Group 3: step by step guide for dogs

  • ​​Dogs coming to Australia from group 3 countries must be accompanied by a valid import permit, which provides the conditions for importing the dog.
    • The conditions on the import permit take precedence over any other source of information. This step-by-step guide explains what you must do to prepare your dog for export; it is not a substitute for the import permit.
    • Dogs must comply with all conditions on the import permit.
    • Failure to comply with the conditions on the import permit may result in the dog being (at your cost):
      • held longer in post entry quarantine
      • subject to additional testing
      • exported
      • euthanased.
  • On arrival dogs must spend a minimum of 10 day at the Mickleham post entry quarantine facility.
  • A government approved veterinarian or official government veterinarian must perform all veterinary procedures listed below.
  • All testing must be done in an approved country in a laboratory recognised by the government of the country of export.
  • The department cannot give advice on treatments for diseases. Seek advice from a veterinarian if your dog tests positive to an infectious disease listed in the import conditions.

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Step 1: Contact the competent authority
Timeframe: Before starting the export process

  • Contact the competent authority in the country of export to find out:
    • which veterinarians and laboratories are approved to prepare your dog for export (all veterinary procedures and testing must be done in an approved country and testing must be done in a laboratory recognised by the competent authority of the approved exporting country)
    • if the country of export has any requirements in addition to those stated on this webpage
    • if the country of export has an agreed veterinary health certificate to use instead of the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources standard veterinary health certificate.
  • The department recommends that you take this information to your government approved veterinarian or pet transport agent to help you understand the requirements.

Step 2: Confirm general eligibility
Timeframe: Before starting the export process

  • Dogs
    • can only be exported to Australia from an approved country.
    • can only be exported to Australia after 180 days have elapsed from the time of blood sampling for the rabies neutralising antibody titre test (RNATT) – step 4 and 5
    • must not be under quarantine restrictions at the time of export.
    • must not be more than 30 days pregnant nor be suckling young at the time of export.
  • In accordance with the Customs (prohibited imports) Regulations 1956, the following pure breeds cannot be imported to Australia:
    • Dogo Argentino
    • Fila Brasileiro
    • Japanese tosa
    • American pit bull terrier or pit bull terrier
    • Perro de Presa Canario or Presa Canario.
  • Domestic/non-domestic hybrids (e.g. wolf-dog crosses) are not eligible for import.
  • Contact the Australian Border Force on +61 2 6264 1111 or 131 881 (within Australia) for more information on prohibited dog breeds.

Step 3: Verify existing microchip or implant a new microchip
Timeframe: Dependent on vaccine validity

  • Dogs must be identified by a microchip that can be read by an Avid, Trovan, Destron or other ISO compatible reader.
  • A government approved veterinarian must scan the microchip at each veterinary visit. The scanned microchip number must be correctly recorded on all documentation.
  • If the microchip cannot be read or is recorded incorrectly in the dog's documentation, the dog cannot be imported to Australia.

Step 4: Check rabies vaccination
Timeframe: Dependent on vaccine validity

  • Your dog must be vaccinated with an inactivated rabies vaccine that:
    • was given in an approved country when the dog was at least 90 days old
    • is valid, in accordance with the manufacturer’s directions, at the time of export
    • is approved for use in dogs by the competent authority of the country of export
  • Rabies vaccinations with a three (3) year validity are acceptable if given in accordance with manufacturer’s instructions.

Step 5: Rabies neutralising antibody titre (RNAT) test
Timeframe: Between 180 days and 24 months before the date of export

  • Wait 3-4 weeks between the rabies vaccination and blood sample collection for the RNAT test, but if the dog has a history of regular rabies vaccinations it may be possible to collect the blood sample sooner.
  • The RNAT test must meet the following requirements:
    • A government approved veterinarian must scan the dog’s microchip and collect the blood sample for the RNAT test in an approved country.
    • The dog’s microchip number must be written accurately on the blood tube and the laboratory submission form.
    • The testing laboratory must be approved by the competent authority in the exporting country. It is acceptable to draw blood in an approved country and test it at a laboratory in a different approved country.
    • The testing laboratory must use either a fluorescent antibody virus neutralisation (FAVN) test or a rapid fluorescent focus inhibition test (RFFIT).
    • The laboratory report must be in English and completed on the testing laboratory’s letterhead. It must include:
      • the dog’s microchip number
      • the blood sampling date and location
      • the signature of the person issuing the laboratory report
      • the test type and test result.

  • A result of 0.5 IU/ml or more is acceptable. A result of less than 0.5 IU/ml is not acceptable and in this circumstance you must re-vaccinate and repeat the testing process.
  • The RNAT test is valid for 24 months from the date of blood sampling. If the RNAT test is more than 24 months old at the time of export it is not valid and you cannot export the dog to Australia. You must have your dog retested.
  • The dog is not eligible for export to Australia until at least one hundred and eighty (180) days after the date the blood sample is drawn for the RNAT test (with a satisfactory result). There is no requirement for the dog to stay in an approved country during this period.
Note: There are no exceptions or dispensations available for this mandatory 180 day waiting period.

