Steps to importing cats & dogs
To import cats and dogs to New Zealand you need to meet specific requirements. We've created a step-by-step process so you can see what's involved.
Follow the steps
To successfully import your cat or dog you need to:
- read the import health standard (IHS), guidance document and checklists for cats and dogs
- check that your cat or dog is eligible for import into New Zealand – refer to the guidance document
- use a pet exporter (recommended)
- book an MPI-approved quarantine facility (for all cats and dogs except from Australia)
- apply for a permit to import from MPI a minimum of 20 working days in advance of the date you require the permit (all cats and dogs except from Australia)
- ensure all of the import requirements have been met
- notify an official veterinarian in New Zealand:
- at least 5 working days before arrival for cats and dogs from Australia
- at least 72 hours before arrival for cats and dogs from all other approved countries
- check inspection times for biosecurity clearance for cats and dogs from Australia
- declare any medication your animal is taking.
Note arrangements during Christmas and New Year for cats and dogs from Australia
From 23 December 2017 through to and including 2 January 2018, cats and dogs from Australia cannot be cleared at the border. Any cats or dogs arriving during this period will be transferred to an approved quarantine facility until a veterinary inspection can be done.
Related import processes
Import processes related to cats and dogs are elsewhere on the website. Refer to importing:
- an assistance or guide dog
- pets like chinchillas, rabbits, or guinea pigs
- ornamental fish or other marine invertebrates
Read the import health standard and guidance document
The import health standard (IHS) for cats and dogs has all of the requirements you need to meet to import your animal.
Download the IHS for cats and dogs [PDF, 296 KB]
A guidance document is also available, with advice and extra information about importing your cat or dog. Refer to it to make sure you understand and can meet all of the requirements in the IHS. The guidance document has the list of approved countries where your cat and dog can be imported from.
Download the guidance document for cats and dogs [PDF, 332 KB]
The guidance document also has model veterinary certificates that will need to be completed for your cat or dog. These certificates tell you the tests, treatments, and examinations your cat or dog needs to have before coming to New Zealand. You can download model certificates to complete from:
Print out a checklist
To make it easier to import your cat or dog into New Zealand, MPI has created checklists for you to download and print for reference.
The checklists are only a guide and must be used with the guidance document and IHS for cats and dogs.
Download the checklist for cats [PDF, 226 KB]
Download the checklist for dogs [PDF, 232 KB]
Check whether your cat or dog is eligible to come to New Zealand
Cats and dogs can be imported only from approved countries. The guidance document lists the approved countries, which are categorised 1 to 3 according to their rabies status. If your pet's country is not on the list, then you can't import the pet.
Other restrictions apply to some dog breeds and types, hybrids, an animal's age, and its state of pregnancy.
Prohibited dog breeds or types
The Dog Control Act 1996 prohibits the import into New Zealand of any dog that belongs entirely or predominantly to one or more of these breeds or types of dogs:
- Brazilian Fila
- Dogo Argentino
- Japanese Tosa
- Perro de Presa Canario.
- American Pit Bull Terrier
No hybrids (offspring of dogs or cats crossed with another species) are eligible for importation, with the exception of Bengal cats. Documentation showing five generations of domestic ancestry must be provided for Bengal cats.
Minimum age and pregnancy restrictions
Cats and dogs need to meet the minimum age specified on the applicable model veterinary certificate in the IHS and not be more than 42 days pregnant on the date of shipment.
Ensure your pet meets residency requirements
Cats and dogs, except from Australia, must reside in the country of export for at least 6 months (or since birth) immediately before the shipment date.
Cats and dogs of New Zealand origin that are returning from the country of export may be given exemption from the residency requirement if:
- the pet has resided continuously in the country or territory of export since being imported directly from New Zealand
- it was identified by a microchip before export from New Zealand
- you can supply a copy of the New Zealand export certificate
- your pet was resident in a country where rabies is absent or well controlled (a category 3 country), it was vaccinated against rabies at least 1 month and not more than 6 months before leaving New Zealand when it was at least 3 months of age, and it had a rabies titre test no more than 18 months before leaving New Zealand with a result of at least 0.5 IU/ml.
Consider using a pet exporter
MPI recommends you contact a professional pet exporter in your pet's country to help arrange tests, treatments, flights, permits to import, shipping crates, and other requirements.
Some airlines require a pet exporter to book flights for animals because this adds assurance that all requirements will be completed at the appropriate time before departure.
