What Visa/s do I Need to Work as a Vet in New Zealand?

By Corinne Wigfall BVMBVS(Hons) BVMedSci(Hons)

Are you considering working in the land of the long white cloud? This small nation in the southern hemisphere is a unique and vibrant country to experience. Renowned for its rich culture, adrenaline spots, and natural beauty New Zealand is a must-do for any veterinarian wanting an overseas experience. New Zealand is one of the safest nations in the world and is an excellent place to settle down and raise a family.

As a veterinarian, it’s fairly easy to obtain a work visa. There is currently a large shortage of veterinarians, particularly large and mixed animal veterinarians. The need is so great that veterinarians are listed on the Essential Skills list for priority consideration when applying for visas. Kiwi veterinarians are used to overseas veterinarians visiting or migrating for work, and they are a welcoming bunch.

So what types of visas are available? The good news is there are a few, depending on your age and reasons for travel.

Want more information about working as a vet in New Zealand, register on our website, and our New Zealand Vet Job advisor will contact you.

Working Holiday Visa

This visa is available to British Citizens aged 18-30 (other nationalities are also eligible). It’s perfect if you are planning to work and travel around New Zealand at the same time. This visa is popular with new graduates and veterinarians working during the stud or calving season.

The working holiday visa has two duration options, the 12-month and 23-month visa. For both time limits, you can work up to 12 months, and can the remaining months to travel. You can work anywhere from one day to the full year, and you can break up your work into blocks as you travel around NZ if you prefer.

Important things to note:

  • You do not need to have a job lined up with this visa. You can travel over and see what part of the country feels right to start work in.
  • You cannot bring a child or partner on a working holiday visa as each individual needs their own visa.
  • If you initially apply for the 12-month option, a ‘top-up’ visa is available for 23 months to enable you to stay longer, but an additional fee is payable.
  • You need to prove you have either a return ticket or enough money in your accounts to buy a return flight on entry.
  • Only one Working Holiday Visa will be granted per person.

Accredited Employer Work visa

Available to all age groups, the accredited employer work visa is for employers looking to fill critical gaps in the workforce. This work visa allows you to stay and work in New Zealand for up to 3 years. To be eligible for this visa you must:

  • Have an offer of employment from an accredited employer for a minimum of 30 hours.
  • You must earn at least $27.76 NZD per hour for the three-year visa.
  • The visa is only valid if you continue to work for the company that offered you the job initially- so it means you need to be sure it’s the right job for you.
  • This visa opens up further pathways to residency if you find you enjoy the lifestyle and work.
  • You are eligible to bring dependent children on this visa provided you earn at least $43,322.76 NZD.

If you secure this visa, you can enter and leave New Zealand as many times as you want during that three-year period if you are still employed with the same company. At the end of your three years, if you choose not to apply for residency but still wish to stay and work in New Zealand, you can reapply for this visa.

Skilled Migrant Category Resident Visa

If you are aged 18-55 and have a skill that New Zealand needs, (veterinarians!), and already have a permanent job offer, you can apply for residence before even landing in NZ. This gives you security and is popular with veterinarians choosing to migrate permanently to NZ, often with family for a change in lifestyle.

You must first submit an expression of interest which is placed in a pool of applications. These applications are randomly drawn and considered. If immigration considers you a suitable applicant, you will be invited to apply for the skilled migrant category resident visa. There is a tight timeframe for application (4 months) so it’s best to have everything you need such as health certificates, police checks, and proof of qualifications ready to go.

Key facts:

  • You can bring your partner and children with you to New Zealand if you have this visa
  • Can live and work in New Zealand indefinitely
  • Visas are approved on a points-based system

This visa is understandably harder to acquire than the working holiday or work visas, and applications are detailed. Some candidates choose to work with an immigration lawyer to help ensure their chances of success are as good as possible. This visa is also the most expensive of the options listed here to apply for, but you will only need to apply for one visa if successful.

Other considerations

To practice as a veterinarian in New Zealand you will need to be registered with the New Zealand Veterinary Council. There is a fee for registration, and annual renewal is needed. You will need a letter of good standing from your current veterinary board as part of your application. Veterinarians from countries such as the UK and USA can gain membership easily, as their qualifications are considered comparable to the NZ educational system for veterinarians.

The New Zealand Health System is publicly funded and accessible if you have a resident visa. If you are on a travel or work visa, you will need to pay for healthcare. This can be costly, and health insurance would be a worthwhile investment when traveling to New Zealand.


New Zealand is a fun, vibrant country with opportunities in all areas of the veterinary industry. Whatever you are looking for, be it the James Herriot-style adventure, or a safe welcoming home for your family, New Zealand has it all. The New Zealand veterinary industry is small and close-knit, and very welcoming of all overseas applications to veterinary roles. Whatever your reasons for traveling, New Zealand is an experience you will never forget!

Get in touch with The Vet Service today to see how we can help you, find your new job. We offer a range of veterinary jobs worldwide from Vet Jobs in New Zealand, Vet Jobs in Canada, Vet Jobs in The USAVet Jobs in Australia, Vet Jobs in The UK, and Vet Jobs in Ireland.

Don’t forget to check out our other blogs on visas:

– What Visa/s Do I Need to Work as a Vet in the Uk? 

– What Visa/s Do I Need to Work as a Vet in Ireland? 

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