Step 6: An official government veterinarian must complete the rabies vaccination and RNAT test declaration
Timeframe: Before applying for the import permit

  • Submit the RNAT test laboratory report and rabies vaccination certificate to an official government veterinarian.
  • An official government veterinarian in the country of export (not the government approved veterinarian – your preparing veterinarian) must complete, sign and stamp the RNAT test declaration.
  • The microchip number, test result and blood sampling date must be consistent between the RNAT test laboratory report and RNAT test declaration.
  • Ensure the completed RNAT test declaration states the name of the testing laboratory, not the submitting laboratory.

Step 7: Apply and pay for the import permit
Timeframe: After you have received the completed rabies vaccination and RNAT test declaration, and at least 42 days before the proposed date of export

  • Submit your import permit application, as well as full payment and all supporting documentation online through our Biosecurity Import Conditions System (BICON).
  • Supporting documentation (original documents are not required):
      • Rabies vaccination and RNAT test declaration.
      • RNAT test laboratory report.
      • A veterinary medical form or letter from your veterinarian detailing the condition(s) - for animals with ongoing medical condition(s).
  • Additional charges may apply if information is missing, incorrect or if an application is put on hold.
  • Please allow at least 20 working days for processing your application.
  • Import permits are valid for up to twelve (12) months from the date of issue.

Step 8: Book tentative post entry quarantine accommodation and make travel arrangements
Timeframe: After you have received your import permit

Dogs must spend at least 10 days at the Mickleham post entry quarantine facility. See the Australian post entry quarantine facilities webpage for further information.

Travel arrangements:

  • The department does not place any restrictions on the airline you choose. But the dog must arrive direct into Melbourne International Airport. Domestic transfers from an Australian city to Melbourne are not permitted.
  • The dog must travel as manifested cargo (not in the cabin), in an International Air Transport Association (IATA) approved crate for dogs. IATA guidelines can be viewed at Traveller's Pet Corner.
  • There are animal transport companies in most countries that can make arrangements for you. Visit Independent Pet and Animal Transportation Association International Inc. for a list of animal transport companies worldwide.
  • The department accepts no responsibility for animals that escape en route.
  • All transport costs are at the importer’s expense.

Transit/Transhipment

  • The dog may transit (touch down but stay on the same plane) or tranship (change aircraft) in any country en route to Australia.
  • Dogs transhipped through international airports in non-approved countries must not leave the international side of the airport.
  • It is the importer’s responsibility to contact the competent authority in the country of transhipment to find out:
    • whether they allow animals to tranship
    • whether they have a facility to accommodate animals during transhipment
    • how long the animals can be held
    • if any additional conditions apply.

Step 9: Check other vaccinations
Timeframe: Dependent on the validity of your dog’s vaccination and at least 14 days before the date of export

Dogs may be vaccinated against Leptospira interrogans serovar Canicola as an alternative to the testing outlined in Step 14. If you choose to do this, dogs must be fully vaccinated against Leptospira interrogans serovar Canicola, according to manufacturer’s recommendations (usually an initial course of two vaccines 2-4 weeks apart followed by yearly boosters), at least 14 days before export. The vaccination must be valid at the time of export.

The department recommends that your dog receives a vaccination that protects against Distemper, Hepatitis, Parvovirus, Para-influenza and Bordetella bronchiseptica and is valid for the entire post entry quarantine period.

USA Only: Dogs exported from the USA must be fully vaccinated against canine influenza virus (CIV).

  • Use any CIV vaccine registered in the USA for use in dogs.
  • Use a vaccine that is effective against the particular CIV virus strain(s) prevalent in the area in which the dog has been living.
  • Vaccinations must be given between 12 months and 14 days before export.
  • Vaccinations must be valid for the entire post entry quarantine period.

Step 10: External parasite treatments
Timeframe: Start at least 21 days before the date of blood sampling for Ehrlichia canis (Step 11)

  • A government approved veterinarian must treat the dog with a product that kills ticks and fleas on contact at least 21 days before blood collection for Ehrlichia canis antibody testing. They may need to repeat the treatment to make sure the dog stays protected until export.
  • To calculate 21 days after initial external parasite treatment, count the day the treatment is applied as day 0. For example, if treatment is given 1 January then the blood sample cannot be collected until 22 January.
  • At each subsequent veterinary visit, the Government approved veterinarian should thoroughly check the dog for external parasites. If fleas or ticks are found they must be removed, the treatment restarted and the dog tested for Ehrlichia canis antibodies 21 days later.
  • Further information on acceptable treatments.

