Assistance dogs

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources manages the biosecurity risk associated with bringing dogs – including assistance dogs–to Australia.

An importer of an assistance dog must provide evidence that satisfies the general eligibility criteria.

IMPORTANT:

Please do not attempt to use the assistance dog import process for your animal unless it meets the department’s assistance dog criteria exactly.

The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources has identified several cases of prospective importers attempting to claim their companion dog as a bona fide assistance dog. In some cases, the prospective importers appear to have been the victims of fraudulent websites that offer assistance dog certification/accreditation services; in other cases, prospective importers have knowingly submitted false documentation in an effort to obtain a valid assistance dog import permit.

Consistent with the Disability Discrimination Act 1992, the department is able to ask applicants that submit an assistance dog import permit application to provide evidence that supports the applicant’s claim that their dog is a bona fide assistance dog. It is important to note that applicants should not assume their dog will comply with Australia’s requirements, even if the dog is recognised as an assistance dog in the country of export. Further details on the required evidence is provided below.

The department will make inquiries to verify the authenticity of documents provided by applicants. If documents are suspected to not be genuine, the department will initiate an investigation and this could result in charges being laid.

Please note that it is a criminal offence under the Criminal Code Act 1995 to knowingly give false or misleading information to a Commonwealth officer exercising powers under Commonwealth law. This offence carries a potential penalty of 12 months imprisonment.

Please also note that any website that offers to certify/accredit your pet dog as an assistance dog without a comprehensive training program is likely to be a scam. Documentation that such websites provide won’t be accepted by the department and your application for an import permit may be significantly delayed.

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Eligibility criteria

To bring an assistance dog to Australia, you must complete the following:

  • The Assistance dog declaration form, completed by the handler, declaring that the dog has been in the continuous service of the handler for at least six months prior to export, and agreeing to the conditions of post-arrival quarantine isolation in Australia.
  • The Medical history form for assistance dog handlers, completed by a medical practitioner, providing evidence of a disability and ongoing dependence on an assistance dog.
  • The Assistance dog training form, completed by a representative of a recognised assistance dog training institution, providing confirmation of specialised training. Suitable institutions are member organisations of the International Guide Dog Federation or Assistance Dogs International. Alternatively, the dog is accredited under a law of an Australian State or Territory.
  • The Application to import assistance dogs – all countries.

These forms are available in the table under How to complete the documents for importing assistance dogs.

If you want to bring your dog from a Group 3 country, you will also need to attach a finalised rabies neutralising anitbody titre test laboratory report and the Rabies vaccination and rabies neutralising antibody titre test declaration form, completed by an  official government veterinarian in the country of export, confirming that the dog has been rabies blood tested at least six months before export.

You do not need a permit to import a dog from New Zealand but conditions apply.

The department will e-mail you confirmation of your dog’s eligibility for import based on the documentation you supply. The dog must not be loaded on the airplane without this confirmation.

If your dog is not eligible for import as an assistance dog, you can still import it under the standard pet dog process (see Bringing cats and dogs (and other pets) to Australia).

How to complete the documents for importing assistance dogs

You can complete the documents manually or electronically. If you need help please contact us on 1800 900 090 (within Australia) or +61 3 8318 6700 (outside Australia) or by email.

Or

  • Option 2: Download and complete the documents manually, and post, or scan and email them to us.

Download

Document

Pages

File size

Application to import assistan​ce dogs – all countries PDF 2357 KB
Application to import assistance dogs – all countries DOCX 2​​185 KB
Assistance dog ​​declaration PDF 2131 KB
Assistance dog declaration DOCX 2496 KB
Medical history form for assistance dog handlers PDF 2329 KB
Medical history form for assistance dog handlers DOCX 2131 KB
Assistance dog trai​ning form PDF 2529 KB
Assistance dog training form DOCX 2129 KB

If you cannot access these files, visit web accessibility for assistance.

Please send the completed form to:

Email: Animal and Biological Import Assessments
Post:
Animal and Biological Import Assessments
GPO Box 858
Canberra ACT 2601
Australia

Import conditions for assistance dogs

The pre-export conditions for assistance dogs are the same as for standard (pet) dog imports. Please refer to the step-by-step guide for your country of export. However, there are some important transport, arrival and post-arrival steps that differ, as outlined below.

Notify the department of your intended arrival

Notify the department’s office in the state/territory in which the dog will arrive, at least three working days before export, and provide:

  • a copy of the valid import permit, completed veterinary health certificate and copies of laboratory reports
  • the name of the handler of the assistance dog
  • the nominated address where the dog will be held for the post-arrival quarantine isolation period
  • flight details including airline, flight number, port of departure, port of arrival, time and date of arrival. Please also advise whether your dog will arrive as manifest cargo or in the cabin.

Department contact information
Australian statePhoneFaxEmail
New South Wales+61 2 8334 7434No fax CER Animal Imports
Victoria+61 3 8318 6767+61 3 8308 5071 SE Animal Imports
Queensland+61 7 3246 8633+61 7 3246 8798 QLD Live Animal Imports
South Australia+61 8 8201 6000+61 8 8201 6087 Import Assessments
Western Australia+61 8 93341732 +61 8 9475 2666 WA Live Animal Imports
Northern Territory+61 8 8998 4900+61 8 8998 4911 NT Airport Controller

Travel to Australia

The following travel requirements apply to assistance dogs:

  • The dog and handler must travel to Australia on the same flight.
  • The  dog may travel with its handler in the cabin or as manifested cargo. If the dog travels as manifested cargo, it must be contained in an International Air Transport Association (IATA) approved crate for dogs.
  • The dog can enter Australia at any international airport and must be presented to the department for clearance at the first port of arrival.
  • Once the department has cleared the dog, you may take it on any Australian domestic flight.
  • Allow at least two (2) hours for the department to clear your dog.
  • During transport to Australia dogs may transit (touch down but stay on the same plane) in all countries.
  • If you change planes in another country en route to Australia, you may need prior approval from the government of that country.
If you are seeking to arrive in Australia by sea please contact the department for further information as this method of transport is not recommended and cannot always be facilitated.

On arrival in Australia

In recognition of the critical, ongoing and dependent relationship between assistance dogs and handlers, the department will:

  • provide a veterinarian to meet clients with eligible assistance dogs in person at the airport (they will check the documents  and examine the dog)
  • oversee the dog’s 10 day post-entry quarantine at the nominated address
  • waive standard departmental fees.

If all documents are in order, a biosecurity officer will:

  • stamp the documents
  • give a “direction” for the dog to be moved to your nominated residence for isolation
  • give the handler a copy of the stamped documents and written “direction”.

If the documents are not in order or the dog shows signs of disease or parasite infestation, the biosecurity officer may order the dog to be:

  • treated
  • isolated at the government post entry quarantine facility
  • returned to the country of export

Post entry quarantine isolation

The assistance dog has to spend a minimum of 10 days in post entry quarantine isolation. The details are set out in the import permit application form. A biosecurity officer may visit the nominated address at any time during this period.

You must take the dog to a veterinarian on the proposed end date of this period. The veterinarian must examine the dog and complete the ‘Report to the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources on the health of an assistance dog completing post arrival quarantine isolation’ form provided to you on arrival in Australia.

You must then submit the completed form to the department so that the dog can be considered for release from biosecurity control (the form contains details of where to send it).

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