5 Important Things You Must Know Before Bringing Your Pets Along To New Zealand

5 Important Things You Must Know Before Bringing Your Pets Along To New Zealand
5 Important Things You Must Know Before Bringing Your Pets Along To New Zealand

When travelling to New Zealand or considering moving to this beautiful country, you must decide whether you wish to bring your pet along or not.

Your pet is like your family member, so it should be considered to travel with you if there is no one back home to look after.

Also, bringing your loving pet along is better if you are permanently moving to this country.

Although dogs and cats can be taken to New Zealand, most other pets are banned. Here is a basic understanding of what and how you can bring your pet to New Zealand:

You can bring:

  • ornamental fish
  • horses
  • 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
  • reptiles
  • mice and rats
  • snakes

The importation is governed by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), and they recommend using a professional pet exporter to safely bring your pet to New Zealand. Most airlines require you to use one to ensure you’ve followed all the rules. 

They offer various services, including arranging tests, treatments, flights, permits to import, shipping crates, and other requirements.

Failure to meet all the requirements can result in your pet being held longer than the minimum of 10 days in quarantine, being required to complete extra 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

Travel arrangements
Travel arrangements

Dogs will be transported in a crate in the air-conditioned cargo hold of the plane.  This area is temperature-controlled and pressurized, just like the main cabin. 

The crate must be as per IATA regulations: clean, dry, free of pests, and only have inert bedding.  Any bedding, toys, or clothing will be destroyed on arrival in New Zealand.

Anyone importing a cat or dog into New Zealand must meet the following requirements. Nearly all other animals, such as birds, turtles, and monkeys, are prohibited.

Import requirements

Import requirements
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 at least 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 diagnosed with Babesia gibsoni or Brucella canis are not eligible to come to New Zealand, regardless of treatment.

But there are a few things to understand before you take this decision. It is because every country has its own rules and laws for transporting animals and bringing in pets.

Here are 5 essential things to know and clear your doubts if you bring pets to New Zealand.

1. Know the animals that you can bring into New Zealand

Know the animals that you can bring in to New Zealand
Know the animals that you can bring into New Zealand

This is an essential aspect. Cats and dogs are the pets that are commonly allowed in New Zealand.  If you are bringing your cat or dog from nearby Australia, you will only need a post-arrival inspection, but for all other countries, more specific requirements must be met.

Several dog breeds are banned from import — the American pit bull terrier, Brazilian fila, Dogo Argentino, Japanese tosa, and Perro de Presa Canario. So, that means no entry to these breeds.

The other pets you can bring are rabbits and guinea pigs, which can be imported from Australia and the UK.

There are different criteria for aquatic animals and horses, as set out by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI).

2. Know the health requirements for your pets

Know the health requirements for your pets
Know the health requirements for your pets

Specific health requirements must be met before bringing your pet into New Zealand. You will need to pay at least one visit to the vet before you leave.

Both cats and dogs must be microchipped and fully vaccinated for rabies before you bring them to New Zealand; a rabies titre test is required for pets from most countries, including the UK.

All dogs also require a heartworm and babesia gibsoni test, and all dogs apart from those from Australia need leptospirosis and Brucella canis test too.

Both cats and dogs need internal and external parasite treatments, with cats also requiring a second internal and external parasite treatment.

You can find information about all of the tests and treatments that cats and dogs must undergo in the Important Health Standards for Cats and Dogs document issued by the MPI.

If your cat or dog has any medication you need to bring with them, you have to declare them beforehand via a declaration of medicines and a copy of a vet’s prescription. Usually, the MPI will ratify up to a 3-month supply of medication.

Other animals permitted entry into New Zealand have health standards that must be met before importation. You can view these in the MPI’s guidance documents for rabbits from Australia, guinea pigs from Australia and chinchillas from the UK.

3. You should get a veterinary certificate

You should get a veterinary certificate
You should get a veterinary certificate

Now comes the documentation part for your pet. You must keep track of and certify your pet’s travel into New Zealand and file the documents before they can enter the country. The first of these is a veterinary certificate for your pet.

These certificates outline the treatment your pet needs, and by signing them, your vet declares that they have all been completed.

4. Pets need to undergo a quarantine period

Pets need to undergo a quarantine period
Pets need to undergo a quarantine period

Apart from those from Australia, all dogs and cats must undergo quarantine at an MPI-approved facility. You can find a list of these for dogs and cats here.

Other permitted pets do not usually require a quarantine period. You may feel worried about leaving your pet, but this is for your good, and once it is over, you will have completed the import process.

You can apply for an import permit once you’ve booked a quarantine period. This should be done at least six weeks before departure — there are two import forms for cats and dogs: one for rabies-free countries (category 2) and one for countries where rabies is absent or well-controlled (category 3). Rabbits, guinea pigs, and chinchillas also have their application form.

5. Inform the MPI before arrival

MPI of your pet
MPI of your pet

You will need to inform the MPI of your pet’s impending arrival at least 72 hours ahead of their arrival. The MPI’s import guidance page for cats and dogs lists precisely what information it needs to receive and the email addresses and phone numbers you can use to contact them.

6. Hire a professional pet mover to avoid stress

Hire a professional pet mover to avoid stress
Hire a professional pet mover to avoid stress

It is advised by Te New Zealand MPI that you hire a professional pet mover to make the experience of changing countries less stressful for both you and your pet.

These companies will take care of all the paperwork and happily walk you through all the steps required to get your pet into New Zealand.


After these essential things, you can be happy to live with your pet in a beautiful country and enjoy life together. 

You might think this a bit too stressful for the pet and also a big task, but the care and love you show towards your pet is the ultimate thing in the world, and with this process, you are safe to bring your pet to New Zealand.


What are the steps to apply for a pet import permit?

Apply through the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) website at least 20 working days before your pet’s arrival. The process may take up to eight weeks. Ensure your pet meets New Zealand’s health standards before applying.

Are there any breed-specific regulations for dogs apart from the banned breeds?

Yes, certain breeds may require additional documentation or meet specific criteria due to their size, temperament, or health concerns. Check the MPI website for details.

How can I prepare my pet for the flight to New Zealand?

Acclimate your pet to their travel crate well in advance, ensure they are healthy, and follow all airline guidelines for pet travel to minimize stress.

What are the costs associated with importing a pet to New Zealand?

Costs include vet exams, vaccinations, import permits, transport fees, and quarantine. Expenses vary widely but can range from hundreds to thousands of NZ dollars.

Can I visit my pet during the quarantine period?

Visits during quarantine are typically restricted to prevent stress and maintain biosecurity. Check with the specific quarantine facility for their policy.

What happens if my pet fails a post-arrival inspection or test?

If your pet fails inspection or tests, it may require additional quarantine and treatments or, in extreme cases, may be deported or euthanized at the owner’s expense.

How do I appeal a decision or seek assistance if my pet is denied entry?

Contact the MPI directly for guidance on appeals or assistance. Provide all relevant documentation and details of your case to support your appeal.

About the author

Kamal Kaur

Kamal Kaur

Kamal Kaur has been an integral voice in the New Zealand gaming landscape for years.

As a senior writer for PokiesMobile NZ, Kamal brings rich experiences from her diverse background.

Born in India and later migrating to New Zealand, she effortlessly blends her cultural insights with a deep love for gaming.

Kamal is renowned for her in-depth game analysis, player strategies, and knack for spotting industry trends.