Taking your pet cats and dogs to Australia

We have two cats which we’ll be taking with us to Australia. In reality it would be a thousand times cheaper to buy two new cats when we get out there but the cats have been part of the family for a number of years now so they’ll be making the trip down under with us.

A government department called AQIS which stands for Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service, are the folks in Australia that deal with animal imports.

They have some really useful information and forms which need to be completed if your taking your dog or cat with you to Australia. The more applicable sections of the site can be found by clicking here (page opens in new window) however I thought it’d be useful to document the main steps associated with taking your dog or cat to Australia with you.

Cats and dogs may only be imported to Australia from approved countries. Conditions for importing cats and dogs from approved countries vary depending on the country of export. These conditions may involve a longer quarantine period, restricted breeds or similar.

Fortunately for us, the UK is seen as a pretty ‘clean’ country from a pet perspective with only New Zealand being viewed better where no quarantine periods are required at all.

The UK is classed as a Category 2 country so and dogs and cats being brought into Australia need to spend 30 days quarantine in Australia before you can pick them up and take them to your new home.

Other Category two countries include (long list this): Bahrain, Barbados, Cyprus, Falkland Islands, Fiji, French Polynesia (includes Tahiti, Society Islands, Marquesas Islands, Austral Islands, Tuamotu Islands, Gambier Islands), Guam, Hawaii, the Republic of Ireland, Japan, Malta, Mauritius, New Caledonia, Norway, Singapore, Sweden, Taiwan and Vanuatu.

I’ll cover both cats and dogs as I think these will be the animals that you’ll most likely want to take with you if your going to emigrate into Australia. There are a number of steps that you’ll need to go through prior to sending your beloved pet to the other side of the world.

Step one, you need to make sure that your dog or cat is eligible for export to Australia:

Your Dog or cats must have been continuously living in the UK or similar for a minimum of 6 months immediately prior to shipment. Your pet must not have been under quarantine restrictions in the 30 days prior to export and your pet must be at least 12 weeks old at time of export.

If your dog or cat is pregnant, they must not be more than 6 weeks pregnant nor be suckling young at time of export and finally certain breeds of dogs cannot be exported into Australia. These breeds tend to be the more fierce breeds such as:

Dogo Argentino, fila Brazileiro, Japanese tosa’s, Pit bull terrier, American pit bull or the Presa Canaria.

I know that many of these breeds make great and loving family pets but I’m afraid the Aussies don’t see it that way so If you have any of these breeds then unfortunately you’ll need to leave them at home.

In addition, under animal hybrids e.g. Bengal cats or wolf crosses are not eligible for import, unless they are proven to be 5th generation or more away from any pure-bred non-domestic ancestor.

Step two, your dog or cat has to be micro chipped for identification purposes.

The chip must be able to be read by an Avid, Trovan, Destron or other ISO compatible reader (your vet will be able to confirm this). Fortunately we’ve had both of our cats done. Pop over to your local vets to get this sorted. I think for our cats it cost about £25 each.

Step three, Get your permit.

Your pet will not be allowed to enter Australia without a valid AQIS permit to import. The AQIS import permits are only valid for 6 months from the day that AQIS receives your application so make sure you get your timing right and don’t apply years in advance. The AQIS import permit will be sent to you immediately following approval by AQIS of your application.

For those of you on a tighter timescale, you can ask for the import permit to be faxed, a copy of the import permit may be used. A permit will be sent to the person/company that you nominate as the “exporter” on your application form so if you’re using one of the companies specialising in pet export then make sure you provide their details on the form.

Keep in mind that even though you will have received your permit to import your pet into Australia, it does not guarantee a space at your preferred Quarantine Station so Bookings must be made for your pet/s at these stations. There are currently three main quarantine stations covering the whole of Australia:

Eastern Creek Quarantine Station which covers Sydney and the New South Wales regions, Spotswood Quarantine Station which covers Melbourne, Victoria and Byford Quarantine Station which covers Perth and the rest of Western Australia.

