Animals on vessels

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Animals on board vessels that have recently visited overseas countries may have come in contact with other animals carrying exotic pests and diseases, such as African swine fever, screw worm fly, rabies, Newcastle disease and foot and mouth disease, and therefore pose a biosecurity risk.

The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources requires that all animal s 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 as advised by the department, such as when the vessel is left unattended .

Definition of animal

The term 'animals' includes cats, dogs, fish, birds and reptiles. 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 import into Australia.

All animal waste must be disposed of in a manner approved by the department. These arrangements may change on a port-by-port basis, therefore you are ​​ advised to check with the local port biosecurity officer.

Importing animals

If you are planning to import animals to Australia, you will have to comply with conditions set by the department.

Only dogs and cats may be eligible for import as pets. Owners must apply for an import permit and meet all import conditions (including health certification) to be eligible, and generally require a mandatory period of quarantine in an Australian post entry quarantine facility. All costs associated with importation are at the owner’s expense. Applications to import an animal into Australia will be assessed by the department on a case by case basis.

Dogs or cats on board returning Australian registered vessels that are to remain in Australia permanently must also meet import conditions.

Last reviewed: 4 November 2019
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