As the Australian Pet Shipping Specialist here at PetRelocation.com, I ship pets to Australia on a weekly basis. All of our pets departing from the US en route to Australia will have a comfort stop in Los Angeles. During this stop, there's quite a bit of paperwork required to be done in the final hours before a pet departs for Australia: veterinary health checks, USDA sign-off, and a lot of paperwork. Recently I decided it would be a worthwhile trip to travel with one of our globe-trotting pets on this trek to Los Angeles to oversee firsthand all of these last-minute preparations.
Meet Harley, a 6 and 1/2 year old Lab mix who is moving from Houston, TX to Perth, WA Australia. Harley will be leading me through the first leg of her trip from Houston to Los Angeles. While in Los Angeles, she will show me the pet-friendly parks at the Los Angeles Airport (also known as "pet relief areas"). She'll also introduce me to her vet in LA who will perform some final treatments for her, as well as take me to the Kennel Club LAX where she will enjoy a final relaxing night before embarking on her big Pacific crossing. Just before she takes off from US soil, Harley will take us to the USDA for her final paperwork review and kennel sealing. Then it's off to Air New Zealand to get checked in on her flight!
When getting ready for a pet move to Australia there are 5 main things you need to be aware of that can trip you and your four-legged friends up if you aren't careful:
It takes a total of 150 days to prepare a pet to move to Australia from the US, and once they arrive they will need to spend an additional 30 days in quarantine. If you don't start the process early enough, your pet may have to stay behind until they are approved to enter the country.
2: Vets and Blood Work
In order to prepare a pet for a move to Australia there are quite a few vet visits and blood-work that must be completed in advance of your move. It is very important to make sure your vet is USDA Accredited before starting any blood work or else your paperwork will not be considered valid for entry.
3: The USDA
In the process of preparing a pet for a move to Australia, the USDA will check your pet's paperwork twice. Once before you apply for the Australian Import Permit, and again just before your pet departs. This 2nd USDA check is actually handled at the airport on the day of departure and once the USDA has completed this check, your pets kennel will be "sealed" and cannot be opened again until they arrive into Australia. It is for this reason why it is always best to arrange for your pet to depart directly from Los Angeles or the West Coast to limit the amount of time your pet's kennel will have to be sealed. If you do depart from another city other than Los Angeles, you will need to arrange for the USDA to meet you at the airport. While this can be done, it can be quite difficult to arrange for this off-site appointment with a government official and can add additional stresses to a day typically filled with enough stress as it is!
4: AQIS (Australia Quarantine and Inspection Service)
This is the governing body in Australia that regulates and oversees all pets coming in to or going out of the country. You will be working closely with AQIS in preparing your pet for their move; applying for and acquiring an import permit, making reservations at one of the three approved quarantine facilities (Sydney, Perth and Melbourne). While in the US, the time change can make it difficult to coordinate communication with AQIS. The best way to communicate with them is via email, although it does take a day or two to get a response. Keep this in mind as you plan your move timeline.
Whether you already live in Los Angeles or your pet needs to cross the US in order to get to LAX for their big Australia departure, you are going to have to work closely with at least one pet-friendly airline if not two. Each airline has their own polices and it is recommended that you begin to look into booking your pet's ticket well in advance, keeping in mind that most carriers won't allow you to confirm your pet's flight until you are within 10 days of their trip.
This is just a taste of what is involved in preparing a pet for a move "down under." The easiest way to deal with each of these possible pitfalls? Let PetRelocation facilitate your pet's big move for you.
Stay tuned for more updates from my travels with Harley on her big day!