Abolition of departure cards will delay travel, migration data

From November, Statistics NZ will move to an outcomes-based measure based on actual movements rather than stated intentions.
July's figures showed showed more Kiwis leaving for Australia.

The removal of one hassle for international travellers – departure cards – will create a new one for those who depend on timely arrival and departure figures or estimates of net migration.

From November, Statistics NZ will move to an outcomes-based measure, based on actual movements rather than stated intentions.

This will mean a delay of 17 months before final migration estimates are available. That’s because someone has to be in the country for 12 months out of 16 before they can be classified as a long-term migrant.

Stats NZ population insights senior manager Brooke Theyers says the new methodology will provide more robust and accurate data that will give a clearer picture of actual migration patterns.

“A delay of that length would have been unacceptable to those who rely on migration data for planning and analysis, so we are developing a statistical model that will provide a provisional estimate of migration,” she says.

Outcomes data have been published since May 2017 and will now become the official measure. This links actual departures and arrivals using passport data to create travel histories for passengers, which in turn will be used to classify migrant movements.

Historically, tourism and migration data has been partly based on information given by travellers as they leave the country, including how long they will be away and where they will spend that time. 

In future, statistics for New Zealanders travelling overseas will be largely based on when they return. Some variables – including occupation and country of next residence – will no longer be available.

The first look at provisional external migration estimates will be released tomorrow. Permanent and long-term travel and migration figures for July showed a continuing decline in net migration and more Kiwis leaving for Australia.