Step 4, Your pets health check

In a similar way to us humans, your pet also needs to undergo health checks by a government approved body before being allowed into the country.

An Official Veterinarian is a government officer usually employed by the government veterinarian administration (e.g. in the UK – Department of Environment Food and Rural Affairs). These official Veterinarians generally do not work in private practice but are able to sign certificates on behalf of the government’s veterinary administration. Again, your local vet may be the best port of call for this. Although they may not be able to do all the checks themselves, they should be able to point you in the right direction

Step 5, make your pets travel arrangements.

You can only get your pet into Australia through the following airports, Mascot Airport in Sydney (New South Wales), Tullamarine Airport in Melbourne (Victoria) or Perth Airport in Perth (Western Australia).

AQIS does not place any restrictions or the airline you choose to use, however your pet must travel as “Manifested Cargo” (not in the cabin) and in an International Air Transport Association (IATA) approved container for dogs and cats.

Please note you will be charged an additional fee of $25 if your pet arrives in Australia outside business hours (8:00am – 4:00 PM). You are also required to seek the approval of the relevant quarantine station for after hours pick-ups prior to import.

Step 6 – Get your pet vaccinated.

Vaccinations must be valid for the entire period spent in quarantine in Australia. If vaccinations expire prior to your pet’s release from quarantine they may be re-vaccinated at the owner’s expense.

Dogs must be vaccinated against distemper, infectious hepatitis, canine parvovirus (parvo), para-influenza and Bordetella bronchiseptica (kennel cough).

If the Bordetella bronchiseptica (kennel cough) is not available in the country of origin, dogs may be vaccinated for kennel cough on arrival in Australia at the owner’s expense. Note: Vaccinations against Leptospira interrogans.var. canicola is not recommended within 6 months of export as your pet’s high antibody response will most likely result in it being ineligible for export to Australia.

Cats must have been vaccinated against feline enteritis (feline panleucopenia, feline distemper), rhinotracheitis and calicivirus.

Step 7 Final Vet Checks.

Prior to sticking your pet on a plane (normally less then a week before) your pet needs to have some final health checks. The first step is normally a visual inspection; if everything’s OK then Veterinary Certificate A will be completed.

On the day of your pet’s departure, the final checks will be made by a vet, the result of which will be the completion Veterinary Certificate B.

The Official Veterinarian who signs Veterinary Certificate B records the identification number of the seal on Veterinary Certificate B, and physically seals your pet into the cage. After this has been completed your cat or dog would not be released from its cage until it gets to Australia.

A water container is fixed inside the cage with an external funnel with a hose leading into the water container to allow water to be replenished without opening the cage. Your pet would then be put onto the plane at which point its new adventure really begins.

Not that straight forward is it? Well, thankfully AQIS have all the information on their website which you can find by clicking here (link opens in new window). There are also numerous pet ‘migration agents’ who will manage the whole process for you (for a fee).

Shipping yourself, your cat and/or your dog to Australia was never going to be a straight forward process but I’m sure you’ll all appreciate being back together at the other side.

February 2014 update: Great news, the period that you need to keep your furry pal in quarantine has been reduced. Check this article for further details




  • 50 Comments
    1. Tarli Watts 9 months ago

      Hi, I am an Australia and currently living in Dubai. I want to take my Bengal cat back to Australia with me next year. I adopted him and am unsure even if he is a pure Bengal as he is exactly same as a domestic cat but i hear you have to prove he is 5th generation or more. How does one prove this?

      Thank you.

      • Sean 2 months ago

        Hi Tali,

        Has this issue been solved for you?

        Regards

    2. Georgette 2 years ago

      Can anyone let me know how I can get my dog, a terrier to Australia from Bangkok, Thailand as I am relocating there. Thanks

    3. Chloe 2 years ago

      My husband and I are moving from Singapore to Brisbane with our Border Terrier in February 2015 for 2 years. Would it be very hard to find rental that allow dog?

