Steps to importing semen and embryos

There are special procedures to help reduce any biosecurity risks when importing semen and embryos into New Zealand. 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 semen and embryos from start to finish.

To successfully import semen and embryos you need to know about:

  • the import health standard (IHS) and meeting its requirements
  • approved and specified countries
  • getting a veterinary certificate in the exporting country, to allow your semen and embryos to enter New Zealand
  • applying for a permit, if required, at least 6 weeks before bringing your semen and embryos into New Zealand
  • relevant fees and charges.

Related import processes

Processes for importing animals or other consignments related to germplasm are explained elsewhere on this website. Follow these steps if you're importing:

What you need to do

The tasks you need to complete.

Comply with the import health standard (IHS) requirements

Import health standards (IHS) have all of the information you need to import semen or embryos (germplasm) into New Zealand.

Read your IHS thoroughly and make sure you can meet all of the requirements before you start importing. 

Find the right veterinary certificates

Veterinary certificates that have to be completed for your consignment are either in the IHS, listed as a separate document, or in an accompanying guidance document, if available.

Guidance documents

Guidance documents are available for some types of semen or embryo imports. The documents will help you meet IHS requirements. They also have model veterinary certificates. 

When there is no IHS or your import doesn't meet all IHS requirements

If your import doesn't meet all of the IHS requirements (for example, if the item has been tested using a different method from the one specified in the IHS), you can ask MPI about assessing your import under equivalent measures. This is known as 'equivalence'.

You'll need to supply information to show how the risks managed by the IHS are managed to an equivalent level for your product. 

You'll also need to provide MPI with supporting information, as listed in each IHS. If MPI grants equivalence for your item, it must be recorded on a permit.

To ask about equivalence and getting a permit, email 

If there's no IHS for the semen or embryos you want to import, you can't bring them to New Zealand. However, you can ask MPI to consider developing a new IHS for your product.

Arrange to get veterinary certificates completed and signed

You'll need to get an official veterinarian in the exporting country to complete and sign veterinary certificates for the semen and embryos. The certificates are specific to each country. 

Detailed information is available about approved diagnostic tests, vaccines, and treatments for semen and embryos.

Apply for a permit, if required

In most cases you'll need to apply for a permit to import semen and embryos.

Download the application to import semen or embryos:

Once your permit is approved and issued, you can import the semen and embryos into New Zealand, where it will be inspected by a biosecurity officer. You may be charged for the officer's time. If all of the supporting documentation is approved and the consignment is given clearance at the border, you can bring it into the country.

Unless you're product is being imported under equivalance, you don't need a permit for:

  • horse semen
  • frozen canine semen.

Prepare documentation

You will need to have the following documentation ready and available for inspection when the semen and embryos arrive in New Zealand:

  • an original veterinary certificate endorsed by the official veterinarian, with their original stamp, signature, and date on every page
  • a copy of the import permit (if required)
  • a summary of laboratory tests or original laboratory reports for each animal, completed according to the requirements in the veterinary certificate.

Meet on-arrival requirements

On arrival in New Zealand, your documentation will be inspected by a biosecurity officer.

If the semen or embryos are not given clearance, they will be held at the place of arrival at the border until clearance can be given. After further inspection by a biosecurity officer, the semen or embryos will either require more testing, be reshipped, or destroyed. You will have to meet any costs involved.

Getting your import documentation

How you know you've met MPI requirements.

Your semen and embryos will be eligible for clearance into New Zealand when you have:

  • completed all of the steps
  • completed and endorsed the original veterinary certificates and supporting documentation from the exporting country
  • had your documents inspected and cleared by an MPI inspector or official veterinarian.

Who to contact

If you have questions about importing semen and embryos, email

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