Group 3: step by step guide for dogs

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Introduction

  • The valid import permit provides the specific conditions for importing your animal. The conditions on the import permit take precedence over any other source of information. The information below is a general guide to assist in the preparation of your animal for export to Australia; it is not a substitute for the import permit.
  • To be eligible for import, all dogs must be compliant with all the import conditions stated on the valid import permit. All dogs must complete a minimum 10 day period in an Australian quarantine facility.
  • It is a requirement under Australian legislation that all live animals coming to Australia from Group 3 countries must be accompanied by a valid import permit.
  • If an animal arrives in Australia and it does not meet all of the conditions on the accompanying import permit, then it may be returned to the country of export or euthanized at the importer’s expense.
  • A Government Approved Veterinarian or Official Government Veterinarian must perform all veterinary procedures listed below.
  • All testing must be conducted in an approved country in a laboratory recognised by the government of the country of export.
  • You must contact the competent authority in the country of export to determine which veterinarians and laboratories are approved to prepare your cat for export.
  • You must contact the competent authority in the country of export to determine if there are any additional export requirements and/or if the country of export has an agreed veterinary health certificate to use in place 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 assist you​ with understanding the requirements.
  • Import conditions stated on the Import Permit must be strictly complied with. Failure to comply with the import conditions on the Import Permit may result in the imported animal being held longer in post entry quarantine, requiring additional testing or subject to re-export. Importers will be charged additional fees for costs associated with managing non-compliant animals.
  • The department cannot provide you with advice about treatment options for infectious diseases, their effectiveness or availability in the country of export. Should your animal test positive to one of the infectious diseases listed in the import conditions you should seek advice about any treatment options from a registered veterinarian in the country of export.​​

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Step 1: Confirm general eligibility
Timeframe: Before starting the export process

  • Dogs must not be under quarantine restrictions at the time of export and can only be exported to Australia from an approved country.
  • Pregnancy: Dogs must not be more than 30 days pregnant nor be suckling young at the time of export.
  • Dog Breeds: In accordance with the Customs (prohibited imports) Regulations 1956, dogs of the following pure breeds are prohibited and not eligible for import into Australia:
    • dogo Argentino; fila Brasileiro; Japanese tosa; American pit bull terrier or pit bull terrier; Perro de Presa Canario or Presa Canario.
      [For information about prohibited dog breeds, contact the Australian Customs by phone: +61 2 6275 6666 or 1300 363 263 (within Australia) or email.]
    • Hybrids : Any domestic/non-domestic animal hybrids (e.g. wolf-dog crosses) are generally not eligible for import.
      [For information about prohibited dog breeds, contact the Department of the Environment on 1800 803 772.]

Step 2: Verify existing microchip or implant a new microchip
Timeframe: A microchip must be present before you can start blood sampling for any pre export testing

  • 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 across the dog's documentation, it will not be eligible for import to Australia.

Step 3: Check Rabies Vaccination
Timeframe: Dependent on vaccine validity

  • Your dog must be vaccinated with an inactivated rabies virus vaccine that:
    • was given when the dog was at least 90 days of age; and
    • is valid, in accordance with the manufacturer’s directions at the time of export.
  • The rabies vaccine must be approved for use in dogs by the Competent Authority of the country of export.
  • Three (3) yearly rabies vaccinations are acceptable.
  • Rabies vaccinations must be administered in an approved country.

Step 4: Rabies Neutralising Antibody Titre (RNAT) test and waiting period
Timeframe: Between 180 days and 24 months before export

For your RNAT test to be valid, the following requirements must be met:
  • Following a rabies virus vaccination, a Government Approved Veterinarian must scan the animal’s microchip and collect a blood sample for the RNAT test.
  • The blood sample must be drawn in a department approved country.
  • The animal’s microchip number must be written 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 a department approved country and be tested 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. The report must include the animal’s microchip number, the blood sampling date, the signature of the person responsible for issuing the laboratory report, the location where the blood sample was taken, the test type and the 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 may re-vaccinate and repeat the testing process.
  • The department recognises the RNAT test result for 24 months from the date of blood sampling to the date of export. The animal must have a valid RNAT test laboratory report at the time of export. If the RNAT test is due to expire (i.e., greater than 24 months old) prior to the date of export, you must have your dog retested prior to the expiry date.
  • The animal is not eligible for export to Australia until at least one hundred and eighty (180) days have passed from the date that the blood sample is drawn for the RNAT test (with a satisfactory result). There is no requirement for the animal to remain in an approved country during this period.

