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How to move with your pets to Australia
Find permit requirements, transportation options and quarantine info.
Australia has very strict quarantine laws in place. This, combined with Australia’s geographic isolation, helps 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’ll be able to legally import your dog or cat into Australia.
Where are you moving from?
The exact requirements you’ll need to fulfill to import a dog or cat into Australia vary depending on your country of origin. If you’re moving from New Zealand, dogs and cats don’t require an import permit.
But you’ll need to obtain an import permit for your pet from the Australian Government Department of Agriculture and Water Resources if you’re moving from the following places:
- A Group 2 Country — countries that are rabies-free, including Fiji, Hawaii, Iceland, Japan, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Tonga and Vanuatu.
- A Group 3 Country — countries where rabies is absent or well-controlled, such as Argentina, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, South Africa, South Korea, the UK and the US (excluding Hawaii and Guam).
A full list of countries and their categories is available from the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources.
What about importing other kinds of pets?
If you want to import an animal other than a dog or cat to Australia it’s extremely difficult to do so. View the requirements and restrictions on the Australian Government’s Department of Agriculture and Water Resources website.
How do I get a permit?
Before you can apply for an import permit from the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, you’ll need to confirm whether your pet is eligible for import 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’s a range of other eligibility criteria that you’ll need to meet:
- Your pet must be at least 12 weeks old.
- You’re limited to 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. For example, wild dogs like wolves and foxes or wild cats like bobcats and ocelots.
- Females must not be more than 30 days pregnant or nursing offspring.
- All pets must be microchipped.
If your pet meets all these criteria, you can apply online to obtain a permit. The exact requirements you’ll 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 that your pet has been immunized against rabies, and is current with parasite control and protected against infectious diseases.
- Medical test results to show that your dog has been tested for a variety of 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.
Transporting your pet
Your pet won’t get to travel in the passenger cabin with you. Instead, they’ll make the journey in a pet carrier in a special part of the aircraft. Pets are tranquilized and inspected by a qualified vet to ensure they are safe to travel before flight departure.
Importing a pet into Australia can be a little overwhelming if you try to take it on alone. There are several pet transport companies that specialize in organizing the importation process from start to finish.
A pet transport company will usually arrange all the veterinary checks and import permits for you, as well as book a place for your pet in an Australian quarantine facility. The service provider will pick your pet up from home to take them to the airport, and arrange their transfer to a quarantine center when they land 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 centers are located in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth and are always busy, so reserve a space for your pet several 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. And to make the entire process run as smoothly as possible, it’s worth comparing the services offered by specialized pet transport services.
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