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Bringing your pet to Australia: All you need to know

Australia is a wonderful country for pets; it has many pet-friendly public spaces as well as a plethora of pet-friendly activities to enjoy with your furry friend. However, the country has strict biosecurity regulations that protect the local flora and fauna from exotic and introduced diseases. To safeguard the local wildlife, Australia’s pet import regulations are complex and very stringently enforced.

If you are planning to bring your dog or cat to Australia, your pet has to satisfy all the biosecurity regulations set by the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources without exception to be able to enter the country. Some steps in the process are time bound and need to be completed at the correct time, while others involve documentation and health checks for your pet. Following all the rules precisely is of paramount importance because failure to comply could result in your pet being denied entry, or being subject to additional testing, or increased quarantine time.

General eligibility criteria

Cats and dogs can be exported to Australia only from approved countries. Pets travelling from New Zealand must have lived in the country since birth, or for 90 days before the date of export to Australia. Pets must not be under quarantine at the time of shipping and must be at least eight weeks old. Cats and dogs must not be more than 40 days pregnant or suckling at the time of export.

You can bring in selected species of birds and pet rabbits from New Zealand only. Australia does not allow the import of any other pet into the country.

Check your country category

The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources recognises four different country categories depending on the rabies risks animals coming from these countries. Cats and dogs from approved countries are allowed to enter, provided all the veterinary requirements are met.

Category I: New Zealand, Norfolk Island, Cocos Island

Category II: American Samoa, Bahrain, Barbados, Christmas Island, Cook Island, Falkland Islands, Micronesia, Fiji, French Polynesia, Guam, Hawaii, Iceland, Japan, Kiribati, Mauritius, Nauru, New Caledonia, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Singapore, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, Wallis, and Futuna.

Category III: 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, Malaysia (Peninsular, Sabah and Sarawak only), 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.

Category IV: All countries not listed in Groups I, II, and III are non-approved countries and your pet cannot directly enter Australia from these destinations. Dogs and cats travelling from non-approved countries need to move to a country in category II or III for six months before being eligible to enter Australia.

Microchip

All pets entering Australia need to be implanted with an ISO 11784/11785 compliant microchip that can be read by an Avid, Destron or other ISO compliant readers. The microchip must be scanned after implantation, and the number must be recorded correctly on all your pet’s documents.

Implanting the right microchip is critical because if the biosecurity officials cannot read it, or if the number is not recorded correctly in the documentation, your pet will not be allowed to enter the country.

Vaccinations

Pets travelling from Category I countries do not need rabies vaccinations because those countries are rabies-free. Cats and dogs moving from Category II and III need to have a valid rabies vaccination administered after the microchip implantation. Pets from Category III countries will also need a Rabies titre test that has to be carried out about four weeks after the vaccination and sent to an approved laboratory for testing. Your pet is eligible to enter Australia 180 days after the blood sample is collected, provided the results are satisfactory. The rabies titre test results must be checked and signed by an official government veterinarian.

All dogs travelling to Australia require other mandatory vaccinations against distemper, hepatitis, parvovirus, Bordetella, and para-influenza. Australian rules deem that these vaccinations have to be valid throughout the quarantine period.

Cats travelling to Australia need to be vaccinated against feline enteritis, rhinotracheitis and calicivirus. These vaccinations need to be valid through the quarantine period.

Import permit

An import permit is necessary to import your pet into Australia. You will need to submit the application and the supporting documentation that includes rabies vaccination, the rabies titre test declaration and the rabies titre test laboratory report. All the supporting documentation should bear the microchip number of the pet clearly.

Imports permits take about 20 days to process and are valid for 12 months from the date of issue. It is critical that you submit the correct documentation; incorrect and incomplete applications will be put on hold by the department.

Other health treatments and tests

Your pet dog will need to fulfil a host of veterinary requirements before flying to Australia. Dogs and cats must be treated against internal parasites twice before entering the country. The second treatment must be within five days of export. Cats need two treatments against external parasites; the procedures have to be 14 days apart and the second treatment must be within five days or travelling to Australia.

Dogs need to be tested and treated for Brucellosis, Leishmaniosis, Leptospirosis, Ehrlichia canis, and Babesia canis if your dog has ever visited mainland Africa.

Health certificate

Your pet has to undergo a pre-export clinical examination by a government approved vet within five days of flying. The vet has to examine for external parasites and check for signs of infectious or contagious diseases.

After the clinical examination, your pet will need a veterinary health certificate signed by an official government veterinarian in the country of export. The certificate must have details of all the vaccinations and other health tests in the proper format. This is an important document, and any error in the document will result in increased quarantine time for your pet.

It is recommended to use the service of an experienced pet relocation company for any international relocation into Australia because of the complexity of the paperwork and the stringent biosecurity rules.

Quarantine

Pets arriving from Category I countries are not obliged to spend time in quarantine. Your pet is free to go home with you after post-arrival inspection. Cats and dogs entering Australia from Category II and Category III countries will spend about 10 days in the quarantine facility, provided your pet meets all the veterinary requirements.

Pets travelling from non-approved countries have to spend at least six months in an approved country in Category II or III before moving to Australia. Upon entry in Australia, your pet will spend 10 days in the quarantine facility before you can take him or her home.

Banned breeds

Australia has a blanket ban on several domestic and non-domestic animal hybrids. The following hybrid cats are not eligible for import into the country:

  • Savannah cat, derived from crossbreeding domestic cat (Felis catus) 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).

The following domestic and non-domestic hybrid dogs breeds are prohibited in the country:

  • Czechoslovakian wolfdog or Czechoslovakian Vlcak
  • Saarloos wolfdog or Saarloos wolfhound
  • Lupo Italiano or Italian wolfdog
  • Kunming wolfdog or Kunming dog

Australia has banned the following pure breed dogs from entering the country:

  • Japanese Tosa
  • Fila Brasileiro
  • Dogo Argentino
  • American Pit Bull Terrier
  • Perro de Presa Canario

Entering Australia

Pet dogs and cats entering Australia from Category II and III countries must enter the country in Melbourne only. Upon entry, your pets will be inspected and then moved to the Mickleham Quarantine Centre. Pets coming from Category I countries can go home after inspection.

Flights to Australia are long from many countries, and getting a direct flight for your pet may not always be possible. If your pet has to transit through a different country, it is important to remember the transiting country must be an approved country too.

Professional help recommended

Bringing a pet into Australia is challenging due to the complicated biosecurity and import regulations. Incorrect documentation or failure to meet the veterinary requirements could result in extended quarantine or your pet being sent back at your expense.

It is recommended to enlist the services of an experienced pet relocation company to assist your pet with the move. A pet relocation company can help you navigate through the minutiae of the rules and regulations and make the entire process hassle-free. If you are planning on bringing your pet dog or cat to Australia, contact us for a detailed travel proposal.

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