Departure cards to be re-introduced from 21st March 2022

Te Kauono Tutara e te Mana Tiaki – Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration

From 21 March 2022 (CKT), passengers 15 years and over departing the Cook Islands on international flights will be required to complete and submit departure cards to immigration officials on departure at the Rarotonga International Airport. 

The removal of departure cards in 2015 aligned with international best practice.  Prior to their removal, departure cards data was used predominantly for statistical purposes to produce tourism and migration statistics, which post 2015 were collected from arrivals cards.  Data collected from the arrivals cards informed departures information but had limited policy value as they did not differentiate between Cook Islanders ordinarily resident in the Cook Islands and those ordinarily resident abroad, neither did they differentiate between nationals beyond the Cook Islands and New Zealand who entered the Cook Islands on work permits and nationals of the same country’s visiting for tourism reasons.   


Kairangi Samuela, Principal Immigration Officer said that the new Departure Card has been designed to be as simple as possible to complete and collect pertinent data to inform future government policy considerations.  Data collected will provide information on international departures for Cook Islanders and Permanent Residents; work and residence permit holders; and visitors and better understanding motivations for departure and intended duration of absence from the Cook Islands. 


The departure cards are required to be completed by those 15 years and over and those under 15 are identified in the cards of their travelling companions over 15.


Re-introduction of the departure cards is part of work being led by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration in partnership with the Ministry of Finance and Economic Management to respond to depopulation and labour force loss exacerbated by COVID impact.


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