Importing dogs to Australia can be a complicated process. This is because Australia’s Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment work hard to protect their natural flora and fauna. Therefore, in order to successfully take your dog to Australia, there are strict conditions that must be met. The requirements vary widely, depending on the breed of your dog and which country you are traveling from.
In this article, we will guide you through the process of importing dogs to Australia, and breakdown the strict and complicated entry requirements.
What is an Australia Pet Passport?
Australia does not have an official ‘Pet Passport’, however it is a term used to describe the documents that are required to import a dog to Australia. Customs officials will need to see these documents in order to clear your dog in customs. Essentially, a pet passport demonstrates that your dog is fit and healthy to travel. For a Australia pet passport you will likely need a microchip, vaccinations, parasite treatments and a rabies blood test.
The documents required to travel with dogs depends on which country you are travelling from, and which country you are travelling to. Each country has different rules and requirements to export and import dogs. Requirements and restrictions also vary between pet species. We will discuss the requirements to import dogs to Australia in detail below.
What is the process of importing dogs to Australia?
The process of importing dogs to Australia is as follows:
- Research – the process depends on the age of your dog, and where you are traveling from. Therefore, ensure you are aware of the specific requirements for taking your dog to Australia. It’s also important to check that your dog is allowed to be imported to Australia, as they have very strict rules, prohibiting some dog breeds visiting.
- Visit the vet – most dogs will require a microchip, rabies vaccinations and parasite treatments. However, the requirements vary depending on your dog’s age and home country. You can find details below.
- Get a valid rabies neutralising titre test (RNATT) test report – this applies to dogs traveling from Group 3 countries.
- Apply for import permit (if necessary) – to import a dog to Australia, you will need an import permit. You need to apply for this before traveling to Australia as it will be required to pass customs. See import permit section below.
- Organise quarantine (if necessary) – as soon as you have your import permit granted, you should get in contact with the The Mickleham Center in Victoria to make arrangements for your dog. See quarantine section below.
What are the requirements when importing dogs to Australia?
Group 1 Countries: New Zealand; Norfolk Island; Cocos Island
Group 2 Countries: American Samoa, Bahrain, Barbados, Christmas Island, Cook Island, Falkland Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, French Polynesia, Guam, Hawaii, Iceland, Japan, Kiribati, Mauritius, Nauru, New Caledonia, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Singapore, Solomon Islands, Kingdom of Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, Wallis and Futuna.
Group 3 Countries: Antigua & Barbuda, Argentina, Austria, Bahamas, Belgium, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Brunei, Bulgaria, Canada, Canary and Balearic Islands, Cayman Islands, Chile, the Republic of Croatia, the Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Gibraltar, Greece, Greenland, Guernsey, Hong Kong, Hungary, Ireland, Isle of Man, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Jersey, Kuwait, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macau, Malta, Monaco, Montenegro, the Netherlands, Netherlands-Antilles, Aruba, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Qatar, the Republic of South Africa, Reunion, Saipan, Serbia, Seychelles, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent & the Grenadines, Sweden, Switzerland (including Liechtenstein), Taiwan, Trinidad and Tobago, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, the United States (including the district of Columbia, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands (but excluding Guam and Hawaii), Uruguay.
All dogs imported to Australia must be microchipped with an ISO 11784/11785 pet microchip that is a 15 digit and non-encrypted.
A microchip is a small chip the size of a grain of rice that holds a unique number which can be detected by a microchip scanner. The chip is implanted just under your dog’s skin in between its shoulder blades.
This should be the first step you take. Your pet’s microchip must be implanted before its rabies vaccination is administered, otherwise the vaccination may not be valid. We will discuss the rabies vaccination in the next section.
In order to get your dog microchipped, simply take him or her to your vet. Your dog’s microchip number must be written on all of your dog’s documentation required to enter Australia.
Dogs residing in and entering from Group 1 and Group 2 Countries do not require a rabies vaccination. However, it is a requirement for importing dogs to Australia from all other countries.
All dogs must be older than 12 weeks old at the time of vaccination.
You can get your dog vaccinated at your local vet. Make sure you obtain certification of the period of validity for the particular vaccinations that you get. Some are valid for 1 year, and others for 3. The vaccination must be valid at the time of entering Australia. Australia accepts the 3 year rabies vaccination.
