Steps to importing farm animals

To help reduce biosecurity risks, importers of farm animals must follow certain 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 importing farm animals from start to finish.

To successfully import farm animals into New Zealand you need to know about:

  • the import health standards (IHS) for farm animals
  • the approved countries and species
  • applying in advance for a permit from MPI
  • ear-tagging requirements
  • pre-export isolation, including tests and treatments
  • veterinary certification
  • notifying an MPI official veterinarian before animals arrive
  • biosecurity clearance in Auckland
  • declaring medication
  • post-arrival quarantine, if needed
  • the reporting obligations for imported animals in New Zealand
  • relevant fees and charges.

Farm animals transiting New Zealand

Farm animals may transit New Zealand on their way to another country. Animals in transit must remain on the vessel or aircraft that brings them to New Zealand at all times, and can't stay for longer than 24 hours.

Farm animals transiting New Zealand are subject to biosecurity requirements.

Importing other animals or animal products

Processes for importing animals or products related to farm animals are described elsewhere on the MPI website. Follow the steps to import:

What you need to do

The tasks you need to complete.

Check if the animals can be imported

You can only import certain species of farm animal from approved countries. These are:

  • sheep, goats, deer

Comply with import health standard (IHS) requirements

Import health standards (IHS) have all of the information you need to import your animal from an approved country.

You need to read and understand the IHS for the animals you want to bring to New Zealand. Make sure you can meet all the requirements of the IHS before you start.

A guidance document is available for importing llamas and alpacas from Australia and the USA. The guidance document will help you understand and comply with IHS requirements.

Apply for an import permit

Ensure you apply for the import permit at least 10 working days before you need the permit. The permit is the same for all types of farm animals.

Apply for your import permit through our online permit application system.

How to use the online permit application system

Details on how to use the system are in our live animals online permit application instructions [PDF, 1.4 MB]

Arrange to ear-tag the animals

All farm animals must be identified to New Zealand requirements. This includes MPI ear tags and may include a National Animal Identification & Tracing (NAIT) ear tag.

Ear tags must:

  • be applied either by or under the supervision of an official veterinarian of the country of export – before their pre-export isolation period 
  • have their numbers recorded on laboratory forms and results sheets, summary results tables, and on the veterinary certificate
  • remain in the animal's ear for the rest of its life.

Pre-export isolation in the exporting country can only start after the MPI ear tags have been applied.

Plan your pre-export isolation (PEI) and vet requirements

Farm animals being imported into New Zealand must:

  • spend time immediately before export in pre-export isolation (PEI), for the amount of time specified in the IHS for the animal
  • have the required tests completed by an official veterinarian
  • meet the age and pregnancy status restrictions on the day of export, as listed in the relevant IHS.

More information about PEI is in the IHS for the animal you're importing.

As soon as you know your animals' date of departure, you should plan their PEI by:

  • making a reservation at an approved facility where your animals will be kept. Contact the Department of Agriculture in Australia, or the United States Department of Agriculture
  • contacting an official veterinarian in the country of origin.

For more information about PEI and exporting livestock from Australia and the United States visit these websites:

Notify MPI before your animals arrive

MPI and an official veterinarian in New Zealand must be notified of the import 72 hours before the animals' arrival so that an inspection can be completed. You'll need to provide the:

  • flight/ship number
  • date and expected time of arrival
  • consignee’s name and contact details
  • species and breed
  • number of animals in the consignment
  • country of origin
  • bill of lading (a document issued by a carrier showing details of the consignment and ownership).

Email your notification and documents to

Prepare documentation 

You must have all of the correct documents ready to present to an MPI official when your animals arrive.

Documentation must be in English, but may be bilingual (featuring the language of the exporting country and English). The documents must include:

  • an original veterinary certificate from the IHS, endorsed by the official veterinarian with an original stamp, signature and date on every page (except for the permit to import) or MPI-approved alternate security features offered by paper certificates
  • a copy of the import permit
  • original laboratory reports, copies of laboratory reports endorsed by the official veterinarian, or a tabulated summary of laboratory results endorsed by the official veterinarian. (It must include unique ear-tag identification for each animal, matching the veterinary certificate, dates of sample collection, test type, and test result)
  • a copy of the declaration of medicines form (if applicable).

Declare animal medication

You need to declare whether any farm animals are receiving any medication and need it while travelling.

Download the declaration of medicines form [DOCX, 247 KB]

You must provide MPI with a copy of the veterinarian's prescription before or when your animals arrive in New Zealand. If the veterinary medicine is travelling with your animals, include this paperwork with your export documents. Generally, clearance will be given for up to 3 months' supply of medicine.

Check your carrier complies with regulations

The container requirements for transporting farm animals are provided in the IHS. Check that your carrier complies with design and other specifications.

Comply with extra requirements for wood crates or containers

If your animals are shipped to New Zealand in wooden crates or containers, or wood is used as flooring or walls, you'll also need to comply with the requirements for importing wood packaging.

Containers used for transporting live animals must be new, or cleaned and disinfected with a virucidal disinfectant.

Arrival procedures

If you have given MPI at least 72 hours advance notification of arrival, your farm animal will be inspected on arrival in Auckland, at the wharf or airport by an MPI-approved veterinarian.

Biosecurity clearance of farm animals

If the animals pass inspection and all supporting documents are in order, the animals will be allowed to enter New Zealand. If an animal fails to meet any of the requirements, it will be:

• held for further inspection, tests, or quarantine
• shipped to another country or sent back to the country of origin
• destroyed.

You will have to pay for any costs involved. 

Getting your import documents

How you know you've met MPI requirements.

Arrival procedures

Your animals will be inspected at the wharf or airport by an MPI-approved veterinarian. If the animals pass inspection and all supporting documents are in order, the animals will be allowed to enter New Zealand.

If an animal fails to meet any of the requirements, it will be:

  • held for further inspection, tests, or quarantine
  • shipped to another country or sent back to the country of origin
  • destroyed.

You will have to pay for any costs involved.

After importation

There are reporting obligations for owners of imported ruminant animals (cattle, buffaloes, sheep, goats, and deer), which must be met for the life of the animal. These reporting requirements do not apply to alpacas and llamas.

Who to contact

If you have any questions about importing farm animals, email

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