Travellers from New Zealand must request authorisation on the internet to enter the United States from January.
The Department of Homeland Security said on Thursday that mandatory prior visa authorisation is required for travellers from 12 January 2009. The rule also applies to Australia and western European countries.
Instead of travellers filling out paper I-94 visa waiver cards en route to the US, the new measure requires online registration.
US Consul General to New Zealand, John Desrocher, says the new system will provide better records of those entering and leaving the US.
Mr Desrocher says under the new system, most of the applications are being approved in less than a minute.
The new measure is among recommendations by the 9/11 Commission, which sought to promote laws that tighten border security in the wake of the 11 September attacks in 2001.
The department recommends that applications are submitted as soon as an applicant begins making travel plans.
Upon authorisation, travellers can enter the US for 90 days for business or pleasure.
The website is https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov.
Instructions on how to obtain travel authorisation are available on the website in English and 13 other languages: Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Icelandic, Italian, Japanese, Norwegian, Portuguese, Slovene, Spanish and Swedish.