What this import process covers
Follow this process if you want to bring an assistance dog into New Zealand from another country.
New Zealanders travelling overseas
If you are a New Zealander travelling overseas with an assistance dog and you plan to bring it back into New Zealand, you'll need to comply with both the:
- export requirements for the country you're travelling to
- import requirements for New Zealand on this page.
How to import an assistance dog
1. Check the import process for all dogs
The import process for assistance dogs is similar to the process for all dogs. However, there are some important differences explained on this page relating to:
- documentation – you will need to send in information to MPI to show that your dog meets the assistance dog requirements when you apply for an import permit
- advance MPI notification of arrival – MPI contact numbers and required details differ
- request for inspection – you will need to request an inspection for your dog during the available inspection times using the MPI veterinary inspection form
- export documentation – you will need to send copies of the veterinary health certificates and laboratory reports at least 1 working day prior to departure (which may be prior to endorsement by the official government official veterinarian)
- clearance at the border if your dog is compliant with the import requirements.
Full details for importing dogs (including assistance dogs) are in the Import Health Standard (IHS): Cats and Dogs and the Guidance document: Cats and dogs.
2. Apply for a permit to import
You'll need a permit to import your dog unless it is from Australia.
Before applying for a permit, ensure that you have booked your dog in for a veterinary inspection using the MPI veterinary inspection form.
Apply for a permit using the online import permit application system (APIPS)
The permit fee will be reimbursed if your dog has met the assistance dog documentation requirements.
Provide proof that your dog is an assistant dog
You'll need to send in supporting information with your import permit application to show that your dog meets the MPI documentation requirements for an assistance dog.
- For guide dogs: provide 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: provide 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. A letter from a doctor or therapist is not enough to meet this requirement.
Provide proof of your dog's service
You'll also need to supply documentation from the relevant organisation, confirming your assistance dog has been in your service and used in your daily life (or under the supervision of the organisation) for at least the 6 months before the arrival date.
3. Notify MPI in advance of your arrival
You need to apply for an MPI veterinary arrival inspection using the MPI veterinary inspection form (see step 2).
Inspection times are available on normal MPI working days, which are Monday to Friday, with the exception of:
- New Zealand public holidays
- the days between the Christmas and New Year holidays.
The inspection times for assistance dogs on normal MPI working days are:
- Auckland – 7am to 7pm
- Christchurch – 1pm to 5pm
No inspections are done on weekends.
Advance notification allows MPI to make sure an official veterinarian is available to:
- complete the post-arrival inspection
- complete biosecurity clearance for your dog.
MPI contact details at arrival ports
Assistance dogs can only be cleared for entry at Auckland and Christchurch/Lyttleton.
Auckland Airport / Auckland Sea Port
Phone: + 64 9 909 2706
Christchurch Airport / Lyttleton Sea Port
Phone: + 64 3 943 1777
4. Provide veterinary health certificates and laboratory reports
Sending the veterinary health certificates and laboratory test results to MPI at least 1 working day prior to departure allows the official veterinarian to identify and inform you of any issues that may affect your dog getting clearance to enter New Zealand.
This documentation needs to be certified and endorsed by an official government veterinarian before departure.
What to expect on arrival
Arrangements can be made for an official MPI veterinarian to meet you and your dog during the available inspection times in the passenger terminal to minimise delays. Your dog may travel with you in the cabin of the aircraft if it has been assessed by MPI as an assistance dog and is acceptable to the airline.
Assistance dogs that comply with New Zealand’s import requirements are eligible for clearance into New Zealand, without any post-arrival quarantine.
Non-compliances and contingency plans
Although every effort is made by MPI to communicate New Zealand’s import requirements and to pre-check documentation, non-compliances may be identified after departure or on arrival.
If your dog is not compliant with New Zealand’s import requirements, it may be directed to a quarantine facility for treatment, testing, or inspection.
It is advisable to contact a quarantine facility to make arrangements for such a contingency plan ahead of time.
Find out more
To bring your guide or assistance dog into New Zealand, you may need other information, such as where you can take your dog in New Zealand. Visit these websites for further information:
- Assistance Dogs International
- Assistance Dogs New Zealand Trust
- Blind Foundation Guide Dogs
- Hearing Dogs for Deaf People NZ
- International Guide Dog Federation
- K9 Medical Detection NZ
- K9 Search Medical Detection
- Mobility Assistance Dogs Trust
- New Zealand Epilepsy Assist Dogs Trust
- Perfect Partners Assistance Dogs Trust
Who to contact
If you have questions about bringing your assistance or guide dog to New Zealand, email email@example.com