Your dog may may also require a rabies blood test, also known as a rabies titer test. We will discuss this in detail in the ‘requirement 4 – rabies blood test’ section below.
Dogs that are traveling from New Zealand, Norfolk Island or Cocos Island will not require additional vaccinations. However all other countries will. All vaccinations must be valid for the entire post-arrival quarantine period.
The Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment requires that dogs traveling from Group 2 and Group 3 countries are vaccinated against the following:
- Babesia canis (dogs that have visited Africa)
- Ehrlicia canis
The Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment recommends that dogs traveling from Group 2 and Group 3 countries receive vaccinations against the following:
- Bordetella bronchiseptica
- Canine influenza*
*Dogs entering from Canada, the United States and Korea must be vaccinated against Canine influenze between 14 days and 12 months prior to travel. Additionally, it is advised that dogs entering from other countries also receive the vaccination, if it is available.
Prior to importing dogs to Australia, they must be treated against internal parasites. This applies to all dogs, no matter where they are traveling from.
Dogs must start treatments 21 days prior to Ehrlichia blood sampling.
To calculate 21 days after initial external parasite treatment, count the first day the treatment is applied as day 0. For example, if treatment is given 1 January then your dog’s blood sample cannot be collected until 22 January.
All treatments must be administered by a government approved veterinarian.
You must maintain continuous protection from external parasites until the time your dog leaves Australia.
At each subsequent veterinary visit, your approved vet should examine your dog for external parasites. If fleas or ticks are found they must be removed. Thus, the treatment will be restarted and dogs must be tested for Ehrlichia canis antibodies 21 days later.
Rabies Neutralising Titre Test (RNATT)
When importing dogs to Australia from Group 3 countries they will require a RNATT. This determines if your dog or cat has made enough antibodies to keep them safe from picking up rabies.
Australia will accept RNATTs for a period of up to 12 months (365 days) from the date of blood collection. Repeat RNAT testing will be required if the RNATT will expire prior to your dog’s export.
You must submit an RNATT declaration for dogs and cats at the time of permit application. An official government veterinarian within the country of export must complete, sign and endorse the RNATT declaration. Additionally, a copy of the RNATT laboratory report must be submitted with the RNATT declaration.
Import Permit & Health Certificate.
All dogs traveling from Group 2 or Group 3 countries require an import permit. Therefore, unless you are traveling from New Zealand, Norfolk Island or Cocos Island, your dog will need an import permit.
Upon arrival in Australia, customs officials will need to see a valid import permit, with a veterinary health certificate completed by an Official government veterinarian in the country of export.
Your dog’s import permit will prove that your dog is ready for travel to Australia. Your dog’s veterinary health certificate will be Appendix 1 of your import permit.
An official government veterinarian must:
- Complete, sign and stamp all pages of the veterinary health certificate
- Give you a seal to be placed on your dog’s travel crate at the time of export. The seal number must be recorded on the veterinary health certificate.
How to apply for an Australian Import Permit?
You can apply an import permit online through BICON, once you are registered to their system.
It’s important to apply for your dog’s import permit for well in advance of your expected arrival date in Australia. You can file for the permit as soon as your dog’s rabies titer test is passed, and no sooner than 42 days before import. An import permit is valid for 12 months from the issue date.
Once you have submitted your application, The Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment will assess it and may decide to grant an import permit subject to any conditions deemed necessary to safely import your dog.
It is important to note that applying for an import permit does not automatically result in an import permit being issued. The department may reject your request, but they will inform you why your import permit was not granted.
Often proof of vaccines required must to be verified with a government endorsement.
For example, this is the case if you are bringing a dog to Australia from the US. USDA endorsements for pets going to Australia need to be secured during the preparation process and also once again at the exit port (most likely LAX).
Check whether your home country requires endorsement before exporting a pet.
Dogs traveling from New Zealand, Norfolk Island or Cocos Island will not be subjected to quarantine. However, all dogs traveling from outside of New Zealand will be subject to a 10 day quarantine period upon arrival.
Don’t worry, quarantine isn’t as scary as it sounds. Dogs will have great caretakers and special food/medication accommodations if your dog needs it.
