Steps to exporting live animals

To export live animals across international borders you must meet several requirements. We've created a step-by-step process so you can see what's involved.

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What you need to know

An overview of exporting from start to finish.

To export live animals you must:

  • register as an exporter or use the services of a registered exporter, if the purpose of your export is commercial
  • be aware of relevant legislation
  • check market requirements and whether there is a current Overseas Market Access Requirements (OMAR) document
  • refer to the codes of practice for guidance
  • check whether the destination country requires an import permit
  • check whether an Animal Welfare Export certificate is required
  • engage a recognised agency to supervise the export preparations
  • access export certificate ('official assurance') templates (optional).

You may also have to meet other requirements. These might be commercial requirements, or requirements set by other government agencies like the New Zealand Customs Service. It will also pay to check the requirements for your destination country with the importing agent.

Official assurance programme (OAP)

Exporters should be familiar with the official assurance programme (OAP), which is supported by the Animal Products Act and related legal notices, especially those dealing with official assurance specifications, recognised agencies and persons, export-approved premises, and export verification requirements.

The programme is published as 2 types of document that set the standards and specifications for export. Those documents are:

  • Overseas Market Access Requirements (OMARs)
  • Codes of practice.


The OMAR is the legal document that sets out the requirements for exporting your commodity from New Zealand to your destination country.

Codes of practice

The codes of practice are the guidance material containing the recommended standards for exporters of live animals and germplasm.

Restrictions on exporting some animals

The export of livestock (sheep, cattle, deer, and goats) for slaughter is prohibited in New Zealand. However, individual consignments may be approved on a case-by-case basis at the discretion of MPI's Director-General.

The export of many endangered species is also restricted. To find out more, refer to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES):


Some countries require animals to be prepared for export in an approved pre-export isolation or quarantine facility. They may be examined, vaccinated, and treated with antibiotics and anti-parasite drugs. Animals needing to be quarantined in New Zealand before export include horses to Hong Kong and Macau, and most exports of cattle, sheep, goats, deer, pigs, and alpacas. The OMAR for your destination country will tell you whether pre-export isolation or quarantine is needed.

Related export processes

Processes for exporting products related to live animals are set out elsewhere on this website. Follow these steps if you're exporting:

If you are taking your pet overseas, refer to:

Recognised Laboratory Programme

Exporters should also be familiar with the Recognised Laboratory Programme. All laboratories that test live animals and germplasm for export must operate under this programme.

Advice on supplying pre-export, pro-forma documents or certificates

Some overseas competent authorities may ask for information about a consignment before they issue an import permit. Sometimes airlines may also ask for this information.

They may want it supplied in the same format as the relevant export certificate template. However, issuing a document that looks like an export certificate (official assurance) could pose some risk to exports if done incorrectly.

MPI has published a document, which provides guidance and advice to exporters when preparing pro-forma certification for live animal, semen and embryo exports.

Download the guidance document [PDF, 139 KB]

What you need to do

The tasks you need to complete.

Register as an exporter or use the services of a registered exporter

If you're exporting commercially, you must register with MPI or use the services of a registered exporter. Exporter registration can be done online, or by completing a printed form.

If you have questions about registering as an exporter, email

Non-commercial exporters don't usually have to register

If the purpose of your export is non-commercial, you don't have to register as an exporter or use the services of a registered exporter unless requested by your shipper (airline or shipping company).

Check overseas market requirements

You need to check the Overseas Market Access Requirements (OMAR) for your destination country. OMARs differ between countries and commodities. Check the OMAR to find out whether your destination country needs to issue an import permit.

If there's an OMAR for your export destination, you will need an 'official assurance' (export certificate) before you can send your commodity. Official assurance is the New Zealand Government's assurance to the destination country that your commodity meets the standards set out in the OMAR.  

Ensure you're referring to the latest requirements

OMARs published by MPI are the latest requirements as understood by MPI. But they may not be up-to-date. This is because importing countries don't always tell MPI about changes. And while import permits issued by the importing country often contain their latest import requirements - these won't always have been agreed with MPI.

Don't start pre-export preparations until you've checked if there's an OMAR. Where an import permit is required, exporters should also:

  • get the permit before beginning pre-export preparations
  • check the permit requirements match the OMAR.

Where permit requirements don't match an OMAR, contact the animal exports team immediately. Early contact helps ensure there's enough time before export to make changes, or complete negotiations if needed.

For help or to ask questions, email

Work with your importing agent if there is no OMAR

If there's no OMAR for your destination country, work directly with your importing agent to find out the requirements.

If negotiations are needed or new market access is requested, you'll have to pay MPI for these services. Complete the form to request services and return it to MPI's animal export team. MPI will recover all costs involved by invoicing the applicant.

Download the form to request services from the animal exports team [PDF, 312 KB]

For more information

Find out if you need an Animal Welfare Export Certificate

Check whether you need an Animal Welfare Export Certificate (AWEC) and complete the extra steps if you do.

 Animals exported by air must be transported under conditions equivalent to the International Air Transport Association (IATA) live animal regulations. Airlines operating out of New Zealand are aware of these regulations and can advise exporters of the requirements for each species of animal. If you want your own copy of the regulations, they can be bought online from IATA.

If you're exporting live cattle by sea, download and read the guidance document:

Consider using export certificate ('official assurance') templates

You may want to use the export certificate templates. You can either access these as a registered exporter, or a recognised agency can provide you with a copy of the template. Using the templates will save you time when completing other export documents.

Download the form to access the export certificate template

Engage a recognised agency to supervise export preparations

Only MPI-recognised agencies can supervise the preparation of live animals for export, including quarantine and treatments where needed.

When the recognised agency's veterinarians are satisfied that your animals meet all export requirements, they complete the preliminary certification and send it to an MPI official veterinarian. The official veterinarian then issues the official assurance (export certificate) on security paper.

Are you using wood packaging and other plant materials?

If you use wood packaging products other than paper for your export, check that your wood packaging meets the phytosanitary requirements of the destination country. Some countries may require you to treat your wood packaging to make sure it's free of pests and diseases. Other plant materials, like those used as bedding or food, may also need to meet the importing country's requirements.

Getting your export documentation

How you know you've met MPI requirements.

You're officially ready to export live animals when you have these documents:

  • an import permit for your destination country, if required
  • an MPI 'official assurance' (export certificate), if required
  • an Animal Welfare Export Certificate, if required.

When to alert MPI

As an exporter you're responsible for telling MPI within 24 hours if the certified animals:

  • don't have the required export documents – for example, if they have been removed or lost
  • fail to meet relevant Overseas Market Access Requirements (OMARs)
  • are refused entry by a foreign government.

Who to contact

If you have any questions about exporting live animals, email

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