How To Move Your Pets With You When Immigrating To New Zealand

How To Move Your Pets With You When Immigrating To New Zealand

Immigrating to New Zealand? Here’s how to move your pets

With an increase in immigration to New Zealand, many South Africans have been wondering what the rules are for getting their furry friends with them to the country.

It’s not always clear whether pets will be allowed to travel with you in the first place, let alone stay with you permanently.

So what are the rules? Which pets may you take with you? What are the costs and health concerns? How should pets be transported? Rand Rescue answers all your questions below. 

Rules for immigrating to New Zealand with pets

New Zealand allows the relocation of domestic cats, dogs, horses and ornamental fish  into the country, and a few other pets are also allowed with several restrictions.

Although the rules regarding pet relocation are quite lax, there are some exceptions you should be aware of.

Pets which are prohibited from entering the country at all include:

  • birds
  • ferrets
  • mice and rats
  • reptiles
  • snakes

There are also certain breeds of dog which are not allowed into New Zealand at any time as they are considered dangerous breeds.

These dogs include:

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

The country does make exception for guide-dogs and comfort dogs, but it should be noted that the breeds mentioned above are not usually used for these purposes.

They are also in the process of authorising the import of parrots from all regions.

Pets from certain regions only!

There are three other animals which are allowed into New Zealand, but only from specific countries. This includes:

  • Chinchillas: accepted from the UK only
  • Guinea pigs: accepted from Australia only
  • Rabbits: accepted from Australia only

Australia and New Zealand allow relatively unrestricted movement of pets between the two countries, but it’s important to note that this movement of pets across borders also require the same health and safety clearance as the ‘import’ of pets to and from other regions.

Furthermore, you won’t be able to beat the system by importing your pets to Australia first, as Australia has the same restrictions on these animals.

So what are the requirements for relocating allowable pets?

Requirements for international pet entry into New Zealand

There are quite a few rules you should comply with if you’re to take your pets into New Zealand.

The rules and regulations depend on which territory you are importing your pet from. South Africa falls under Category 3:  Specified countries where rabies is absent or well controlled. This is the last category on the list and therefore require adherence to more restrictions than some other zones.

Cats and dogs

Cats and dogs are the easiest pets to import into New Zealand from South Africa. 

In addition to the basic rules and regulations, dogs and cats from Category 3 countries need to be in quarantine for a minimum of 10 days post-arrival, they will also require an import permit and post-arrival inspection.

Quarantine stations for pet-entry into New Zealand are:

  • Pethaven Quarantine Station (Auckland)
  • Qualified Pet Services Quarantine Station (Auckland)
  • Auckland Quarantine (Auckland)
  • Canterbury Quarantine Services Ltd (Christchurch)

Your pet will also need:

  • To be microchipped (before or at the same time as rabies vaccination)
  • Have a valid rabies vaccination older than 6 months and not older than 1 year prior to entry.
  • Annual feline and canine vaccinations older than 1 month but not older than 1 yer prior to entry.

Vaccinations required for dogs:

  • Canine distemper
  • Infectious canine hepatitis
  • Canine parvovirus
  • Canine parainfluenza and Bordetella bronchiseptica (kennel cough)
  • Canine influenza

Vaccinations required for cats:

  • Feline panleukopenia (enteritis)
  • Feline rhinotracheitis
  • Feline calicivirus

Rabies Titre blood test

A rabies titre blood test can be done 30 days after microchip and rabies vaccination. The blood test needs to be collected and sent to Onderstepoort for testing. The blood test must be between 3 months and 24 months old before export.

Bedding and crates:

  • No hay or straw bedding is allowed and all bedding and toys in the crate will be destroyed on arrival.
  • Containers must comply with the International Air Transport Association (IATA) regulations and be dirt and pest free.

Authorised dealers:

According to New Zealand regulations and most airline requirements, you must make use of an authorised pet relocation company. Make sure to enquire with your pet relocation company as to their accreditation AND ask your airline whether they accept the particular service provider.

Also make sure that your veterinarian is aware that your pets will be relocated and that vaccinations used comply with New Zealand requirements.

Additional tests and requirements

Should there be an outbreak of any canine or feline disease in South Africa in the months leading up to the pet relocation, or other health issues be suspected, you may be required to submit your pet to laboratory testing before clearance can be provided.

You may also need to prove the monetary value of your pet. In instances where a pet wasn’t purchased you will need to calculate an estimate.


Although horses may be imported into New Zealand, they are not allowed direct entry from South Africa. 

If you wish to import your horses to New Zealand, the Ministry for Primary Industries advises that:

  • your horses be moved to an approved market territory and fulfil the residency periods and other requirements
  • submit a formal request for your country to be approved for the import health standard (IHS).

Note that a formal request to have SA be approved for IHS will need to be made by the South African government as it cannot be submitted by individuals. This option is therefore not a quick fix or probable.

The approved market territories are:

  • Australia
  • Canada
  • European Union member states
  • Hong Kong
  • Japan
  • Macau
  • Singapore
  • United States of America


There are several costs involved in relocating pets from South Africa to New Zealand. Some of these costs include:

  • Vaccination, tests and other veterinary fees
  • Transfer and road travel costs
  • Airport and plane costs
  • Costs for crates and bedding
  • Customs fees
  • Quarantine fees

You can minimise some of these costs by using a reputable pet relocation company who will arrange everything on your behalf.

Happy travels with your furry friends

Leaving your pets behind is not something any of us want to do. We hope you will be reunited with your furry friends at the soonest

And remember – if you need any assistance with your cross-border finance, Rand Rescue is always here to help you out.


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