Helping rural vets
The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) Voluntary Bonding Scheme (VBS) for Veterinarians aims to help ease the shortage of rural veterinarians working with production animals, working dogs, or both.
The scheme (often referred to as the vet bonding scheme) offers a grant spread over 5 years to attract and retain graduate vets into rural practices. Recently graduated vets who work predominantly with production animals, working dogs, or both can get the grant.
2023 funding round is open
We opened applications on 31 August. They close at 3pm on Friday, 29 September 2023. We will not accept late applications.
To apply, register and login to the MPI Grants Portal
Our guide has step-by-step instructions on applying.
Participants eligible for $55,000 over 5 years
Graduates taking part in the scheme are eligible for $55,000 before tax ($11,000 each year) over the 5 years bonding period. MPI will pay:
- the first instalment of $33,000 after completing the third year
- $11,000 in the fourth and the fifth year.
Graduates must complete at least 3 years in the scheme to be eligible for any payment.
We'll email you a form near your third, fourth, and fifth anniversary dates. You'll need to complete and send it back to us to process your payment.
Tax and student loan deductions
You'll need to pay secondary tax on your grant because it is additional to your salary or wages.
Income tax is deducted as PAYE when the payment is made by MPI.
- If you have a student loan, the after tax amount will be paid directly to your student loan account at Inland Revenue.
- If you do not have a student loan, the after tax amount will be paid directly to your bank account.
If you have any tax questions, contact Inland Revenue by phone or visit its website.
- Freephone 0800 77 52 47
- Tax rates – Inland Revenue
Check if you are eligible for the scheme
You can apply for the scheme if you graduated from Massey University's Bachelor of Veterinary Science in the 12 months prior to submitting your application. You must be:
- a New Zealand citizen or permanent resident
- registered to practise in New Zealand and hold a current practising certificate
- in or be offered a permanent full-time position, or a fixed-term full-time position with a contract period for at least 2 years, for an eligible practice
- in or be offered a position that is mostly focused (at least 60%) on production animals, working dogs, or both.
All successful applicants stay in the scheme for 5 years if they meet the terms and conditions.
If your situation changes during the scheme
If you are moving to another eligible practice, notify MPI within one month of your move. You will still be eligible for the grant if your position has a primary focus on production animals, working dogs, or both.
Complete the transfer of practice application form and email it to firstname.lastname@example.org
If you stop working at an eligible practice
If you change workplace and your new workplace is not an eligible practice, you'll no longer qualify for payments under the scheme. Let MPI know if you stop working at an eligible practice.
If you take extended leave
Before taking extended leave of more than 14 weeks or parental leave, send us details of your leave. We'll review your eligibility and there might be a change to your bonding period. The terms and conditions explain the rules around taking leave.
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If you subscribe, you'll get an email from us when we update this page. On the subscription page, choose 'vet bonding scheme' from the list of 'email update topics'.
Who to contact if you have questions
2019 Review of The Voluntary Bonding Scheme
MPI commissioned an independent review of the scheme as part of its regular examination of investment programmes. The review found that the scheme is meeting its objective to help with rural veterinary staff shortages and is providing a return on investment.
Following the review, MPI made changes in Section 5 of the 2020 terms and conditions:
- A graduate can now return to work part-time in an eligible practice after taking parental leave.
- The maximum pause from the scheme in exceptional circumstances has been removed.
- A graduate may remain in the scheme if they start their own eligible practice.