expat network

Taking A Pet To New Zealand

When considering taking your pet with you to New Zealand you should ensure you understand what is involved and be confident that your pet is fit enough to make the journey and to settle in to a new life with you in New Zealand.  You will be responsible for its well-being and for ensuring that it does not annoy or injure other people.  Dogs must be registered with the local city council.

If you are renting your property in New Zealand you should check that your landlord allows pets as the majority do not allow pets.

New Zealand has some of the most rigorous rules for importing animals, plants and fruit as the country is a major agricultural economy and is free of most major animal diseases. Although dogs and cats can be taken to New Zealand, most other pets are prohibited.


You can bring:

  • horses
  • ornamental fish
  • chinchillas — from the United Kingdom (UK) only
  • guinea pigs — from Australia only
  • rabbits — from Australia only.

The MPI can provide more details on the steps to importing pets other than cats and dogs 


You’re not allowed to import:

  • birds
  • ferrets
  • mice and rats
  • reptiles
  • snakes

The importation is controlled by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and they recommend that you use a professional pet exporter to help you bring your pet to New Zealand safely and most airlines require you to use one to make sure you’ve followed all the rules.  They offer a range of services including arranging tests, treatments, flights, permits to import, shipping crates, and other requirements.

The full Import Health Standards for importation of cats and dogs is available from the MPI website.

Failure to meet all of the requirements can lead to your pet being held longer than the minimum of 10 days in quarantine, being required to complete additional testing or treatments or even being shipped back to the country of origin or at worst being put down.  All of this would be at your cost.


Travel Arrangements

Dogs will be transported in a crate in the air-conditioned cargo hold of the plan.  This area is temperature controlled and pressurised just like the main cabin.  The crate must comply IATA regulations and be clean, dry and free of pests and only have inert bedding.  Any toys, bedding or clothing will be destroyed on arrival in New Zealand.

You must notify MPI at least 72 hours before your dog arrives in New Zealand and if your dog is taking any medications you must provide a copy of the prescription.

The following requirements must be met by anyone importing a cat or dog into New Zealand. Nearly all other animals, such as birds, turtles, and monkeys, are prohibited.


Import requirements

You can import a dog or cat from countries where rabies is absent or well-controlled.  An import permit is required unless the animal is coming from Australia. This must be applied for a minimum of 20 working days in advance, but can take up to eight weeks.  Your local New Zealand Consulate can provide information on applying for a pet’s import permit.

Where the dog or cat is coming from a country that is not approved, it will not be allowed entry unless it has spent six months in an approved country and you can provide a vet’s certificate.

Dogs and cats must have approved microchips implanted.


To be eligible to be shipped to New Zealand your dog must:

  • be a domestic dog (Canis familiaris).
  • be 9 months of age or older on the date of travel to New Zealand.
  • reside in an approved country for at least 6 months (or since birth) immediately before coming to New Zealand.


Your dog cannot come to New Zealand if it is:

  • a hybrid (i.e. offspring of dogs crossed with another species e.g. wolf)
  • more than 42 days pregnant on the date of travel to New Zealand.


The following dog breeds/types and their crosses are not eligible to come to New Zealand:

  • Brazilian fila
  • dogo Argentino
  • Japanese tosa
  • perro de presa Canario
  • American pit bull terrier

Dogs diagnosed with Babesia gibsoni or Brucella canis are not eligible to come to New Zealand, regardless of treatment.

A Health certificate must be issued by the competent authority of the country or state of origin, confirming that there has been no outbreak of rabies in the previous 30 days. The health certificate is an integral part of the import permit.

The health certificate must be accompanied by an original rabies certificate. The rabies certificate should be issued by the pet’s veterinarian and should provide proof that the vaccination was administered more than 30 days, but no more than 180 days, prior to importation into New Zealand.

Pets must be vaccinated against lepto-spirosis, rabies, distemper and must have the other routinely administered dog and cat immunizations. These should be in line with the time frame required with for these vaccinations.

The pets must be accompanied by a veterinary certificate that documents the required vaccinations, identifies the animal and its microchip information.


The pet must be in quarantine for a minimum 10-day period when entering New Zealand (except those from Australia) provided the blood titer testing has been done six months in advance and that all other requirements are met.

In addition, a Biosecurity Clearance is issued when the animal lands in New Zealand, after an examination of the animal and its papers. The owner is charged a fee.

You should remember that requirements are subject to change and your local New Zealand Consulate can provide the latest information on pet importation.

For more details and forms, consult the Ministry for Primary Industries’ (MPI) website section on importing pets.