Step-by-step guide to bringing your pet to New Zealand
New Zealand has stringent biosecurity laws in place to ensure that native flora and fauna are protected from exotic diseases. You can bring your pet dog or cat into New Zealand only if it meets the country’s extremely specific health and veterinary standards.
New Zealand’s Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) allows entry only to dogs and cats flying from an approved list of countries considered rabies-free or rabies-controlled. Bringing your pet to New Zealand involves careful planning because of the steps involved in the process. The documentation, health checks, and vaccinations require accurate preparation and scheduling.
If you have been looking at pet import rules to New Zealand, you’ll soon realise that it is anything but simple. The planning involved is long and drawn out and needs to be meticulous for a successful relocation. Here’s a step-by-step guide to the pet import process to New Zealand:
KNOW YOUR COUNTRY CATEGORY
Countries have been categorised based on the prevalence of rabies, and New Zealand only permits pets from approved countries. Approved countries are divided into three categories:
- Category 1: An import permit is not required for pets arriving from these countries. Post-arrival inspection will be performed on the pets, but these pets will not be sent to post-arrival quarantine as long as all pet import conditions are met. Category 1 countries are Australia and Norfolk Island.
- Category 2: Pets arriving from these countries need an import permit to enter New Zealand. They will be subject to post-arrival inspection and sent to the quarantine centre for a minimum of ten days. Category 2 countries and territories are Bahrain, Barbados, Falkland Islands, Fiji, French Polynesia, Guam, Hawaii, Iceland, Japan, Mauritius, New Caledonia, Pacific Islands, Singapore and Vanuatu.
- Category 3 : These are countries where rabies is absent or well-controlled. Pets from these countries need an import permit and must quarantine for at least ten days after arrival. Category 3 countries are Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Aruba, Austria, Bahamas, Balearic Islands, Belgium, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Brunei, Bulgaria, Canada, Canary Islands, Cayman Islands, Chanel Islands, Chile, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Gibraltar, Greece, Greenland, Hong Kong, Hungary, Ireland, Isle of Man, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Kuwait, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macau, Malaysia (Peninsular, Sabah & Sarawak only), Malta, Monaco, Montenegro, Netherlands Antilles, Netherlands, Northern Mariana Islands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Qatar, Reunion, Serbia, Seychelles, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, St Kitt and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Trinidad and Tobago, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, Uruguay, USA, and Virgin Islands (USA).
BANNED BREEDS AND ELIGIBILITY
New Zealand has breed-specific legislation and prohibits the import of certain aggressive and strong dog breeds. The following dog breeds and types are banned for import into New Zealand.
- Brazilian Fila
- Dogo Argentino
- Japanese Tosa
- Perro de Presa Canario
- American Pit Bull Terrier
New Zealand also bans the import of hybrids (dogs or cats crossed with another species), with the exception of Bengal cats. Documentation showing five generations of domestic ancestry must be provided for Bengal cats.
Pets travelling from non-approved countries cannot travel directly to New Zealand. They must move to an approved country or territory and reside there for at least six months after meeting the approved country’s pet import rules. Pets can then proceed to New Zealand with a valid import permit after satisfying New Zealand’s pet import conditions.
A pet is eligible for import into New Zealand only if they meet the following conditions:
- The pet must have resided in an approved country for at least six months before export.
- The pet must be over eight weeks old for a category 1 country, 12 weeks old for a category 2 country and nine months old for a category 3 country.
- The pet dog or cat must not be a hybrid.
- They must not be on the banned breeds list.
- They must never have been diagnosed with Brucella canis or Babesia gibsoni
- Female pets must not be more than 42 days pregnant during export.
If your pet fulfils the above requirements, you can plan their relocation to New Zealand.
All pets must be implanted with a microchip that meets ISO specifications. Remember to ask your vet to scan the microchip and record the number before every vaccination, blood test, treatment and examination. The rabies vaccine should be given after the microchip is implanted. Retain the documentation, as you will need to furnish proof of when the microchip was implanted or the date of verification by the vet. It is important to note that all your pet’s documents must bear the microchip number.
VACCINATIONS, TESTS AND TREATMENTS
Pet dogs and cats travelling to New Zealand must be vaccinated against rabies and other common feline and canine diseases. The vaccinations must be current, and a record must be maintained in the pet health certificate. Remember to implant the microchip before the vaccinations.
