Steps to importing laboratory animals
To import laboratory animals and their semen and embryos (germplasm) into New Zealand there are special procedures to assess and minimise any biosecurity risks. We've created a step-by-step process so you can see what's involved.
To successfully import your laboratory animals and their semen and embryos (germplasm) you need to:
- read and comply with the import health standard (IHS)
- find out about eligibility requirements
- be a laboratory or research institute that has containment facilities approved by MPI
- apply for a permit to import from MPI at least 6 weeks before your consignment arrives
- have Hazardous Substances New Organisms Act approvals from the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) for any new or genetically modified organisms (GMO)
- prepare documentation to accompany your consignment
- ensure the exporting organisation can provide an MPI-approved veterinary certificate
- follow requirements set by other government agencies like the New Zealand Customs Service (NZ Customs)
- ensure all of the import requirements have been met
- notify an official veterinarian in New Zealand at least 72 hours before the arrival of any live animals
- pay relevant fees and charges.
Importing related animals or germplasm
Processes for importing animals or products related to laboratory animals are provided elsewhere on this website. Follow these steps if you're importing:
Comply with import health standard (IHS) requirements
The import health standard (IHS) for laboratory animals and their semen and embryos (germplasm) tells you everything you need to do to import your animal or semen and embryos (germplasm).
You need to read and understand the IHS. Make sure you can meet all of the IHS requirements before you start.
Check eligibility criteria
To import laboratory animals or laboratory animal semen and embryos (germplasm) into New Zealand, they must:
- be from colonies maintained for scientific use under veterinary supervision
- have been free of quarantine restrictions for at least 90 days before the export date (this applies to the animals and donor animals of semen and embryos (germplasm) and the colony)
- be approved by MPI as an eligible species to import into New Zealand.
Species commonly imported are rats, mice, rabbits, guinea pigs, and zebrafish (Danio rerio). Other species may be considered under the equivalence section of the IHS.
Get an MPI-approved veterinary certificate
To import laboratory animals or semen and embryos (germplasm) the exporting organisation must provide a veterinary certificate containing the same information as the model New Zealand certificate.
A copy of the certificate to use is in Part C of the IHS.
The official veterinarian of the exporting country must sign, date, and stamp each page of the veterinary certificate and any documents that form part of the extended certificate.
Check what else you may need to do
To import a laboratory animal or their semen and embryos (germplasm) you may need to comply with additional requirements like:
- having Hazardous Substances New Organisms Act approvals from the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) for any new or genetically modified organisms (GMO), including evidence that the EPA has given approval for the organism to be held in containment, and the containment controls that apply
- requirements of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
Apply for an import permit
If you're sure your laboratory animals or their semen and embryos (germplasm) meet the eligibility requirements, you can apply for an import permit.
We recommend that you apply for your permit at least 6 weeks before shipment.
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]
The importer must supply the:
- importer's name and address
- exporter's name and address
- breed/strain/type or description of the animals or semen and embryos (germplasm)
- name and address of the containment facility in New Zealand for the consignment
- Environmental Protection Authority approval, if required.
Comply with transport requirements
Semen and embryos (germplasm) consignments travelling to New Zealand must comply with International Air Transport Association (IATA) dangerous goods regulations. In particular, the consignment should be clearly labelled and able to be identified with the item listed on the permit.
Live laboratory animals must be transported in a container that meets the standards prescribed in the IATA Live Animal Regulations. Check the requirements with your carrier. For Wellington importers, a copy of the regulations can be read free of charge at MPI, Pastoral House, 25 The Terrace, Wellington.
Contact MPI at the nearest intended port of arrival by email or telephone.
|Port of arrival||Telephone|
|Auckland||MPIAuckland.Cargo@mpi.govt.nz||(09) 909 8631|
|Christchurchemail@example.com||(03) 943 3803|
|Wellingtonfirstname.lastname@example.org||(04) 894 4213|
On arrival in New Zealand, your documentation will be inspected by an official veterinarian or biosecurity officer.
Your laboratory animals and their semen and embryos (germplasm) will not be inspected at the port of arrival. They will be inspected when they arrive in the quarantine area of your MPI-approved containment facility. All laboratory animals and their semen and embryos (germplasm) must be contained in an MPI-approved containment facility.
After investigation by a biosecurity officer at the containment facility, the items may be:
- given biosecurity clearance
- moved from quarantine (but must remain in the containment facility)
- required to have further treatment
Your laboratory animals or semen and embryos (germplasm) will be directed to your containment facility in New Zealand when you have:
- completed all of the steps
- presented completed, signed, and stamped original veterinary certificates and supporting documentation from the exporting country
- identified the MPI-approved containment facility where the animals will reside, or the semen and embryos (germplasm) will be stored.
Laboratory animals and their semen and embryos (germplasm) commonly imported into New Zealand laboratories are:
- rats and mice
- guinea pigs.
Other species may be considered under the equivalence section (Part B) of the import health standard (IHS) for laboratory animals and laboratory animal germplasm.
Who to contact
If you have questions about importing laboratory animals and their semen and embryos (germplasm), email email@example.com.