Frequently Asked Questions

How can you achieve additional employment under new regulations?
Individuals seeking multiple jobs must meet the criteria for a work permit for every job – i.e. they must have an employment contract for each job that meets the required legal standards.
What is the difference between a visa and a permit?
A visa allows an applicant travel and entry into the Cook Islands. The permit allows you to stay in the Cook Islands and fulfill a purpose (such as to visit, work, study or reside).
What are the Immigration policy changes?

These are changes that are effective from 25 January 2024 for the next 12 months. The changes include: 

  • Enabling additional employment and waiving an application fee.
  • Implementing a one-year visa and permit for retirees
  • No fee for a visitor extension for 62 days or less
  • One-year International and Government worker visa and permit at $320
  • Continuation of the $60 per year fee to renew a Resident Spouse visa and permit where you previously held a Cook Islands Resident permit
  • Regulatory amendments to remove mandatory restrictions and limitations and 90-day permit on arrival for Australian passport holders.


The Immigration policy changes document is on our website under Legislation.

For more information on visa and permits, email [email protected] or for general enquiries, email [email protected] 

Is there a visa and permit for retired persons?
Yes, you can apply for a Retiree visa and permit that is renewable annually.
Can Immigration stop a person from leaving the country?
No, unless the Ministry of Justice issue a Court order to prevent departure.
Who is a Cook Islander?
Person who is part of the Maori race, indigenous to the Cook Islands and their descendants. Refer to Cook Islands Immigration Act 2021, Section 21 Part 3, Pg 22
How can I prove I am a Cook Islander?
You must apply for Cook Islands status
How do I Renew my permit?
There is no Renewal process; you must submit a New Application.
What is Cook Islands Status?
It is an endorsement in your passport that recognises that you are a Cook Islander by descent.
How do I transfer jobs?
There is no transfer process. Should you change employer a new application will be required as you will need to show a new employment agreement.
How do I apply for Cook Islands Status and what documents do I need to provide?

To find out more information about Cook Islands Status or to apply, go to mfai.gov.ck/cook-islands-status

