Animal Welfare Export Certification exemptions

Most animals exported from New Zealand must get an Animal Welfare Export Certificate (AWEC) under law but there are some exceptions. Find out what animals may be exempt from getting an AWEC.


Criteria for exemptions

Animals may be exempted from the need to get an AWEC where the risk to their welfare is considered low. Exemptions apply to:

  • certain animals, where the travel time from the New Zealand port of departure to the port of arrival in the country of destination does not exceed 6 hours
  • several classes of animals irrespective of their destination.

Animals travelling on flights longer than 6 hours and sea transport do require an AWEC. The welfare of animals during longer travel is at greater risk from environmental factors, such as temperature, and physiological changes, such as dehydration. An exception to this policy has been made for dogs and cats travelling to Australia, where no AWEC is required.

Animals with complete exemption

The following animals do not need an AWEC before they're exported from New Zealand:

  • cats and dogs exported to Australia
  • pet animals departing on any ship
  • crab, crayfish, fish, lobster, octopus, squid
  • poultry hatching eggs (being avian pre-hatched young in the last half period of development).

Even if exempted, animals being exported by air must be transported under conditions that are consistent with the International Air Transport Association regulations. Airlines operating out of New Zealand are aware of these specifications and can advise exporters of requirements specific to each animal.

Exemption for animals travelling less than 6 hours

The following animals do not require an AWEC if they are travelling for less than 6 hours:

  • Birds not subject to the Wildlife Act 1953 or the Trade in Endangered Species Act 1989
  • Camelids
  • Cats
  • Cattle
  • Deer
  • Dogs
  • Ferrets
  • Goats
  • Guinea pigs
  • Hamsters
  • Hares
  • Hedgehogs
  • Horses
  • Pigs
  • Possums
  • Rabbits
  • Ratites
  • Rodents
  • Sheep
  • Wallabies
  • any other animal determined from time to time by the Director-General of the Ministry for Primary Industries.
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