    4. Pete 3 years ago

      Hi there

      I am looking to move down under in early 2015 and am nervous about the quaritine process
      i looked at the daff website and unless im wrong (which i hope i am the UK is a cat 4 country and takes 6 months

      is this correct?

      thank you

      Pete

      • Profile photo of Mark Author
        Mark 3 years ago

        Hi Pete, no mate. Unless it’s changed you only need to keep your cats in quaranteen for 1 month if your from the UK.

        That was the case with us a few years ago anyway. Perhaps give a UK company called airpets a ring to double check. They are based in london (google for the details) 🙂

        Cheers

        Mark

        • Peter 3 years ago

          Thanks mark you’re a legend

        • Pete 2 years ago

          Hi mark

          How often were you allowed to Visit your pets in quarantine and was it just through a cage or could you cuddle them

          • Profile photo of Mark Author
            Mark 2 years ago

            Hi Pete. Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays are the visiting days. Full cuddles also allowed! 🙂 Check out this .pdf for more info (for Byford anyway).
            http://www.daff.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0005/1833251/byford.pdf

            • Peter 2 years ago

              Just read up on some fantastic news. Oz have changed the rules on importing cats and dogs.
              There used to be 6 categories for quarantine but that has now changed to 3 categories. Also the best news is the 30 day quarantine period has been reduced to 10 days which has made me a very happy man.

            • Profile photo of Mark Author
              Mark 2 years ago

              That’s fantastic news Pete and one worth of me writing an updated article. Can you confirm the source please?

              Cheers

              Mark

            • Pete 2 years ago

              It’s gone from six catagories to three and from 30 days to 10

    5. Vanessa 3 years ago

      Hi, does anyone no how much it cost for the check ups and to send the dog from cyprus to perth,Australia? My dog is a poodle/Perrier . I just want to no a rough estimate..

    6. paul hopwood 4 years ago

      Fiona it really depends ,would they be ok in coach as opposed to 1st class ,and would dinner and a movie suffice, or would they prefere to see a live show ? . sorry ,was looking for cat info. but couldn’t resist : )

    7. Lucy 4 years ago

      Hey everyone,

      I am moving from Sweden to Australia in 6 months with my partner and our two cats.

      We have been students and therefore are very budget conscious. The cost of quarantine alone is so high, that I’m worried that we won’t be able to afford the whole process. But there is no way we will leave our beloved cats behind (even if they were from a cat shelter and cost next to nothing!).

      Can anyone help on the cheapest way of getting animals from Europe to Australia? Obviously we would prefer to fly on the same flight as the cats, but I’m very pissed to learn that Australia won’t let animals in that have travelled in cabin or as checked baggage.

      Any help would be extremely appreciated!

      Thanks in advance,

      Lucy.

      • Profile photo of Mark Author
        Mark 4 years ago

        Hi Lucy, I’m afraid your stuck with an approved pet carrier unfortunately. I can’t offer any other additonal advice other than shop around for the cheapest quote.

        Good luck with your hunting, moving to Australia is a very expensive process but will be worth it, for both yourselves and your pets!

        Cheers

        Mark

        • Lucy 4 years ago

          Thanks for the reply Mark! We have found a freight company (Trust Freight) that will arrange the flight part of the journey and the price they quoted was pretty reasonable.

          I have one other question – when you travelled with your two cats, did they have separate crates or were they together? Our little ones are sisters and get on very well thus we would prefer to have them together as we thought it would be more comforting for them. But then I have heard that there is the danger that one freaks out and injures the other and it got me worried! What is your view on the matter?

          Thanks in advance!

          • Ringo 4 years ago

            Hello Lucy, are you in Australia yet? and your cats? how did it all go? We are moving to Australia from Italy in December 2012 and are also taking our two cats. Did you put them in the same cage in the end? Did you travel in the same plane as they did? Would love to hear from you as we are very worried about the whole process we have to put our babies through. Regards
            Ringo

          • karna llewelyn 2 years ago

            Hi Lucy.if you don’t like Australian laws regarding your cats STAY IN SWEDEN.DON’T MOVE TO AUSTRALIA.

