Usually here at Laurent Law we assist human beings with their immigration questions, concerns and problems, but you may be interested to know there is also quite a detailed process for cats and dogs to be able to come to New Zealand too.

The Ministry for Primary Industries regulates the import of animals to New Zealand.

The focus of this blog entry is on the process for importing cats and dogs. There are other processes in place for importing other types of animal to New Zealand, for example horses, farm animals and zoo animals.

Other than cats and dogs, only three species of animals as pets can be imported to New Zealand, these are;

  • chinchillas from Great Britain
  • rabbits from Australia
  • guinea pigs from Australia.

Some species of fish can also be imported, but there is a different process.

There are three categories of country or territory which cats and dogs can be imported from. These are

  1. Australia
  2. Rabies-free
  3. Rabies-absent or well controlled

Rabies is a viral disease that causes inflammation of the brain in humans and other mammals. Rabies is usually spread through a bite of an infected animal. It almost always results in death. There is good reason to keep animals with rabies out of New Zealand due the health risk it poses. New Zealand has long been rabies-free.

Countries that are rabies free include; Japan, Singapore, most Pacific Islands

Countries that are rabies-absent or well controlled include; the UK, the USA, Canada, France, Germany, South Korea, South Africa, Hong Kong and the United Arab Emirates.

The Ministry for Primary Industries website contains a full list of the countries that fall into each category. If a cat or dog’s country is not on one of these lists, it cannot be imported into New Zealand.

To be eligible for shipping to New Zealand, cats and dogs must be:

  • a domestic cat or dog
  • not be more than 42 days pregnant
  • not a hybrid (offspring of cats crossed with another species), except for Bengal cats
  • be of sufficient age – for cats and dogs from Australia, more than 8 weeks old and weaned; for cats and dogs from rabies-free countries, more than 12 weeks old; for cats and dogs from rabies absent or well controlled countries, more than 9 months old.

Some types of dog, which can be aggressive in nature, are prohibited under the Dog Control Act 1996;

  • Brazilian Fila
  • Dogo Argentino
  • Japanese Tosa
  • Perro de Presa Canario
  • American Pit Bull Terrier

Owners of cats or dogs from rabies free and rabies absent or well controlled countries must apply for an import permit. An import permit costs $NZD220.74. For all cats and dogs, a veterinarian has to certify that the eligibility requirements above are met and inspect the health of a cat or dog prior to travel. Cat or dog owners must declare any medication their pet is taking.

Cats and dogs are transported in the air-conditioned cargo hold of a plane that is temperature controlled and pressurised, like the cabin where humans travel is.

On arrival in New Zealand, cats and dogs from rabies-free and rabies absent or well controlled countries are inspected and must undergo a quarantine period of at least 10 days. Cats or dogs must enter New Zealand either in Auckland or Christchurch, where cat and dog quarantine facilities are located. Cats and dogs from Australia are inspected on arrival but do not need to undergo a period of quarantine. Cats and dogs must be microchipped.

In most cases, cats and dogs, except those from Australia, must reside in the country of export for at least 6 months (or since birth) immediately before the shipment date. If ticks or fleas are found on arrival, a cat or dog must;

  • go to an approved quarantine facility for treatment or testing; OR
  • return to its country of origin; OR
  • be euthanised

Other nasties that the Ministry for Primary Industries has measures to keep out of New Zealand include;

  • canine heartworm. This involves a parisitic roundworm growing in the heart of a dog, which is transferred by mosquito bite and can sometimes infect humans.
  • leptospirosis. This is a blood infection which can spread to humans.

The Ministry of Primary Industries recommends that cat or dog owners contact a professional pet exporter to help arrange tests, treatments, flights, import permits, shipping crates and other requirements. A full list of pet exporters can be found here.

While our specialty at Laurent Law is in assisting human beings with their immigration matters, if you have a cat or dog you want to bring to New Zealand you can contact us and we may be able to assist. We wish your cat or dog safe travels to New Zealand.