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Moving a Pet to New Zealand

Rules and Regulations for Moving Cats and Dogs to New Zealand

What Pet Travel Documents Are Needed to Travel to New Zealand?

Moving to New Zealand with your pet requires careful attention to detail. Like all island countries, New Zealand is extremely cautious when it comes to importing animals that could possibly bring unwanted pests or disease. While you can make all of your pet’s travel and import arrangements yourself, this is not recommended. The airline you choose may require use of a professional pet transport company anyway.

The most complex aspect of moving your dog or cat to New Zealand is ensuring they meet all of New Zealand's pet import requirements and obtaining all the official documentation.

The requirements and paperwork vary slightly depending on where your pet has been living. Like other countries, New Zealand categorizes countries based on their rabies risk. This guide includes the requirements for moving your pet from the mainland United States (Category 3) to New Zealand.

Please note that all vaccinations, treatments, and blood testing must be completed by a USDA-Accredited Veterinarian.


All pets traveling to New Zealand are required to have an ISO-compatible microchip before the rabies vaccination(s) and blood testing. The chip number must be readable at every vet visit and must be reported accurately on all of your pet's paperwork.

Rabies Vaccinations

cats need rabbies shotsDogs and cats must be vaccinated against rabies, at age 3 months or older. The primary vaccination must be administered between 6 to 12 months prior to departure. Booster vaccinations must be given within 1 year prior to travel.

Rabies Titer Blood Test

Dogs and cats must have blood drawn for a FAVN or RFFIT rabies neutralising antibody titration blood test. The blood must be drawn by a USDA Accredited Vet and samples sent to an approved laboratory. This test must be completed between 3 and 24 months prior to departure.  The results of the rabies titer test must be greater than or equal to 0.5 IU/ml. The Rabies vaccination must be kept up to date, with no lapse, after the blood draw.

Other Required Vaccinations

New Zealand Quarantine mandates additional vaccinations for cats and dogs entering the country. 

Cats must be vaccinated for:

  • FVRCP (Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis, Calicivirus & Panleukopenia).

Dogs must be vaccinated for:

  • Canine Influenza Virus (CIV)
  • DHPP (Distemper, Hepatitis, Parvovirus, Parainfluenza)
  • Bordetella (Kennel Cough)
  • Leptospirosis OR they can be treated with a therapeutic dose of doxycycline for 14 consecutive days in the 30 days prior to travel

Official Veterinary Declaration (OVD)

After the rabies titer test is back from the lab, a USDA Accredited Vet must complete the OVD (Official Veterinary Declaration) and submit it to the USDA for endorsement. This document is needed before you can apply for the import permit and it must travel with your pet.

Quarantine Confirmation Letter

Once you have determined the date your pet is eligible to travel to New Zealand, you can make their quarantine reservation at one of the 4 MPI-approved quarantine facilities. Once quarantine has received the required documents and deposit, they will provide a quarantine confirmation letter. This letter will be needed to apply for the import permit. 

Import Permit

New Zealand requires an import permit for all cats and dogs entering the country (except if they are traveling from Australia).  The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has an online application system but you may not apply for this permit until you have all required documentation and have made quarantine arrangements for your pet. You must submit your import permit application at least 20 New Zealand working days before your pet's final exam for travel.

Please keep in mind that these 20 days do not include weekends or New Zealand holidays.  It is strongly recommended that you allow much more than 20 working days for MPI to process the permit so you do not risk not having it back in time for your pet's travels.

Other Required Treatments

Dog afraid of parasitesDogs and cats must be treated for internal parasites (both nematodes AND cestodes) – once within 30 days of departure (and at least 2 weeks before the second treatment), and again within 4 days of departure.

Dogs and cats must also be treated for external parasites (fleas and ticks) – once within 30 days of departure (and at least 2 weeks prior to the second treatment) and again within 2 days of departure. The animal must be visually inspected and found free of ticks/fleas at the time of each treatment.

Dogs are required to be treated for heartworm within 4 days prior to travel. The treatment must include either ivermectin, milbemycin, selamectin, or moxidectin. They are also required to have an ELISA test for heartworm within 30 days prior to travel.

**It's important to note that all treatments for New Zealand must be completed by a government-approved (USDA-Accredited) veterinarian in their office - not by you in your home.

