Cats and dogs frequently asked questions
Eligibility for import
What cat breeds cannot be imported into Australia?
Domestic/non domestic hybrids cannot be imported to Australia in accordance with the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. Hybrid cats include, but are not limited to:
- Savannah cat, domestic cat (Felis catus) crossed with serval cat (Felis serval)
- Safari cat, domestic cat crossed with Geoffroy cat (Oncifelis geoffroyi)
- Chausie, domestic cat crossed with Jungle cat (Felis chaus)
- Bengal cat, domestic cat crossed with Asian leopard cat (Prionailurus bengalensis).
Please contact the Department of the Environment and Energy on +61 2 6274 2678 or email Exotic Species for more information.
When submitting an application to import to the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment, you must state the breed of your cat and sign a declaration stating that it is not an ineligible breed.
What dog breeds cannot be imported into Australia?
The following pure breeds cannot be imported into Australia under the legislation of the Department of Home Affairs :
- dogo Argentino
- fila Brasileiro
- Japanese Tosa
- American pit bull terrier or pit bull terrier
- Perro de Presa Canario or Presa Canario
Please contact the Department of Home Affairs on +61 2 6264 1111 or 131 881 (within Australia) for more information.
Domestic/non domestic hybrids (e.g. dog-wolf crosses) are also prohibited. This includes, but is not limited to:
- Czechoslovakian wolfdog or Czechoslovakian Vlcak
- Saarloos wolfdog or Saarloos wolfhound
- Lupo Italiano or Italian wolfdog
- Kunming wolfdog or Kunming dog.
Please contact the Department of the Environment and Energy on +61 2 6274 2678 or email Exotic Species for more information.
When submitting an application to import to the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment, you must state the breed of your dog and sign a declaration stating that it is not an ineligible breed.
Are there any age restrictions for older animals?
No. An import permit will not be refused based on an animal’s age. Please seek advice from your veterinarian if you’re concerned about the animal’s age and how they may handle the journey and quarantine in Australia. Your veterinarian can advise if you need to change the animal’s care to prepare them for travel.
Older cats and dogs may be more likely to dehydrate on long flights. Dehydration can have severe adverse effects such as renal failure.
You can provide food and water in the transport crate for the journey to Australia. Discuss the best way to do this with the airline and your veterinarian. Depending on the containers you use, you may need to train your animal to use them before departure (e.g. dripping water dispensers). Any food arriving with your animal will be destroyed in Australia.
If you’re concerned about how your animal will handle the trip, arrange for them to arrive in Australia early in the week. This will help staff settle them into their accommodation and, if required, arrange early veterinary attention.
Provide the quarantine facility with any special information they may need to care for your animal.
Can my cat or dog be imported into Australia if he/she has a medical condition?
Category of exporting country
What is an approved country and how do I know which country group applies to my animal’s import?
An approved country is any country, administrative region or territory from which Australia allows the import of cats and dogs and their semen. Approved countries are divided into three groups, each with different import conditions. The glossary of terms lists the countries in each group.
Approved countries have adequate animal health services and a satisfactory animal health status. This provides a high level of assurance in the treatment, management and health status of cats and dogs being imported to Australia.
Why do animals from some countries need different preparations?
Preparations depend on the recognised rabies status of the country of export.
- Group 1 & 2 countries are recognised by the Australian Government as rabies-free.
- Group 3 countries are not recognised as rabies-free.
My country is not approved for export to Australia. What should I do?
You can import your cat or dog to Australia via an approved group 2 or 3 country. Moving your animal(s) to another country will also require you to meet that country's import conditions. Discuss your plan with your approved group 2 or 3 exporting country of choice.
You must apply for an Australian import permit for your animal and the animal must meet all Australian import conditions from the approved exporting country.
Can my dog or cat undergo testing, treatments or examinations in more than one approved country?
Yes. As long as the Official Government Veterinarian who will sign and stamp the Veterinary Health Certificate in the country of export is prepared to accept and approve the testing, treatments or examinations performed in another approved country.
Applying for an import permit
How long will it take for me to get my cat or dog’s import permit?
It can take up to 20 business days. The department processes each application as soon as possible from the date of submission.
If your application is incomplete, processing will be delayed until the department receives all required information.
What type of microchip should my cat or dog have?
Your animal must be implanted with a microchip that can be read by Avid, Trovan, Destron or an ISO compatible microchip reader. Most microchip numbers are 9, 10 or 15 digits long.
Microchip numbers starting with 999 are not acceptable because they are not unique.
Microchips are the only approved identification method. Your cat or dog should be scanned at each visit to the veterinarian and must be scanned before any pre-export blood sampling.
If the microchip cannot be read or found in Australia, or the microchip number is inconsistent on any import paperwork, your cat or dog may be exported from Australia.
You may send a microchip scanner with the animal to ensure that its microchip can be scanned and verified upon arrival in Australia.
