Vet bonding scheme
The Voluntary Bonding Scheme (VBS) for Veterinarians supports graduate vets working in rural practices that focus on production animals. Learn more about the scheme, eligibility criteria, and how to apply.
Helping rural vets
The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) set up the Voluntary Bonding Scheme (VBS) for Veterinarians. It is to help ease the shortage of rural veterinarians working with production animals.
The 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.
Applications for the vet bonding scheme
MPI calls for applications each year. Applications usually open in August or September.
If you subscribe, you'll get an email from us when we update this page.
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 of the scheme. 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 of 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 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 vet bonding 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 a full-time position, with a contract period for at least 2 years that is mostly focused (at least 60%) on production animals, working dogs, or both
- working at an eligible practice.
All successful applicants stay in the scheme for 5 years, as long as they meet the terms and conditions.
Terms and conditions of the vet bonding scheme [PDF, 195 KB]
If your situation changes during the scheme
Notify MPI in advance before you move to another eligible practice.
Complete the transfer of practice application form and email it to firstname.lastname@example.org
You will still be eligible for the grant if your position has a primary focus on production animals, working dogs, or both.
If you stop working at an eligible practice
If you change your 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.
Who to contact
If you have questions about the scheme, email email@example.com
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.
Review of the Voluntary Bonding Scheme for Veterinarians [PDF, 1.5 MB]