We’ve mentioned a few times that bringing a cat or dog to Australia can be a complicated and lengthy process, taking careful planning and attention to detail to handle successfully.
While we’ve covered Australia in our Spotlight Series in the past, we thought it might be helpful to revisit certain pieces that add to the complexity of the rules to import pets to Australia.
Read on to learn more about import permits, quarantine, and other helpful tips to learn how to build a successful move plan for your pet.
Ready to speak with an expert about your pet’s move? Contact us to get in touch with our dedicated Australia team to plan safe travels for your pet!
Pet Import Requirements for Australia
What requirements or processes you’ll need to follow to import your pet to Australia is largely determined by the country your pet will be coming from. Australia groups countries into four separate categories: Group 1 (New Zealand, Norfolk Island, and Cocos Island), Group 2 (approved rabies-free countries or territories), Group 3 (approved countries or territories where rabies is absent or well-controlled), and Non-Approved Countries. As the group number increases, the rules and regulations you will have to follow to import your pet increase as well.
If you are planning on moving to Australia with a pet other than a cat or dog, this may not be possible if you are coming from a country other than New Zealand. Australia has strict policies when it comes to importing other species in order to protect the current animal population and environment. It is best to check the BICON (Biosecurity Import Conditions) System to see if your pet is permitted to be imported into Australia.
We do recommend referencing the DAFF (Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry) website for guidance on your pet’s travels to Australia, but it is important to keep in mind that your origin country’s export procedures and nuances are not included in the information provided.
Obtaining an Import Permit
After your dog or cat has passing results for the Rabies Antibody Titer Test and these results have been endorsed by a government entity, it is time to apply for an import permit using Australia’s BICON (Biosecurity Import Conditions) System.
In order to use BICON, you’ll need to first create a user account. Once you have an account, you simply follow the prompts BICON provides to apply for your pet’s import permit. It is important to note that you are expected to upload your pet’s relevant documentation (like a rabies certificate, Rabies Antibody Titer Test results, and the RNATT Declaration from your country’s government) with the import application so have those files ready before beginning the application process.
When it is time to pay for your pet’s import fees, you have the option to either pay by credit card or receive an invoice to pay at a later date. Keep in mind that the import permit application will not be assessed until full payment is made.
Most import permits take 10 to 20 days to be assessed, but it can take longer in busy seasons or if you have a complicated import permit application. Either way, you can track the progress of your application on the BICON system and you will receive an email if there are any issues with your application or once the permit has been processed.
Booking Quarantine for Cats and Dogs
Once you have received your pet’s import permit, you can request quarantine space at the Mickleham facility in Melbourne. It is important to do this in advance of your pet’s arrival as much as possible, as space can fill up quickly and your pet’s import permit does not guarantee availability.
To make a quarantine booking, you must use the Post Entry Biosecurity System. This system will walk you through each section needed to confirm space for your pet. Be prepared to supply your pet’s import permit information, along with flight information in order to securely book quarantine.
Similar to the import permit application, you can check your pet’s reservation status using the Post Entry Biosecurity System and make any changes or updates to the reservation as needed. Please also keep in mind that you’ll need to schedule a release appointment for your pet on this system to handling picking them up from quarantine after the mandatory 10-day period.
After your booking is tentatively accepted, you must pay all quarantine fees in full to confirm your pet’s quarantine space. The invoice for quarantine fees will be sent with your pet’s tentative booking, along with payment instructions.
Quarantine Accommodations - Feeding, Medication, and More
Quarantine may seem like a scary time for your pet, especially since there is no visitation allowed, but Mickleham offers great accommodations and care to pets during their quarantine stay. Often times, they assign a specific handler to each pet to ensure the handler can closely monitor any changes during the pet’s quarantine period and react appropriately.
Each pet is also assigned their own room so pets that are within the same family cannot stay together. This is so the staff can monitor their food and water intake properly and take action should any pet not be handling the stay well. In an event where the staff notices a dog in a family is not handling the new environment well, they will move the dog to the same run as the other family dog to help provide comfort.
Although Mickleham provides high-quality dry food for all cats and dogs staying at the facility once daily (unless otherwise advised by a veterinarian), some pets have sensitive diets and may need special food during their quarantine stay. If this is the case for your pet, you will need to note this on your pet’s import permit application under the “special needs” section. On top of this, you will need to source your pet’s food in Australia to have it posted to Mickleham along with a veterinary letter.
If your pet requires medication during the quarantine period, this must also be noted in the “special needs” section of the import permit application and a letter from your veterinarian listing your pet’s medical history, medication, and dosage must be uploaded as well. The medication, similar to special dietary food, must be sourced in Australia to be provided during quarantine since medication is not allowed to travel with your pet. Also, you will need to make arrangements with a private veterinarian in Australia to visit your pet in quarantine to prescribe the appropriate medication. You can email the booking and invoicing team at PEQservices@agriculture.gov.au to make these arrangements for your pet.
If you have other questions about quarantine care and housing for your pet at Mickleham, you are welcome to ask your PetRelocation specialist or visit the Australia website covering this information here.
Pet Export Requirements for Leaving Australia
Leaving Australia with your pet is a much simpler process than entering Australia with your pet. You will just need to follow your destination country’s import requirements, send a “Notice of Intention to Export” to the Live Animal office in Australia, and (once that has been approved) make an appointment with the Live Animal office along with a registered vet for the issuance of your pet’s export permit and health certificate within 72 hours of your pet’s travel.
If you’re planning on returning to Australia after your pet travels abroad, you will need to notify the Live Animal office of this. Depending on what country you are traveling to, you may not be able to directly re-import your pet to Australia. Also, a rabies vaccination and Rabies Antibody Titer Test may be required, prior to your departure, in order for your pet to successfully return. In any case, we recommend reading the rules to re-import pets to Australia on the website here.