What if my cat or dog has two microchips?
Both microchip numbers must be included on the import permit application, laboratory reports and the final import permit. Both microchips should be scanned at each veterinary visit to ensure they match all import documentation.
What if my cat or dog’s microchip stops working?
The veterinarian should use multiple microchip scanners to try to read the microchip in the animal. An x-ray may be conducted to locate the microchip in case it has moved from the implant site.
If the microchip still cannot be read, a new microchip must be implanted and the pre-export process, including all testing, treatments and examinations, must begin again.
Your cat or dog must arrive in Australia with a microchip that can be scanned and linked to the import permit and any accompanying laboratory reports. If the microchip cannot be scanned in Australia, or the microchip number is inconsistent on any import paperwork, your cat or dog may be exported from Australia.
Do I need to use a pet transport agent when I import my cat or dog?
No, but the department encourages importers to use a pet transport agent as it may be simpler and more effective than undertaking the process yourself. You can find a pet transport agent/pet shipper by entering the terms “import dog to Australia” or “import cat to Australia” into a search engine, or visiting the International Pet and Animal Transportation Association (IPATA) website.
The department is impartial and cannot recommend one agent over another.
Should I send original documents to the department?
The department recommends that you only send copies when you apply for an import permit.
Original documents must be signed and stamped by an official government veterinarian and must travel with your animal to Australia. Copies of the documents can be used, but they must bear the original signature of the official government veterinarian and stamp of the competent authority on every page.
Meeting import conditions
How early do I need to start preparing my animal?
The department recommends commencing preparations at least 7 months before the intended date of export for category 3 and non-approved countries. For category 2 countries, which do not require rabies preparations, we recommend starting the process at least two to three months before the intended date of export.
Please discuss treatments and tests with a government approved veterinarian in your country of export.
How do I know if the laboratory performing the rabies antibody testing is approved by the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment?
The Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment does not approve laboratories for rabies antibody testing. The government veterinary service in the country of export approves the laboratory.
The only time the department lists laboratories approved to do rabies antibody testing is when the cat or dog starts preparations in a non-approved country. In this case, the laboratory performing the initial rabies antibody testing must be either the Australian Animal Health Laboratory or one of the OIE rabies reference laboratories listed in the non-approved country via group 2 or 3 country step by step guide for cats or dogs.
Why do I have to wait 180 days after the rabies antibody testing before I can import my dog or cat?
It can take up to 180 days for an animal infected with the rabies virus to show signs of the disease. During this time there is no reliable way to tell if the animal has been infected.
When the rabies virus enters an animal it moves into the nervous tissue where antibodies can’t destroy it. There is no test that can reliably detect if the virus is hiding in a live animal’s nervous tissue. The only way to tell if an animal has the rabies virus is to observe it for at least 180 days to see if it develops clinical rabies. It can take this long for rabies to show itself in an infected animal. Australia is free from rabies and considering the potential severe consequences from the introduction of rabies, we take a conservative approach to preventing the entry of this disease.
The import of cats and dogs from rabies-endemic countries is one of the highest risk pathways for rabies to enter Australia. For this reason, our import conditions require cats and dogs entering from rabies-endemic countries to be vaccinated against rabies and show proven immunity to the disease for at least 180 days before entry. A rabies antibody titre level of 0.5IU/mL or above is internationally recognised as providing effective immunity against rabies in cats and dogs.
Does the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment grant any exemptions to the 180 day waiting period?
The only circumstance where the department will consider an exemption is where the cat or dog has had a rabies neutralising antibody titre test (RNATT) with an acceptable result of 0.5IU/ml or more before leaving Australia, and is due to return to Australia within 24 months from the date a blood sample was collected for that RNATT test.
The department will not grant exemptions for any other circumstances. This is an essential part of our risk management and cannot be waived.
What if there are import conditions and testing requirements that my cat or dog can’t meet?
Email the Animal and Biological Import Assessments Branch and indicate which import condition your cat or dog can’t meet and the reason why. You will need to suggest an alternative import condition and explain how the suggested alternative will provide a comparable level of risk management.
You should contact the department well in advance before submitting your import permit application.
In some cases, an equivalent or alternative import condition can be applied. But there are many cases where the suggested equivalent or alternative conditions are not suitable.
What products are acceptable as external parasite treatments?
An acceptable external parasite treatment is a product that kills ticks and fleas on contact. Oral products (such as NexGard and Bravecto) are not accepted because they require the tick or flea to bite the animal before they are affected by the product. Tick collars are not accepted because they can be removed from the animal and their effectiveness is reduced in some weather conditions.
How much will it cost to import my cat or dog to Australia?
There may be additional fees if the cat or dog needs extra parasite treatments, veterinary care, an extended stay in quarantine or other services including testing where there is suspicion that the cat or dog may be harboring a disease of biosecurity concern. There are also transport costs charged by the airline that the department has no control over.
