Eligibility for import
What cat breeds cannot be imported into Australia?
Cats that are derived from a cross with a non-domestic species cannot be imported. In the case of a Bengal cat, the animal must not have any Asian Leopard Cat ancestor less than 5 generations away.
In accordance with the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act), cats derived from a serval cat (Felis serval) are not eligible for importation into Australia. This includes cats derived from crossbreeding a domestic cat (Felis catus) with a serval cat or with a savannah cat (Felis catus x Felis serval). Any other domestic/non-domestic animal hybrids (e.g. Bengal cats) are not eligible for import unless they are five (5) generations or more removed from their pure-bred non-domestic ancestors.
You must state the breed of your cat in the import permit application and sign a declaration stating that they are not an ineligible breed.
What dog breeds cannot be imported into Australia?
The following breeds are prohibited under the legislation of the Department of Immigration and Border Protection:
- Dogo Argentino
- Fila Brasileiro
- Japanese Tosa
- Pit Bull Terrier or American Pit Bull
- Perro de Presa Canario or Presa Canario
In addition, the animal must not be derived from a cross with a non-domestic species such as a wolf.
You must state the breed of your dog in the import permit application and sign a declaration stating that they are not an ineligible breed.
Are there any age restrictions for older animals?
The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources will not refuse to grant an import permit based on an animal’s age.
We recommend you seek advice from your veterinarian about your animal’s import if you have concerns about their age and how they may handle the journey and quarantine in Australia. Your veterinarian can advise if any changes to their care are needed to help prepare them for travel to Australia.
Older cats and dogs may be more likely to dehydrate during long flights. This may lead to an increased risk of other complications such as renal failure.
During this travel, you may wish to provide food and water in the transport crate. Any food arriving with your animal will be destroyed in Australia, however, it will allow your animal to eat and drink en route. You should discuss with the airline and your veterinarian the best way to do this. Depending on the containers you use, you may need to train your animal to use them before departure (e.g. dripping water dispensers).
If you have an older animal and you’re particularly concerned about how they will tolerate the travel, we recommend you arrange for them to arrive in Australia early in the week. This will assist staff to settle them into their accommodation and, if required, arrange early veterinary attention for animals with medical conditions.
Please ensure that you provide the quarantine facility with any special information that our staff need to consider when caring for your animal.
Can my cat or dog be imported into Australia if he/she has a medical condition?
Yes, provided the animal can meet all Australian import conditions. We recommend that you check with your pet’s veterinarian about their condition and their ability to cope with travel and quarantine before deciding to send your pet to Australia.
You must inform the department if your cat or dog has any medical conditions when you apply for an import permit. The Veterinary Medical Form PDF [352 KB] Word [40 KB] must be completed by your animal’s veterinarian and submitted with the import permit application.
If your cat or dog has been diagnosed with a medical condition after the import permit has been granted, please notify the department as soon as possible. This will ensure that the welfare and medical requirements of your cat or dog are met while in our care. Additional fees may be charged if your pet requires a higher level of care.
Category of exporting country
What is an approved country and how do I know which country group applies to my animal’s import?
An approved country is any country, administrative region or territory from which Australia allows the import of cats and dogs and their semen. Approved countries are divided into three groups, each with different import conditions.
Approved countries have been able to show that they have adequate animal health services and a satisfactory animal health status. This provides a high level of assurance in the treatment, management and health status of cats and dogs imported into Australia.
Why do animals from some countries need different preparations?
Preparations depend on the recognised rabies status of the country of export.
Group 1 & 2 approved countries are recognised by the Australian Government as being ‘rabies-free’.
Group 3 countries are not recognised as being ‘rabies-free’.
My country is not approved for export to Australia. What should I do?
You will need to import your cat or dog to Australia through a country that is approved by the department (see list of approved countries). Please note that moving your animal(s) to another country will also require you to meet that country's import requirements. Please discuss your plan with your approved exporting country of choice. You must obtain an Australian import permit for your animal and meet all the Australian entry requirements from the approved exporting country.
Please read our Non-approved country via group 2 or 3 country step-by-step guide for further information.
Can my dog or cat undergo testing, treatments or examinations in more than one approved country?
Yes. As long as the Official Government Veterinarian who will sign and stamp the Veterinary Health Certificate in the country of export is prepared to accept and approve the testing, treatments or examinations performed in another approved country.
Applying for an import permit
How long will it take for me to get my cat or dog’s import permit?
The department tries to grant an import permit for each application as soon as possible from the date of submission. Please note, it may take up to 20 business days to assess and grant an import permit.
If your import permit application is incomplete, the department will attempt to contact you and the processing of your application will be delayed until the department receives all required information.
What type of microchip should my cat or dog have?
The department requires an International Standards Organisation (ISO) compatible microchip be implanted and will accept microchips that can be read by Avid, Trovan, Destron or any other ISO compatible microchip reader. Most microchip numbers are 9, 10 or 15 digits long.
Home Again microchips are acceptable as they are 10 digits long.
Microchip numbers starting with 999 will not be accepted because they are not unique.