Other Required Blood Tests

Cats and dogs must be kept in an environment free of any cats or dogs that show signs of infections or respiratory disease for at least 21 days before travel, and they cannot show clinical signs of disease themselves when inspected.

Dogs also require additional blood tests besides the rabies titer test.  The tests required for dogs include:

  • Babesia gibsoni - (IFAT) immunofluorescence antibody test or (ELISA) enzyme linked immunosorbent assay test within 16 days prior to travel.
  • Brucella canis - (RSAT) rapid slide agglutination test within 16 days prior to travel.
  • Canine heartworm (Dirofilaria immitis) -  ELISA (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay) test within 30 days prior to travel.
  • Leptospirosis (Leptospira interrogans serovar canicola) - Must be treated with a therapeutic dose of doxycycline for at least 14 consecutive days OR have a (MAT) microscopic agglutination test within 30 days prior to travel.

If your dog has ever resided in or traveled to South Africa then they will require an additional blood test for Babesia canis using an IFA (indirect fluorescent antibody) or ELISA (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay) test OR given one injection of imidocarb dipropionate at 7.5 mg/kg IM within 16 days prior to travel.

International Health Certificate

Happy dog ready to moveAll dogs and cats must have the New Zealand international health certificate completed by a USDA Accredited Veterinarian. This document must also be endorsed by the USDA.

If you’re coming from the US mainland, these certificates much be used:

If you’re coming from Hawaii or Guam, these certificates must be used:

What Are the Pet Restrictions for New Zealand?

Banned Breeds

pitbullNew Zealand does not allow the import of the following dog breeds, unless your dog is a guide, hearing or companion dog:

  • Brazilian Fila
  • Dogo Argentino
  • Japanese Tosa
  • Perro de Presa Canario
  • American Pit Bull Terrier

New Zealand also does not allow dogs or cats who are hybrid crosses with another species. The only exception to this is Bengal cats, if you can prove domestic ancestry of at least five generations.

New Zealand does not allow the import of live birds, ferrets, guinea pigs (except from Australia), mice and rats (except laboratory animals), or snakes and other reptiles (except for zoos).

Age & Residence Restrictions

Dogs and cats must be at least 9 months old on the day of their departure, and they must have lived in the country of export for at least 6 months. No dog or cat may move to New Zealand if they are more than 42 days pregnant at the time of departure.

Additional Requirements

There are special rules for assistance dogs, defined as “highly trained dogs for the purpose of assisting persons with a disability in the course of their daily lives.” They must be trained and certified by a recognized organization and must be actively working in the company of their handler at the time of travel.

You must contact MPI at least 72 hours before your pet’s arrival, so your dog or cat can be met by a veterinarian for inspection before your pet is moved to quarantine.

Do I Need a Microchip for My Pet to Travel to New Zealand?

New Zealand requires all pets to have a microchip prior to any of the treatments for import.  Your pet will need documentation confirming that the microchip was implanted and/or scanned prior to the primary rabies vaccination and all subsequent treatments required for travel.  Your pet's microchip should be scanned at every vet visit and the microchip number must be accurately recorded on all of their health paperwork.

What Are the Quarantine Requirements for a Pet Traveling to New Zealand?

Dogs and cats entering New Zealand from the USA must complete at least 10 days of quarantine upon arrival. 

New Zealand has 4 approved quarantine facilities including:

To reduce the stress of separation from your pet during this time, our Starwood team recommends sending them ahead of you to New Zealand. That way, by the time you arrive you can be reunited with your beloved companion right away.

Due to the quarantine requirement, pets arriving from the US must enter the country at either Christchurch or Auckland. You must make advance reservations for your pet at a quarantine facility approved by the Ministry for Primary Industries and receive a booking confirmation letter before you apply for an import permit. There is a fee.

Top Destinations in New Zealand

Our New Zealand pet shipping services include:

  • Door-to-door transport
  • Assistance with health certificates, import permits, and other travel documents needed for animal transport to New Zealand (outlined above)
  • USDA endorsement of all relevant documents where required
  • Airline-approved flight kennels provided with personalized labels, identification and emergency notification instructions
  • Customs clearance and delivery to your home
  • Quarantine arrangements
  • Local pet taxi service to and from the airport, your home, veterinarian or kennel – available in major New Zealand cities as well as their surrounding areas
  • Travel consultation and flight reservations

We will inform you of your pet's full itinerary before the trip and we will update you as your pet travels to New Zealand.

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