Bringing your pet to Australia: The definitive pet import guide
International pet transport to Australia is complex because of the country’s stringent biosecurity regulations to protect local flora and fauna from introduced diseases. Australia’s strict biosecurity laws for pet import are to prevent the introduction of rabies into the country via dogs and cats.
Pets travelling to Australia have to satisfy all the biosecurity regulations set by the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry without exception. The process is time-bound and includes several steps that need to be completed at the correct time. Preparing your pet to travel to Australia requires several vet visits and a lot of documentation. It is essential to follow all the rules, and failure to do so could result in your pet being denied entry, subject to additional testing, or extended quarantine.
Here’s what you can expect when you are considering international pet transport to Australia:
UNDERSTANDING COUNTRY CATEGORIES
Australia allows the import of pet cats and dogs only from approved countries and territories. Approved countries are divided into three groups based on the prevalence of rabies in the country, and each group has different import conditions.
|Group 1||Group 2||Group 3|
|New Zealand, Norfolk Island and Cocos Island||American Samoa, Bahrain, Barbados, Christmas Island, Cook Islands, Falkland Islands (Malvinas), Fiji, French Polynesia, Guam, Hawaii, Iceland, Japan, Kiribati, Mauritius, Micronesia, Nauru, New Caledonia, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Singapore, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, Wallis & Futuna||Antigua & Barbuda, Argentina, Austria, Bahamas, Belgium, Bermuda, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Canada, Cayman Islands, Chile, Croatia, Cyprus, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Gibraltar, Greece, Greenland, Guernsey, Hong Kong, Hungary, Ireland, Isle of Man, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Jersey, Kuwait, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macao, Malta, Monaco, Montenegro, Netherlands, Northern Mariana Islands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Qatar, Reunion, Saint Kitts & Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent & the Grenadines, Serbia, Seychelles, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain (including Canary and Balearic Islands), Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Trinidad & Tobago, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, United States of America (excluding Guam and Hawaii), Uruguay, Virgin Islands (British), and Virgin Islands (United States of America).|
Non-approved countries – All countries and territories not mentioned above are considered non-approved countries with a high incidence of rabies. Pet dogs and cats from these countries cannot travel directly into Australia. Pets must travel to a group 2 or 3 country and live there continuously for 180 days before export to be eligible to travel to Australia. Your pet must undergo testing, treatments and examinations in the approved country and meet all Australian import conditions before travelling to Australia.
BANNED BREEDS AND ELIGIBILITY
Pet dogs and cats must be eligible to travel to Australia. The eligibility criteria are:
- Pets must have resided in the Group 1 country since birth or direct importation from Australia or for 180 days immediately before the travel date.
- Pets must not be under quarantine restrictions at the time of export.
- Pets must not be more than 40 days pregnant or suckling young during export.
- Cats and dogs must be at least eight weeks old during export.
- Your pet must not be on the banned breeds list in Australia.
Australia bans the import of the following breeds:
- Dogo Argentino
- Fila Brasileiro
- Japanese Tosa
- Pit Bull Terrier or American Pit Bull
- Perro de Presa Canario or Presa Canario
- Czechoslovakian wolfdog or Czechoslovakian Vlcak
- Saarloos wolfdog or Saarloos wolfhound
- Lupo Italiano or Italian wolfdog
- Kunming wolfdog or Kunming dog.
- Savannah cat, domestic cat (Felis catus) crossed with serval cat (Felis serval)
- Safari cat, domestic cat crossed with Geoffroy cat (Oncifelis geoffroyi)
- Chausie, domestic cat crossed with Jungle cat (Felis chaus)
- Bengal cat, domestic cat crossed with Asian leopard cat (Prionailurus bengalensis).
Pet cats and dogs travelling to Australia must have a microchip implanted before travel.
- The microchip must be read by an Avid, Trovan, Destron or any other ISO-compatible reader
- It should be an ISO-compliant 15-digit microchip.
- DAFF does not accept pets with microchip numbers starting with 999 and nine-digit microchips.
Pets from Group 2 and 3 countries need their identities verified before travelling to Australia. DAFF requires a competent authority in the exporting country to identify the pet before the import. Pet parents must approach a competent authority in the export country to scan the microchip and identify the pet. The authority will provide the evidence of the scan and identification directly to DAFF.
VACCINATIONS, TESTS AND TREATMENTS
Pet dogs and cats must be vaccinated against rabies and other common canine and feline diseases before travelling to Australia. These vaccinations must be valid for the entire post-entry quarantine period.