We advise that you make reservations for your dog as soon as you receive your dog’s import permit.
The Mickleham Center in Victoria is currently the only quarantine center in Australia. Therefore, upon arrival, departmental staff will collect your dog and transport them directly to the Mickleham post-entry quarantine facility.
When entering Australia from another country through New Zealand, dog must be quarantined in New Zealand, then remain on the island for 90 days after quarantine prior to entering Australia.
How does importing dogs to Australia cost?
The total cost of importing a dog to Australia is around $4,000 (USD) / $5,600 (AUD). The cost is broken down into the following fees:
- Vet fees – microchipping, vaccinations and treatments varies on your veterinarian centre’s fees and home country (average $300 (USD) / $425 (AUD))
- Airline fees for shipping a dog – varies widely depending on the airline, size and weight of your dog
- Import permit fees – costs around $480 (AUD) for one dog and $240 (AUD) for additional dogs
- Quarantine fees – costs around $2,200 per dog (AUD)
- Government endorsements – varies depending on home country
- Travel gear – costs between $40 – $150 (AUD)
Of course, this is an approximate number as the real cost can vary massively depending on where you are traveling from, size and weight of your dog, and your mode of transport.
For a detailed breakdown of the costs, check Cost of Bringing a Dog to Australia.
What dog breeds are NOT allowed into Australia?
It’s important to be aware that sadly a number of “fighting” breeds are not permitted within Australia. At present the following breeds are banned:
- Dogo Argentino
- Fila Brazileiro
- Japanese Tosa’s
- Pit Bull Terriers
- Presa Canaria
What airlines allow importing dogs to Australia?
Most airlines allow flying a dog to Australia. However, depending on the airline you fly with, pet policies differ.
When flying with a dog, it’s important to check airline pet policies before booking any travel. Different airline’s have different rules for flying with dogs, including which dog breeds are allowed, the size and weight of dogs that are permitted, and the number of dogs they allow. Fees also vary between airlines.
Most airlines will allow dogs to fly in the cargo section of their planes, in a climate controlled, comfortable pet zone. Although some pet owners think this will be stressful for their dogs, it can actually be a lot calmer than flying in the cabin.
Some airlines will allow dogs to fly in the cabin with their owners, but generally only small dogs that weigh under 8kg are permitted. This is because dogs must fly inside an airline-approved carrier that fits under the seat in front of their owners.
For a list of airlines that allow dogs to fly in the cabin with their owners, check 21 Airlines That Allow Flying With Dogs In-Cabin [Prices & Policies].
Related post: Flying Dogs in Cargo: How Safe is it?
Frequently Asked Questions [FAQs]
Can I take my puppy to Australia?
If you are traveling from the Keeling Islands, New Zealand or Norfolk Island, yes, as long as he or she is over 8 weeks of age. However, unfortunately, dogs must be at least 10 months of age to be permitted to enter Australia from any other country. This is due to the strict time requirements on microchipping, rabies vaccinations and rabies blood tests. The import requirements include microchipping and rabies vaccination no sooner than 3 months of age. You must then wait a minimum of 30 days after rabies vaccination prior to having their RNATT, which can take 3-4 months.
Can I take my dog to Australia with an EU Pet Passport?
You can travel to Australia with an EU Pet Passport, however there are additional conditions to be met. You will need to apply for an Import Permit and organise your pet to stay in quarantine on arrival. Your pet may also need additional vaccines and treatments. Please refer to the requirements section above.
Can I move to Australia with my dog?
Possibly. You may be able to move to Australia with your dog, as long as you and your pet meet strict requirements. If you are from New Zealand, the process will likely be more simple. However those wanting to relocate to Australia from another country, will have a more lengthy and difficult process to go through. This is because there are additional requirements and conditions to be met. For more details, refer to the requirements section above.
So, importing dogs to Australia can be a complicated process. It is particularly complicated if you are traveling from a country other than New Zealand.
If you haven’t been put off, just be sure to familiarise yourself with the conditions you need to meet to bring your dog to Australia.
Allow yourself plenty of time to prepare for your trip, even up to 1 year in more complicated cases!
Hope you have found this helpful. Happy travels!