Live animals onboard vessels may introduce serious diseases to Australia such as African swine fever, screw worm fly, rabies, Newcastle disease, and foot and mouth disease, and therefore pose a risk to the health of Australian animals, people and environment. Animals include cats, dogs, fish, birds, ruminants, pigs, rodents and reptiles.
Animals onboard vessels that are imported to Australian territory must meet the conditions set by the department for that species. An animal is considered to have been imported to Australia once the animal is within 12 nautical miles of Australian territory. Not all species are eligible for import to Australia.
The vessel master must notify the department of the presence of animals on board before arrival at the first port of call in Australia. Animals that enter Australian waters without complying with Australia’s import conditions will be treated as illegally imported animals and may be directed for export or destruction (euthanasia).
Dogs and cats
If you wish to import your cat or dog to Australia, you must prepare your animal to meet the relevant import conditions, which includes travel directly to Melbourne International Airport as manifest air cargo. You can find more information at Bringing cats and dogs to Australia.
Other species of pets arriving in Australian ports or transiting within Australian waters onboard a non-commercial vessel such as a yacht, without a valid import permit, are not permitted. These species that arrive in Australian territory without a valid import permit will be treated as illegally imported animals.
Where commercial vessels arrive in Australian ports or are transiting within Australian waters with live animals onboard, conditions will be imposed to manage the biosecurity risk.
A ship's pet may be any type of animal except for ruminants (such as goats and cattle), fowl (including chickens and pigeons) or rodents of any kind. If the ship’s pet is a ruminant, fowl or rodent, it will not be permitted into Australian territory.
All animals must be confined and controlled at all times while the vessel is in Australian ports or waters. The control and confinement of the animal is most important during cyclonic conditions or other emergency situations, or in other circumstances that we advise, such as when the vessel is left unattended.
All animal waste must be disposed of in a department-approved manner. These arrangements may change on a port-by-port basis, therefore you are advised to check with the local port biosecurity officer.
Fees will apply for the attendance of biosecurity officers, inspection and disposal of animal waste. See fee for service charges.
A biosecurity officer will manage stowaway animals (e.g. hitchhiking birds that have landed on a vessel due to exhaustion) as necessary to mitigate the associated biosecurity risks