Do I need a release letter?
No, a new application will be required.
If I cannot prove that I am a Cook Islander by descent through my birth certificates, what else can I provide?
Immigration team will refer you to the Ministry of Justice who will then review the information provided against land records and or genealogy. Ministry of Justice will make a decision and issue a certificate confirming or declining your application.
Why do I need Cook Islands status endorsement in my passport?
The Cook Islands does not issue its own passport. This status provides confirmation to immigration officials that a person has continuing rights of entry and stay in the Cook Islands. This is enabled by law (Cook Islands Immigration Act 2021 Part 3 Section 21-26)
Can I get the applicant to pay for cost associated with getting them here such as flights, permits etc?
No, it is an offence under the Cook Islands Immigration Act 2021 to seek reimbursement of any moneys paid as a result of the sponsorship.
How long does it take to process an application?
This can take up to 20 working days.
What does continuing rights mean?
The ability to travel in and out of the Cook Islands and stay without restriction.
For some visas it is compulsory that the applicant must take one month holiday offshore, can they take this over the 3year period of their visa?
Yes as long as the applicant has a total of one month offshore holiday over the 3 year period.
Who is a person with continuing rights?
Is a Cook Islander, permanent resident and an honorary permanent resident
As a sponsor and employer can I impose a refundable Bond?
Immigration’s role is to enforce the Cook Islands Immigration Act and Regulations, in particular relating to the Sponsors obligations and offences. Should anything fall outside of this, it is recommended that you seek legal counsel or work with Labour department.
What are the standard requirements for entry for those with continuing rights
Valid Passport with the Cook Island Status Endorsement or Permanent Resident Endorsement
Who is a person without continuing rights
Any other person who does not meet the above criteria, such as visitors, students, or temporary workers.
What does it mean by no gain or reward
You do not get any financial compensation or you should not get a reward of any form as a result from your volunteer work
What If I don’t depart the Cook Islands as required
You will be deemed unlawful and will be subject to deportation
Can I transfer or vary a visa and permit
All visas and permits are granted with conditions. At the discretion of Immigration, your conditions may be varied on request if there is a good reason to do so. You can only vary conditions on the same kind of visa or permit (e.g. work permit, study permit).
You may not transfer to a new type of visa or permit. If you wish to change visa or permit types (e.g. go from a study to a work permit), you will need to apply for a whole new visa and permit relevant to your requirements.
What is a Value or Language program
It is a Cook Islands based orientation program on our value, customs and language delivered by a recognized educational provider or registered private school approved by Immigration.
Where can I get a English proficiency certificate
This must be provided from nationally recognized English learning institution in your country.
What is English language proficiency
To show English language proficiency, people may be able to:
Can I apply for a for a work permit without requiring a sponsor
Yes
What are the Health requirements
A person must have an acceptable standard of health approved by the Cook Islands Ministry of Health. An acceptable standard of health means not having a condition listed in regulations, unlikely to be a danger to public health or impose significant demands on the publicly funded health services of the Cook Islands. The person must be sufficiently well to be able to undertake the activities that they came to the Cook Islands to do.
Refer to Cook Islands Immigration Regulations 2023, Part 4, Subpart 5 – Health Requirements, Regulations 68-73 and Schedule 8. Refer to Cook Islands Ministry of Health
What are the Character requirements
A person without continuing rights who intends to travel to, enter, and stay in the Cook Islands must be of good character. People who wish to stay for more than six months must provide a Police certificate to show evidence of character. See the full criteria outlined Cook Islands Immigration Regulations 2023, Part 4, Subpart 4 – Requirements relating to character, Regulations 66-67.
What are the Fees for all visa and permits applications
These are contained in Schedule 11 of the Cook Islands Immigration Regulations 2023
Fees must be paid for applications to be considered and are non refundable.
What is the term for all visa and permits
Up to 3 years for all visa and permits, during which applicants can come in and out of the country.
If I want to change my permit type, what do I do
You must notify and advise Immigration who will review your request and provide further information.
What types of permits can I apply for
Who is a permanent resident?
A person who has been awarded permanent resident status by the Minister of Immigration and their passport endorsed. This includes honorary permanent resident.
What happens now that the EOI process is closed?

MFAI has 5 working days to evaluate EOI submissions and advise persons of the outcome, i.e. invite to apply for PR or advice on ineligibility to be invited.

If I didn’t submit an EOI, can I still apply for PR?

No as the EOI submission determines eligibility to be invited to apply for PR. You will have to wait for the next PR round.

Where can I find the PR forms?

Only eligible persons invited to apply for PR will be provided with a paper application or access to the online form. If you received an invite from the Ministry with no form or link attached, please contact us

What are the categories for PR?

There are 4 categories of PR

  1. PR in your own right
  2. PR as a spouse of a Cook Islander or Permanent Resident
  3. Eligible child
  4. PR by descent

Please refer to Cook Islands Regulations 2023 Part 1 Page 6 Permanent Residence

What the criteria is for PR in own right?
What is the criteria for PR as a spouse of a Cook Islander or PR?
What is the criteria for PR as an eligible child?
If I attached evidence to my Expression of Interest, do I need to provide that evidence again with my application?

Yes, you need to provide the evidence again as part of your application.
Why?

Why can’t the Immigration team take the evidence from my EOI and include with my application?

The EOI submission determined eligibility to apply for PR. Being invited to apply for PR is a separate process.
If you do not provide the evidence as part of your application, it will be rendered incomplete and at the risk of lapsing.

Can I request the evidence back that was submitted with my EOI?

Immigration will return any original documents submitted as part of your EOI.

How do I know if my PR has been successfully received by MFAI?

If you lodge a PR online, you will receive an automated email response once you click on the SUBMIT button.
If you lodge a PR in person, you will receive a receipt for payment.

