If you’re the proud owner of a dog or cat, your furry friend is most likely one of the most important members of your family and must accompany you when you move to Australia.
However, Australia has very strict quarantine laws in place which, combined with its geographical isolation, help to prevent a range of diseases and exotic pests entering the country. With this in mind, you’ll need to make sure you satisfy a range of requirements before you will be able to legally import your dog or cat into Australia.
Where are you moving from?
The exact requirements you will need to fulfil when importing a dog or cat into Australia vary depending on your country of origin. If you’re moving from New Zealand, dogs and cats do not require an import permit.
However, if you’re moving from a Group 2 Country (countries that are rabies-free) or a Group 3 Country (countries where rabies is absent or well-controlled), you will need to obtain an import permit for your dog or cat from the Australian Government Department of Agriculture and Water Resources.
- Group 2 Countries include Fiji, Hawaii, Iceland, Japan, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Tonga and Vanuatu. A full list is available from the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources.
- Group 3 Countries include Argentina, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, South Africa, South Korea, the United Kingdom and the United States (excluding Hawaii and Guam). A full list is available from the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources.
If you want to import an animal other than a dog or cat to Australia it is extremely difficult to do so. View the requirements and restrictions on the Australian Government’s Department of Agriculture and Water Resources website.
Obtaining a permit
Before you can apply for an import permit from the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, you will need to confirm whether your pet is eligible to be brought to Australia. Your dog or cat will need to have been living in an approved country for at least six months prior to any attempt to import it to Australia.
You’ll need to apply for a permit in your country of origin several months before you plan to travel to Australia, and there are a range of other eligibility criteria that need to be satisfied:
- Your pet must be at least 12 weeks old.
- You can import no more than two cats and/or two dogs.
- Certain breeds are banned, including the Pit Bull Terrier, American Pit Bull, Japanese Tosa, Dogo Argentino and African Wild Cat.
- Pets must be five generations or more removed from any dog or cat that is not a domestic breed.
- Females must not be more than 30 days pregnant or suckling their kittens or puppies.
- All pets must be microchipped.
If your pet satisfies all these criteria, you can apply online to obtain a permit. The exact requirements you will need to meet and the paperwork you must supply varies depending on your country of origin, so check the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources website for full details.
However, as a general rule you will need to supply:
- Veterinary certificates proving, for example, that your pet has been immunised against rabies and is up to date with parasite control and protected against infectious diseases.
- Medical test results showing, for example, that your dog has been tested for conditions such as leptospirosis and brucellosis.
- A valid import permit.
Import permit applications take at least 20 days to process and are valid for 12 months from the date of issue. Costs vary depending on your pet and your country of origin, but the minimum cost to import one cat or one dog to Australia is $2,000.
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Transporting your pet
Your pet won’t get to travel in the passenger cabin with you; instead, he or she will make the journey in a pet travel container (supplied by you) in a special part of the aircraft. Pets are tranquilised and inspected by a qualified vet to ensure they are safe to travel before the flight departs.
Importing a pet into Australia is a daunting, confusing and time-consuming task, which can be a little overwhelming if you try to take it on all by yourself. That’s why there are several pet transport companies that specialise in organising the importation process from start to finish. These companies will usually organise all the veterinary checks and import permits for you, as well as book a place for your pet in an Australian quarantine facility. They will then pick your pet up from home to take them to the airport, and transfer them to a quarantine centre when they arrive in Australia.
All pets that arrive in Australia (except those from New Zealand, Norfolk Island or Cocos Island) must serve at least 10 days in an Australian quarantine facility. Quarantine centres are located in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth and are always busy, so it’s recommended that you book a place for your pet a few months before departure.
You used to be allowed to visit your furry friend while they were in quarantine, but that right was scrapped in 2014.
Although importing your cat or dog to Australia can be complex, it’s all worth it to ensure that your four-legged friend stays by your side. However, to make the entire process run as smoothly as possible, it’s worth comparing the services offered by specialist pet transport companies.