Veterinary Shortage and Border Exemptions

Over recent months the New Zealand Veterinary Association (NZVA) has been working hard advocating for you concerning the current shortage of veterinarians in New Zealand.

This process started in July with a survey to all members to determine where there were gaps. The survey indicated that out of 124 practices, there was a shortfall of 224 veterinarians.

On 4 August, in conjunction with The School of Veterinary Science at Massey University and the Vet Council of New Zealand, we wrote to the Minister of Agriculture Damien O’Connor requesting a border exemption for veterinarians.

Progress was slow and so we made the decision to issue a media release to raise awareness of the issue. This received great pick up with subsequent airtime on television and radio.

Real progress was made on 22 September when Hon Kris Faafoi, Minister for Immigration, announced that the Government had established border exemptions for 30 veterinarians to enter the country. Whilst this number is not enough to cover current demand, we are confident that continued advocacy will achieve further progress in this area.

Since Hon Faafoi’s announcement, we have been working with the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) to establish criteria and the process for these veterinarians to gain entry into New Zealand. The criteria are as follows;

  • maximum utilisation of migrant labour (i.e. that the individual will be offered full time employment);
  • good regional spread (where appropriate); veterinarians must be for mixed practice, large animal or equine (please note that MPI have been very specific on this criteria);
    • for those currently looking for companion animal veterinarians we are still working hard to advocate for you and will keep you informed about how we get on.
  • support for vets/practices located in isolated/rural areas;
  • recognition for those vets that have taken real and demonstrable steps towards training/employing Kiwis;
  • veterinarians must be registered and licensed with the Vet Council.

We still want to hear from you!

If you have been unable to secure a veterinarian currently residing in New Zealand but have been successful in securing an overseas veterinarian, let us know.  We will be able to support our members with the next steps.

We are also keen to know about clinics that are currently employing overseas veterinarians, and may be facing issues in the future with individuals unable to stay in NZ due to visa requirements. We intend also advocating for roll over of visas for such individuals.

If we can help you in any of the areas outlined above, please contact Megan Miller on or 04 831 1605.