What it is

The National Travel Assistance Scheme helps people financially who are referred by their specialist to see another specialist, and need to travel long distances or travel frequently. The specialists must both be part of a government-funded health and disability service.

The Scheme is administered by Te Whatu Ora - Health New Zealand who uses the NTA policy to guide their decision-making according to the eligibility criteria.

The policy on which the scheme is based is the National Travel Assistance (NTA) Policy 2005.

Who can get travel assistance

You may be eligible for travel assistance if:

  1. You’ve been referred to the specialist you’re going to see by another specialist (not a GP)and
  2. Both specialists are publicly funded – that is, they are part of a government-funded health and disability service (for example, a renal dialysis centre or a specialist disability service)and
  3. You can answer ‘yes’ to one or more of the questions in the checklist below. 

National Travel Assistance Questionnaire

1. Do you travel more than:

  • 80 km one way per visit (for a child)?
  • 350 km one way per visit (for an adult)?

2. Do you visit a specialist 22 or more times in two months?

3. Do you visit a specialist six or more times in six months, and travel more than:

  • 25 km one way per visit (for a child)?
  • 50 km one way per visit (for an adult)?

4. Are you a Community Services Card holder and travel more than:

  • 25 km one way per visit (for a child)?
  • 80 km one way per visit (for an adult)?

Who can't get travel assistance

You may not be eligible for assistance under the National Travel Assistance Scheme if you receive or are eligible for travel assistance from another provider, such as: 

  • ACC
  • Work and Income
  • Ministry of Social Development
  • Ministry of Transport
  • Ministry of Education. 

What travel assistance covers

Travel costs

Assistance with travel costs may cover private vehicles, public transport and specialised transport needs (for example, taxi, mobility taxi or air travel). (Mileage is calculated via the shortest practical route from your residential address to the facility or hospital treating department.)

Accommodation costs

Accommodation costs may include payment towards the cost of a motel room, or an allowance when staying with friends and family. (Accommodation is not usually approved for travel less than 100 km one way.)

Support person’s costs

You may be able to claim assistance towards a support person's costs – for example, if the specialist recommends you have a support person to assist you with clinical decision-making or provide physical support.

When a child is eligible for travel and accommodation assistance, they’re automatically eligible for assistance towards a support person's costs.

Specialist approval

Please note that your specialist may need to approve claims for some costs (for example, accommodation, support person and specialist transport).

How to claim travel assistance

Get registered

  1. Your hospital travel coordinator, health or disability specialist, or nominated social worker will need to help you register for travel assistance. They’ll send the completed registration form to Health New Zealand.
  2. Health New Zealand will assess your application.
  3. If you’re eligible, a confirmation letter, along with blank claim forms, will be sent to your mailing address.

File a claim

  1. Complete each claim form fully.
  2. Get it signed and stamped by the facility or hospital - or attach signed and stamped proof of attendance (for example, a hospital appointment discharge card, letter or note, on hospital letterhead paper).
  3. Attach your receipts. They must be original and itemised.
  4. When you make your first claim, attach a deposit slip, the top of your bank statement, or account verification from your bank. (If your bank account details change at any time, repeat this with your new bank account details.)
  5. For some claims, we ask you to wait until the minimum number of visits has been attended before submitting your first claim. These are: 22 or more visits to a specialist in two months, and six or more visits to a specialist in six months, and travel more than 25 km one way (child) or 50 km one way (adult), per visit.
  6. You must put in a claim for travel assistance within 12 months of the date of the appointment.
  7. Send completed forms to:National Travel AssistanceSector OperationsHealth New ZealandPO Box 1026Wellington 6140.

Any personal information you provide when registering or making a claim for travel assistance will be held securely by Health New Zealand and kept confidential, except for any disclosure that may be required by law.

You have the right to access your information and can request that it be corrected at any time.

National Travel Assistance Policy and guide

The National Travel Assistance Policy is designed to contribute to the costs of people who need to travel long distances, or frequently, to receive specialist services.

How the policy is used

Health New Zealand uses the National Travel Assistance (NTA) Policy to deliver the National Travel Assistance Scheme to eligible recipients.

Health administrators use the policy and the guide to help inform their decision-making according to the eligibility criteria.

The current NTA Policy has been in place since 2005.

Download: Guide to the National Travel Assistance (NTA) Policy 2005 August 2009 - PDF, 213 KB

This document is designed to provide guidance to the District Health Boards (DHBs).

Download: The National Travel Assistance Scheme: Policy Recommendations Report - DOCX, 355 KB

This report outlines the findings of the review of the NTA Scheme and makes recommendations for how to improve it.