Book an MPI-approved quarantine facility
All cats and dogs except those from Australia are required to have a minimum of 10 days quarantine at an MPI-approved quarantine facility. A booking confirmation letter needs to accompany your application for a permit to import.
Apply for a permit to import
Once your cat or dog is booked into a quarantine facility you can apply for a permit to import it. (A permit is not required if your cat or dog is coming from Australia or Norfolk Island.)
You must apply for an import permit a minimum of 20 working days in advance of the date you require the permit. Where an application is not provided 20 working days in advance, the permit may not be processed in time. A late fee may also be incurred.
There are 2 different import permits depending on the country's rabies status.
Download the import permit application form for cats and dogs from rabies-free countries (category 2 ):
Download the import permit application for cats and dogs from countries where rabies is absent or well controlled including cats or dogs on yachts (Category 3 ):
Declare pet medication, if needed
You need to provide details if your cat or dog is receiving any medication and needs it during travel.
Download the declaration of medicines form [PDF, 69 KB]
A copy of the veterinarian's prescription must be provided to MPI before or when your pet arrives in New Zealand. If the veterinary medicine is travelling with your pet, include this paperwork with your export documents. Generally, up to a 3-month supply will be given clearance.
Notify MPI before arrival
Notification requirements differ, depending on whether your animal is arriving from Australia, or from another approved country.
Cats and dogs from Australia
You need to notify MPI at least 5 working days before the scheduled arrival time of your cat or dog using the MPI veterinary inspection form.
Download the MPI veterinary inspection application [PDF, 170 KB]
Email the notification form to firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you have questions, telephone:
- Auckland/Wellington: +64 9 909 3524
- Christchurch: +64 3 943 1772.
Note clearance arrangements during Christmas and New Year
From 24 December 2016 through to and including 3 January 2017, cats and dogs from Australia cannot be cleared at the border. Any cats or dogs arriving during this period will be transferred to an approved quarantine facility until a veterinary inspection can be done.
Cats and dogs from other approved countries
You need to notify MPI at least 72 hours before the scheduled arrival time of your cat or dog. The notification should include the:
- flight or ship number
- date and time of arrival
- consignee's name and contact details
- species and breed
- number of animals in the consignment
- country of origin
- quarantine facility booking confirmation
- bill of lading reference (if known).
You should also say whether you or your agent or representative is travelling on board the same flight.
Contact MPI at the nearest intended port of arrival by email or telephone:
Biosecurity clearance of cats and dogs (including assistance dogs) from Australia
If you have given MPI at least 5 working days advance notification of arrival and payment arrangements have been made, your cat or dog will be inspected by an MPI veterinarian on arrival. Cats and dogs from Australia that meet our import requirements will be given clearance into New Zealand at the border. The inspection times for cats and dogs from Australia are:
- Auckland – 7am to 7pm
- Christchurch – 1pm to 5pm
- Wellington – 3.30pm to 5pm.
The inspection times apply Monday to Friday (except public holidays and from 25 December 2015 to 4 January 2016). No inspections are done on weekends.
If your cat or dog is not available for inspection during these times, or is not compliant with the requirements, it will be sent to an approved quarantine facility until veterinary inspection is completed on the next working day.
Assistance dogs that are not given biosecurity clearance will be directed to home quarantine by a MPI inspector/veterinarian until inspected by a MPI veterinarian. If there are non-compliant tests or treatments or if external parasites are detected, the dog may be directed to a quarantine facility for the required treatment, testing and/or inspections.
If ticks or fleas are found on arrival
Your cat or dog cannot be given clearance to enter New Zealand if ticks or fleas are detected on arrival or in the quarantine facility. If ticks and fleas are found, you have three options. At your cost, your pet will need to:
- go to an approved quarantine facility for treatment or testing
- return to its country of origin (if permitted)
- be euthanised.
Find out more
Download the flea and tick fact sheet [PDF, 362 KB]
Your cat or dog will be cleared for entry into New Zealand when:
- it passes final veterinary inspection
- at the border (for cats and dogs from Australia)
- after a minimum of 10-days quarantine for all other approved countries
- all supporting documentation is compliant.
If your cat or dog does not meet the requirements, it will be:
- held for further tests, treatment or quarantine
- re-shipped to the exporting country (or another country)
You will have to pay for any costs involved.
Who to contact
If you have questions about importing cats and dogs, email email@example.com.