145-2020 - Cat and Dog imports to Australia – impact of COVID-19 and Christmas shutdown

10 September 2020

Who does this notice affect?

This notice is for all airlines, freight forwarders, pet transport companies and importers of cats and dogs to Australia.

What has changed?

Staged restrictions in Victoria are continuing as a result of COVID-19. Despite restrictions, animals have continued to arrive into Melbourne International Airport, been collected by the department and taken to the Post Entry Quarantine (PEQ) facility in Mickleham, without issue. 

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 the import permit conditions in full. This includes the requirement for cats and dogs to arrive directly into Melbourne International Airport, excluding dogs and cats exported from New Zealand, or dogs holding an assistance dog permit. The department may consider re-exporting or euthanising animals that do not fulfill this requirement.

The information below is provided to assist with questions you may have.

Frequently asked questions

Can I still import my cat or dog to Australia?

Yes. Provided you hold a valid import permit and meet all import requirements, cats and dogs can be imported to Australia. The Post-Entry Quarantine facility is fully operational and is continuing to take booking requests to meet demand for PEQ animal reservations.

Passenger flights are hard to book. Are there other options to fly my pet to Australia?

Yes. Animals are frequently being imported on cargo flights. Private/charter flights are also being used to import cats and dogs.

Why does my pet have to arrive into Melbourne International Airport?

Import conditions for bringing cats and dogs to Australia require that they arrive directly into Melbourne International Airport where they can be transported to Australia’s state-of-the-art Post-Entry Quarantine facility nearby at Mickleham. International airports in other Australian states do not have quarantine facilities available to ensure Australia’s strict biosecurity requirements are maintained.

Why does Australia have one quarantine station?

The Australian Government committed $379.9 million over seven years to build the new government-owned and operated quarantine facility that integrated all previous post-entry quarantine functions in a single site. The single site approach has allowed greater efficiencies in operations, consolidated staff expertise into a single national centre of excellence and has lowered costs to government. This means the new buildings and supporting infrastructure are world’s best practice and able to flexibly adapt to meet changing quarantine requirements over the next 35 years.

The single quarantine facility also ensures that the thousands of animals that arrive in Australia each year are as comfortable as possible and that any biosecurity risks to Australia are appropriately managed.

Why can’t biosecurity conditions for cats and dogs be waived?

Import conditions for cats and dogs are based on scientific analysis and manage several diseases of biosecurity concern, including rabies. Rabies causes 60,000 human deaths per year. Australia is currently rabies-free. Introduction of rabies would have a devastating impact, which would be exacerbated if it occurred concurrently with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Will I be able to collect my pet from PEQ?

Pet owners and agents continue to be able to collect pets from PEQ at the scheduled time of release. Pet owners and agents are responsible for arranging the collection of their animals from PEQ, whether in person or by engaging the services of a local pet transport company.

Pet owners and agents are advised to check state or territory government websites for interstate travel movement restrictions prior to collecting their animals from PEQ or to engage the services of pet transport companies to collect or fly their animal’s interstate.

Pet owners and agents are also advised to bring copies of their release appointment and appropriate identification as proof that their animals require collection from PEQ in case they are stopped at the border or roadblocks in the greater Melbourne metropolitan area. 

Post Entry Quarantine facility (PEQ), Mickleham – Christmas shutdown period

The Post-Entry quarantine facility will remain fully operational and continue to accept booking requests for animal reservations until the final animal arrival date of Friday, 11 December 2020. As in previous year’s, PEQ booking reservations will be closed over the Christmas period and will recommence on Tuesday, 5 January 2021

Pet owners and agents are advised to make flight arrangements and PEQ reservations as soon as their import permit is approved.

Pet owners and agents must secure an airline booking directly into Melbourne Airport and are advised to confirm both the flight arrival date and the PEQ reservation date to receive their animal before being exported to Australia. Please email PEQservices@awe.gov.au if you wish to amend a PEQ reservation due to flight disruptions.

Further information

Importers are encouraged to check our website regularly or subscribe to our mailing list for up to date information as import conditions can change without notice.

If you require further information, please call 1800 900 090 or email Imports.


Last reviewed: 10 September 2020
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