Step 5: The Official Government Veterinarian must complete the Rabies Vaccination and Rabies Neutralising Antibody Titre (RNAT) test declaration
Timeframe: Before applying for the import permit

  • You must contact an Official Government Veterinarian in the country of export to complete the RNAT test Declaration. This is not the Government Approved Veterinarian (your preparing veterinarian).
  • You must submit the RNAT test laboratory report and rabies vaccination certificate to the Official Government Veterinarian so they can complete 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.
  • You must ensure that the completed RNAT test Declaration states the name of the testing laboratory, not the submitting laboratory.

Step 6: 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 prior to proposed date of export.

Please ensure you allow at least 20 working days for the processing and granting of your permit application. It is recommended that you read How to complete the import application before proceeding.

How to apply

  • You may submit your import permit application, as well as full payment and all supporting documentation by any of the following methods:
  • ​Additional charges may be applied if information required to assess the application is missing, incorrect or if an application is put on hold.
  • Import permits are valid for up to twelve (12) months from the date of issue.

Step 7: Book tentative post arrival quarantine accommodation at an Australian government quarantine facility and make travel arrangements
Timeframe: After you have received your import permit

See the Australian Post Entry Quarantine Facilities webpage for information on booking quarantine accommodation and arranging transport for your dog(s).

Please also note the following:

  • The department does not place any restrictions on the airline you choose. However, the animal must travel as "manifested cargo" (not in the cabin) and 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 on your behalf. 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, and 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.
  • The dog may not be eligible for import if these requirements are not met.

Note: 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
- any additional conditions that may apply.

Step 8: Check other vaccinations
Timeframe: Dependent on the validity of your dog’s vaccination and at least 14 days before export

Dogs may be vaccinated against Leptospira interrogans serovar Canicola as an alternative to the testing outlined under Step 13. If you choose to do this, dogs must be fully vaccinated against Leptospira interrogans serovar Canicola, according to manufacturer’s recommendations (For most vaccines an initial course of two vaccines 2-4 weeks apart followed by yearly boosters), at least 14 days prior to export and 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-arrival quarantine period.

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

  • Any CIV vaccine product registered in the USA for the use in dogs may be used.
  • It is recommended a vaccine product which is effective against the particular CIV virus strain(s) prevalent in the geographical area in which the dog has been residing is selected for use.
  • Vaccinations must be administered between 12 months and 14 days before export.
  • Vaccinations must be valid for the entire quarantine period in Australia.
All vaccinations must be administered in an approved country

Step 9: External parasite treatments
Timeframe: Start external parasite treatment at least 21 days before blood sampling for Ehrlichia canis (Step 10).

  • 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. Protection from external parasites must be maintained until the time of export, treatments may need to be repeated by the veterinarian in accordance with the manufacturer’s directions.
  • To calculate 21 days after initial external parasite treatment, the day the treatment is applied must be counted as day 0.
  • You should discuss suitable external parasite treatments with the Government Approved Veterinarian.
  • At each subsequent veterinary visit, the Government Approved Veterinarian should thoroughly examine the dog for external parasites. If any fleas or ticks are found from the time of treatment referred to above until export, they must be removed and the preparation must be restarted, including testing for Ehrlichia canis antibodies.
  • Further information on acceptable treatments.

