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Moving a Pet to New Zealand

Rules and Regulations for International Pet Shipping

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 commercial pet transporter anyway.

The biggest and most complex aspect of moving your dog or cat to New Zealand is obtaining all the official documentation required. You can read about these requirements on New Zealand’s official government website, or if you’re moving from the United States, USDA’s APHIS division provides country-specific information about exporting pets. Here’s the New Zealand page.

Exactly what documentation your pet will need depends on where you’re living now. The rules are least stringent for pets coming from Australia and Norfolk Island. Other countries approved for pet importation are divided into categories based on whether they are rabies-free (Category 2) or Category 3 (rabies exists but is well controlled). For example the US mainland falls into Category 3, whereas Hawaii, although a US state, falls into Category 2 because the islands are rabies-free.

Here’s an overview of what is required to move your dog or cat to New Zealand from the US mainland. Note that New Zealand does not allow you to submit documentation online.

Health Certificates

Happy dog ready to moveAll dogs and cats must have a health certificate completed by a USDA Accredited veterinarian (Certificate A) as well as an endorsement from the USDA Veterinary Medical Officer (Certificate B) in your state. These documents must be signed in original ink. The USDA (APHIS) must also endorse any laboratory reports you are required to submit.

If you’re coming from the US mainland, use these forms:

If you’re coming from Hawaii or Guam, use these forms:

Import Permit

You must obtain an import permit from the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), but you may not apply for this permit until you have made quarantine arrangements for your pet. (See Section 4.) You must submit your import permit application at least 20 business days before your pet will travel to New Zealand.

Rabies Vaccinations

cats need rabbies shotsDogs and cats must be vaccinated against rabies, at age 3 months or older. Primary vaccination must be administered within 6 to 12 months of departure. Boosters may not be more than 1 year old.

Rabies Titer Test

Dogs and cats must also undergo a FAVN or RFFIT blood test to confirm the rabies vaccine is active within their body. This test must be based on a blood sample collected within 3 to 24 months of departure.


Besides rabies vaccination, Switzerland does not require other immunizations, but it’s a good idea to make sure your pet is vaccinated against common pests and diseases found in Switzerland. You can ask your new vet about this after you arrive. Learn more about the rabies vaccinations above.   

Parasite Treatment

Dog afraid of parasitesDogs and cats must be treated for nematodes and cestodes – once within 30 days of departure, and again within 4 days of departure.

Dogs and cats must also receive topical treatment to control fleas and ticks – once within 30 days of departure, and again at least 2 weeks later and within 2 days of departure. The animal must be visually inspected and found free of ticks at the time of each treatment.

Dogs only must be tested for heartworm within 30 days of departure. In addition, they must receive heartworm prevention treatment within 4 days of departure.

Blood Tests

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

Dogs must be tested for Babesia gibsoni using an IFA or ELISA test within 16 days of travel. They must also be tested twice using PCR, using samples collected 30-37 days apart. The second sample must be collected within 16 days of travel. Dogs that test positive for this Babesia gibsoni may not enter New Zealand.

Dogs must be tested for Brucella canis, using TAT and CPAg-AGID methods, within 16 days of departure. Dogs that test positive for Brucella canis may not enter New Zealand.

Dogs must be either vaccinated against leptospirosis or tested within 30 days of departure, with negative results.

Photo of Pet

New Zealand does not require you to submit a picture of your dog or cat, but you will be required to show your own photo identification.

What Are the Pet Restrictions for New Zealand?

Banned Breeds

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

  • American pit bull terrier
  • Brazilian fila
  • dogo Argentino
  • Japanese tosa
  • Perro de Presa Canario

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. You may not import birds or ferrets.

Age Restrictions for New Zealand

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?

Pets must be microchipped for international travel. This must be done before any health of import documents are completed, as the microchip number must be included on all these forms.

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

Your dog or cat can look forward to at least 10 days of quarantine upon arrival in New Zealand, despite having all the right paperwork. It is an extra precaution. The individual quarantine facilities require proof of immunizations that are not required to get your pet’s import permit. Proof of these vaccination must be sent with your quarantine booking request (see below):

For cats – FVRCP

For dogs – DHPP, Bordetella, CIV and, in some cases, Leptospirosis

To reduce the stress of separation from your pet during this time, our Starwood team recommends sending him on 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 certificates, and other travel documents needed for animal transport to New Zealand (outlined above)
  • USDA endorsement and consular legalization (when needed) 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
  • Local pet taxi service to and from the airport, your home, veterinarian, kennel, or groomer – 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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