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Bringing your pet dog or cat to New Zealand: What you need to know

New Zealand has stringent biosecurity laws in place to ensure the 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 that it considers 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.

Check if your pet is eligible for entry

New Zealand has three country categories under its approved list of countries and pets from only these nations or territories are allowed to enter New Zealand.

  • Category 1: Australia and Norfolk Island
  • Category 2: Bahrain, Barbados, Falkland Islands, Fiji, French Polynesia, Guam, Hawaii, Iceland, Japan, Mauritius, New Caledonia, Singapore, Vanuatu, and the Pacific Islands of American Samoa, Christmas Island, Cook Islands, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Pitcairn Islands, Saipan, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Wallis and Futuna, and Western Samoa.
  • Category 3: Antigua and Barbuda, Antilles, 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, 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, Northern Mariana Islands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Qatar, Reunion, Serbia, Seychelles, Slovakia , Slovenia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, St Kitts 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).
If your country is not on the approved list, your pet is not eligible for direct import into New Zealand. Instead, you must move your pet into an approved country for a minimum of six months before moving him or her to New Zealand. Alternately a pet transport company can submit a request to the MPI for the inclusion of a country or territory.

Microchip your pet

Microchipping your pet is the first step while travelling to most countries. Your vet will be able to microchip your pet; make sure you use an ISO 11784 or ISO11785 compliant microchip. Microchips are important because they help reunite lost pets with their owners. In New Zealand, it is mandatory to microchip your pet dog, and the microchip number is required for dog registration.

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.

Mandatory vaccinations and treatments

To bring your pet to New Zealand, MPI requires several mandatory vaccinations and health treatments. Your pet dog or cat must be vaccinated for rabies after the microchip insertion. The rabies vaccination has to be current and has to be given no less than six months and not more than 12 months before travel.

If you are bringing your pet cat, vaccinations include feline panleukopenia, feline rhinotracheitis and feline calicivirus. Pet dogs need to be vaccinated against canine distemper, infectious canine hepatitis, canine parvovirus, canine parainfluenza, Bordetella, leptospirosis, and canine influenza.

All pet dogs need to be given external and internal parasite treatments, and Heartworm treatment before travelling. MPI requires several blood tests for dogs in addition to the mandatory vaccinations and health treatments. These include tests for Heartworm, Leptospirosis, Babesia gibsoni, and Brucella canis.

Banned breeds

Certain dog breeds and their crosses such as Brazilian Fila, Dogo Argentino, Japanese Tosa, Perro de Presa Canario, and the American Pit Bull Terrier are prohibited from entering New Zealand. For those importing cats into New Zealand, documentation for at least five generations of domestic ancestry must be furnished for Bengal cats.

Book quarantine space

All pet dogs and cats entering New Zealand, except those coming from Australia, will have to stay an MPI-approved quarantine facility for 10 to 60 days. Quarantine space must be booked in one of the four MPI-approved quarantine centres and confirmation of the booking is required to finish the import process.

Import permit and health certificate

You will need to apply for an import permit after you have completed all the other veterinary requirements. Confirmation of quarantine space is necessary to apply for the import permit. You will also need a health certificate in the prescribed format attested by an approved vet.

Arriving in New Zealand

You can fly your pet to New Zealand to arrive into 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 coming 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 the biosecurity risks they pose.

Get expert help

Bringing your pet to New Zealand is a complicated process that involves multiple steps and processes. It can be challenging to remember the minute details, and failure to follow even a single step could lead to refusal of entry or extended quarantine. MPI recommends the use of an IPATA-registered pet relocation service to facilitate the pet travel. If you are looking to travel to New Zealand with your pet cat or dog, reach out to Petraveller for a detailed pet travel plan.

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