Assistance & guide dogs
Assistance dogs are highly trained animals that help people with special needs. The process for importing them to New Zealand is similar to importing other dogs but special quarantine arrangements can be made to minimise disruption for handlers.
1. Read the import health standard and guidance document
All the information you need is in the Import Health Standard (IHS) for Cats and Dogs and the Guidance Document for Cats and Dogs.
Download the IHS for Cats and Dogs [PDF, 296 KB]
Download the Guidance Document for Cats and Dogs [PDF, 346 KB]
2. Apply for a permit to import
A permit to import is required unless your assistance dog is from Australia.
You'll need to send in supporting information with your import permit application to show that your dog meets the definition of an assistance dog.
- For Guide dogs: documentation from a member school of the International Federation of Guide Dog Schools to show that your dog has been trained and certified as a guide dog
- For other assistance dogs: documentation to show that your dog has been trained and certified as an assistance dog by a recognised and accredited national or international organisation. Examples of recognised and accredited assistance dog organisations can be found through Assistance Dogs International. Please note that a letter from a doctor or therapist is not sufficient evidence to meet this requirement.
You'll also need to supply documentation from the relevant organisation, confirming your assistance or guide dog has been in your service and used in the course of your daily life (or under the supervision of the organisation) for at least the 6 months before the date of importation.
The permit fee is waived for assistance dogs.
Download the import permit application for assistance dogs from countries or territories where rabies is absent or well controlled (Category 3 countries plus cats or dogs arriving on boats) [PDF, 197 KB]
Note, your dog may travel in the cabin of the aircraft if it meets the definition of an assistance dog and is acceptable to the airline.
3. Notify MPI in advance of your arrival
You must notify the port of arrival and MPI at least 72 hours before your dog arrives. Notification must include the flight number or ship number and scheduled arrival time.
Advance notification will ensure an MPI Official Veterinarian is available to complete the post-arrival inspection and issue a home quarantine agreement or biosecurity clearance. Dogs can only be cleared for entry at the following ports:
Ph: (09) 909 2706
Fax: (09) 909 2708
Ph: (04) 577 9453
Fax: (04) 894 4201
Ph: (03) 943 1777
Fax: (03) 943 1742
4. Arrange home quarantine
If quarantine is required for your dog, a home quarantine agreement can be arranged. This allows your dog to complete the quarantine at your home under the supervision of an Official Veterinarian, provided the dog is compliant with all of the tests and treatments required.
To arrange home quarantine you'll need to fill out the assistance dog home quarantine agreement, which you can find in the Guidance Document for Cats and Dogs. The agreement needs to be sent to MPI at the port of arrival at least 24 hours before you arrive in New Zealand.
5. On arrival
Arrangements can be made for an inspector to meet your dog in the passenger terminal to minimise delays.
Note, the restricted clearance times for cats and dogs from Australia to Christchurch, Wellington and Auckland are between 5.30 am and 6.30 pm on week days.
Find out more
To bring your guide or assistance dog into New Zealand, you may need to learn about other requirements. Visit these websites for further information:
- Perfect Partners Assistance Dogs Trust
- Assistance Dogs International
- International Guide Dog Federation
Who to contact
If you have questions about bringing your assistance or guide dog to New Zealand, email firstname.lastname@example.org.