Steps to importing horses
There are special procedures for importing horses, donkeys, and their cross-breeds, to help reduce any biosecurity risks. We've created a step-by-step process so you can see what's involved.
What you need to know
An overview of importing horses from start to finish.
To successfully import horses into New Zealand you need to know about:
- the import health standard (IHS) for horses
- approved countries and veterinary certification
- organising transport for your horse in New Zealand
- booking a transitional or quarantine facility in New Zealand
- the different requirements for bringing horses from Australia
- applying for equivalence for your animal, if needed
- applying for a permit from MPI at least 6 weeks before the animal leaves the exporting country
- pre-export isolation (PEI), including tests and treatments
- notifying an official veterinarian at least 72 hours before arrival in New Zealand
- declaring medication
- post-arrival quarantine needs
- relevant fees and charges.
Horses transiting New Zealand
To find out about arrangements for horses transiting New Zealand on their way to another country, email email@example.com.
Related importing processes
The processes for importing animals or products related to horses are set out elsewhere on this website. Follow these steps if you're importing:
What you need to do
The tasks you need to complete.
Check that your animal can be imported
You can only import horses, donkeys, and their cross-breeds into New Zealand from the following approved markets:
- European Union member states
- Hong Kong
- United States of America.
Options for animals not from an approved market
If your animals aren't from an approved market, you can:
- move the animals to an approved market or territory, where they must fulfil the residency period and other requirements detailed in that market's veterinary certificate
- ask for the country to be approved for the appropriate import health standard (IHS). To request approval, you'll need to contact that country's government and ask their officials to approach MPI.
Comply with import health standard requirements
The IHS and guidance document for your horse have all of the information you need to import your animal from an approved market.
The Import Health Standard: Equids does not yet have negotiated veterinary certificates for import. The country specific negotiated certificates under the Import Health Standard: Horses are available for use until new veterinary certificates have been renegotiated with those countries.
Import Health Standard: Equids [PDF, 862 KB]
You need to read and understand the IHS for the animal you want to bring to New Zealand. Make sure you can meet all of the requirements of the IHS before you start.
Download the IHS for importing horses [PDF, 393 KB]
Veterinary certificates from the following markets are available under the above Import Health Standard:
- Australia [PDF, 251 KB]
- European Union member states [PDF, 74 KB]
- Hong Kong [PDF, 379 KB]
- Macau [PDF, 111 KB]
- Singapore [PDF, 436 KB]
- USA [PDF, 431 KB]
Refer to the guidance document
The guidance document will help you import horses into New Zealand. Refer to it along with the IHS to make sure you meet all of the criteria.
Download the guidance document for importing horses [PDF, 697 KB]
Importing your horse under equivalent measures (equivalence)
Sometimes your animal may not completely meet all of the requirements of the IHS (for example, your horse may have been treated using a different method from what is listed in the IHS), you can ask MPI about assessing your horse under equivalent measures. This is known as 'equivalence'.
You will need to supply information to show how the risks managed by the IHS will be managed to an equivalent level. You'll need to provide MPI with supporting information as listed in each IHS. MPI will issue a biosecurity permit if your request is approved.
To ask about equivalence, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Book a transitional or containment facility, if needed
All horses, except those from Australia, are required to have a minimum of 14 days' quarantine at an MPI-approved quarantine facility.
The only approved quarantine facility in New Zealand for horses is:
International Racehorse Transport (IRT)
126 Muir Road
Phone: +64 9 297 2022
Fax: +64 9 298 6066
Organise transport for your horse
To organise your horse's transport, contact an MPI-approved transport provider.
Apply for a permit to import
When the horse has been booked into a quarantine facility, you can apply for a permit to import it. (Note that horses from Australia don't need a permit unless they are imported under equivalence.)
Ensure you apply for the import permit at least 10 working days before you need the permit.
Apply for your import permit through our online permit application system. In most cases, your transporter will do this for you. It may take up to 10 working days for MPI to process the permit application.
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, 1.3 MB]
Different requirements for horses from Australia
If your horse is coming from Australia, you don't need to apply for a permit or book into a transitional or containment facility – unless you're importing the horse under equivalence. In that case, the information needs to be recorded on a permit.
An MPI veterinarian inspects horses from Australia at the border and allows them to enter New Zealand, providing they meet all of the requirements in the IHS.
Horses from Australia can arrive at Auckland airport or Tauranga port.
Notify MPI in advance of arrival
You must notify the port of arrival and MPI at least 72 hours before the horse arrives.
Advance notification will ensure an MPI official veterinarian is available to complete the post-arrival inspection or, for a horse from Australia, the biosecurity clearance.
With the notification, you need to include the:
- flight/ship number
- date and time of arrival
- importer's name and contact details
- species and breed
- number of animals in the consignment
- country of origin
- bill of lading (if known).
In most cases the transporter will do this for you.
Send your notification and a copy of the export documents to MPI staff at the port where your animal is arriving – Auckland airport or Tauranga port.
Ph: +64 9 909 8615
Ph: +64 9 909 2706
Fax: +64 9 909 2708
Tauranga (port only)
Ph: +64 7 927 5700
Ph: +64 3 358 1777
Fax: +64 3 943 1742
Declare any medication
If the horse is receiving any medication and needs it during travel, you need to declare this information.
Download the declaration of medicines form [DOCX, 247 KB]
A copy of the veterinarian's prescription must be provided to MPI before or on arrival in New Zealand. If the veterinary medicine will be travelling with the consignment, include this paperwork with your export documents. Generally, clearance will be given for up to 3 months' supply of medicine.
Vet kits arriving with horses must meet the requirements contained in the IHS for used equipment associated with animals or water.
Clean and dry your equipment
All equipment entering New Zealand with the horse must comply with the IHS for used equipment associated with animals or water.
Prepare your documents
You must have the correct documentation ready to present to an MPI official on when the horse arrives.
Documents may be in multiple languages, as long as one of the languages is English, and must include:
- an original veterinary certificate, certified by an official veterinarian of the export country's veterinary authority
- a copy of the import permit, if applicable
- a summary table of laboratory tests for each animal, completed by an official veterinarian in accordance with requirements in the IHS, or copies of laboratory reports for all tests
- a copy of the declaration of medicines form, if applicable.
In most cases, the transporter will do this for you.
Check that your carrier complies with regulations
Container requirements for transporting horses by air are published in the International Air Transport Association (IATA) Live Animals Regulations (LAR), unless otherwise agreed by MPI. Horses transported by sea must meet the New Zealand Marine Rules Part 24C. Check that your carrier complies with the design and other specifications for transporting horses.
Comply with extra requirements if using wood crates or containers
If your animals are shipped to New Zealand in wooden crates or containers, or wood has been 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, and treated with a residual insecticide.
Getting your import documents
How you know you've met MPI requirements.
Arrival procedures in New Zealand
Before it is cleared at the border, your animal will be held at a transitional facility for quarantine and an MPI-approved veterinarian will complete tests and treatments – unless your horse is from Australia.
If the animal passes its final inspection after quarantine and all supporting documentation is in order, it 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, treatments, or quarantine
- shipped to another country or sent back to the country it came from
You will have to pay for any costs involved.
You can only import horses, donkeys, and their cross-breeds into New Zealand from approved markets. The markets are:
- European Union member states
- Hong Kong
- United States of America.
Who to contact
If you have any questions about importing horses, email email@example.com.