16 February 2021
Who does this notice affect?
This notice is for all airlines, freight forwarders, pet transport companies, and importers of cats and dogs to Australia from countries other than New Zealand and Norfolk Island.
What has changed?
COVID-19 impact on Cat and Dog imports to Australia
The department is continuing to handle a high number of enquiries due to the impact of COVID-19. We appreciate your understanding and patience as we respond to these enquiries.
We are aware of the significant and world-wide disruption to air travel including flight cancellations and airline-imposed restrictions. This means pet importers and owners are experiencing difficulties organising the transport of their animals to Australia.
The current COVID-19 pandemic does not change the existing risks posed by diseases of biosecurity concern to Australia or the need for cats and dogs to meet import conditions in full. This includes the requirement for cats and dogs to hold a valid permit for import to Australia.
Cat and Dog Import Permits
We are continuing to process import permit applications and there are no changes to import conditions for cats and dogs in relation to COVID-19 at this time.
Frequently asked questions
Can I still import my cat or dog to Australia?
Yes. Cats and dogs can be imported to Australia with a valid import permit and veterinary health certification.
Any cats or dogs that arrive into Australia without a valid import permit and necessary veterinary health certification will be considered non-compliant and subject to action. This may include export from Australia or euthanising the animal.
How do I apply for an import permit?
You can submit your application for a permit to import a live animal through our import conditions database, BICON. The step-by-step guides on the Bringing cats and dogs to Australia website explain what you need to do to import your animal to Australia, including how to apply for a permit.
You may ask us to consider commencing validity of the permit on a specific future date (up to maximum 6 months in advance). We will consider your requested start date, where appropriate, when deciding if a permit can be granted.
What fees do I need to pay when I apply for an import permit?
The applicant is responsible for payment of lodgement and assessment fees for an import permit application. You can find further information about fees for cat and dog import permit applications.
How long does it take for a decision to be made on my application?
We endeavour to decide whether to grant an import permit within 20 business days of receiving a completed and fully paid application. Submitting an application does not guarantee that we will grant a permit. We assess each application independently and make our decisions based on the associated biosecurity risks.
The Biosecurity Act 2015 prescribes that a decision must be made on an import permit application within 123 days of receipt, however we may pause the decision-making period if we require further information to complete the application or biosecurity risk assessment. This includes verification of information, or undertaking of a Fit and Proper Persons test, at the department’s discretion.
We recommend that you apply for an import permit at least six weeks before your pet’s intended travel date.
Can my application be expedited so I receive my permit sooner?
No. We process all applications in the order received to provide a fair and equitable service to all clients. Subsequently, we process incomplete applications according to the date all information is received.
You can reduce processing delays by ensuring you submit a fully completed application with all required and correctly completed supporting documents.
Can I change the information submitted with my permit application?
You can request changes to your application by emailing Imports and referencing your application number, or by sending correspondence to us through your BICON account.
We will advise you if we require further information to assess the change.
Can I change the contact details on an import permit?
The person who originally applied for a finalised import permit can submit a permit variation request by logging into their BICON account. If the original applicant is no longer involved with your import, you will need to submit a new application, including all required supporting documentation.
We will advise you if further information is required for us to assess each application.
Can I change the animal details on my application or import permit?
We require a veterinary history or microchip registration certificate that verifies a cat or dog’s breed before we will consider changing the breed listed on an application or finalised import permit.
How long is my import permit valid for?
As of 1 March 2021, an import permit for a cat or dog will be valid for 12 months or until the Rabies Neutralising Antibody Titre (RNAT) test expires (where applicable), whichever occurs first.
If your cat or dog’s RNAT is close to expiring, we recommend that you arrange for a new test to be performed before the current test expires, and submit both laboratory reports, with endorsement on an RNATT Declaration, with your permit application.
Can I extend the expiry date on my import permit?
No. If you do not import your animal before their import permit expires, you must apply for a new import permit. You will need to submit all required supporting documentation and pay applicable lodgement and assessment fees.
Why can’t the department waive fees for import permits during the pandemic?
The fees and charges for import permit assessment are legislated in the Biosecurity Regulation 2016 and Biosecurity Charges Imposition (General) Regulation 2016. Therefore, we can’t waive permit application and assessment fees.
The Australian Government’s Cost Recovery Policy requires the department to recoup the cost of providing its biosecurity services through the implementation of fees for services provided. This means the individuals who benefit from these services are responsible for payment of associated costs, reducing the burden to the Australian taxpayer.
Can I be refunded the import permit fees if I don’t use my permit?
As we operate on a cost recovery basis, the import permit application fee is non-refundable once our officers process an application. The fees are for the lodgement and assessment of an import permit application, not the granting or use of a permit.
If you require further information, please call 1800 900 090 or email Imports.