Assistance and guide dogs

Assistance dogs are highly trained animals that help people with special needs. The process for importing them to New Zealand is similar to importing other dogs but special home quarantine arrangements can be made.

What this import process covers

Follow this process if you want to bring an assistance dog into New Zealand from another country.

New Zealanders travelling overseas

If you are a New Zealander travelling overseas with an assistance dog and you plan to bring it back into New Zealand, you'll need to comply with both the:

How to import an assistance dog

Check the import process for all dogs

The import process for assistance dogs is similar to the process for all dogs. However, there are some important differences explained on this page relating to:

  • documentation – you will need to send in information to show that your dog meets the assistance dog requirements
  • advance MPI notification of arrival – MPI contact numbers and required details differ
  • home quarantine.

Full details for importing dogs (including assistance dogs) are in the Import Health Standard (IHS): Cats and Dogs and the Guidance document: Cats and dogs.

Apply for a permit to import

You'll need a permit to import your dog unless it is from Australia. The permit fee is waived for dogs that have met the assistance dog documentation requirement in the Import Health Standard.

The form you use to apply for a permit depends on the category of the country your dog is coming from. Check the category in section 5.3 of the Guidance document: Cats and dogs.

Provide proof that your dog is an assistant dog

You'll need to send in supporting information with your import permit application to show that your dog meets the MPI documentation requirements for an assistance dog.

  • For guide dogs: provide documentation from a member school of the International Federation of Guide Dog Schools to show that your dog has been trained and certified as a guide dog.
  • For other assistance dogs: provide documentation to show that your dog has been trained and certified as an assistance dog by a recognised and accredited national or international organisation. Examples of recognised and accredited assistance dog organisations can be found through Assistance Dogs International. A letter from a doctor or therapist is not enough to meet this requirement.

Provide proof of your dog's service

You'll also need to supply documentation from the relevant organisation, confirming your assistance dog has been in your service and used in your daily life (or under the supervision of the organisation) for at least the 6 months before the arrival date.

Notify MPI in advance of your arrival

You must notify MPI at the port of arrival at least 72 hours before your dog arrives. Notification must include the:

  • flight number or ship number
  • scheduled arrival time.

Advance notification allows MPI to make sure an official veterinarian is available to:

  • complete the post-arrival inspection
  • issue a home quarantine agreement or biosecurity clearance for your dog.

MPI contact details at arrival ports

Assistance dogs can be cleared for entry at the following ports:

Auckland Airport/Port
Email: mqsakav@mpi.govt.nz
Phone: 09 909 2706

Christchurch Airport
Email: liveanimalgroup@mpi.govt.nz
Phone: 03 943 1777

Arrange home quarantine and provide vet documentation

All dogs, except those from Australia, require at least 10 days quarantine. Dogs from Australia can be cleared for entry into New Zealand without quarantine.

Assistance dogs that have met the MPI assistance dog documentation requirements can complete quarantine in your home under the supervision of an official veterinarian, provided the dog is compliant with all the required tests and treatments.

To arrange home quarantine complete the Assistance dog home quarantine agreement form in Appendix 2 of the Guidance document: Cats and dogs.

At least 1 working day before you arrive in New Zealand, send MPI (at the port of arrival):

  • the completed home quarantine form
  • a copy of veterinary certificates and laboratory reports.

Sending this documentation prior to arrival allows the official veterinarian to check that your dog meets the requirements for entry before you arrive in New Zealand.

What to expect on arrival

Arrangements can be made for a quarantine inspector or official veterinarian to meet you and your dog in the passenger terminal to minimise delays. (Your dog may travel with you in the cabin of the aircraft if it has been assessed by MPI as an assistance dog and is acceptable to the airline.)

Assistance dogs from Australia

An MPI veterinarian will inspect your dog at the border for biosecurity clearance. Unless otherwise agreed with MPI, inspection can only be on week days in:

  • Auckland between 7am and 7pm, or
  • Christchurch between 1pm and 5pm. 

Inspection is not available on public holidays and for a period around Christmas and New Year.  

If your dog has had non-compliant tests or treatments or has external parasites, it may be directed to a quarantine facility for treatment, testing, or inspection.

Assistance dogs from countries other than Australia

An official veterinarian will inspect your dog and issue a home quarantine agreement. You'll then be able to take your dog home to complete quarantine under a vet's supervision for a minimum of 10 days. 

If your dog has had non-compliant tests or treatments or has external parasites, it may be directed to a quarantine facility for treatment, testing, or inspection.

Find out more

To bring your guide or assistance dog into New Zealand, you may need other information, such as where you can take your dog in New Zealand. Visit these websites for further information: 

Who to contact

If you have questions about bringing your assistance or guide dog to New Zealand, email animalimports@mpi.govt.nz

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