Vet bonding scheme

The Voluntary Bonding Scheme (VBS) for Veterinarians supports graduate vets working in rural practices that focus on production animals. Learn more about the scheme, eligibility criteria, and how to apply.

2019 Review of the Vet Bonding Scheme

In August 2019, MPI commissioned Sapere Research Group to conduct a review of the Voluntary Bonding Scheme (VBS) for Veterinarians. The review found that the VBS is meeting its objective to address rural veterinary staff shortages and is providing a return on investment.

MPI welcomes the review’s recommendations to improve aspects of the scheme. MPI is considering the recommendations and aims to make any improvements to the scheme in time for the 2020 application round.

Review of Voluntary Bonding Scheme for Veterinarians [PDF, 1.5 MB]

2019 application round

In 2019, MPI approved 32 graduates to receive the Voluntary Bonding Scheme for Veterinarians grant. The scheme generally provides funding for 30 graduate vets each year but additional funding was available in 2019 for 2 extra graduates to receive the grant.

Since the scheme started in 2009, MPI has approved funding for 318 graduate vets.

Read the media release: 30 September

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About the scheme

To help ease the shortage of rural veterinarians working with production animals, the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) set up the Voluntary Bonding Scheme (VBS) for Veterinarians. The scheme aims to attract and retain graduate vets into rural practice. It provides a payment to recently graduated vets who work in an eligible practice with a primary focus in production animals.

Participants eligible for $55,000 over 5 years

People taking part in the scheme are eligible for $55,000 ($11,000 each year) over the 5 years of the scheme. MPI will pay the first instalment in your third year in the scheme, with the second and third instalments made after the fourth and fifth years respectively. MPI will contact participants near their anniversary date and send them an Eligibility for Payment form to complete.

Tax and student loan deductions

Income tax is deducted automatically, and if participants have a student loan, MPI will pay Inland Revenue to pay off any outstanding loan. If the participant has no student loan, the balance (after income tax has been deducted) will be paid directly to them.

Graduates must meet criteria to apply

You can apply for the scheme if you graduated from Massey University’s Bachelor of Veterinary Science in the 12 months prior to submitting your application and you:

  • are a New Zealand citizen or permanent resident
  • are registered to practise in New Zealand and hold a current practising certificate, and
  • have a permanent, full-time position, in an eligible practice, whose focus is production animals, or
  • have been offered a role in an eligible practice.

All successful applicants stay in the scheme for 5 years, as long as they remain eligible.

Up to 30 vets a year accepted

The scheme is capped at 30 participants. MPI runs a ballot if it gets more than 30 eligible applications. Another ballot of remaining applicants is run to make a secondary list of candidates. MPI uses the secondary list if someone leaves the scheme in their first 2 years or there aren’t enough applicants in the next application round. In such cases, the first eligible person on the secondary list will be asked to join the scheme.

Information for graduates

Download the current terms and conditions [PDF, 405 KB]

Previous terms and conditions

Download the 2018 terms and conditions [PDF, 369 KB]

Download the 2016 terms and conditions [PDF, 255 KB]

Changes to your situation during the scheme

If you transfer to another eligible practice, you need to tell MPI before your move to your new practice. You’ll still be eligible for the grant. Email a transfer of practice application form to

Download the transfer of practice application form [PDF, 371 KB]

If you change workplace and your new workplace is not an eligible practice, you’ll no longer qualify for payments under the scheme. Let MPI know if you stop working for an eligible practice. Email

Before you take extended leave or parental leave, email details of your leave to

MPI will review your eligibility and your bonding period might be changed. The terms and conditions explain the rules around leave.

Who to contact

If you have questions about the scheme, email

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