- Pets travelling from Group 1 and 2 countries – Group 1 and 2 countries are rabies-free; pets from these countries do not require a rabies vaccine.
- Pets travelling from Group 3 countries - Pet cats and dogs flying in from Group 3 countries must be vaccinated against rabies after the microchip implantation. Dogs must receive the following vaccinations:
- Bordetella bronchiseptica
- Dogs from Singapore need to be vaccinated against Canine Influenza Virus (CIV)
Cats travelling from Category 2 and 3 countries need the following vaccinations:
- Feline Enteritis
Health Tests for Dogs
In addition to the vaccinations mentioned above, dogs from Group 2 and 3 countries must be tested for the following canine diseases by a competent government-approved veterinarian.
- Brucella canis (Brucellosis) – Desexed dogs are exempt from testing for Brucellosis. If your dog is not desexed, a government-approved vet must scan and verify the microchip number before collecting the blood sample to test for Brucellosis. The test must be either a rapid slide agglutination test (RSAT), a tube agglutination test (TAT) or an indirect fluorescent antibody test (IFAT). It should be done within 45 days of export and produce a negative result.
- Leishmania infantum (Leishmaniosis) – The vet must scan and verify your pet’s microchip before collecting the blood sample to test for Leishmaniosis using an indirect fluorescent antibody test (IFAT) or an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). The test must be done within 45 days of travel, producing a negative result.
- Leptospira canicola (Leptospirosis) – Dogs not vaccinated for Leptospirosis must test for the disease using a microscopic agglutination test (MAT). The vet must scan the microchip before drawing blood for the sample. It should be done within 45 days of travel and produce a negative result at a serum dilution of 1:100.
Internal and External Parasite Treatment
Pet cats and dogs must receive two internal parasite treatments 14 days apart, effective against nematodes and cestodes. The treatment has to be administered by a government-approved veterinarian within 45 days before the date of export. The second treatment must be given five days before travel.
Pet cats must receive treatment for external parasites such as ticks and fleas with a topical product at least 21 days before travel. The pet must be examined for external parasites during subsequent vet visits, and the treatment must be continued until export.
Pet dogs must be treated for external parasites at least 30 days before the travel date. The dog has to be treated for ticks and fleas continuously till the date of travel by a government-authorised pet.
Pet dogs that have visited mainland Africa must be treated for Babesia canis with a single dose of imidocarb dipropionate at a rate of 7.5mg/kg body weight, or two doses at a rate of 6.0 mg/kg body weight given at least 14 days apart. Dogs must receive this treatment from a government-authorised vet within 28 days of travel to Australia.
RABIES VACCINATION AND RNATT
If your pet travels to Australia from a Group 3 country, they need a rabies vaccination with an inactivated or recombinant rabies vaccine before the flight. The vaccine must be administered in an approved country when the pet is at least 84 days old. The vaccine must be continuously valid from the date of vaccination before drawing the blood sample for RNATT up to the date of export.
Rabies Neutralising Antibody Test
The RNAT test is used to determine the efficacy of the rabies vaccine on your pet. Blood for the sample must be drawn around 3-4 weeks after the rabies vaccination. The test must be conducted in an approved lab in an approved country. Before drawing the sample, a government-approved vet has to scan the microchip and record the microchip number accurately on the sample tube.
The RNAT test must be either a fluorescent antibody virus neutralisation (FAVN) test or a rapid fluorescent focus inhibition test (RFFIT), and the report has to be in English. The report must contain the microchip number, sampling date and location, signature of the person issuing the report, test type and the test result.
DAFF accepts a result of 0.5 IU/ml or more; anything less than 0.5 IU/ml is not acceptable, and you will have to re-vaccinate your pet and repeat the testing process till you get an acceptable result. The test is valid for 12 months from the sampling date; make sure your pet travels to Australia before the test expires.
An official government veterinarian in the country of export must check the RNAT test laboratory report and rabies vaccination certificate and complete, sign and stamp the RNAT test declaration.
There is a mandatory waiting period of 180 days after the sample arrives at the lab for the test. Your pet can travel to Australia only after the waiting period and if the result is satisfactory.
Veterinary Health Certificate
Pets travelling from Group 1 countries need a Statutory Declaration that has the following pet information:
- identifies the pet cat or dog by breed, sex, age and microchip number
- verifies that the pet has lived in New Zealand since birth or direct importation from Australia, or for the 180 days immediately before travelling if the animal has been imported into New Zealand from any other country
- verifies that the pet is not a domestic/non-domestic hybrid and that a dog is not a prohibited breed
- verifies that if a female pet, the animal is not more than 40 days pregnant or suckling young at the time of export
- states whether the dog has ever been to mainland Africa.