Can I apply for 2 categories of PR?

You will receive an invite for PR under the category you expressed interest.

What if my spouse and I are no longer in a relationship?

If there has been a change to your relationship status since expressing interest for PR, this is considered as a material change in circumstance which needs to be declared to the PIO under regulation 41 of the Cook Islands Immigration Regulations 2022.

You can only apply for PR on spouse ground if you are currently in a genuine and stable relationship with a Cook Islander or permanent resident.

Do I need to hold a valid permit to apply for PR?

Yes, please review the criteria here on our website.

What is the fee?

$500 for PR (In Own Right and on Spouse ground).
$470 for an Application as an eligible child.
No fee to lodge an application as a PR by descent.

How do I pay for my PR application fee?

Bank: BSP
Account Name: CIG - MFAI
Bank Account Details: 159651401
Reference: PRApp < Surname.Initial >

OR, visit the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration (MFAI) Office (Level 2, Govt Building) to pay the fee in person.

Is the fee refundable if my application is declined?

No

Can someone help me complete my application?

Yes. They will need to sign the declaration included in the PR form.
Immigration Officers cannot help you with your application. They can clarify questions.

Do I have to provide the evidential documents in the PR?

Yes this is stipulated in the PR application.

What happens once I submit my PR application?

There is a 25 working day period to submit a complete PR application.

If the application is incomplete, Immigration will advise the applicant and they have 10 working days to provide the information.
If the applicant fails to provide the outstanding information within 10 working days, the application will lapse.

Immigration will submit complete applications to the Minister for review. A 20 working day period is allocated to enable the Minister to make a decision.

How do I sign the online PR form?

Dependent on your device you can use your mouse, digital or stylus pen.

Do I need to pay for travel movements?

No, you only need to provide dates on your application and we will organize travel movements on your behalf.

Who can witness a statutory declaration?

Justice of the Peace (JP), a solicitor or Notary Public, or a registrar or Deputy Registrar of the District or High Court, or authorised staff in some government agencies.

If I completed my EOI on paper, can I still complete my PR online?

Yes. You will need to create an account online. Once you have done so, please contact us and provide them with your email address you used to create your account and we will manually grant permission.

If I submitted my EOI online, do I use the same account to apply for PR?

Yes, you must use the same log in details to submit your application for PR

I went on the website and could not see the section to apply for PR

Those who submitted an EOI and were invited to apply for PR will be provided with a link allowing them access to complete their application online.

You must notify the Principal Immigration Officer of any material change in circumstances while you are waiting for your application to be granted, or as a condition of holding a visa or permit has been granted.

What do you mean by circumstances?

Circumstances will differ depending on the type of permanent residence, visa or permit you are applying for.

For example, if you are applying for permanent residence as the spouse of a Cook Islander, your relationship with that Cook Islander is a circumstance relevant to your application.

If you apply for a work visa and permit, your specific role and contract conditions are circumstances that are directly relevant to your application.

What is a material change in circumstances?

A material change is one that has real importance or great consequence. It is a change in your circumstances that will have a significant affect your application and the immigration status you applied for.

It is important because you are required to meet certain criteria to be granted a visa or permit, or permanent residence. If you can no longer meet these criteria, this can affect the outcome of your application.

What are some examples of a material change in circumstances?

For example, if you are applying for permanent residence as the spouse of a Cook Islander and you separate from your partner, the circumstances that you based your application on have changed materially.

If you apply for a work visa and permit based on being a chef in a resort restaurant, but your employer decides that you are needed at the reception desk instead, that is a material change in circumstances as it changes the functions of the role you based your application on.

What are some other examples?

