Importing pets to Australia can be a complicated process.
Australia’s Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment places great emphasis on protecting their natural flora and fauna. Thus, they have strict conditions that must be met in order to successfully take your pet to Australia. The requirements vary widely, depending on the species of your pet, and which country you are traveling from. Currently, only dogs, cats, horses, birds and rabbits are permitted to enter Australia. However, this is only true if your pet adheres to their strict rules.
In this article, we will guide you through the process of importing pets to Australia, and breakdown the strict and complicated entry requirements.
What is the process of importing pets to Australia?
The process of importing pets to Australia is as follows:
- Research – the process depends on the species and age of your pet, and where you are traveling from. Therefore, ensure you are aware of the specific requirements for taking your pet to Australia. It’s also important to check that your pet is allowed to be imported to Australia, as they have very strict rules, prohibiting many pets visiting. We will discuss the requirements for different pet species below.
- Visit the vet – most pets will require a microchip, vaccinations and parasite treatments. However, the requirements vary depending on your pet’s species and home country. We will go into more detail in the requirements section below.
- Get a valid rabies neutralising titre test (RNATT) test report – this applies to dogs and cats traveling from Group 3 countries.
- Apply for import permit (if necessary) – to import a pet 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.
- 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 pet.
What pet species can be imported to Australia?
Sadly, not all pets will be allowed into Australia. This is because the pest or disease risks associated with importation may be considered too great and pose as a threat to Australia’s abundant wildlife.
The following pet species are currently permitted to be imported into Australia:
*Only “household pet birds” (budgerigars, parakeets, parrots, finches, cockatiels, lovebirds or other domesticated pet birds) are permitted to enter Australia. Poultry species (chickens, ducks, geese, turkeys, guinea fowl, pheasant, quail or other game birds), or pigeons (Columbia livia) do not qualify as household pet birds.
Therefore, currently, only dogs, cats, rabbits, horses and certain species of birds from approved countries may be imported as pets. However, there are very strict conditions that must be met.
Unfortunately, no other vertebrate animals are approved for import into Australia as pets.
Reptiles (turtles, tortoises, snakes and lizards) are not permitted to be imported as pets, but may be imported under strict conditions for zoological purposes only.
Additionally, pet fish are not permitted to be imported into Australia. Live fish or fertile fish eggs are only permitted to be imported for the aquarium (ornamental) trade or for laboratory research.
Frogs and other amphibians can only be imported for laboratory or zoological purposes.
What dog breeds are banned from 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 cat breeds are not allowed into Australia?
In accordance with the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, the following hybrid cats are not eligible for import:
- 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)
What are the requirements when importing pets to Australia?
When importing pets to Australia, the requirements to depend on your pet’s age and species, and where you are traveling from. The requirements can include any of the following:
- Pet microchipping
- Rabies vaccination
- Internal and external parasite treatments
- Additional vaccinations
- Rabies neutralising titre test (RNATT)
- Import permit and health certificate
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, cats and rabbits must be microchipped with an ISO 11784/11785 pet microchip that is a 15 digit and non-encrypted. Birds and horses do not require microchips.
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. It is implanted just under your pet’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 will not count. We will discuss the rabies vaccination in detail in the next section.
Your pet’s microchip number must be present on all documentation required to enter Australia. Your veterinarian must scan your dog or cat’s microchip before any tests or treatments required to enter Australia.
Dogs and cats residing in and entering from Group 1 and Group 2 Countries do not require a rabies vaccination. However, it is a requirement for dogs and cats entering Australia from all other countries. Birds, rabbits and horses do not require rabies vaccinations.
Pets must be more than 12 weeks old at the time of vaccination.
Be sure to obtain certification of the period of validity for the particular vaccinations that you obtain, as some are good for three years, others for only one. The vaccination must be valid at the time of entering Australia. Australia accepts the 3 year rabies vaccination.
Some pets may also require a rabies blood test, also known as a rabies titer test. Refer to the ‘requirement 4 – rabies blood test’ section below.
As well as the rabies vaccination, dogs and cats also require additional vaccinations to enter Australia from Group 2 or Group 3 countries. All vaccinations should be valid for the entire post-arrival quarantine period.
