The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry manages the biosecurity risk associated with bringing dogs – including assistance dogs – to Australia.
All dogs, including assistance dogs must have a valid Australian import permit and comply with all pre-arrival conditions of the permit before arrival in Australian territory. The import permit, if one is granted, will stipulate all pre-arrival and post-arrival conditions applicable to the dog identified on the permit, including pre-entry preparations, travel, and post-entry quarantine isolation requirements.
The pre-arrival import conditions applicable to all live dogs, including assistance dogs are available in the step-by-step guide for your country of export. The import conditions are based on the department’s risk review for the importation of live dogs.
Under the Australian Commonwealth Biosecurity Act 2015, you must apply to the Director of Biosecurity for a permit to import from all approved countries unless your dog is to be imported directly from New Zealand or Norfolk Island with a compliant veterinary health certificate. If you are requesting non-standard import conditions, you must state this in your application and provide additional documentation (see Eligibility criteria as part of your application.
Consistent with the Australian Commonwealth Disability Discrimination Act 1992, the department requires applicants to provide evidence that their dog is trained to assist a person with a disability to alleviate the effect of the disability, and meets standards of hygiene and behaviour that are appropriate for an animal in a public place. This is necessary so the Director of Biosecurity (or their delegate) can consider whether the biosecurity risks associated with the dog’s import can be reduced to an Appropriate Level of Protection (ALOP), as part of their decision whether to grant a permit, and imposing conditions on that permit if one is granted.
The department has a legislated assessment period of 123 business days for all import permit applications, once a complete application has been submitted. Submitting an application does not guarantee that a delegate of the Director of Biosecurity will grant a permit, or what conditions may be imposed on a permit if one is granted.
The laws around assistance animals vary between countries and applicants should not assume their dog will comply with the department’s eligibility criteria, even if the dog is recognised as an assistance dog in the country of export.
The department requires that institutions for assistance dog training are members of the International Guide Dog Federation (IGDF) or Assistance Dogs International (ADI). Alternatively, the dog may be accredited under a law (including public transport legislation or regulations) of an Australian State or Territory that provides for the accreditation of animals trained to assist a person with a disability to alleviate the effect of the disability.
Importers submitting an application must include the following documentation:
- The Medical history form for assistance dog handlers, completed by a medical practitioner, providing evidence of the handler’s disability and ongoing dependence on the assistance dog.
- The Assistance dog training form, completed by a representative of a recognised assistance dog training institution. The applicant must attach evidence of the dog’s certification or accreditation from that institution or relevant Australian State or Territory government entity.
These forms are available in the section how to submit an application to import an assistance dog.
Applicants importing a dog from a Group 3 country must also submit a finalised rabies neutralising antibody titre test (RNATT) laboratory report and the rabies vaccination and RNATT declaration form, completed and endorsed by an official government veterinarian in the country of export. Dogs from group 3 countries are not eligible for import until at least 180 days from the date that the sample for the RNAT test that produces a compliant and acceptable result arrives at the testing laboratory.
Failure to submit a complete application will delay assessment of your application and may result in your application for an import permit being refused.
You do not need a permit to import a dog from New Zealand but conditions apply.
Complete and submit the documents electronically within our Biosecurity Import Conditions System (BICON). If you need help please contact us on 1800 900 090 (within Australia) or +61 3 8318 6700 (outside Australia) or by email.
|Medical history form for assistance dog handlers PDF||329 KB|
|Medical history form for assistance dog handlers DOCX||131 KB|
|Assistance dog training form PDF||529 KB|
|Assistance dog training form DOCX||129 KB|
If you cannot access these files, visit web accessibility for assistance.
Fees and charges for lodgement and assessment of an import permit application may apply.
The assistance dog must complete a minimum 10-day period in post-entry quarantine isolation after arriving in Australia, as prescribed by the import permit.
Fees and charges may apply.
Can my Australian assistance dog travel overseas and then return to Australia?
If you intend to travel from Australia to another country with your assistance dog you must comply with Australia’s export requirements and any importing country requirements. Further information can be found at the webpage Companion animals.
Even if your assistance dog was born in Australia, it may be exposed to exotic diseases when travelling overseas. Your dog must meet all the department’s import conditions for the relevant country of export in order to return to Australia - this may include preparations before the dog leaves Australia. Further information is on the webpage cats and dogs returning to Australia. Animals exported from Australia that meet the incoming country requirements as an assistance dog do not automatically qualify to be imported to Australia as an assistance dog.
We recommend that you contact the department on 1800 900 090 (within Australia) or +61 3 8318 6700 (outside Australia) or by email for advice specific to your circumstances.
Can I still import my dog if it doesn’t meet the eligibility criteria for assistance dogs?
You may apply to import your dog under the standard import conditions for dogs, which are detailed at Bringing cats and dogs (and other pets) to Australia.
If you wish to apply to import your dog under non-standard import conditions but your dog does not meet the eligibility criteria described above, you may submit any supporting information you wish to be assessed on the basis of equivalence to the department’s biosecurity import policy and eligibility criteria for assistance dogs. A delegate of the Director of Biosecurity will ultimately make their decision whether to grant an import permit, and which biosecurity conditions to impose on a permit (if granted), under the Australian Biosecurity Act 2015.
It is a criminal offence under the Criminal Code Act 1995 to knowingly give false or misleading information to a Commonwealth officer exercising powers under Commonwealth law. This offence carries a potential penalty of 12 months imprisonment.
Can I take my assistance dog on an Australian or international cruise ship?
In certain circumstances an assistance dog resident in Australia may be able to travel on an Australian or international cruise ship within domestic Australian waters.