, I did NOT have to show proof of onward travel but he did.

So we decided to give onwardticket a try and in three minutes he had proof of an onward flight to Melbourne in April on Qantas. Goes back to the desk, gets a boarding pass and off we go! Easy peasy! No one else asked either of us about proof of leaving. One woman looked at my arrival card and said “You are spending 5 months?” and I said “More or less,” and that was that.

Just an FYI for the group. Hope that helps!


@CoolCatAunt - Great to hear the onward travel tickets worked. I would definitely use them next time. Where in NZ will you be? We are in Christchurch from now to 15 Jan and then Napier from 15 Jan-17 Feb. It would be lovely to meet up if our schedules clash. @Smiley is here too at the moment.

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