A Kiwi living overseas who ignored requests to repay his student loan has been arrested at the New Zealand border after returning home for a visit - the first time the hardline sanction has been used.

The man was detained on Monday while trying to leave the country. He has lived overseas since 2004 and has student debt of more than $20,000.

A law change in March 2014 means student loan borrowers who are well behind on repayments and ignore requests from Inland Revenue may have an arrest warrant issued, stopping them from leaving New Zealand until they resolve their arrears.

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