The Cook Islands Immigration Regulations specify some, including:

  • the death of any person relevant to the application
  • the separation of the applicant from their spouse, if the spouse was a party to the application or sponsoring the application
  • the arrest for a criminal offence in any country, or the conviction for an offence in any country
  • any change to the standard of health, including the identification or diagnosis of a condition that might pose a danger to public health or impose significant costs or demands on the Cook Islands publicly funded health service
  • any change to the applicant’s health status that could reasonably affect the applicant’s ability to carry out the work that they will be entering the Cook Islands to carry out
  • any change to the applicant’s ability to maintain sufficient funds for the duration of their stay in the Cook Islands
  • any change to the ability to maintain an onwards travel plan for the duration of the permit
  • any material change to, or withdrawal of, the applicant’s sponsorship
  • any material change to, or withdrawal from, an agreement between the applicant and an employer, education provider, or intern provider.
Is this relevant for just me as the principal applicant?

No, you must tell us about a material change for any party that is relevant to the application. This means any person named in your application or supporting your application. It can include your spouse, dependent children, parents, guardians, sponsors, employers, education providers, etc.

For example, if your education provider files for bankruptcy and can no longer offer your course, this will affect your study visa and permit.

Or, if you are applying for a visa and permit based on sponsorship from someone living in the Cook Islands and that person returns to their home country, that is a material change.

Do I always need to inform you about material changes in circumstances?

If you are applying for permanent residence, you must keep us informed right up to the time the permanent residence is granted.

If you are applying for a visa or permit, you must also keep us informed up until the time the visa or permit is granted. But you must also inform us of any material change in circumstances as a condition of holding the visa or permit. So, you need to keep us up to date until the visa or permit expires.

When do you I need to tell you?
You need to let us know promptly. This means as soon as you possibly can, within a reasonable timeframe.
What happens if I don’t tell you about a material change in circumstances?

If you do not tell us about a material change in circumstances during the application process, your application will be automatically declined.

Any visa or permit granted based on fraud or misinformation will be cancelled, and anyone who breaches the conditions of their visa and permit will have that visa or permit cancelled. Cancellation will result in you being unlawfully in the Cook Islands and liable for deportation.

It is also an offence for an employer or education provider to fail to report a material change in circumstances of their employee or student.

What does the law say?
The law relating to material changes in circumstances is in regulations 62 and 63 of the Cook Islands Immigration Regulations 2023. Legislation relating to offences is set out Part 17 of the Cook Islands Immigration Act 2021.

A person who arrives in the Cook Islands and intends to stay must have sufficient funds to support themselves, their spouse and any dependent children while they are in the Cook Islands.

How does Immigration determine what sufficient funds are
Enough funds to support your stay in the Cook Islands eg pay for accommodation, food, leisure activities.
Why do I need to have sufficient funds?
You need sufficient funds to make sure you can afford to pay for your expenses while you are in the Cook Islands. It is to ensure that people do not need support from the government while they are here, or be incentivised to work illegally to finance their stay.
How much will I need?
The amount of funds you need will depend on a number of factors such as how long you intend to stay in the Cook Islands, and the reason for your stay. A visitor to the Cook Islands for one week will obviously require less than a person who is studying for a year.
How do you calculate the sufficient funds I will need?

We consider how much is reasonable for paid accommodation during your stay, how much spending money you may require, whether you have savings in a bank account that can supplement your income, etc.

The amount you need may differ between Rarotonga and the Pa Enua and will depend on several factors that are specific to your situation.

What if I’m working – do my future wages count as sufficient funds?
No, the salary or wages you will earn from working in the Cook Islands do not count towards your sufficient funds. You may not rely on an ability or agreement to work more than 35 hours a week for the purpose of assessing if you have sufficient funds. That means that you must have savings, a sponsor, or funding over and above what you will earn while in the Cook Islands.
What is a sponsor?

A sponsor is a person who has guaranteed to support you financially and provide accommodation for you throughout your stay in the Cook Islands. Sponsors can be your employer, but they can also be someone you know (such as a relative), who lives in the Cook Islands and is willing to support you.