      • Karen Perry 4 months ago

        Hi Lucy not sure if this will reach you as I notice its years since this posting just wondered how you got on with your move. My brother lives in sweden and wants to move to Australia with his cats. He has been told they need to have a rabies shot 6 months prior to coming, only he is having difficulty with this because Sweden is a rabies free country and the vet there told him they don’t have the vaccine…how did you get around this problem?

    8. Glynnan Barham 5 years ago

      We are planning on taking our 8 year old labrador over with us when we complete the visa process. However, from speaking to someone recently, it was mentioned that a lot of pets that immigrate with their owners do not survive long due to the inexperience of dealing with the heat and native animals. I would hate this to be the case and was hoping to seek reassurance on this matter.

    9. Tania 6 years ago

      Did anyone use drugs to sedate their pets. I have two cats. I am really worried about the long journey from USA to Australia. Any suggestions?

    10. Duvall 6 years ago

      I, too, have a very pit-bull who stands out as the most supporting animal I’ve ever owned. Quickly, a fresh dog breed will arrive along for your media to blast, as they have carried out rotties and dobies in past years. Unfortunate that media sensationalism breeds much inaccurate information.

    11. Niamh 7 years ago

      G’day

      I’m planning on emigrating from Ireland to Oz. We have 2 female Bichon Frise dogs who are both very attached to us.. I am really concerned about how stresssed they wil be on the long flight down under and subsequently spending 30 days in quaranteen. They are 2 and 3 yrs old. Has any1 brought their pets on such a long journey? I would love to hear about ur experience. Would you recommend a mild sedative for the journey?? Do they get much attention in the quaranteen base??- as they do love to be loved. 🙂

      Cheers

      • Profile photo of Mark Author
        Mark 7 years ago

        Hi Niamh, lots of info on our site if you care to have a browse or do a quick search in the top search bar 😉

        With regards to Sedatives, these would not be allowed. Also, they would get as much attention there as an Kennels really allow visiits from the ‘parents’ are allowed at all stations.

        Cheers

        Mark 🙂

      • Lyndsey 5 years ago

        Hi Niamh, Did you relocate with your dogs? I am looking to do the same from Dublin to Oz and would love to hear how your found it

        Thanks,
        Lyndsey

    12. David 7 years ago

      Hi there,

      I’m considering moving to Aus and have a Bengal cat, but unfortunatley no pedegree papers to prove she’s over 5th gen. Is there anyway around this 5th gen rule or is it set in stone?

      Thanks
      David

      • Profile photo of Mark Author
        Mark 7 years ago

        Set in stone I’m afraid David.

        Only thing I could suggest is check with AQUIS direct. Contact details here:

        http://www.daff.gov.au/aqis/about/contact

        Good luck mate! If there is a loop-hole please let us know.

        Regards

        Mark

        • Tarli Watts 9 months ago

          I am in the same boat. Did you manage? Please let me know.

      • Steve 7 years ago

        I moved to Rockhampton (in Queensland) with a Bengal in December. Try AirCare if you are in Auckland (aircarepets.co.nz) or you can check the AQIS site. I can’t remember what the rules are, but there was a quarantine for a few weeks.

        cheers,
        Steve

      • Tarli Watts 9 months ago

        Any loop holes?

    13. Profile photo of Mark Author
      Mark 8 years ago

      Hi Rudolph

      Just the one month

      Cheers

      Mark

    14. Rudolph 8 years ago

      Hi there

      My whife and I are in the process of moving to Perth. Whe were wondering how long does our cat have to stay in Quarintine?

      kind regards
      Rudolph

    15. Profile photo of Mark Author
      Mark 8 years ago

      Hello Peter

      Your correct, I’m afraid that having pets does reduce the number of properties made available to you but they are still out there.

      Very often, dogs are the main concern for many landlords so if you call the agent and advise that you have a cat then you may find a few more doors open up for you.

      Even if it’s a ‘house cat’, if you mention that your car will spend most of it’s time outdoors this will also help 🙂

      It’s common practice to pay a ‘pet bond’ when your renting a house with pets although this is normally only in the region of $75 – $100. If it’s not mentioned then offering to pay a larger bond to cover hair removal etc will also assist you find a property.