Microchips are the only identification method approved by the department for the import of cats and dogs into Australia. Your cat or dog must have a microchip implanted before any pre-export blood sampling or testing takes place.
Your cat or dog should be scanned at each visit to the veterinarian and must be scanned before any blood sampling takes place. If the microchip cannot be read or found in Australia, or the microchip number is inconsistent on any import paperwork, your cat or dog may be exported from Australia.
What if my cat or dog has two microchips?
Both microchip numbers must be included on the import permit application, any accompanying laboratory reports and the final import permit. The animal should have the microchips scanned at each visit to the veterinarian to confirm the microchip numbers and ensure they match all import documentation.
Do I need to use a pet transport agent when I import my cat or dog?
No, this is not essential but the department encourages importers to use a pet transport agent as it may be simpler and more effective to use an experienced company that regularly imports animals, rather than to undertake the process yourself. You can find a pet transport agent by entering the terms “import dog to Australia” or “import cat to Australia” into a search engine.
You can also locate a pet transport agent via the International Pet and Animal Transportation Association
The department is impartial and cannot recommend one agent over another.
Should I send original documents to the department?
The department recommends that you only send copies of the documents needed to support your import permit application.
Original documents must be signed and stamped by the Official Government Veterinarian and will need to travel with your animal to Australia.
Meeting import conditions
How early do I need to start preparing my animal?
The department has developed a date calculator to help importers understand the minimum, maximum and recommended preparation times required for their pet to meet the import conditions.
Please discuss treatments and tests with your approved veterinarian in your country of export.
Further information, specific to your country of export, is available in the step-by-step guides.
How do I know if the laboratory performing the rabies antibody testing is approved by the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources?
The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources does not approve laboratories for rabies antibody testing. The government veterinary service in the country of export approves the laboratory.
The only time the department does list the laboratories approved to do the rabies antibody testing is when the cat or dog starts preparations in a non-approved country. In this case, the laboratory performing the initial rabies antibody testing must be either the Australian Animal Health Laboratory or an OIE Rabies Reference Laboratory
Why do I have to wait 180 days after the rabies antibody testing before I can import my dog or cat?
It can take up to 180 days for an animal infected with the rabies virus to show signs of the disease. During this time there is no reliable way to tell if the animal has been infected.
Australia is officially free from rabies and considering the potential severe consequences to Australia from the introduction of rabies, we take a conservative approach to preventing the entry of this disease.
The import of cats and dogs from rabies-endemic countries is one of the highest risk pathways for rabies to enter Australia. For this reason, our import conditions require cats and dogs entering from rabies-endemic countries to be vaccinated against rabies and show proven immunity to the disease for at least 180 days prior to entry. A rabies antibody titre level of 0.5IU/mL or above is internationally recognised as providing effective immunity against rabies in cats and dogs.
However, a protective rabies antibody titre level only gives assurance of protection from rabies after the time of blood sampling. After vaccination, antibodies rise gradually and it is impossible to determine from a single blood test when the antibody level first reached 0.5IU/mL. Also, when the rabies virus enters an animal it moves into the nervous tissue where circulating antibodies can’t destroy it. There is no test in the world that can reliably detect if the virus is hiding in a live animal’s nervous tissue. The only method to tell if an animal has the rabies virus in its nervous tissue is to observe it for a time to see if it develops clinical rabies. This observation period must be at least 180 days because it can take this long for rabies to show itself in an infected animal.
Does the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources grant any exemptions to the 180 day waiting period?
No. This is an essential part of our risk management and you will not be exempted from it.
The only time this waiting period is not needed is if the cat or dog had a Rabies Neutralising Antibody Titre test (RNATT) performed prior to leaving Australia. 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 and will enable the cat or dog to return to Australia without having to wait 180 days overseas.
What if there are other import conditions, apart from the rabies vaccination and testing requirements, which my cat or dog cannot meet?
Contact the Animal and Biological Import Assessments Branch via email
and indicate which specific import condition your cat or dog can’t meet and the reason why. You will also need to suggest an alternative import condition and explain how the suggested alternative will provide a comparable level of risk management.
You should contact the department well in advance of submitting your import permit application.
In some cases, an equivalent or alternative import condition can be applied. However, there are many cases where the suggested equivalent or alternative conditions are not suitable.
What products are acceptable as external parasite treatments?
An acceptable external parasite treatment is a product that kills ticks and fleas on contact. Oral products (such as NexGard and Bravecto) are not accepted because they require the tick or flea to bite the animal before they are affected by the product. Tick collars are not accepted because they can be removed from time to time and their effectiveness is reduced in some weather conditions.
How much will it cost to import my cat or dog to Australia?
See the cat and dog import permit application fees and government animal quarantine station fees. The minimum cost to import one cat or dog to Australia that undergoes the minimum 10 day quarantine period will be $2000.
There may be additional fees if the cat or dog needs extra parasite treatments, veterinary care, an extended stay or other services. There are also costs charged by the airline to transport the cat or dog to Australia that the department has no control over.