- Category 1 countries - Pets travelling from these countries do not need a rabies vaccination before travelling to New Zealand.
- Category 2 countries - Dogs from Category 2 countries need routine quarantine vaccinations, including canine distemper, infectious canine hepatitis, canine parvovirus, canine parainfluenza, kennel cough, and canine influenza. Cats from these countries must be vaccinated against feline calicivirus, feline panleukopenia, and feline rhinotracheitis.
- Category 3 countries – Pets travelling from these countries need a rabies vaccination, a rabies neutralising titre test, and routine quarantine vaccinations. Pet dogs must be vaccinated against rabies, canine distemper, infectious canine hepatitis, canine parvovirus, canine parainfluenza, kennel cough, and canine influenza. Pets cats need the following vaccinations – rabies, feline calicivirus, feline panleukopenia, and feline rhinotracheitis.
Health tests for dogs
Dogs travelling from Category 2 and 3 countries must be tested for the following canine diseases by a government-approved vet before travelling to New Zealand.
- Canine heartworm – Dogs that are six months or older require an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) test for canine heartworm at least 30 days before departure. Dogs must be treated with a registered product for the prevention of heartworm four days before departure or be up-to-date with a sustained injection (ivermectin, milbemycin, selamectin or moxidectin) for heartworm prevention according to manufacturer’s instructions.
- Babesia canis and Babesia gibsoni – New Zealand requires dogs to be tested for Babesia via an immunofluorescence antibody (IFAT) test or an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) test. If you use a PCR test for Babesiosis, your dog must have a negative result on two samples collected 30 days apart, with the second sample collected in the 16 days before travel. The Babesia canis test is required only for dogs who have travelled to or resided in South Africa. Dogs with a positive result for Babesia gibsoni are not eligible to travel to New Zealand, irrespective of the treatment received.
- Leptospirosis – Dogs must be treated with doxycycline for at least 14 consecutive days or have a microscopic agglutination test (MAT) with a negative result in the 30 days before travel. If your dog has a positive result of 1:400 or less, you can either retest the dog 14 days after the first test or treat your dog with doxycycline for 14 consecutive days in the 30 days before shipment.
- Brucella canis – Dogs need a rapid slide agglutination test (RSAT), tube agglutination test (TAT) or cytoplasmic agar gel immunodiffusion test (CPAg-AGID) for Brucellosis and produce a negative result in the 16 days before travel. Dogs diagnosed with Brucella canis are not eligible for import, regardless of the treatment received. If your dog produces a positive or inconclusive test, you can:
- If the RSAT or TAT is positive or inconclusive, repeat the test using CPAg-AGID in the 16 days before travel.
- If the TAT test is inconclusive, repeat the test 30-42 days after the first test in the 16 days before travel. For entire dogs, pet parents must declare that the dog has not been mated in the 44 days before travel unless with a dog of equal Brucella canis status.
Internal and external parasite treatment
Pet dogs and cats must receive two internal parasite treatments 15 days apart before travelling to New Zealand. The first treatment must be given 30 days before flying, and the second treatment should be given four days before travel. There should be a gap of at least two weeks between the two treatments. The treatment must be effective against both nematodes and cestodes.
Pet dogs and cats must be treated for external parasites twice before the date of travel. The first treatment must be given 30 days before travelling and the second two days before the travel date, with a gap of two weeks between the two treatments. The external parasite treatment must be effective against both fleas and ticks.
Entire dogs are subjected to an examination of the external genitalia by a veterinarian two days before flying to New Zealand for canine transmissible venereal tumour (CTVT).
RABIES VACCINATION AND RNATT
All dogs and cats from category 3 countries must be vaccinated against rabies and have a rabies neutralising titre test before travelling to New Zealand. The rabies vaccine must be an inactivated or recombinant rabies vaccine administered when the pet is at least three months old.
The rabies vaccine must be administered not less than six months and not more than 12 months before travel if it is a primary vaccine.
If your pet is receiving the booster dose, it must be given before the primary dose expires and not more than 12 months before travel. If the primary dose has expired, the booster dose will be considered the primary vaccination.
