As anyone with a family pet knows, leaving them behind simply isn’t an option. Yet the process of moving your pet to Australia or New Zealand can be complicated. You’ll need to find a pet transportation company, ensure your pet meets the essential criteria and has the right vaccinations, apply for an import permit, and send your pet through quarantine. With so much to do, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed at first.
Our guide will explain the basics, connect you with the right resources and help you get started on the process of moving your pet to New Zealand or Australia.
Pet Import Requirements: Moving to New Zealand or Australia with a Dog or Cat
New Zealand and Australia are considered rabies-free countries, which means that there are strict requirements in place to ensure they stay that way. Thankfully, the United Kingdom qualifies as a category 3 country (an approved country where rabies is absent or well-controlled), which means that it’s relatively easier to relocate a pet from the UK.
In addition to being vaccinated against rabies, dogs must also:
- Be over 9 months old (New Zealand only)
- Not a hybrid
- Not predominantly or wholly belonged to a banned breed (Brazilian fila, dogo Argentino, Japanese tosa, perro de presa Canario, or American pit bull terrier)
- Not pregnant or less than 42 days pregnant (New Zealand) or less than 30 days pregnant (Australia)
Finding a Pet Exporter for Pet Relocation to Australia or New Zealand
While it’s possible to move your pet to Australia or New Zealand without the assistance of a pet exporter, hiring a company to tackle all the logistics certainly makes the process easier. We recommend shopping around to find one that suits your needs but here’s a list of some of our favourite pet exporter companies.
- PetAir UK. Run by professional veterinarians, PetAir UK are experts at comfortably and safely transporting your pet anywhere in the world. They’ll help you handle all of the logistics and even create custom creates tailored specifically to your pet’s needs.
- AirPets. Based in the UK’s largest airport, AirPets offer convenient and luxurious pet transport. Their door-to-door service and dedicated personal pet travel consult will take all of the hassle out of moving your pet to Australia or New Zealand.
- Animal Airlines. Operating from nearly every major airport in the UK, Animal Airlines have been transporting pets internationally since the 1960s. They’ll handle everything from airline reservations to documentation and arranging quarantine.
Step One of Moving to Australia and New Zealand with Pets: Book Quarantine
Every animal arriving from outside New Zealand and Australia will need to spend ten days in a government approved quarantine facility. You’ll need to reserve their space and receive a confirmation letter before you can apply for an import permit. If you’re using a pet exporter company, they’ll handle this part of the process.
In New Zealand, pet quarantine facilities are privately owned which means you’ll have a range of options to choose from. An MPI approved list is available here and you can often make a booking online or via email. We recommend reading the online reviews to make sure you select one that can meet your and your pet’s needs.
Australia only has one government approved quarantine facility, located in the Melbourne suburb of Mickleham. You’ll need to obtain an import permit and your pet will need their rabies vaccinations and RNATT certification before you can book quarantine. The facility fills up quick quickly so it’s important to make a reservation before planning your move to Australia. We recommend booking as soon as possible, but at least two months before your arrival.
Step Two of Pet Relocation to New Zealand and Australia: Book Your Flight
Both Australia and New Zealand have strict regulations about the airlines that can import animals and the airports animals can arrive at.
For New Zealand, it’s likely that your pet will have to enter New Zealand via Auckland as only certain airlines, like Air New Zealand, are allowed to import animals into the country. As the only quarantine facility in Australia is located in Melbourne, your pet will need to arrive at Melbourne International Airport, undergo the mandated quarantine period and THEN travel to its final destination.
A pet exporter can help you find the best flight and plan the safest route for your animal to travel.
Step Three of Moving Pets to Australia and New Zealand: Vaccinations
About 18 to six months before you relocate, you’ll need to start the rabies work. As New Zealand and Australia are rabies-free countries, all animals must receive a rabies vaccination before arrival.
Dogs and cats arriving from the United Kingdom are required to have their primary rabies vaccination at least six months (seven months for Australia) and a rabies blood sample at least three months (one month for Australia) before flying. Even if you’ve had your animal previously vaccinated, it’s likely you’ll need to do it again as vaccinations must be given within the 12 months before travel.
Step Four of Moving to Australia or New Zealand with Pets: Veterinary Checks
Before travelling, you’ll need to have a veterinary check completed. The veterinary checks for Australia and New Zealand vary slightly.
For New Zealand, Dogs will need to be tested for Leptospira and heartworm and receive treatment against ticks and internal parasites while cats will need to be treated for ticks and worms (about three weeks before flying). Both dogs and cats will also need to be microchipped.
Dogs will also need to attend the vet about two weeks before flying to be tested for Babesia and Brucella. Both dogs and cats will need to see the vet two days before flying for a final check and treatment for ticks. This final check-up is required for the UK DEFRA export paperwork.
For Australia, you’ll need to take your dog to the vet about 52-43 days before travelling so that the vet can examine your dog for ticks and apply an anti-tick treatment. Make sure that your vet issues the right treatment as the Australian government has regulations about the treatments they can accept. As an entry requirement to Australia, your dog will also need to be vaccinated against Leptospira. During this initial vet appointment, you’ll also need to get the DEFRA export paperwork.
About a month before flying, you’ll need to return to your vet to have blood samples completed to confirm that your pet does not have any diseases like Ehrlichia, Leishmania or Brucella. Dogs and cats will also need to receive another tick and internal worm treatment.
The final veterinary check happens five days before your flight. At this appointment, your animal will receive a general check-up to ensure they’re healthy to fly and do not have any infectious or contagious diseases. Your vet will also need to complete the UK export paperwork.
Step Five of Moving a Dog or Cat to Australia or New Zealand: Import Permits
Pets travelling from the UK to Australia New Zealand will also need an import permit to fly. To apply for the permit, you’ll need to provide the quarantine confirmation letter and initial vet documents.
The vet documents need to confirm that your pet has been microchipped, has been vaccinated against rabies and has passed the Rabies Titer test. The documents also need to include an Official Veterinary Declaration (OVD).
For New Zealand, it can take up to a month to process the import permit and we recommend applying at least 20 days before arrival. The import permit is only valid for ten days from your intended arrival date so if you have a change in plans you’ll need to apply for another permit. Import permits for New Zealand are about half the price of Australian import permits and typically cost around NZ$220.74.
For Australia, the process typically takes about 42 days so we recommend applying two months before arrival. It’s also a relatively expensive application with Australian import permits costing around $480 AUD.
More information about the import permit and other steps you need to take to move your pet to New Zealand can be found in MPI’s handy guide and information about Australian import permits can be found here.
Have Questions About Moving to New Zealand or Australia as a Doctor?
At Transition Medical we help GPs, and their pets, make the move down under. Over the years, we’ve assisted many GPs move to New Zealand and Australia and have experience dealing with complicated issues like visas and pet relocation. Speak to one of our specialist recruitment professionals today to find out more or browse our current job openings.