Sponsors must sign a declaration that they meet certain criteria to be your sponsor. This includes being of good character, not owing any money to Cook Islands Immigration, having resources to cover your living, accommodation and health-related expenses, and being lawfully in the Cook Islands for the duration of your stay.

Sponsors must not ask you to repay any of the costs they spend on you as their sponsor. This includes airfares and rent.

How can I show you that I have sufficient funds?

The following may be submitted as evidence of funds:

  • a bank statement and/or bank drafts from a reputable and known bank or financial service provider showing funds in an account (whether in the Cook Islands or overseas) that you can access from the Cook Islands
  • recognised credit or debit cards in your name
  • if you are applying for a specialist worker visa and permit, a letter of financial support from your home employer or home government.
Do you have any more detail on the amounts required?
Yes, the Principal Immigration Officer will publish a breakdown of the estimated costs of living for longer stays. This assumes the person will stay in a rental house and includes sundries. This will be released Friday 30th June 2023
What is the law on sufficient funds and sponsorship?

The Cook Islands Immigration Regulations cover sufficient funds in regulations 74-76.

The regulations discuss sponsorship in Part 3 subpart 1 and the declaration is in Schedule 7. The Cook Islands Immigration Act 2021 has sponsorship provisions in sections 79-81.

The Cook Islands Immigration Act 2021 allows people, businesses or agencies to sponsor other people to come and stay in the Cook Islands. These FAQs are for those who want to know more about becoming sponsors.

How do I know if I need a sponsor?
If you are unable to provide evidence of sufficient funds to support yourself and any family members while you stay in the Cook Islands, a sponsor may be required.
Who can be a sponsor
A natural person, a department or state owned enterprise, an Island Government, other Government Agency or any body that has a legal identity recognized under Cook Islands law and can be sued in its own right can be a sponsor.
What are the obligations of a Sponsor
Sponsors must not owe a debt to Immigration, solvent and generally be law-abiding. They must sign a declaration that they will meet the conditions of sponsorship, such as providing accommodation and support to the sponsored person. Please refer to Cook Islands Immigration Regulations 2023 Part 3, Subpart 1 – Sponsorship, Regulations 45-53 for full details.
What is a sponsor?
A sponsor is a natural person or entity who guarantees that the person they sponsor will comply with immigration requirements while in the Cook Islands and depart when their visa and permit expire. The sponsor also provides accommodation while the person is in the Cook Islands.
Who can be a sponsor?
A sponsor can be a registered business, government agency or department, registered NGO or church, a natural person, or other entity capable of entering into agreements as a body corporate. A person’s employer and their sponsor do not necessarily have to be the same person.
What are the general criteria for sponsorship?

All sponsors (natural persons or businesses) must sign a declaration form set out in Schedule 7 of the Immigration Regulations. In addition, they must:

  • not owe any debt to the Department of Immigration (including outstanding fines or fees)
  • have sufficient funds to meet their obligations under the sponsorship arrangement
  • not be insolvent or have been declared bankrupt
  • be able to maintain their sponsorship of a person for the duration of any visa or permit or visa or permit waiver granted to that person
  • not enter into an agreement with the person being sponsored or any other person for any financial or other gain or reward in return for agreeing to act as a sponsor, or any reimbursement of monies paid as a result of the sponsorship
  • not have made a false declaration in relation to an immigration or employment matter or process
  • pay any amounts incurred as a debt to the Crown as a consequence of the sponsorship
  • provide accommodation that satisfies the building health standards under section 13 of the Public Health Act 2004 and:
    • includes a watertight, enclosed building with operational doors and windows
    • is maintained to protect the occupants from any health and safety risks present at the accommodation.
What happens if the sponsor breaches their obligations?

If sponsorship conditions are breached, the sponsored person’s permit may be cancelled, and the sponsored person may be refused future sponsorship and permits.

If a sponsor fails to comply and the Crown suffers loss as a consequence, the amount of that loss is a debt due to the Crown and may be recovered accordingly.