Rabies neutralising antibody titre test (RNATT)
The RNAT test determines if the rabies vaccine adequately protects your pet against the virus. The test checks your pet’s antibody response to assess the vaccine’s efficacy. The blood sample for the test must be collected three to four weeks after your pet has received the vaccination. The RNATT must be performed at an approved lab not less than three months and not more than 24 months before your pet travels to New Zealand.
The test must be a fluorescent antibody virus neutralisation test (FAVN) or a rapid fluorescent focus inhibition test (RFFIT) in a government-approved laboratory. The MPI accepts pets with an antibody level of 0.5 IU/ml or more. If your pet produces a lower antibody response, you must revaccinate the pet and retest after 3-4 weeks. It is important to note that your pet must be continuously vaccinated against rabies during this entire process.
Pets from Category 2 and 3 countries must be booked into a government-approved quarantine facility. The booking confirmation is required to process your import permit. The quarantine centres are in Auckland and Christchurch, and pets requiring quarantine must arrive directly in these cities.
Contact the quarantine centre for more information about costs, feeding, quarantine conditions, and visitation rights.
Official Veterinarian Declaration
Pets travelling from category 3 need an official veterinarian declaration prepared by the vet and endorsed by an official government vet from the country of export. The OVD must have the following information:
- Microchip number
- Date of rabies vaccination
- Date of sampling for RNATT
- RNATT test results
The official veterinarian declaration must be completed before applying for the import permit.
Pets from category 2 and 3 countries need an import permit before flying to New Zealand. You can apply for the import permit online on the MPI website. Since MPI needs at least 20 working days to process the permit, ensure you apply for the permit with enough time for processing and booking flights. Your application must contain the following information:
- Quarantine booking confirmation letter
- Complete the OVD form (Category 3 countries only)
- Rabies neutralising antibody titre test (RNATT) report (Category 3 countries only)
- Rabies vaccination records (Category 3 countries only)
Fees: MPI charges a fee of NZD 268.24 to issue the permit.
Model Veterinary Certificates A and B
After your vet has completed all the veterinary testing and treatments required for export to New Zealand, they will prepare the model veterinary certificates in the required format. These certificates are then signed, dated and endorsed by an official government vet.
Pet parents must declare the following:
- Your pet is more than eight weeks old at the date of travel (category 1)
- Your pet is more than 12 weeks old at the date of travel (category 2)
- Your pet is more than nine months old at the date of travel (category 3)
- Your pet is not more than two days pregnant during the travel (all category countries)
- Your pet has resided continuously (or since birth) in an approved country for the six months immediately before export.
For 21 days before the travel date, your pet must not be in a place with cats or dogs showing clinical signs of infectious respiratory disease. Your pet must also not show any signs of infectious respiratory disease for 21 days before travel.
All pets travelling to New Zealand, other than pets from Australia, need an import permit to enter the country.
|Details||Fee (without GST)||Fee (with GST)|
|Permit to import cats and dogs from rabies-free countries||NZD 233.25||NZD 268.24|
|Additional processing fees if the application takes longer than one-and-a-half hours.||NZD 102.27 per hour||NZD 117.61 per hour|
Border clearance charges
All pets arriving in New Zealand will be inspected at the border to determine whether they can be cleared or sent to a quarantine facility for further tests. Fees for the border inspection differ for pets from different country categories.
|Details||Fee per animal (without GST)||Fee per animal (with GST)|
|Pets that do not need veterinary inspection||NZD 49.61||NZD 57.05|
|Pets that require veterinary inspection||NZD 186.30 per hour||NZD 4214.25 per hour|
Pet dogs and cats from Category 2 and 3 countries must spend at least ten days in pet quarantine at an MPI-approved facility. You will need a quarantine booking confirmation letter for the import permit.
After your pet arrives at the quarantine facility, an MPI vet will inspect your pet within 72 hours of arriving. The quarantine centre will monitor and care for your pets and ensure they are healthy, well-fed and exercised.
Your pet has to stay a minimum of 10 days at the facility. The stay can be extended for the following reasons:
- the quarantine period ends outside of normal business hours
- the import requirements have not been met
- a cat or dog is unwell or has been exposed to a suspected exotic disease
- ectoparasites are associated with a cat or dog
- an aggressive cat or dog cannot be adequately examined
MPI-approved quarantine centres are:
Highfield Road, Aylesbury
PO Box 23158
Christchurch, New Zealand
Tel: +64 3 318 129
PET TRAVEL FROM AUSTRALIA TO NEW ZEALAND
Pets travelling from Australia to New Zealand fall under the Category 1 countries. They do not require an import permit to enter New Zealand and will not be sent to the animal quarantine centre after entry if they fulfil all import formalities.