Pets also need a Health certificate completed by an official government vet. The veterinary health certificate can be found in Appendix 1 of the import permit. All pets travelling to Australia must be accompanied by a valid import permit and a veterinary health certificate signed by an official government veterinarian. The vet must complete, sign and stamp all pages of the health certificate and give you a seal for the pet crate. The seal number must be recorded on the health certificate.
Pet parents can apply for the import permit online on the Biosecurity Import Conditions System (BICON) portal. Pets from Group 3 countries must attach the rabies vaccination certificate and RNAT test declaration and report as supporting documents with the application.
The import fees costs $1265, which must be paid online on the BICON portal. Other fees include:
|Importation charge (Reservation charge)||$253|
|Importation charge (Confirmation of reservation)||$1012|
|10-day quarantine accommodation||$500|
|30-day quarantine accommodation||$1500|
|Overstay accommodation of cat/dog||$50 per day|
|Out-of-hours collection fee per animal||$160-$170|
Pets travelling from Group 1 countries will not be taken to the Post Entry Quarantine Centre on arrival into Australia. Pets from other group countries must spend 10 to 30 days at the quarantine centre in Mickleham.
Before travelling to Australia, you must book quarantine space for your pet since the airline will only board your pet with a confirmed PEQ booking. The best time to apply for the permit is when you receive the import permit.
Quarantine accommodation at the Mickleham PEQ facility can be booked online on the PEQ portal. Once the booking has been confirmed, you can continue with the next steps of the process, such as the pre-export examinations, treatments and blood tests.
The quarantine facility only accepts pets that arrive in Melbourne within operational hours - Monday – Friday 04:30 – 16:30. Requests will not be accepted for flights that land during 22:00 – 03:00 on all weekdays, weekends and public holidays. Each out-of-hours request will be assessed on a case-to-case basis. Your pet will be collected on arrival at Melbourne airport for transport directly to the Mickleham PEQ Facility. PEQ will notify pet parents by email after your pet arrives at the facility within 24 hours of arrival.
Pets are housed in individual climate-controlled pens at the PEQ. If you import multiple pets, PEQ staff will house them in adjacent pens if they are the same species. Pets are fed commercial dry food at the PEQ. If your pet requires a special diet, you must submit a request outlining why your pet needs it. Once approved, pet parents must procure the food in Australia and send it to the PEQ. Do not send food with your pet. PEQ staff will destroy any accompanying food, toys, bedding, etc, for biosecurity reasons.
PEQ staff will ensure your dog gets adequate exercise in the dog runs. They will also groom and bathe pets during quarantine. If your pet needs special care and medical treatment, write to PEQ at PEQservices@awe.gov.au while reserving quarantine space outlying the special care and medical attention required.
Fees for a 10-day stay at PEQ are $500, and the 30-day stay will cost you $1500. Every additional day your pet stays at the quarantine centre will cost $50 per day.
ARRIVING IN AUSTRALIA
Pets from Group 2 and 3 countries can fly on any airline but must arrive directly at Melbourne International Airport. The pet must travel in the cargo hold as manifest cargo in an IATA-approved crate.
During their journey, pets can transit through any country if they stay on the aircraft after touchdown. If your cat or dog needs to tranship (change aircraft) during their journey, they may do so only in the following cities: Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Dubai, Frankfurt, Hong Kong, London or any other Group 1 or 2 countries.
The pet must stay in the international part of the airport and must remain in a place where contact with other animals is minimal. If your pet’s crate is opened during transhipment, it must be sealed again by a competent authority in the transhipment country with a certificate detailing the circumstances.
After your pet arrives at Melbourne International Airport, DAFF officials will collect your pet and transfer them directly to the Mickleham Post Entry Quarantine Facility. Pet dogs and cats from Group 2 countries must stay at the Centre for at least ten days before they are released to your care. Pets from Group 3 countries must remain at the quarantine centre for 30 days unless a competent authority has identified them before export. If your pet shows signs of illness or other conditions that could increase their risk of spreading disease, their stay at the quarantine centre will be extended.
PET IMPORT TO AUSTRALIA
Bringing a pet into Australia is challenging due to the complicated biosecurity and import regulations. It is recommended to contact an experienced pet relocation company to assist your pet with the move. A pet relocation company can help you navigate the rules and regulations and make the entire process stress-free.