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Bringing Pets to Australia

If you thought that meeting the criteria for visas for yourself and your family into was tricky, then bringing in family pet(s) is actually at least as complicated. Australia is free from many animal-related diseases found in other parts of the world. Your pet must meet all import conditions before they leave your home country. This article will help you understand the requirements for brining your pets to Australia.

Getting permission

To bring cats and dogs to Australia, they must meet all of the AQIS import conditions prior to export. This is to minimise the risk of exotic diseases being introduced into Australia. Australia is free from many animal-related diseases found in other parts of the world.
The Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS) are the body responsible for granting permission for the relocation of pets to Australia. Before applying for this permit in your country of origin, you will need to check a few things:

  • Your pet must be either a dog or a cat. It is incredibly hard to bring any other pet into Australia. The exception is a restricted list of birds allowed in from New Zealand.
  • No more than two cats and/or two dogs can be brought into Australia.
  • Your pet must have been living in your previous country of residence for at least 6 months.
  • Your pet must be at least 12 weeks old.
  • Serval cats (an African wild cat) or crossbreeds of Serval cats are not allowed into Australia.
  • Certain breeds of dog are forbidden. These include: Japanese Tosa, Pit Bull Terrier, American Pit Bull, Presa Canario, Perro de Presa Canario, Dogo Argentino, Fila Brazileiro.
  • Your pet must be at least 5 generations removed from any dog or cat that is not a domestic breed.
  • Female cats and dogs must not be more than 3 weeks pregnant, or suckling young.
  • Your pet must be micro-chipped.

If your pet meets these requirements, the real work begins.

Requirements for obtaining a permit from AQIS

Once you have determined your pet is eligible to come to Australia, you must obtain a permit from the AQIS. Each country has different requirements and it’s best to check the AQIS website to get the requirements for your specific country. As a rule of thumb, you will need to provide the following:

  • Veterinary Certificates
  • Registration
  • Medical Tests

Lodging Your Application

Armed with the appropriate documentation from your home country, you may apply online for the permit via the AQIS website. You may also apply through the post. Please be aware the AQIS processes a high volume of import permits and requires 15 days or more to process an application.

  • The cost of application for the permit is A$85 if done through the AQIS website and A$150 if applying through the mail. These prices are subject to change without notice.
  • You then need to pay an assessment fee. For the first cat or dog, the cost is $240 and another $80 for a second dog or cat. Again, these costs are subject to change without notice.

Transporting Your Pet

Pets are carried in special containers (which you have to supply) stowed in a dedicated part of the aircraft. For more information on this, visit the website of the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
Your pet will be tranquilised for the flight. Before taking off, your pet will be inspected again by a qualified vet. They will be sprayed and wormed according to Australian guidelines and all their papers will be checked. The vet’s signature is required before the animal leaves your home country.

Tip: It’s a good idea to insure your pet before departure.

Quarantine

All pets arriving in Australia must be kept in quarantine at an approved quarantine centre for a minimum of 30 days. There are three Pet Quarantine Centres in Australia - Perth, Melbourne and Sydney.

Things to bear in mind:

  • High demand for accommodation at these quarantine centres means you should book your pet 2-3 months before departure.
  • To book a place for your pet (s) in a quarantine centre you will need to provide:
          • Your personal details – name, telephone number
          • Point 2
    • A valid AQIS permit number
    • A flight number and the date and scheduled time of arrival in Australia
      • Animal details – breed, age, gender, weight, colour
        • An Air Waybill Number – You’ll find this on the receipt given by the transportation company for the dog or cat
  • Details of any special needs for your animal
  • Keeping your pet in the quarantine station will cost approximately A$1,000 for 30 days.
  • Confirm the transport of your pet the day before departure
  • The staff of the quarantine centre (or an AQIS contracted courier) will only pick up your pet from the airport, but only at certain times (6am-noon, Mon-Fri). They do not work weekends, or standard holiday times. Therefore, it is imperative you arrange for flights that are scheduled to get your pet to the destination at the correct time.
  • If you and your family arrive in Australia while your pet is in quarantine, you are allowed to visit only between certain times.

Pet Travel Services

Taking your pet to Australia is a time-consuming exercise adding more layers of work for anyone emigrating, especially if the move is for a family. You may decide to let a company take the strain. There are many pet travel services available. A quick search on Google will provide details for companies, especially in the US, Canada, New Zealand and Europe.
These companies are expensive, but they cover all the charges, organise the veterinary checks, acquisition of certificates and permits. They transport the pet to the airport, organise the pick-up at the airport and transport them to the obligatory quarantine centre.

Visit our Life in Australia section for more articles related to the subject Relocating to Australia.

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