If a sponsor fails to comply with their obligations under a sponsorship, the sponsor is not entitled to sponsor again unless the Principal Immigration Officer allows it.

I am a natural person, what do I need to do?

A natural person who applies to be a sponsor must meet the requirements above and in addition, must satisfy the Principal Immigration Officer that they:

  • have not acted in breach of any previous sponsorship obligation
  • have continuing rights, or hold a valid residence or work permit that remains in force through the entire period of the sponsorship
  • are not themselves being sponsored under the Cook Islands Immigration Act at the same time as they apply to be a sponsor
  • are not serving a sentence of imprisonment
  • are not unlawfully in the Cook Islands or liable for deportation.

A natural person who applies to sponsor their spouse or a child must not have any convictions for a sexual offence or domestic violence, or related offences, or have sponsored another spouse within the previous 5 years.

I am a business or agency, what do I need to do?

A government department, state-owned enterprise, island government, or other government agency that applies to act as a sponsor must meet the requirements above and in addition, must satisfy the Principal Immigration Officer that they:

  • have the agreement of the head or chief executive of that department, state-owned enterprise, island government, or agency (however that position is described) to the making of that application
  • recognised under Cook Islands law as a separate legal entity
  • registered with the Ministry of Justice
  • if a foreign enterprise, registered with the BTIB
  • previously have complied with all Cook Islands laws
  • not be under investigation by, or of concern to the Department, Police, Ministry of Internal Affairs, Ministry of Justice, BTIB.
  • be able to demonstrate that they have sound resources, policies and practices and enter into lawful written employment agreements with employees, who do not have continuing rights, and they must not have been flagged as problematic by the labour division of Internal Affairs.
I can no longer be a sponsor, what happens to my sponsored person?
A person can transfer their sponsor if their original sponsor becomes unavailable, or unsuitable, while the person still holds a valid permit. The new sponsor must meet the sponsorship criteria and pay a sponsorship transfer fee.
I paid a lot of money to help my sponsor, can I recover it from them?

No. Sponsors must not enter into an agreement with the sponsored person or another person for:

  • any financial or other gain or reward in return for agreeing to act as a sponsor, or
  • any reimbursement of monies paid as a result of the sponsorship.

Examples of this include:

  • where the sponsor who is also an employer pays for an airfare for an employee/sponsored person, then makes an agreement with that person to recover that airfare as part of their wages
  • where the sponsor makes the person pay them a percentage of their weekly wage as payment for them agreeing to be a sponsor.
I am a sponsored person, can I sponsor my family member?

No. Sponsored persons cannot sponsor people in turn. A sponsored person who wishes to bring their family to the Cook Islands (and is able to under their visa/permit) would need to ask their sponsor or a different person to sponsor the family.

What does the law say?
The legislation includes sponsorship criteria at sections 79-81 of the Cook Islands Immigration Act 2021. Also see regulations Part 3, Subpart 1 and Schedule 7 of the Cook Islands Immigration Regulations 2023.
How can I apply to be a sponsor?
You will be able to download the form here: Sponsorship Application.

Some visa or permit applicants require an onward travel plan as part of their application.

Which visa or permit types need an onward travel plan?

If you are applying for the following, you will need an onward travel plan:

  • New Zealand Visitor visa or permit
  • International Visitor visa or permit
  • Long Term Visitor visa or permit
  • Government Worker visa or permit
  • Specialist Worker visa or permit
  • International Worker visa or permit
  • International Child visa or permit
  • International Adult Student visa or permit
  • International Intern visa or permit
  • Special Entrant visa or permit
What is an onward travel plan?

