Veterinary shortage in New Zealand

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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.

Current visas available to overseas veterinarians

Approved class border exception visas (limit 50)

Veterinarians must be registered with the Veterinary Council of New Zealand (VCNZ), be paid a minimum salary of NZ$85,000, and have three - five years relevant work experience. These applications must be made via NZVA and approval is required through MPI.

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.

Process for the 50 border exception visas

Requests are assessed against the criteria put in place by the New Zealand Government. Permission to travel to New Zealand is granted by Immigration New Zealand (INZ).

Frequently asked questions on the border exception process can be found here.

Employers interested in securing a spot should contact the NZVA liaison, Megan Miller, on executive@vets.org.nz or DDI 04 831 1605.

Places cannot be reserved unless employers are in final negotiations with an applicant who meets all criteria.

  1. Stage one - The NZVA checks that all criteria have been met and sends the details of applicants (including any dependents, family members and partners) to MPI for approval. 
  2. MPI approves applicants and names of the approved individuals are given to Immigration NZ.
  3. Stage two - Employer/ veterinarian makes an expression of interest for “an approved class of worker” with Immigration NZ.
  4. Immigration NZ matches the expression of interest applications with the list of approved individuals supplied by MPI and the application progresses.

Please note: any application for “an approved class of worker” visa that has not been made via NZVA will be rejected by Immigration NZ.

Stage one documentation

The below information needs to be provided to NZVA;

  • Written offer of employment for full time work, or
  • A signed employment agreement with confirmation of salary or wages, including any reasonable deductions.
  • Confirmation of registration with the Veterinary Council of New Zealand (VCNZ).
  • Evidence of the applicant’s relevance experience, either within New Zealand or internationally e.g. CV.

Stage two documentation

To assist with completing stage two and avoid any potential processing delays of the EOI form on the INZ website, the following supporting documentation should be provided to INZ;

  • A signed employment agreement which includes the written confirmation of salary or wages detailing any reasonable deductions (reasonable deductions need to be written into the employment agreement and provide the relative cost attributed to the item).
  • Evidence of the applicant’s relevant experience, either within New Zealand or internationally, examples may include:
    • Bank statements and pay slips covering the period of work experience claimed.
    • Employment certificates/reference letters. This should include contact information for previous employers.
    • Tax records from the relevant government authorities covering the period of work experience claimed.
  • Any other associated support letters/documents to meet the requirements of Column B, under H5.30.20 Approved classes of workers - optional.

Other useful information

Current vacancies

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

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). Learn more here

Managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ)

Familiarise yourself with the MIQ system including the allocation system and pre-departure testing requirements here.


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