Cats and dogs returning to Australia

​​​Taking your cat or dog overseas? Check whether it is eligible to come back to Australia.

When your cat or dog is exported from Australia it immediately loses its Australian health status. This means you might not be able to bring it back to Australia at short notice. Please consider the information below carefully before exporting your cat or dog.

Cats and dogs can only be imported into Australia from certain countries and, depending on the country, the pre-import preparation time can be over six months. However, if you start preparations in Australia before your cat or dog goes overseas, returning them to Australia can be much simpler and quicker.

Is your cat or dog eligible to return to Australia?

There are some countries from which cats and dogs cannot be directly imported to Australia. These are referred to as ‘non-approved’ countries.

Cats and dogs may only be exported to Australia from ‘approved’ countries. All testing and treatments must be performed by a Government Approved or Official Government Veterinarian in an approved country.

If there is any chance that you may wish to return to Australia with your dog or cat, we recommend that they have a rabies vaccination and Rabies Neutralising Antibody Titre (RNAT) test performed prior to leaving Australia.  This will ensure they can return to Australia in the shortest possible timeframe. Rabies vaccinations can last for between one and three years and you will need to check this validity with your veterinarian. An RNAT test with an acceptable result (0.5IU/ml or more) will be valid for 24 months from the date the blood was drawn.

Please note that you will need to maintain valid rabies vaccinations and RNAT tests for the entire time your dog or cat is overseas. If you don’t do this, your animal will have to meet the mandatory 180 day waiting period overseas following an RNAT test if they have visited any Category 3 or non-approved countries.

If you are likely to return your dog or cat to Australia within six months of departure, we recommend that you apply for, and hold, a valid Australian import permit prior to departure from Australia so that you are aware of the re-entry requirements specific to your pet.

To see the import conditions relevant to your cat or dog, visit bringing cats and dogs (and other pets) to Australia and select your intended country of export from the drop down menu.

The European Union Pet Travel Scheme (PETS), also known as the Pet Passport Scheme, does not apply to cats and dogs being imported or returning to Australia.

This information also applies to assistance dogs returning to Australia. There are, however, some differences in the import permit application process and the post-arrival arrangements for assistance dogs. More information on these differences is available on the department's website under assistance dogs.

A list of frequently asked questions is available on the website.