Updates will be regularly posted on our website, so please refer back frequently. Fees are subject to change. It is the responsibility of clients to regularly visit our website for information on updates or amendments to fees, policies and procedures.
Note: Partial payment for quarantine accommodation for your animal/s is due at the time of making a booking.
Travel to Australia
Does my cat or dog have to fly into Melbourne?
Yes. Cats and dogs imported to Australia must arrive directly into Melbourne airport where we will then transfer them to the post entry quarantine facility. They cannot land in one Australian airport and then travel on an Australian domestic flight to Melbourne.
Can my cat or dog travel to Australia in the plane cabin with me?
No. Your cat or dog must travel to Australia as manifest cargo. Manifest cargo allows for traceability of your cat or dog.
Assistance dogs are not bound by the same requirements and may be able to travel in the cabin if they meet the general eligibility criteria.
Should my cat or dog be sedated for travel?
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) regulations do not recommend sedating or tranquilising pets for transport as it can be dangerous to their health. Drugs act differently at the pressure of 8,000 feet above sea level, which is the approximate air pressure in an aircraft during flight. Refer to the IATA website for further information on sedating animals during travel.
How do I make sure my cat or dog's travel crate is suitable?
Obtain an International Air Transport Association (IATA) approved container for cats and dogs. Your crate must meet IATA requirements to ensure that your cat or dog cannot escape or be injured while travelling. Crates that are too small, low or narrow may do harm to your cat or dog’s welfare.
Purchase the travel crate some time in advance and get your cat or dog used to it before the flight by putting his/her bedding and food in the crate.
Provide enough absorbent bedding to keep your cat or dog dry and comfortable during their flight. You can consider purchasing a ‘dry-bed’ type blanket such as those used in veterinary clinics, or a baby’s cot liner.
The department does not recommend using newspaper instead of bedding. Bedding that travels in the crate with your animal is generally soiled and will be destroyed on arrival due to biosecurity risk.
Ensure that a water container is fixed inside the crate, with an external funnel and hose leading into the water container. The people handling your cat or dog can then top-up the water from outside, as the crate cannot be opened after it is sealed by authorities in the country of export.
Make sure that your cat or dog knows how to drink from the water container before the flight, especially if you are using a ‘dripper’ type water bottle.
Can I bring my cat or dog into Australia on a yacht?
See animals on vessels for information on bringing your pet to Australia onboard an international vessel.
Quarantine in Australia
Can my cat or dog undertake post entry quarantine at home?
No. Post entry quarantine for cats and dogs can only be undertaken at the Mickleham Post Entry Quarantine Facility in Melbourne.
How long does my animal need to stay in quarantine?
All cats and dogs must complete a minimum of 10 days at the Mickleham Post Entry Quarantine Facility in Melbourne. Please note that 10 days quarantine is the minimum requirement only and that any issues that may increase the biosecurity risk of the animal may result in a longer stay in post entry quarantine (for example, if a tick is found on your dog, it will need to stay for 21-30+ days until blood testing is repeated at your cost).
Does my cat or dog still have to complete Australian quarantine if it is originally from Australia?
Yes. Even if your cat or dog was born in Australia, it may be exposed to exotic diseases when travelling overseas. Your cat or dog must meet all of the department’s import conditions for the relevant country of export in order to return to Australia.
Can I make a booking for quarantine accommodation before I have my permit?
No. You can only book quarantine accommodation once you have received your import permit. A valid permit number must be provided to the Mickleham Post Entry Quarantine Facility at the time of booking your animals accommodation.
How can I make sure my pet gets the earliest booking possible?
You can create a booking request by using the department’s Post Entry Quarantine Reservations tool. Alternatively, you can contact the Mickleham Post Entry Quarantine Facility via email or Phone 1800 900 090 or +61 3 8318 6700 (outside Australia) as soon as you receive your import permit (and quote your import permit number).
Please be aware that there may be a lot of clients trying to book accommodation and that it may not be possible to meet all requests. (Note: a granted import permit does not guarantee a space at the quarantine facility for the date you request).
Please note you will be required to pay part of the quarantine fees at the time of making your booking. Bookings will not be held open unless payment is made.
Arrival in Australia
How do I register my cat or dog’s microchip in Australia?
The department recommends that you register your cat or dog with a national microchip registry. It is the pet owner/importer’s responsibility to contact their local Australian council regarding animal registration, microchip registration and any other legal requirements relevant to your cat or dog. Your local veterinary hospital or animal shelter may be able to assist you with this information.
The department does not have any involvement with local council and national microchip registration databases.
Where can I get further information?
Updates will be posted on our website, so please refer back frequently.
If you have read the information on our website and have further questions which have not been addressed, you can contact us via email or phone 1800 900 090 (within Australia) or +61 3 8318 6700 (outside Australia).
Links to External sites
Links to other websites are inserted for convenience and do not constitute endorsement by the department of material at those sites, or any associated organisation, product or service.
Before relying on the material in any important matter, users should carefully evaluate its accuracy, currency, completeness and relevance for their purposes, and should obtain any appropriate professional advice relevant to their particular circumstances.