Dogs are required to have the following vaccinations:
- Ehrlicia canis
- Babesia canis (dogs that have visited Africa)
The Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment recommends that dogs have the following vaccinations:
- 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, and it is advised that dogs entering from other countries also receive the vaccination if it is available.
Cats are recommended to have the following vaccinations:
- Feline enteritis (also known as feline panleucopenia or feline distemper)
Horses must be vaccinated against equine viral arteritis and rabbits and birds do not need any vaccinations.
Before dogs and cats can enter Australia, they must be treated against internal parasites. Rabbits traveling to Australia must be treated for fleas and ticks during the 4 days immediately prior to export, using an effective insecticide in accordance to manufacturer directions.
Two treatments against external parasites must be administered to cats 14 days apart with the second treatment within 5 days of transport. 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 the blood sample cannot be collected until 22 January.
All treatments should be administered by a government approved veterinarian.
Continuous protection from external parasites must be maintained until the time your pet leaves Australia. At each subsequent veterinary visit, your approved vet should examine your pet 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 and cats 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 the pet’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 pets traveling from Group 2 or Group 3 countries require an import permit. Horses traveling from all countries, will require an import permit.
An import permit will show that your pet is qualified for traveling to Australia. Your pet’s veterinary health certificate will be Appendix 1 of your 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.
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 pet’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.
You must ensure that your permits are applied for well in advance of your expected arrival date in Australia. You can file for an import permit as soon as your pet’s rabies titer test is passed, and no sooner than 42 days before import. An import permit is valid for 12 months after 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 pet.
It is important to note that applying for an import permit does not automatically result in an import permit being issued. The department will inform you why your import permit was not granted.
Will my pet need to stay in Australian quarantine?
Dogs, cats and rabbits traveling from New Zealand will not be subjected to quarantine. However, all pets 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. Pets will have great caretakers and special food/medication accommodations if your pet needs it.
Sadly, due to repeated forest fire damage, there is just one quarantine center – The Mickleham Center in Victoria. Therefore, upon arrival, departmental staff will collect your pet and transport them directly to the Mickleham post-entry quarantine facility.
As there is just one center, we advise that you make reservations for your pet as soon as you receive your pet’s import permit.
When entering Australia from another country through New Zealand, pets must be quarantined in New Zealand, then remain on the island for 90 days after quarantine prior to entering Australia.
How much will it cost to import pets to Australia?
Importing a pet to Australia can be a rather expensive process, potentially costing around $5,000 (AUD) per animal. The total cost broken down into the following fees:
- Vet fees – microchipping, vaccinations and treatments varies on your vet practice fees and home country (average $425 AUD)
- Airline fees for shipping a pet – varies widely depending on size and species of your pet, and airline
- Import permit fees – costs around $480 (AUD) for one pet and $240 (AUD) for additional pets
- Quarantine fees – costs at least $2,200 (AUD)
- Government endorsements – varies depending on home country
- Travel gear – costs between $40 – $150 (AUD)
For a detailed breakdown of the costs, check Cost of Bringing a Dog to Australia.
What airlines allow importing pets 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 pets to fly in the cabin with their owners, check:
- 21 Airlines That Allow Flying With Dogs In-Cabin
- 15 Airlines That Allow Flying With a Cat In-Cabin
- 8 Airlines that Allow Rabbits in the Plane Cabin
For a list of airlines that allow other pets on their planes, check:
- 13 Airlines That Allow Pet Birds on Planes
- 7 Airlines That Allow Pet Snakes on Planes
- 7 Airlines That Allow Lizards on Planes
- 7 Airlines That Allow Rodents on Planes
- Which Airlines Allow Hedgehogs on Planes?
Frequently Asked Questions [FAQs]
Can I take my puppy or kitten 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 and cats 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. Puppies and kittens should wait a minimum of 30 days after rabies vaccination prior to having their titer test.
Can I take my pet 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 pet?
Possibly. You may be able to move to Australia with your pet, 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. Furthermore, currently, only dogs, cats, horses, birds and rabbits are permitted into Australia. For more details, refer to the requirements section above.
So, importing pets 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 pet to Australia. You can check here.
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!