Cats and dogs frequently asked questions

​Eligibility for import

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What cat breeds cannot be imported into Australia?

Domestic/non domestic hybrids cannot be imported to Australia in accordance with the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. Hybrid cats include, but are not limited to:

    • Savannah cat, domestic cat (Felis catus) crossed with serval cat (Felis serval)
    • Safari cat, domestic cat crossed with Geoffroy cat (Oncifelis geoffroyi)
    • Chausie, domestic cat crossed with Jungle cat (Felis chaus)

The Bengal cat, a domestic cat crossed with Asian leopard cat(Prionailurus bengalensis) is an exception. It may be imported if it is five generations removed from the Asian leopard cat.

Contact the Department of Environment and Energy on +61 6274 1111 or email Exotic Species for more information.

You must state the breed of your cat in the import permit application and sign a declaration stating that it is not an ineligible breed.

What dog breeds cannot be imported into Australia?

The following pure breeds cannot be imported into Australia 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

Contact the Australian Border Force on +61 2 6264 1111 or 131 881 (within Australia) for more information.

Domestic/non domestic hybrids (e.g. dog-wolf crosses) are also prohibited. Contact the Department of Environment and Energy on +61 6274 1111 or email Exotic Species for more information.

You must state the breed of your dog in the import permit application and sign a declaration stating that it is not an ineligible breed.

Are there any age restrictions for older animals?

No. An import permit will not be refused based on an animal’s age. Please seek advice from your veterinarian if you’re concerned about their age and how they may handle the journey and quarantine in Australia. Your veterinarian can advise if you need to change their care to prepare them for travel.

Older cats and dogs may be more likely to dehydrate on long flights. Dehydration can have severe adverse effects such as renal failure.

You can provide food and water in the transport crate for the journey to Australia. Discuss the best way to do this with the airline and your veterinarian. Depending on the containers you use, you may need to train your animal to use them before departure (e.g. dripping water dispensers). Any food arriving with your animal will be destroyed in Australia, but it will let them eat and drink en route.

If you’re concerned about how they will handle the trip, arrange for them to arrive in Australia early in the week. This will help staff settle them into their accommodation and, if required, arrange early veterinary attention.

Provide the quarantine facility with any special information they may need to care for your animal.

Can my cat or dog be imported into Australia if he/she has a medical condition?

Yes, provided the animal meets all Australian import conditions. Discuss your pet’s ability to cope with travel and quarantine with their veterinarian before deciding to send them 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 Portable document format icon PDF [352 KB]Microsoft word icon Word [40 KB] must be completed by your 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 pet are met while in our care. Additional fees may be charged if your pet requires a higher level of care.

Category of exporting country

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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 groups 1, 2 and 3, each with different import conditions. The glossary of terms lists the countries in each group.

Approved countries 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 to 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 countries are recognised by the Australian Government as rabies-free.

Group 3 countries are not recognised as rabies-free.

My country is not approved for export to Australia. What should I do?

You can import your cat or dog to Australia via an approved group 2 or 3 country. Moving your animal(s) to another country will also require you to meet that country's import conditions. Discuss your plan with your approved group 2 or 3 exporting country of choice.

You must get 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 dogs or for cats for more 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

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How long will it take for me to get my cat or dog’s import permit?

It can take up to 20 business days. The department processes each application as soon as possible from the date of submission.

But if your application is incomplete, processing will be delayed until the department receives all required information.

What type of microchip should my cat or dog have?

It must have an International Standards Organisation (ISO) compatible microchip 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.

Microchip numbers starting with 999 are not acceptable because they are not unique.

Microchips are the only approved identification method. Your cat or dog should be scanned at each visit to the veterinarian and must be scanned before any pre-export blood sampling.

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, laboratory reports and the final import permit. Both microchips should be scanned at each veterinary visit to ensure they match all import documentation.

What if my cat or dog’s microchip stops working?

The veterinarian should use multiple microchip scanners to try to read the microchip in the animal. An x-ray may be conducted to locate the microchip in case it has moved from the implant site.

If the microchip still cannot be read, a new microchip must be implanted and the pre-export process, including all testing, treatments and examinations, must begin again.

Your cat or dog must arrive in Australia with a microchip that can be scanned and that is linked to the import permit and any accompanying laboratory reports. 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.