An onward travel plan could be:

  • travel tickets (confirmed or open dated) for travel from the Cook Islands to another country you have the right to enter
  • written confirmation from a reputable and known carrier or travel agent that onwards travel has been booked and paid for
  • a letter from your employer guaranteeing that onwards travel will be arranged for you.
I have a three-year visa and permit, do I have to have tickets booked already?
No, you don’t need actual tickets yet, but you should have some kind of guarantee either from your employer, or travel agent or carrier, that your travel has been or will be arranged.
What do you mean by a ‘right to enter’ another country?
This means that you are a citizen or resident of that next country, or that you have a visa or permit or legal authority to enter it. If you need a visa or permit to enter your next destination, this must be arranged before you arrive in the Cook Islands.
What happens if I don’t have an onward travel plan?
If you cannot show a travel plan, you will be required to pay a bond in the amount set by the Principal Immigration Officer. The amount of the bond must not exceed $10,000. If you do not comply with your immigration obligations, your bond may be forfeited.
What does the law say?
The law relating to onward travel plans is in Part 4, subpart 7 of the Cook Islands Immigration Regulations 2023.

The Cook Islands Immigration Act 2021 allows people, businesses or agencies to sponsor other people to come and stay in the Cook Islands. These FAQs are for those who want to know more about being sponsored.

What is a sponsor?
A sponsor is a natural person or entity who guarantees that the person they sponsor will comply with immigration requirements while in the Cook Islands and depart when their visa and permit expire. The sponsor also provides accommodation while the person is in the Cook Islands.
Who can be a sponsor?
A sponsor can be a registered business, government agency or department, registered NGO or church, a natural person, or other entity capable of entering into agreements as a body corporate. A person’s employer and their sponsor do not necessarily have to be the same person.
What are the general criteria for sponsorship?

All sponsors (natural persons or businesses) must sign a declaration form set out in Schedule 7 of the Immigration Regulations. In addition, they must:

  • not owe any debt to the Department of Immigration (including outstanding fines or fees)
  • have sufficient funds to meet their obligations under the sponsorship arrangement
  • not be insolvent or have been declared bankrupt
  • be able to maintain their sponsorship of a person for the duration of any visa or permit or visa or permit waiver granted to that person
  • not enter into an agreement with the person being sponsored or any other person for any financial or other gain or reward in return for agreeing to act as a sponsor, or any reimbursement of monies paid as a result of the sponsorship
  • not have made a false declaration in relation to an immigration or employment matter or process
  • pay any amounts incurred as a debt to the Crown as a consequence of the sponsorship
  • provide accommodation that satisfies the building health standards under section 13 of the Public Health Act 2004 and:
    • includes a watertight, enclosed building with operational doors and windows
    • is maintained to protect the occupants from any health and safety risks present at the accommodation.
What happens if I breach my immigration conditions?

Your sponsor must guarantee to ensure you meet immigration conditions. If these conditions of sponsorship are breached, your permit may be cancelled, and you may be refused future sponsorship and permits. You will probably be removed from the Cook Islands back to your home country.

If a sponsor fails to comply and the Crown suffers loss as a consequence, the amount of that loss is a debt due to the Crown and may be recovered accordingly. If a sponsor fails to comply with their obligations under a sponsorship, the sponsor is not entitled to sponsor again unless the Principal Immigration Officer allows it.

My sponsor can no longer sponsor me, but I still have time left on my permit and want to stay. What happens to my sponsorship?
You can transfer your sponsor if your original sponsor becomes unavailable, or unsuitable, while you still hold a valid permit. The new sponsor must meet the sponsorship criteria and pay a sponsorship transfer fee. If you have sufficient funds and accommodation, you may be able to show the Principal Immigration Officer that you no longer need sponsorship.
My sponsor is trying to recover the cost of my flight and my rent as part of my wages. Can they do that?

No. Sponsors must not enter into an agreement with the sponsored person or another person for:

  • any financial or other gain or reward in return for agreeing to act as a sponsor, or
  • any reimbursement of monies paid as a result of the sponsorship.