Step 11: Testing for Ehrlichia canis
Timeframe: Within 45 days before the date of export

  • A blood sample collected at least 21 days after external parasite treatment starts (Step 10) and within 45 days before export must be tested for Ehrlichia canis infection by an Indirect Fluorescent Antibody Test (IFAT). Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests are not accepted.
  • The test must produce a negative result at a dilution of 1:40.
  • If external parasite treatments do not provide continuous protection from at least 21 days before the date of blood sampling for the Ehrlichia canis testing until export, the test result will be invalidated and steps 10 and 11 must be repeated.

Step 12: Testing for Brucella canis (Brucellosis)
Timeframe: Within 45 days before the date of export

  • If the dog is desexed it doesn’t need testing for Brucellosis (evidence of desexing may be requested by the competent authority in the exporting country or the department).

    OR

  • If the dog is not desexed, a government approved veterinarian must take a blood sample and test it for Brucella canis using a rapid slide agglutination test (RSAT), a tube agglutination test (TAT) or an indirect fluorescent antibody test (IFAT) within 45 days before the date of export.
  • The test must produce a negative result.
  • If the result is positive or inconclusive contact the department for further advice.
  • The dog must not be mated or artificially inseminated from 14 days before blood sampling until export.

Step 13: Testing for Leishmania infantum (Leishmaniosis)
Timeframe: Within 45 days before the date of export

  • A government approved veterinarian must take a blood sample and test it for Leishmania infantum using either an indirect fluorescent antibody test (IFAT) or an enzyme linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) within 45 days before the date of export.
  • The test must produce a negative result.

Step 14: Testing for Leptospira canicola (Leptospirosis)
Timeframe: Within 45 days before the date of export

This step only applies if the dog has not been vaccinated against Leptospira interrogans serovar Canicola as per Step 9.

  • A government approved veterinarian must take a blood sample and test it for Leptospira interrogans serovar Canicola using a microscopic agglutination test (MAT) within 45 days before the date of export.
  • The test must produce a negative result (less than 50% agglutination) at a serum dilution of 1:100.

Step 15: (only if the dog has ever visited mainland Africa): Babesia canis treatment
Timeframe: Within 28 days before the date of export

If your dog has ever visited mainland Africa, it must be treated by a government approved veterinarian with a single dose of imidocarb dipropionate at a rate of 7.5mg/kg body weight, or two doses at a rate of 6.0 mg/kg body weight given at least 14 days apart. Treatments must be by subcutaneous injection and given within 28 days before export.

Step 16: Internal parasite treatments
Timeframe: Two treatments at least 14 days apart, with the second treatment given within 5 days before export

The dog must be treated by a government approved veterinarian twice with an internal parasite treatment effective against internal parasites (nematodes and cestodes). The two treatments must be administered at least 14 days apart and within 45 days before export. The second treatment must be given within 5 days before export.​

Further information on acceptable treatments.

Step 17: Pre export clinical examination
Timeframe: Within 5 days before the date of export

The dog must be examined by a government approved veterinarian or an official government veterinarian and found to be free from external parasites and clinical signs of infectious or contagious disease within 5 days before export. You must bring all documents to this examination.

Step 18: Completion of veterinary health certificate (Appendix 1)
Timeframe: Within 5 days before the date of export

  • The veterinary health certificate is Appendix 1 of your import permit.
  • A valid import permit, with a veterinary health certificate completed by an official government veterinarian in the country of export must accompany the dog on arrival in Australia.
  • An official government veterinarian must complete, sign and stamp all pages of the veterinary health certificate
  • Any corrections made to the veterinary health certificate must be struck through, remain legible and be signed and stamped by the official government veterinarian (correction fluid must not be used).
  • An official government veterinarian must also sign and stamp every page of the:
    • Ehrlichia canis laboratory report.
    • Leishmania infantum laboratory report.
    • Brucella canis laboratory report (if not desexed).
    • Leptospira interrogans serovar Canicola laboratory report (if not vaccinated).
    • RNATT declaration
    • RNATT laboratory report.

  • Copies can be used, but they must bear the original signature of the official government veterinarian and stamp of the competent authority on every page.
  • It is recommended that you also keep a copy of every document.

Step 19: Travel to Australia

  • The dog must travel in an International Air Transport Association (IATA) approved crate for dogs (see Step 8).
  • In most cases the dog will be checked in at the freight terminal, not the passenger terminal.
  • The dog must arrive in Australia before the import permit expires.

Step 20: On arrival in Australia

  • Departmental staff will collect your dog on arrival for transport directly to the Mickleham post entry quarantine facility.
  • Dogs must stay at Mickleham for a minimum of 10 days. Any issues that increase biosecurity risk may result in a longer stay.