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Update on Vaccinations: New Zealand/Australia

Published on: March 26, 2018  |  Author: Starwood Pet Travel

bernese mountain dog and calico catIf you’re planning an international move, you have to understand that things change. Countries such as New Zealand and Australia have stringent regulations governing pet importation. And if you don’t follow the latest protocols and paperwork requirements, your dear dog or cat could be left behind. What could change? 

Consider these two examples from New Zealand:

  • “From 22 October 2017, cats and dogs from all countries (including Australia) can no longer fly into Wellington Airport. Cats and dogs must be cleared for entry into New Zealand (Australian cats or dogs only) or transferred to a quarantine facility (all other countries) from either Auckland or Christchurch airports.”
  • “14 MARCH 2018 - The IHS and model veterinary certificates for cats and dogs have been urgently amended to include the following measure for canine influenza …” Essentially, your dog must be vaccinated against canine influenza or your vet has to stipulate that the dog hasn’t been near any potentially infected animals for at least three weeks before departure. 

Currently countries around the world – including the United States – are seeing an increase in cases of canine influenza, or dog flu. This is a highly contagious disease, just like human flu, though people and pets cannot infect one another because the virus is somewhat different in each instance. 

What’s the big deal?

Say you intend to move to Australia or New Zealand soon. If you were relying on information just six months old to pull together your pet’s travel arrangements and documents, you’d be out of date. And maybe out of luck. Accurate information is critical. New Zealand and Australia are quite good at providing comprehensive information and updating their websites. Many countries are not. Even so, wading through the lengthy explanations to find what you need can be daunting and frustrating. 

Here at Starwood, we don’t have to hunt around to find the latest information. We transport pets like yours all around the world, day in and day out, and work closely with airlines and local officials. You can be confident we are up to date and among the first to know if anything changes. What a relief! 

Because we are professionals when it comes to moving pets properly and safely. The New Zealand Ministry for Primary Industries strongly recommends you contact a professional to assist with importing your pet. Australia leaves nothing to chance. You must use a company such as Starwood if you want to move your pet to Australia. 

But what vaccinations will your cat or dog need before they head to their new country? 

New Zealand

The country you are moving from will determine the requirements for moving your pet to New ZealandThe United States is considered Category 3 – countries where rabies is present but well-controlled. (Other categories are for countries that are rabies-free or where the disease is not controlled.) 

Let’s assume you’re moving from the US. Cats and dogs must be vaccinated for the below.


  • Rabies
  • FVRCP (Feline viral rhinotracheitis, calicivirus, panleukopenia)


  • Rabies
  • DHPP (distemper, hepatitis, parainfluenza, parvovirus)
  • Bordetella (kennel cough)
  • CIV (canine influenza virus)
  • Leptospirosis 

Dogs and cats coming from the US automatically go to quarantine for 10 days and are then released if their documentation is in order. New Zealand’s quarantine facilities are privately operated. 

Note that New Zealand also requires you to declare any medications your cat or dog takes regularly. 


Australia also categorizes countries based on their rabies status.

Again, let’s assume you’re moving from the US. Your pet will need to meet all of Australia's pet import requirements and be vaccinated for the below.

Cats must be vaccinated for:

  • Rabies
  • FVRCP (Feline viral rhinotracheitis, calicivirus, panleukopenia)

Dogs must be vaccinated for:

  • Rabies
  • DHPP (distemper, hepatitis, parainfluenza, parvovirus)
  • Bordetella (kennel cough)
  • CIV (canine influenza virus)
  • Leptospirosis (if you don't have your dog's blood tested) 

Do note that Rabies, CIV, and leptospirosis (if you aren't doing a blood test) are the only mandatory vaccinations for dogs coming to Australia. However, if your pet will be boarding prior to travel, then DHPP and Bordetella will also be required.

It’s complex. And it can change. But knowing that is half the battle, as they say. And if you want complete peace of mind, just give us a call.

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