Importing Dogs and Cats to New Zealand

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Is your job, retirement, or another new adventure taking you to New Zealand? Whatever the reason for your relocation, don't forget your pets. Bringing dogs to New Zealand is easier than you think if you plan and pay particular attention to import requirements.

A 180-day preparation period is necessary when importing dogs to New Zealand, and microchip implantation is several months before travel. A rabies vaccination, a rabies antibody test, and parasite treatments are also mandatory. Pets should be acclimated to their travel crates well before your move to minimize anxiousness on long flights.

Also, we recommend looking at our simple guide to bringing dogs and cats to New Zealand for more insight into the process, import permits, and quarantine.

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Regulations for Importing Pets to New Zealand

Attention: This information will be used as general guidelines and may not be updated to meet the current requirements. Before you travel, contact the appropriate authorities or a PetRelocation Specialist.

The following rules and requirements apply to dogs and cats entering New Zealand from the United States. If the following criteria have been fulfilled, the quarantine period for a dog or cat entering New Zealand is 180 days. Most (170) of these days can be completed in the country of origin. However, there is a minimum 10-day quarantine for all live animals entering the country.

Before beginning the import procedures, ensure the Government Veterinary Authority approves your vet in the country of origin. If a pet departs the United States, the vet must be USDA Accredited.

Note: Birds and other animals cannot be imported into New Zealand now (possible exceptions exist for pets from Australia). Please refer to the New Zealand Government website for more information.

180 Days Before Arrival

Microchip and Rabies Vaccines

Each pet shall be identified using a microchip. No other form of identification is acceptable. The microchip should comply with ISO Standard 11784 or Annex A to ISO standard 11785. New Zealand currently accepts AVID 9 and AVID 10 in addition to ISO. The microchip must be implanted before the rabies vaccine is administered.

During import inspection at the time of arrival in New Zealand, if the microchip number is not confirmed or the microchip number is not the same as the inspection certificate, the pet will be subject to a 180-day quarantine period or returned to the country of origin.

After implant of the microchip, the pet receives a new rabies vaccination. This must be an “inactivated rabies vaccination.” Be sure to obtain certification of the period of validity for the particular vaccination that you obtain (can be a 1, 2 or 3 year vaccine). This must be given within 1 year of travel.

Three Months Before Arrival

After the rabies vaccination, you must wait at least 3 weeks (but not more than a year) before your pet can receive a rabies antibody test, also known as the Official Veterinarian Declaration (OVD), to ensure that the rabies vaccination has been provided adequate rabies antibody levels. The sample must be tested at a facility approved by the Government of New Zealand, and the blood test results must be 0.5 IU/ml or above.

Your vet must scan your pet’s microchip before the blood draw for the rabies antibody test.
The date the blood was drawn should be at least three months and within 24 months of entry for the pet to serve the minimum 10-day quarantine.

The date of the blood sampling, the laboratory used, the microchip number, and the test results should be well noted on all health certificates.

Once these results have been returned to either yourself or the vet, you can begin the process of applying for the required Import Permit. Please contact your PetRelocation Specialist at this time for further instruction. Upon receipt of the Import Permit, an export date can be determined.

30 Days Before Arrival

- Dogs Only -

Within 30 days of departure, have your vet scan the pet’s microchip and draw blood for the following tests:

  • Ehrlichiosis – Your dog must produce a negative result using the Indirect Fluorescent Antibody Test at a dilution of 1:40. Within 24 hours of the blood draw, treat your pet with external parasite treatment against ticks.

  • Brucellosis – Your dog must produce a negative result using a serum agglutination test. Once blood is collected for this test, your dog must not be mated or inseminated before export.

  • Leptospirosis – Your dog must produce a negative result using a microscopic agglutination test to be eligible for import. These results need to read less than 50% agglutination at a serum dilution of 1:100. Dogs record a result of more than 1:100, but less than 1:800 can be re-tested 14 days or more after the first test. These second results must also show a rabies antibody test result of less than 1:800. Dogs that record a result of 1:800 or more are ineligible for import. Note: Vaccination against Leptospirosis is not recommended within 6 months of export, as your pet’s high antibody response will most likely result in it being ineligible for export to New Zealand.

  • Heartworm – Your dog must produce a negative result on a Lab Report Form for Canine Heartworm. This test can be run with the tests listed above. All original results will need to travel with the dog and will also need to be recorded on the Import Permit (Veterinary Certificate A).

- Dogs and Cats -

  • Internal Parasite Treatment – Dogs and Cats must be treated with a product approved for treating nematodes and cestodes e.g. Drontal.

  • External Parasite Treatment - Pets should be treated with medicine effective against ticks and fleas. (Note product and concentration.) Oral products, injections, and medicated collars are not satisfactory; neither are products that rely on the parasite biting your pet. Washes and rinses that prevent ticks and tick bites are acceptable.

The active ingredient, dose rate, and treatment date for the above treatments must be recorded on Veterinary Certificate A.

10 Days Before Arrival

Obtain a Health Certificate from your vet within 10 days of departure. This certificate must state that the pet(s) are in good health and fit to fly.

An accredited vet must perform a final vet exam. Vet Certificate A and an International Health Certificate (APHIS Form 7001) must also be issued.

All documents must be reviewed and endorsed by the USDA at this time. Your PetRelocation Specialist will complete these final steps (within four days of departure) on your behalf.

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