      Don’t panic just yet. You should be fine.

      Good luck

      Regards

      Mark

    16. Peter Bell 8 years ago

      Dear Mark,

      My wife and I would be moving to Perth with our two cats from Minneapois, USA. I am familiar with the requirements of AQIS for transporing cats and we are going through the procedure. However, what’s alarming is that on the web, I am not finding properties that allow pets. We are planning to rent for a while since property price is so high. Please could you tell us what’s it like to find rental properties with pets? Any recommendations? Many thanks for any suggestion. We are vety concerned about this long trip that the cats would have to make and then they must have a nic eplace to live with a nice back-yeard. How difficult is that?

      Cheers

      Peter

    17. Arthur 8 years ago

      Can anyone advise on whether I can take my dog into Aussie on a Pet Passport from teh UK and if so for how long, is there a Govt contact to confirm regulations thereafter re quaranteen regs.

      Cheers

      Arthur

    18. Amy 8 years ago

      Don’t worry about my previous question – Vet. Cert. A & B come WITH the PERMIT, not the APPLICATION for Permit… I’m a dummy.

    19. Amy 8 years ago

      Did anyone find out where to find Veterinary Certificate’s A & B? They are not included in the Permit Application as stated in the instructions…

    20. Profile photo of Mark Author
      Mark 8 years ago

      Arthur, if your refering to the UK pet passport which enables pets to travel within the EC countries then the answer is no I’m afraid.

      Australia does not currently recognise this passport.

      As well as the post we have made at getting down under, further info of interest can be viewed on the AQIS Website by Clicking Here

      Hope this helps

      Oh and Amy Thanks for providing the answer to your own question, we could do with a few more of those 😀

      Cheers

      Mark

    21. Profile photo of Mark Author
      Mark 8 years ago

      Hari, you’ll need to contact a specialist pet removal firm. You’ll find links to these elsewhere on this page..

    22. hari 8 years ago

      we are planning to take our dog to australia, pls quote, his dimensions are 400 mm x 540 mm x 400 mm, We are moving from Auckland to Brisbane.

    23. Fiona Mackie 9 years ago

      How much would it cost for 3 cats to go to Melbourne?

    24. Kristian 9 years ago

      Hi jacob,

      Another website which makes it easy to find pet friendly accommodation is rent.com.au. They have a great Pets Allowed search filter to make it easy to find properties that allow pets. The site also lets private landlords advertise so you get to see properties that you won’t find on realestate.com.au.

      I had a quick look and there we a couple of options near freo!

      Good luck house hunting.

      Kristian

    25. Profile photo of Mark Author
      Mark 9 years ago

      Hi Mate

      Give realestate.com.au a search here:

      http://www.realestate.com.au/cgi-bin/rsearch?s=wa&t=ren&snf=rbs&a=sf

      We’ve found in the main it’s pretty good for detailing if Pets are available but as I’ve mentioned in previous posts, ring the agent to check first prior to taking the time to do a viewing.

      Check out my posts on cats (some of which cover renting|) by clicking on this link: http://www.gettingdownunder.com/tag/cats

      Good luck with your search

      Regards

      Mark

    26. jacob 9 years ago

      Wondering if anyone has any advice on looking for a pet friendly place to rent in the fremantle area. any advice would be greatly appreciated, such as what web-sites to check, which specific areas might be a better better to focus our search in, and so forth. Thank you!

    27. Profile photo of Mark Author
      Mark 10 years ago

      Hi Wendy, yep, I thought as such. Both descriptions are listed in the official restricted breeds list. I’d assume its because they wanted to ensure that all bases are covered 🙂

    28. wendy 10 years ago

      Hi, just checking why you’ve quote pit bull terrier and american pit bull terrier in the list of breeds not able to inport, they are the one and same breed

    29. Kajikit 10 years ago

      Thanks for the useful information! I’m actually an Aussie who emigrated to the US but we’re thinking about going back there to work, and we have three cats! I can see it will be an expensive process for them…

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