Cats and dogs returning to Australia

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

When your cat or dog leaves 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 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?

Cats and dogs may only be directly imported to Australia from approved countries. All testing and treatments must be performed by a government approved or official government veterinarian in an approved country.

Cats and dogs in non-approved countries cannot be directly imported to Australia. They have to come to Australia through an approved group 1, 2 or 3 country.

If there is any chance your dog or cat may visit a group 3 or a non-approved country we recommend they have a rabies vaccination and rabies neutralising antibody titre (RNAT) test before leaving Australia. This will ensure they can return to Australia in the shortest possible time. Rabies vaccinations last 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) is 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 group 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 before leaving Australia.


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 in the calculator.

This information also applies to assistance dogs returning to Australia. But there are differences in the import permit application process and post-arrival arrangements. See assistance dogs for more information.

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.

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