Taking Your Pet Cats And Dogs To Australia – A Definitive Guide

taking pets to Australia

Taking your pets to Australia might be considered one of the more stressful parts of your journey down under. As an extended part of many families, leaving the care of your dogs or furry feline friends in the hands of strangers requires a little research and a lot planning.

This article was originally published over ten years ago, so with this in mind, we’ve reviewed this article and have updated it to keep it in line with more recent practices.

Taking Our Cats 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.

At the time we moved to Australia a government department called AQIS which stands for Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service, were the folks in Australia that dealt with animal imports. Following a period operating under the name DAFF Biosecurity, it has since been absorbed into divisions in the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources.

They have some handy information and forms which need to be completed if you’re 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 primary 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 more extended 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 3 country. Group 3 countries are described as approved countries and territories in which rabies is absent or well-controlled. As a group three country,  our cats needed to spend 10 days quarantine in Australia (it was 30 days when we moved) before picking them up to take them to our new home.

Other Category three countries include (long list this):

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.

Moving your Dog To Australia?

I know not everyone is a cat lover so if you are looking to move to Australia with your dog then you’ll be pleased to know that the approach is pretty much identical for both cats and dogs.  When it comes to steps, there are several that you’ll need to go through before sending your beloved pal to the other side of the world and the same process applies whether you are shipping a dog or a cat to Oz.  So let’s get into it.

Shipping your pets to Australia

The process of shipping your pets to Ausralia cam be broken down into seven key stages.

Stage 1. 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 before shipment. Your pet must not have been under quarantine restrictions in the 30 days before export, and your pet must be at least 12 weeks old at the time of shipping.

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

Dogo Argentino, Fila Brazileiro, Japanese tosa’s, Pitbull 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.

Also, other 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.

Stage 2. Get your dog or cat microchipped 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.

Stage 3. 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 six 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 includes Melbourne, Victoria and Byford Quarantine Station which covers Perth and the rest of Western Australia.

Stage 4. Your pets health check

shipping your pets to Australia
Just like it’s human owners, your dog (or cat) will also need a health check before being shipped to Australia

Similarly 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 can 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

Stage 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 (8:00 am – 4:00 PM). You are also required to seek the approval of the relevant quarantine station for after-hours pick-ups before import.

Stage 6. Get your pet vaccinated

Vaccinations must be valid for the entire period spent in quarantine in Australia. If vaccinations expire before 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 six months of export as your pet’s high antibody response will most likely result in it being ineligible for shipping to Australia.

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

Stage 7. Final Vet Checks

Before sticking your pet on a plane (usually less than a week before) your pet needs to have some final health checks. The first step is often 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 of 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 enclosure. 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 the Australian Department of Agriculture has 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.

Are You Taking your pets to Australia?

If you are taking your pets to Australia. We’d love to hear from you. Post in our comments below.



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    Karen PerryTarli WattsGeorgetteChloePete Recent comment authors
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    Tarli Watts
    Guest
    Tarli Watts

    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.

    Georgette
    Guest
    Georgette

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

    Chloe
    Guest
    Chloe

    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?

    Pete
    Guest
    Pete

    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

    Vanessa
    Guest
    Vanessa

    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..

    paul hopwood
    Guest
    paul hopwood

    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 : )

    Lucy
    Guest
    Lucy

    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… Read more »

    Karen Perry
    Guest
    Karen Perry

    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?

    Glynnan Barham
    Guest
    Glynnan Barham

    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.

    Tania
    Guest
    Tania

    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?

    Duvall
    Guest

    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.

    Niamh
    Guest
    Niamh

    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

    Lyndsey
    Guest
    Lyndsey

    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

    David
    Guest
    David

    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

    Steve
    Guest
    Steve

    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
    Guest
    Tarli Watts

    Any loop holes?

    Rudolph
    Guest
    Rudolph

    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

    Peter Bell
    Guest
    Peter Bell

    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… Read more »

    Arthur
    Guest
    Arthur

    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

    Amy
    Guest
    Amy

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

    Amy
    Guest
    Amy

    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…

    hari
    Guest
    hari

    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.

    Fiona Mackie
    Guest
    Fiona Mackie

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

    Kristian
    Guest
    Kristian

    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

    jacob
    Guest
    jacob

    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!

    wendy
    Guest
    wendy

    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

    Kajikit
    Guest
    Kajikit

    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…