Examples of this include:

  • where the sponsor who is also an employer pays for an airfare for an employee/sponsored person, then makes an agreement with that person to recover that airfare as part of their wages
  • where the sponsor makes the person pay them a percentage of their weekly wage as payment for them agreeing to be a sponsor.
I am a sponsored person, can I sponsor my family member?

No. Sponsored persons cannot sponsor people in turn. A sponsored person who wishes to bring their family to the Cook Islands (and is able to under their visa/permit) would need to ask their sponsor or a different person to sponsor the family.

What does the law say?
The legislation includes sponsorship criteria at sections 79-81 of the Cook Islands Immigration Act 2021. Also see regulations Part 3, Subpart 1 and Schedule 7 of the Cook Islands Immigration Regulations 2023.
What is the difference between Volunteer Visitor and Volunteer Permit?

Volunteer Visitor is a person who does not receive any stipend or reward for their services.

A 'Volunteer' Permit (known as a Government Worker Permit) allows for a person to receive some form of remuneration for their services, such as accommodation or a stipend.

What are the standard requirements for entry for those without continuing rights
Valid Passport, onward travel or return ticket, accommodation, sufficient funds, a good character, and an acceptable standard of health.
Who is a bona-fide visitor
A person without continuing rights, who intends to holiday, sightsee, visiting family or others, volunteer for no gain or reward, play sport for no gain or reward, explore business or employment options while onshore
As a visitor can I work while visiting the Cook Islands
No. You can volunteer for no reward or gain
If I hold NZ Permanent Residence but not a NZ Passport can I apply for a visitors permit under the same conditions as those holding NZ Passport
Only those holding NZ passports qualify to apply for NZ Visitor visa and permit.
There are two types of visitors
NZ Passport Holder who receives 3 months stay on arrival.
Any other Passport holder who receives 31 days on arrival.
When a visitor request an extension what do they need to provide
Valid Passport, Onward Travel, Accommodation provider, Sufficient Funds, Bona-fide Visitor, Health and Character declaration.
What happens if a person without continuing rights or a visitor requesting a visitor extension cannot provide necessary documents
This will be an incomplete application and will not be considered and they are required to depart the Cook Islands.
As a NZ passport holder how long can I stay in the Cook Islands in total, at any one time
Upon application you can visit for up to 12 months in total.
If do not hold a NZ Passport how long can I stay in the Cook Islands in total, at any one time
Upon application you can visit for up to 8 months in total.
Visitor Extension - Policy change

Any visitor class of visa and permit can be extended for an additional 62 days or less at no fee.
The extension can be requested in advance of travel or once on island.

  • Email [email protected] and include "Visitor Extension concession" in the subject line
  • For each traveller, attach a copy of the passport bio data and the travel itinerary.

Immigration Cook Islands will confirm when the request has been processed.

Our standard processing time is 20 working days.

How long must my passport be valid before departing to the Cook Islands
All passports must be valid for 6 months beyond your departure date from the Cook Islands
How long can I stay as a visitor in the Cook Islands
All NZ passport holders are issued 90 days on arrival and all other international passport holders are issued 31 days on arrival
Do I need Travel Insurance
It is recommended by not compulsory
What do I need provide on arrival into the Cook Islands
Valid Passport, Proof of Accommodation for the duration of your stay, onwards travel plan, sufficient funds for the duration of your stay, completed arrival card
Am I able to travel to the Cook Islands if I have a criminal conviction

You will need to provide relevant information to the Immigration department to review.

To apply for an exemption, please send through the following by to email [email protected]

  • Colour copy of the passport biodata
  • Travel itinerary or tentative travel dates
  • Confirmation of accommodation
  • List of travel companions
  • Purpose of travel
  • Criminal conviction report issued within the most recent 6 months

If upon review the conviction history is outside the criteria, Immigration may allow you to travel to the Cook Islands and declare convictions upon arrival.

Important to note that Immigration Cook Islands will review cases with external agencies and failure to declare could impact travel in the future.

Where can I find out more details on Visitor visa and permits