Policy: Export of live animals

Policy type: Policy
Reference: 12c
Status: Current
Date ratified: November 2019
Reviewed: March 2024


The New Zealand Veterinary Association opposes the export of any live animal unless, throughout the lifetime of the animal, its welfare is adequately managed according to the requirements of the Animal Welfare Act 1999.


New Zealand has an international reputation for having high standards of animal welfare. Allowing animals to be exported to countries where their welfare will not be protected to a similarly high standard undermines this reputation and is unacceptable.

Any animal exported from New Zealand should, throughout its lifetime, experience standards of welfare consistent with those expected if that animal had remained in New Zealand.
Under the Animal Welfare (Export of Livestock for Slaughter) Regulations 2016, no cattle, deer, goats, or sheep may be exported for slaughter without the prior approval of the Director-General of the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI).

However, many species of animal are exported live for purposes including breeding, as pets, for sport, and for consumption. This creates potential for animal welfare compromise during assembly, transport (including transit) and throughout the lifespan of the animal in the destination country – including slaughter.

The NZVA recognises that the live export trade is an important part of New Zealand’s export sector and may play a significant role in some international trade relationships.

Adequate safeguards must be put in place to ensure animal welfare is protected throughout the lifetime of any animal, including transport and slaughter.


  1. Animals should not be live exported to countries where formal welfare standards for that species are lower than those expected by New Zealand law.
  2. Animals should not be live exported to countries where humane slaughter is not required by local law.
  3. All export requirements set by the Ministry for Primary industries must be complied with.
  4. Any animal being considered for live export should have a veterinary examination to assess its individual suitability for the proposed journey, and purpose in the destination country.
  5. Export requirements should be set appropriately, and regularly reviewed to ensure any animal exported live from New Zealand has, throughout its entire life, all physical, health, and behavioural needs met as defined in Section 4 of the Animal Welfare Act 1999.

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