Relocating your family to New Zealand

You’ll know that relocating to another country has its challenges and can be grey-hair inducing. Add an animal or two into the mix, and your anxiety levels could be through the roof. At PetAir, they understand that these furry animals are very much part of your family, and will help guide you through the process with ease. Remember it’s something that they do all day, every day. PetAir has fine-tuned their services to accommodate both you and your animals and take the stress out of travelling. 

What is the process?

We firstly recommend that you give yourself ample time to ensure the smooth running of your relocation. Please start the process as soon as you have your relocation confirmed because it can take a few months. There can be unplanned setbacks or delays with vaccination requirements, animal illness or administration errors.

Recruit PetAir

The rules and regulations surrounding pet importation are often changing, and most airlines that fly to New Zealand insist you use a professional pet exporter to make sure that you follow all of the rules. You can breathe easily with PetAir. They have fully trained experts that understand the importance of your pets and the ever-changing landscape. They will make sure that your pets meet the import requirements. Each pet must be fully vaccinated and be at least three months old. 

All animals must arrive at Aukland or Christchurch airports. 

  • Category 1: Australia (including Norfolk Island)
  • Category 2: Rabies-free
  • Category 3: Rabies-absent or well-controlled


New Zealand’s requirements to import cats are amongst the strictest in the world. If each pet does not meet all requirements, they might be, at your cost: 

  • Held in quarantine 
  • Required to complete additional testing or treatments 
  • Reshipped back to the country of origin 
  • Put down/euthanised (in the worst-case scenario)


Banned breeds

The government has specific guidelines that you must follow. The criteria to import dogs are strict.

Sadly, there are several breeds of dog that are banned, including:

  • American pit bull terrier
  • Brazilian fila
  • Dogo Argentino
  • Japanese tosa
  • Perro de Presa Canario



No hybrids (offspring of dogs or cats crossed with another species) are eligible for importation. If you are importing a Bengal cat, documentation showing five generations of domestic ancestry must be provided and verified.



It’s essential to ensure that your pets have all of the relevant vaccinations within the stipulated times.


  • Leptospirosis
  • Parvovirus (DHLPP)
  • Hepatitis
  • Parainfluenza
  • Distemper 
  • Bordetella Bronchiseptia 
  • Canine Influenza



  • Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis
  • Calicivirus
  • Panleukopenia (FVRCP)

All of these vaccinations should be administered no less than two weeks before your export date and must be valid.



External parasite treatment must be administered twice. The first treatment must be between two weeks and 30 days, and the second treatment two days before flying. The treatment must be effective against fleas and ticks. Treatment for internal parasites must be effective against nematodes and cestodes and be administered between two weeks and 30 days. The second treatment four days before flying. Your cat must be free of evidence of external parasites, and clinical signs of infectious and contagious disease

Rabies Vaccine and Certificate

Cats and dogs must be vaccinated against rabies. Your veterinary surgeon will provide you with a certificate that states the microchip number, the validity of the vaccination, and the date of inoculation. Rabies vaccines are valid for one, two or three years. The vaccine must be the inactivated variety. The vaccine must be administered between 30 days and 12 months before your pet’s flight into New Zealand. You do not require a titre  test. 

Rabies Neutralising Antibody Titer Test (RNAT) for Cats and Dogs

Once your pet has had their rabies vaccination, you will need to wait approximately four weeks before collecting a blood sample for the RNAT test. The test must meet the following requirements:

  • The blood test must be taken at least 30-days after the vaccination 
  • Your vet must scan the cat’s microchip and collect the blood sample for the RNAT testing 
  • The test is to be carried out by the competent EU approved blood testing laboratory 
  • A result of 0.5 IU/ml or more is acceptable. A result of less than 0.5 IU/ml is not acceptable and you must re-vaccinate and repeat the testing process.
  • You must wait for three months from the date that the blood sample was taken before you travel
  • Your vet must record the test results and the date that the blood sample was taken in the health certificate

As long as your pet’s rabies vaccinations are up-to-date, then the blood test will continue to be valid. 

Dogs must also be tested for:

  • Dirofilaria immitis
  • Leptospirosis 
  • Babesia Canis
  • Babesia Gibsoni
  • Brucella Canis


The authorities will only identify your pets with a microchip and the corresponding vet stamped pet passport. A microchip is an integrated identification circuit placed under the skin of your pet. The rice grain size chip uses passive radio-frequency identification technology. It must be implanted before the rabies vaccination is administered. The New Zealand government accepts microchips that comply with  ISO Standard 11784 or Annex A to ISO standard 11785.

Import Permit

PetAir will provide you with the necessary import permit that is required to allow your pets into New Zealand. Each of your pets will require this import permit from the New Zealand Ministry for Primary Industries. The team will provide you with the exact requirements for your country of origin.

Veterinary Certification

You will need to send an official health certificate that states the name, age, description and microchip identification number of each pet within seven days of your flight. The microchip identification number is 15-digits long. Without this, the government will deny your pet entry into the country. PetAir will check all of the details to ensure that they are correct.

 The health certificate must also include the following information before export:

  • The animal has been examined and found to be healthy and free from any clinical sign of rabies and infectious or contagious diseases 
  • The animal has been vaccinated against rabies using an approved anti-rabies vaccine
  • The vaccination history and health status of your pet
  • That your pet is healthy enough for air travel 

Make at least five copies of the certification and vaccination records for the following:

  • Airline
  • Pet travel crate
  • Transit permit (if necessary)
  • New Zealand quarantine
  • One for you

Travel Crate

Your pet will be transported in an IATA approved crate.

All bedding, toys and clothes that travels with your pet will be destroyed on arrival in New Zealand. 

Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI)

PetAir will notify the MPI five days before your pet arrives in New Zealand.

On Arrival 

On arrival in New Zealand, your pets will be inspected by an official veterinarian. If all requirements are met, they are allowed to enter the country. 

Inspection times are strictly between:

  • Auckland 07.00 to 19.00 hours weekdays only
  • Christchurch 1300 to 1700 hours weekdays only

These hours are not including public and seasonal holidays such as Christmas and New Year.

If your pets are found to have fleas or ticks, they will be directed to the quarantine centre for treatment at your expense. 

You will need to present the following upon arrival:

  • Import permit
  • A signed, dated and endorsed veterinary certificate
  • Prescription for medication if applicable


Your pets will need to be quarantined at the airport into which they fly, which are located at Aukland and Christchurch. Depending on your country of origin, your pets will generally need to be in quarantine for at least 10 days. It may be longer if:

  • The quarantine period ends outside regular business hours
  • The import requirements have not been met
  • A cat or dog is unwell or has been exposed to a suspected exotic disease
  • Ectoparasites are present
  • An aggressive pet cannot be examined


An MPI veterinarian will inspect your cat or dog within 72 hours of arriving at the quarantine facility. Your cat or dog must stay for at least 10 days. The final inspection is only carried out during regular business hours, which means that the release inspection might happen after 10 days of quarantine, and your pet might need to stay an additional day. 

Cats and dogs coming from Australia do not need to be quarantined.


Additional Information

There are no restrictions on the number of pets imported, but the local New Zealand authorities might have local regulations about the number of pets that can be kept in residential premises.

You are required to obtain all of the necessary permits that will allow you to import your pets into New Zealand. Quarantine officers will not allow pets to enter the country if there are no import permits. 

The import permit is valid for ? days from the date of issue.


We hope that this reassures you, but should you need more specific advice, please let the helpful team at PetAir help, they are all delighted to help you.

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