Do I need to use a pet transport agent when I import my cat or dog?

No, but the department encourages importers to use a pet transport agent as it may be simpler and more effective than undertaking the process yourself. You can find a pet transport agent/pet shipper by entering the terms “import dog to Australia” or “import cat to Australia” into a search engine, or visiting the Pet and Animal Transportation Association (IPATA) website.

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 when you apply for the import permit.

Original documents must be signed and stamped by an official government veterinarian and must travel with your animal to Australia.

Meeting import conditions

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How early do I need to start preparing my animal?

The department has developed a date calculator to show importers the minimum, maximum and recommended preparation times required for their pet to meet the import conditions. The date calculator will link you to your relevant step by step guide. If your country of export is not in the date calculator, see the Non-approved country via group 2 or 3 country step by step guide for cats or dogs.

Please discuss treatments and tests with your government approved veterinarian in your country of export.

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 lists laboratories approved to do 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.

When the rabies virus enters an animal it moves into the nervous tissue where antibodies can’t destroy it. There is no test that can reliably detect if the virus is hiding in a live animal’s nervous tissue. The only way to tell if an animal has the rabies virus is to observe it for at least 180 days to see if it develops clinical rabies. It can take this long for rabies to show itself in an infected animal. Australia is free from rabies and considering the potential severe consequences 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 before 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.

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 exemption is if the cat or dog had a rabies neutralising antibody titre test (RNATT) with an acceptable result of 0.5IU/ml or more before leaving Australia, and is due to return to Australia within 24 months of when the blood was drawn for that RNATT test.

What if there are import conditions and testing requirements that my cat or dog can’t meet?

Email the Animal and Biological Import Assessments Branch and indicate which 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 before submitting your import permit application.

In some cases, an equivalent or alternative import condition can be applied. But 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.

Fees

How much will it cost to import my cat or dog to Australia?

See cat and dog import permit application fees and government animal quarantine station fees. The minimum cost to import one cat or dog that undergoes the minimum 10 days quarantine will be $2000.

There may be additional fees if the cat or dog needs extra parasite treatments, veterinary care, an extended stay in quarantine or other services. There are also transport costs charged by the airline that the department has no control over.

Fees are subject to change. It is the responsibility of clients to check our website for information on updates or amendments to fees, policies and procedures.

Partial payment for your animal’s quarantine accommodation is due at the time of booking.

Travel to Australia

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Does my cat or dog have to fly into Melbourne?

Yes. Cats and dogs must arrive directly into Melbourne International Airport where we will transfer them to the post entry quarantine facility. They cannot land in another Australian airport and travel to Melbourne on an Australian domestic flight.

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.

Eligible assistance dogs are not bound by the same rules and many airlines allow them to travel in the cabin.

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.

How do I make sure my cat or dog's travel crate is suitable?

Get an International Air Transport Association (IATA) approved crate for cats or dogs. The crate must meet IATA standards to ensure your animal’s safety. Crates that are too small, low or narrow may harm your animal.

Buy the travel crate well in advance and get your cat or dog used to it before the flight by putting his/her bedding and food in it.
Provide enough absorbent bedding to keep your cat or dog dry and comfortable during the flight. You can buy 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. Crate bedding 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. 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

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Can my cat or dog undertake post entry quarantine at home?

No. Cats and dogs can only undertake post entry quarantine at the Mickleham post entry quarantine facility in Melbourne.

Different rules may apply to eligible assistance dogs.

How long does my animal need to stay in quarantine?

All cats and dogs must stay at the Mickleham post entry quarantine facility in Melbourne for at least 10 days. They will have to stay longer if there are issues that increase the biosecurity risk (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 the department’s import conditions for the relevant country of export in order to return to Australia. See cats and dogs returning 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 your import permit. You must provide a valid permit number when booking your animal into quarantine.

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.

There may be a lot of clients trying to book quarantine and it may not be possible to meet all requests. An import permit does not guarantee a place at the quarantine facility for the date you request.

You have to pay part of the quarantine fee when you make your booking. Bookings will not be kept unless you pay.

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. Your local veterinary hospital or animal shelter may be able to assist you.

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.

Disclaimer

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.