Step 10: Testing for Ehrlichia canis
Timeframe: Ehrlichia canis blood sampling must occur within 45 days before export

  • A blood sample collected at least 21 days after external parasite treatment starts (Step 9) and within 45 days before export must be tested for Ehrlichia canis infection by an Indirect Fluorescent Antibody Test (IFAT).
  • The test must produce a negative result at a dilution of 1:40. Testing done using the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test will not be accepted.
  • If external parasite treatments do not provide continuous protection from at least 21 days prior to this testing until the time of export then the test result will be invalidated and must be repeated in accordance with Steps 9 and 10.

Step 11: Testing for Brucella canis (Brucellosis)
Timeframe: Within 45 days before export

  • If the dog is desexed, no testing for Brucellosis is required (Note: Evidence of desexing may be requested by the Competent Authority in the exporting country or the department).
    or
  • A blood sample must be taken by a Government Approved Veterinarian from the dog and tested 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 export.
  • The test must produce a negative result.
  • If the dog returns a positive or inconclusive result please contact the department for further advice.

Step 12: Testing for Leishmania infantum (Leishmaniosis)
Timeframe: Within 45 days before export

  • A blood sample must be taken by a Government Approved Veterinarian from the dog and tested for Leishmania infantum using either an indirect fluorescent antibody test (IFAT) or an enzyme linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) within 45 days before export. The test must produce a negative result.
  • The test must produce a negative result

Step 13: Testing for Leptospira canicola (Leptospirosis)
Timeframe: Within 45 days before export

Note: This step only applies if the dog has not been vaccinated against Leptospira interrogans serovar Canicola as per Step 8.

  • A blood sample must be taken by a Government Approved Veterinarian Leptospira interrogans serovar Canicola using a microscopic agglutination test (MAT) within 45 days before export. The test must produce a negative result (less than 50% agglutination) at a serum dilution of 1:100.

Step 14: (only if your dog has ever visited mainland Africa): Babe​sia Canis Treatment
Timeframe: Within 28 days before 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 15: 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 16: Pre export clinical examination
Timeframe: Within 5 days before 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 take the animal and all documentation to this examination.

Step 17: Completion of Veterinary Health Certificate (Attachment A)
Timeframe: Within 5 days before export

The Veterinary Health Certificate is located as Attachment A to your valid import permit. It must be completed by the Official Government Veterinarian.

A valid import permit is a requirement and must arrive with the animal.

The following documents must also accompany the animal on arrival in Australia. Copies can be used, but all documents must bear the original signature of the Official Government Veterinarian and stamp of the Competent Authority on each page:

  • A completed Veterinary Health Certificate (Attachment A of the import permit)
  • Ehrlichia canis laboratory report
  • Leishmania infantum laboratory report
  • Brucella canis laboratory report (if not desexed)
  • Leptospira canicola laboratory report (if not vaccinated)
  • Rabies Neutralising Antibody Titre (RNAT) Test Declaration.

It is recommended that you retain a copy of each of these documents.

Any corrections made to the Veterinary Health Certificate must be struck through, remain legible and be signed and stamped by the Official Government Veterinarian (NB: Correction fluid must not be used).


Step 18: Travel to Australia​

  • The dog must be consigned to Australia in a container that meets the standard required in the International Air Transport Association (IATA) Live Animals Regulation Container Requirement 1.
  • In most cases the animal will be checked in at the freight terminal, not the passenger terminal.
  • The dog must arrive in Australia prior to the expiry date of the import permit.
  • The dog must arrive in the Australian port in the state where they will undergo quarantine.

Step 19: On Arrival in Australia​

  • Staff from the department will collect your animal on arrival for transport directly to the Quarantine Facility.
  • All cats and dogs must complete a minimum of 10 days in an Australian quarantine facility. Please note that 10 days quarantine is the minimum requirement only and that any issues that may increase the biosecurity risk posed by an animal may result in a longer stay in post-entry quarantine (for example, if a tick is found on your dog, they will need to stay for 21-30+ days until they repeat their blood testing; at the importer’s cost).​
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Last reviewed:
24 Feb 2016