Fees are subject to change. It is the client's responsibility to check our website for information on updates or amendments to fees, policies and procedures.
Partial payment for your animal’s quarantine accommodation is due at the time of booking.
Travel to Australia
Does my cat or dog have to fly into Melbourne?
Yes. Cats and dogs must arrive directly into Melbourne International Airport where we will transfer them to the post entry quarantine facility. They cannot land in another Australian airport and travel to Melbourne on an Australian domestic flight.
Can my cat or dog travel to Australia in the plane cabin with me?
No. Your cat or dog must travel to Australia as manifest cargo. Manifest cargo allows for traceability of your cat or dog.
Eligible assistance dogs may be exempt from this condition, and many airlines allow them to travel in the cabin.
Should my cat or dog be sedated for travel?
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) regulations do not recommend sedating or tranquilising pets for transport as it can be dangerous to their health. Drugs act differently at the pressure of 8,000 feet above sea level, which is the approximate air pressure in an aircraft during flight.
How do I make sure my cat or dog's travel crate is suitable?
Get an International Air Transport Association (IATA) approved crate for cats or dogs. The crate must meet IATA standards to ensure your animal’s safety. Crates that are too small, low or narrow may harm your animal.
Buy the travel crate well in advance and get your cat or dog used to it before the flight by putting his/her bedding and food in it.
Provide enough absorbent bedding to keep your cat or dog dry and comfortable during the flight. You can buy a ‘dry-bed’ type blanket such as those used in veterinary clinics, or a baby’s cot liner. The department does not recommend using newspaper instead of bedding. Crate bedding is generally soiled and will be destroyed on arrival due to biosecurity risk.
Ensure that a water container is fixed inside the crate, with an external funnel and hose. The people handling your cat or dog can then top-up the water from outside, as the crate cannot be opened after it is sealed by authorities in the country of export.
Make sure that your cat or dog knows how to drink from the water container before the flight, especially if you are using a ‘dripper’ type water bottle.
Can I bring my cat or dog into Australia on a yacht?
See animals on vessels for information on bringing your pet to Australia onboard an international vessel.
Quarantine in Australia
Can my cat or dog undertake post entry quarantine at home?
No. Cats and dogs can only undertake post entry quarantine at the Mickleham post entry quarantine facility in Melbourne.Different conditions may apply to eligible assistance dogs.
How long does my animal need to stay in quarantine?
All cats and dogs must stay at the Mickleham post entry quarantine facility in Melbourne for at least 10 days. They will have to stay longer if there are issues that increase the biosecurity risk (for example, if a tick is found on your dog, it will need to stay for 21-30+ days until blood testing is repeated at your cost).
Does my cat or dog still have to complete Australian quarantine if it is originally from Australia?
Yes. Even if your cat or dog was born in Australia, it may be exposed to exotic diseases when travelling overseas. Your cat or dog must meet all the department’s import conditions for the relevant country of export in order to return to Australia. See cats and dogs returning to Australia.
Can I make a booking for quarantine accommodation before I have my permit?
No. You can only book quarantine accommodation once you have your import permit. You must provide a valid permit number when booking your animal into quarantine.
How can I make sure my pet gets the earliest booking possible?
You can create a booking request by using the department’s Post Entry Biosecurity System. Alternatively, you can contact the Mickleham post entry quarantine facility via email or phone 1800 900 090 or +61 3 8318 6700 (outside Australia) as soon as you receive your import permit.
There may be a lot of clients trying to book quarantine and it may not be possible to meet all requests. An import permit does not guarantee a place at the quarantine facility for your requested date.
You have to pay part of the quarantine fee when you make your booking. Bookings will not be kept unless you pay.
Reservations must be submitted at least 14 days in advance of arrival. Reservations submitted within 14 days of arrival may not be approved. Alternative arrival dates may be required.
Arrival in Australia
How do I register my cat or dog’s microchip in Australia?
The department recommends that you register your cat or dog with a national microchip registry in Australia. It is the pet owner/importer’s responsibility to contact their local Australian council regarding animal registration, microchip registration and any other legal requirements. Your local veterinary hospital or animal shelter may be able to assist you.
The department does not have any involvement with local council and national microchip registration databases.
Where can I get further information?
Updates will be posted on our website, so please refer back frequently.
If you have read the information on our website and have further questions which have not been addressed, you can contact us via email or phone 1800 900 090 (within Australia) or +61 3 8318 6700 (outside Australia).
Links to External sites
Links to other websites are inserted for convenience and do not constitute endorsement by the department of material at those sites, or any associated organisation, product or service.
Before relying on the material in any important matter, users should carefully evaluate its accuracy, currency, completeness and relevance for their purposes, and should obtain any appropriate professional advice relevant to their particular circumstances.