Bringing Pets Into New Zealand: What You Need to Know

So you’re coming to New Zealand with your pet. Great! 

Moving to a new country with your pets can be daunting, but if you plan ahead it’s much easier. New Zealand has strict and specific rules for importing pets which are aimed at ensuring the health and wellbeing of animals as well as humans.

If you’re moving to New Zealand with your pet, you need to firstly ensure the pet is allowed into the country. Section 9 of the Biosecurity Act 1993 states that every person arriving in New Zealand must declare all animals and plants they are bringing with them. 

A biosecurity officer at the border may ask questions to determine whether your pet is suitable for entry into the country. Questions will include details such as how/when it was acquired, where it lived in the past.

Also, you’re going to need a pet passport for your dog or cat. However, the rules differ depending on the animal’s age, breed, previous microchip, and rabies vaccination status.

In addition, if you’re moving to NZ permanently with a pet, you will need an Import Health Certificate from your veterinarian, showing that your animal has been vaccinated against rabies.

In this article, we provide step-by-step instructions on how to import pets into New Zealand.

Which animals can you bring into NZ?

Most pets are welcome in New Zealand. However, you need to meet very strict rules before you can enter the country with your pet.

However, note that New Zealand is one of the few countries in the world to have completely banned certain dog breeds. These include all breeds of Pit Bulls (including American Pit Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers) plus Fila Brasileiro, Dogo Argentino and Japanese Tosa are banned.

Know the health requirements

New Zealand has strict and rigorous standards and requirements for pets coming from overseas. This includes requirements for an import health certificate, relevant treatments, vaccinations, parasite control procedures and containment of all pet waste on board the aircraft or in quarantine. 

These requirements are to ensure that animals entering the country are not carrying any infectious diseases with them. The Pet Travel Scheme which came into effect in 2004 standardises the requirements for cats, dogs and ferrets being brought into New Zealand. Anyone wishing to bring live animals into New Zealand must comply with the import health standard.

Get a veterinary certificate

Animals imported into NZ must have an International Health Certificate (IHC) from the country they were originally purchased or born in, stating they are free from specified diseases that could cause considerable damage to New Zealand’s animals, plants and ecological resources. They must also have a Veterinary Certificate issued in the exporting country by an approved veterinarian.

Pet dogs and cats must be microchipped, vaccinated against rabies and wear a collar tag issued in New Zealand. Some travellers may also require an import permit from MPI before importing animals, including certain species of reptiles.

Obtain an import permit

Pet owners interested in travelling to New Zealand need to make sure they obtain the appropriate permit for their pooch, kitty or other animal of choice.

You will need to apply for and get a permit from MPI’s Biosecurity Service at least six weeks prior to your planned travel date. The import permit will show that your animal meets quarantine requirements before it arrives.

Book a quarantine for your pet

The Government of New Zealand requires all pets entering the country to complete a minimum 10-day quarantine period at an approved facility in Auckland, New Zealand. 

This requirement is designed to protect the country’s unique ecosystem from foreign diseases and pests, including exotic animals that could harm our native species and plants. Pet owners are responsible for ensuring their pets meet the import requirements. It takes at least 5 working days to arrange quarantine and delivery for your pets once everything is in place.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) recommends pre-quarantine as a definitive way for your pet to avoid unnecessary stress and contact with New Zealand pests/diseases while awaiting entry into New Zealand. As such we recommend you book with one a quarantine facility so your pet does not spend unnecessary time in a holding facility which can affect their health and wellbeing.

Notify the MPI before your arrival

If you are coming to New Zealand from overseas with a pet, you must tell the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) at least 48 hours before arriving. 

The MPI are responsible for animal welfare and food safety, and for making sure that animals being transported in or out of New Zealand are safe and healthy. To do this they run border controls to make sure that, whenever animals enter and leave New Zealand, the correct documentation is completed and any animal-related laws are complied with.

Think about hiring a professional pet mover 

When moving your pet to New Zealand it is very important that you use a Pet Mover who is dedicated to the needs of your beloved pet! The journey for your pet is just as important as yours. 

Pet shipping is stressful enough without trying to coordinate flights and train trips. A professional pet moving company will have a good understanding of NZ customs regulations. They will know every step and process that will make your pets journey safe so that they can travel in good care, comfort and safety. They can also help provide an assisted inspection of your pet at the port of entry into NZ.

How much will importing your pet cost?

Generally, the cost of importing a dog or cat (or other animal) is in the region of $500-$1200. The exact costs depend on your and your animal’s circumstances, so we always recommend seeking independent advice from an animal quarantine expert or your immigration advisor as soon as you know if you are going to be moving your animal to New Zealand.


Having a pet is great for your health and happiness. Make sure your pets have a safe and smooth journey when you move to New Zealand. Before you enter the country, make sure to visit Immigration NZ’s website to find out what any new or updated requirements to meet.