- Your pet must be more than eight weeks old, and weaned from the mother.
- They must not be under any quarantine restrictions
- They must not be a hybrid or in the banned breeds list
- Your pet must never have had a Babesia gibsoni diagnosis
- Your pet must not be more than 42 weeks pregnant
Pets travelling to New Zealand from Australia must follow this process to enter the country successfully:
- 7 to 8 weeks before export: Implant the microchip. Draw the blood sample for the Babesia gibsoni PCR tests for dogs only.
- 30 days before export: Your vet will scan and check the microchip number before drawing a blood sample to test for heartworm. Your pet must receive the first treatment for internal and external parasites.
- 16 days before departure: Your vet must scan the microchip before drawing blood for the Babesia gibsoni ELISA or IFAT or second PCR test for dogs only
- 5 days before leaving: Notify MPI of your pet’s arrival
- 4 days before flying: Scan the microchip and administer heartworm treatment for dogs only.
- 2 days before flying: Your vet must scan and check the microchip number and do the following: Check for external parasites, infectious diseases, signs of canine transmissible venereal tumour (intact dogs only), check if your pet is fit to fly, administer the second internal and external parasite treatments. Your pet travel partner will then complete the model certificates A and B and get it signed by an official government vet, complete the canine influenza declaration and obtain the official seal for your pet’s crate.
- On the day of travel: Put the official seal on your pet’s crate and make sure all the documents accompany your pet.
ARRIVING IN NEW ZEALAND
Pet dogs and cats flying to New Zealand must arrive in Auckland and Christchurch only. You will have to inform the MPI of your pet’s arrival well in advance. An official will examine dogs and cats entering from Australia and allow them to go home if they are healthy and pose no biosecurity risks. Dogs and cats from other countries will be taken to the quarantine centre, where they will stay for 10 to 60 days, depending on the country they are flying from and their biosecurity risks.
Your pets will be cleared for entry only after they pass the final veterinary inspection at the border (for pets from Australia) or after a minimum of 10 days in the quarantine facility (for pets from other approved countries). All their supporting documents must be in accordance with New Zealand’s pet import conditions, and the pets must not show signs of illness upon entry.
Curious about the Cost of Moving Dogs and Cats to New Zealand?
Travelling with your pet entails more than simply buying an additional ticket. When journeying to an overseas location with your furry friend, you must ensure your pet’s prime health, secure an import permit, and make sure you are in accordance with the destination country’s import regulations. There is no set cost for moving pets to New Zealand. The cost of pet travel varies, which is subject to the individual airline’s fares, the size and weight of your pet, and the travel crate. Larger pets typically incur higher ticket prices. Additional factors such as whether it is a direct flight or a flight that involves layovers can also affect the cost.
Important Things to Know Regarding the Cost of Moving Cats and Dogs to New Zealand
The cost of moving pets to New Zealand is far more than just the airline fare. You should also take into account any quarantine expenses, including boarding and inspection fees. If you’re looking to travel internationally with your pet, Petraveller is on hand to make the process straightforward. Our travel quotations are transparent and comprehensive, showcasing all the expenses associated with your pet’s journey to their destination. We believe in providing clear pricing that will never include any concealed charges or unexpected fees upon arrival.
Navigating the intricate requirements of international pet transport can be straightforward with the guidance of an accredited pet travel agency. At Petraveller, we offer a thorough pet travel itinerary and guidance, delivered with care and compassion.
AUSTRALIA’S BEST PET TRAVEL SPECIALISTS
Bringing your pet to New Zealand is a complicated process that involves multiple steps and procedures. It can be challenging to remember the minute details, and failure to follow even a single step could lead to refusal of entry into the country or extended quarantine. MPI recommends using an IPATA-registered pet relocation service to help with your pet’s relocation. If you want to travel to New Zealand with your pet cat or dog, contact Petraveller for a detailed travel itinerary and a free pet travel quote.