Planning to import your cat or dog into Australia? You will need to ensure you comply with the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources import conditions, which can be a little confusing. Read on and we’ll explain the process a little more clearly…

Bringing pets to Australia

Australia is free from many animal-related diseases found in other parts of the world, so it’s not surprising that our quarantine rules are fairly strict. The minimum quarantine period for pets entering Australia is ten days, with the only countries not requiring quarantine being New Zealand, Cocos Island and Norfolk Island.

Whether or not you can bring your cat or dog into Australia will depend on your country of origin. Only cats and dogs that have been in an Australian Quarantine Inspection Service approved country for six months prior to entry are permitted. If your pet is not approved for export to Australia, you will need to import your cat or dog to Australia through a country that is approved.

Before applying

To avoid any disappointment or delays with your animal’s intended arrival date, refer to the Post-Entry Quarantine Reservations and submit your reservation as soon as possible after you are granted an import permit. The Mickleham Post-Entry Quarantine Facility frequently reaches maximum operational capacity, so the sooner you get organised, the better. Ideally you should be aiming to book your pet in two to three months prior to your desired travel date.  

Criteria you must meet includes:

  • Your pet must be a cat or a dog and you cannot bring in more than two cats and/or dogs. It is near impossible to bring any other animal into Australia as a pet. The exception is a restricted list of birds allowed in from New Zealand.
  • Your pet must be microchipped using an International Standards Organisation (ISO) approved microchip.
  • Your pet must be at least 12 weeks old.
  • Your pet must be at least five generations removed from any cat or dog that is not a domestic breed.
  • Female cats and dogs must not be more than three weeks pregnant or suckling young.
  • Your pet must not be on the restricted breed lists, which includes: Pit Bull Terrier, American Pit Bull, Perro de Presa Canario and Serval (African wild) cats.

Having met the criteria, you must obtain a permit from the AQIS. To do this you will need:

  • Medical tests.
  • Registration.
  • Veterinary certificates .
  • Animal details – breed, age, gender, weight, colour.
  • Details of any special needs.

Only send copies of the documents needed to support your import permit application. Original documents must be signed and stamped by the Official Government Veterinarian and will need to travel with your animal to Australia.

The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources will not refuse to grant an import permit based on an animal’s age, however it does recommend seeking advice from your veterinarian about your animal’s import if you have any safety concerns. Older cats and dogs are more likely to become dehydrated during long flights, which can result in complications such as renal failure.

Lodging your application

To import a pet into Australia you must apply via the AQIS website or through the post. The AQIS requires 15 days to process an application, due to the high volume of permit requests. The cost of the AQIS application is $85 online or $150 when using mail. You will also need to pay an assessment fee, which is $240 for the first cat or dog and $80 thereafter. Both of these costs are subject to change.

Calculating costs

How much your pet costs to transport will depend on breed and size as well as where they are travelling from. Where your pet flys from makes the most significant difference in cost.

As a guide, estimated quarantine fees and custom clearance charges for the 10 days is approximately $1,800 for a cat or dog. These fees include:

  • Standard veterinary inspection of the animal and health certification.
  • Document assessment.
  • An airline document charge.
  • The daily rate for quarantine accommodation.

You must pay this invoice in full to finalise and confirm your booking. A second invoice will be issued should there be any variable expenses such as:

  • Parasite treatment.
  • Additional days in quarantine.
  • Any other third party expenses incurred.

Transporting your pet

Transporting your pet to Australia is a time consuming process that can add layers of work for a family migrating. For this reason, many pet owners choose to liaise with a pet exporting company, who will do the hard work for you and ensure every compliance requirement is met. These companies can add to your transportation costs further, but they offer peace of mind that your pet will be safe during their travel by transporting your pet to the airport and picking them up at the other end, to deliver them to the obligatory quarantine centre.

There are currently two quarantine facilities in Australia – one in Melbourne and one in Sydney. Currently, however, all cats and dogs must arrive through Melbourne. Once completing their journey, your pet will remain here for a minimum ten days.

The staff of the quarantine centres only pick up pets between 4:30am and 4:30pm Monday to Friday, therefore it is important you arrange flights that are scheduled to get your pet to the destination at the correct time, or you will need to arrange alternate delivery. A facility courier can also be arranged at an additional cost.

If you and your family arrive in Australia while your pet is in quarantine, you may enquire about visiting times. For further information visit the website or call 1800 900 090 (within Australia) or +61 3 83186700 (outside Australia).

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Liz Walden

Liz has a passion for all things animal - whether it's cats, dogs, rabbit or horses! Liz was one of the first in Australia to bring Pet Insurance to the market. She has headed up Petsecure Pet Insurance for the past 12 years, and Pet Professional Insurance since 2018. Liz is committed to promoting and supporting the amazing work done by rescue groups around Australia, supporting those who work in the pet industry, as well as those who work to promote a better life for all animals.