Veterinary shortage in New Zealand

Why is there a veterinary shortage?

There are many factors influencing retention in clinical practice.  The NZVA office team is acutely aware and acknowledges the realities behind issues such as remuneration, workplace culture, bullying, harassment, after hours, lack of collegial support and inflexible work environments — that all contribute to veterinarians leaving clinical practice.  

The NZVA strategic plan has workforce and business sustainability as a key priority with a focus on improving retention and recruitment, mentoring and coaching. 

Each year, New Zealand usually brings in a large percentage of veterinarians from overseas to fill the veterinary jobs available. This year, we are limited by our COVID-19 border restrictions, which make it harder for overseas citizens to enter the country.

Veterinary immigration update

From 13 March 2022 anyone earning at least 1.5 times the median wage (i.e. at least $85,000, irrelevant of experience) will be able to apply for a work visa allowing them to enter New Zealand. They will not have to book a space in MIQ but will be required to self-isolate. 

Information on the process for these visa applications will be released as it comes to hand.

In the meantime, for those veterinarians earning over $106,080, you can still apply for a long term critical work visa.

For more information about how to apply for these visas please contact Megan on or DDI 04 831 1605.

Five Step Reopening Plan

Step one - from 11.59pm, Sunday 27 February 2022
The border will reopen to New Zealanders and other eligible travellers under current border settings (e.g. people with border exceptions) from Australia.

Step two - from 11:59 pm, Sunday 13 March 2022
The border will reopen to New Zealanders and other eligible travellers under current border settings from the rest of the world. Open to skilled workers earning at least 1.5 times the median wage and Working Holiday Scheme visa holders.

Step three - from 11:59 pm, Tuesday 12 April 2022
The border will open to current offshore temporary visa holders, who can still meet the relevant visa requirements and open to up to 5000 international students for semester 2. Further class exceptions for critical workforces that do not meet the 1.5 times the median wage test will be considered.

Step four - by July 2022
The border will be open to anyone from Australia and open for visa-waiver travel. The Accredited Employer Work Visa will open, meaning the skilled and health worker border exception can be phased out.

Step five - October 2022
The border fully reopens to visitors from anywhere in the world, and all visa categories fully reopen.

Read more about the reopening plan on the Unite against COVID-19 website

Current visas available to overseas veterinarians

Other long term critical work visas

Any employer can still apply for a long-term critical work visa. This visa is available to all veterinarians (including companion animal) earning a minimum salary of NZ$106,080. These applications can be made directly through Immigration NZ (no need to gain pre-approval from MPI). These applications can be made by completing the EOI form and selecting “To get workers with unique experience and technical or specialist skills that are not readily obtainable in NZ”.
We are happy to give you some advice on applying for long term critical work visas.

Please note: Companion animal, equine, large animal and mixed veterinarians are all able to apply for the above visas.

Other useful information

Current vacancies

Get an idea of the current veterinary jobs available in New Zealand.

Veterinary Council registration

To practise as or use the title 'veterinarian' in New Zealand, you must be registered with the Veterinary Council of New Zealand (VCNZ) and have a current annual practising certificate (APC). Visit the VCNZ website to learn more.


If you have any questions regarding any of the above, please contact Megan on or DDI 04 831 1605.