Assistance dogs

​​​​​​The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources has an important role in managing biosecurity risk associated with the movement of dogs – including eligible assistance dogs–into Australia.

In recognition of the critical, ongoing and dependent nature of the relationship between eligible dog and handler, the department will:

  • provide a veterinarian to meet clients and eligible dogs in person at the airport
  • oversee your dog’s 10 day post-entry quarantine period at your home
  • waive standard departmental fees.

An importer of an assistance dog must provide evidence that satisfies the general eligibility criteria. Please note that if you are unable to meet the eligibility criteria you can still import your dog under the standard process and will be liable for all fees.

You will not require a permit to import a cat or dog from New Zealand, however conditions apply.

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Import conditions for assistance dogs

The pre-export conditions are the same as for standard dog imports. Please refer to the quick guide depending on your country of export. There are some important transport, arrival and post-arrival steps that differ from the standard (pet) dog import process. These are outlined below.

General eligibility criteria

To be eligible for import as an assistance dog, the importer must attach the following completed documents to their import permit application.

All of these forms are contained within the ‘application to import assistance dogs’ form available below:

  • the ‘assistance dog declaration’ form, completed by the handler, and 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 in Australia.
  • the ‘Medical history form for assistance dog handlers’, completed by a medical practitioner, and 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, and providing confirmation of specialised training. Suitable institutions are member organisations of the International Guide Dog Federation or Assistance Dogs International. Alternatively the dog and/or their trainer is accredited under a law of an Australian State or Territory.

In addition if you are seeking to bring your dog from a Group 3 country, you will need to attach the following form:

  • the ‘Rabies vaccination and rabies neutralising antibody titre test declaration’ form, completed by the Official Government Veterinarian in the country of export, and providing confirmation that the dog has been rabies blood tested at least six months prior to export.

How to complete the Application to Import Assistance Dogs into Australia

You may either complete an electronic or manual permit application. If you require assistance with either of these please contact us on telephone number (within Australia) 1800 900 090 (outside Australia) +61 3 8318 6700 or on email address.

  1. Complete and submit the electronic application form online​. The Application to Import Assistance Dogs can be submitted electronically within our secure environment.
  2. Download, complete and submit manual application form (post, fax or scan and email)

The ‘application to import assistance dogs’ can be submitted manually by completing this form:

Please send the completed form to:

Email: Animal and Biological Import Assessments
Fax: +61 2 6272 3110
Post:
Animal and Biological Import Assessments
GPO Box 858
Canberra ACT 2601
Australia

Notify the department of your intended arrival

The importer must notify the department of the dog’s intended arrival at least three (3) working days prior to export.

You must contact the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources office in the state in which the dog will arrive, and provide the following:

  • A copy of the valid Import Permit, completed health certificate and attachments.
  • Name of the handler of the assistance dog
  • Nominated address for quarantine surveillance
  • Flight details including: airline details, 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 of Agriculture and Water Resources Contact Information
Australian statePhoneFacsimileEmail
New South Wales+61 2 8334 7434No faxCER Animal Imports
Victoria+61 3 8318 8211+61 3 8318 8214VIC Controller
Queensland+61 7 3246 8633+61 7 3246 8798QLD Live Animal Imports
South Australia+61 8 8201 6000+61 8 8201 6087EMNCC Doc Enquiries
Western Australia1800 900 090+61 8 9475 2666WA Live Animal Imports
Northern Territory+61 8 8998 4900+61 8 8998 4911No email address for Live animal Imports

Please note: the department will fax or e-mail you confirmation of your dog’s eligibility for import based on the documentation that you have supplied. The dog must not be loaded on the airplane without this confirmation.

Travel to Australia

The following travel requirements apply to assistance dogs:

  • The dog and handler must travel to Australia on the same flight.
  • Your assistance dog may travel with its handler in the cabin or as manifested cargo (not in the cabin). If your dog is travelling as manifested cargo, he/she must be contained in an International Air Transport Association (IATA) approved crate for cats and dogs.
  • Your dog can enter Australia at any international airport and must be presented to the department for clearance at this first port of arrival.
  • Once the department has cleared your dog, you may take your dog on any Australian domestic flight.
  • You should allow at least two (2) hours for the department to perform the clearance process on your dog.
  • During transport to Australia dogs may transit (touch down but stay on the same plane) in all countries.
  • If you are seeking to change planes in a third country en-route to Australia, you may require 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.

On arrival in Australia

A departmental veterinary officer will meet you on arrival at the international airport, audit all documentation and examine your dog.

If the documentation is satisfactory, the departmental officer will endorse the paperwork and release the dog under quarantine surveillance. The departmental officer will provide a copy of the endorsed form to the handler.

If the documentation is incomplete or unsatisfactory, or if the dog is showing signs of disease or infestation with external parasites, the departmental officer may order the dog to be re-treated, ordered into quarantine at a government operated animal quarantine facility, or exported to the country of origin.

Post Entry Quarantine Surveillance

A minimum period of 10 days post entry quarantine surveillance will apply to the assistance dog (the details of which are set out in the import permit application form). The department may visit the nominated address at any point 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 surveillance’ form provided to you on arrival in Australia. You must then submit the completed form to the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources so that the department may consider release of the dog from quarantine surveillance (details of where to send the completed form are on the form).

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Last reviewed:
14 Dec 2015