MOVING PETS TO AUSTRALIA
Cats and dogs can be imported to Australia under strict conditions designed to manage biosecurity risks. Moving pets to Australia is a complicated process. Pets are required to have an Import Permit and serve a minimum mandatory 10 day quarantine. Pets coming in from New Zealand or Norfolk Island may not require an import permit, however conditions apply.
What requirements or process 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 USA approved countries or territories where rabies is absent or well-controlled). 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.
Important advice for importers of cats and dogs to Australia regarding the microchip:
All prospective importers of cats and dogs (including assistance dogs) to Australia from Group 2
or 3 approved countries including those following the non-approved country via Group 2 or 3
approved country processes. All prospective importers, animal transport company representatives and other persons
responsible for the preparation of cats and dogs for export to Australia of the critical importance
of ensuring that the animal’s microchip is functional and the unique number is correctly recorded
on all import documentation. All cats and dogs (including assistance dogs) destined for Australia from or via Group 2 and 3
approved countries must be identified by a microchip that can be read by an Avid, Trovan, Destron or other ISO compatible reader. Upon arrival in Australia, all cats and dogs are scanned and the microchip number is verified
against the animal’s import documentation. If after arrival an animal’s microchip is found to be not functional or the unique number not correctly recorded on import documentation, including laboratory reports, the animal will be held in extended quarantine which can result in emotional distress and significant cost and in extreme cases it will be directed for export or euthanized. If the microchip number is incorrectly recorded on the rabies neutralizing antibody titer test (RNATT) laboratory report (where required), the animal will almost certainly be directed for export or euthanased.
Instructions for prospective importers and animal transport company representatives:
1. At each veterinary visit for testing, treatments and examinations prior to export to Australia, a Government Approved Veterinarian or Official Government Veterinarian must scan the animal’s microchip, verify the number and ensure that the number is correctly recorded on all documentation including laboratory submission forms.
2. If at any veterinary visit an animal’s microchip cannot be read or if the unique number is incorrectly recorded on the animal’s import documentation, the animal cannot be imported to Australia and the importer should immediately seek written advice from the Australian Government Department of Agriculture and Water Resources. In some cases, the entire import process will need to be restarted.
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
All pets arriving Australia, must arrive at Melbourne and directly to Mickleham Quarantine Facility. 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.
and invoicing team at PEQservices@agriculture.gov.au to make these arrangements for your pet.
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 or cat in a family is not handling the new environment well, they will move the pet to the same run as the other family pet 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 led and strict timeline for the internal and external parasite treatments as well as the required blood tests. All pets must have a rabies titer test, parasite treatments and additional blood tests for dogs.
Import Requirements for Cats and Dogs moving to Australia
RNATT Rabies Titer Test
- Wait 3-4 weeks between the rabies vaccination and blood sample collection for the RNATT test, but if the dog has a history of regular rabies vaccinations it may be possible to collect the blood sample sooner.
- The RNATT test must meet the following requirements:
- A government approved veterinarian must scan the dog’s microchip and collect the blood sample for the RNATT test in an approved country.
- The dog’s microchip number must be written accurately on the blood tube and the laboratory submission form.
- The testing laboratory must be approved by the competent authority in the exporting country. It is acceptable to draw blood in an approved country and test it at a laboratory in a different approved country.
- The testing laboratory must use either a fluorescent antibody virus neutralization (FAVN) test or a rapid fluorescent focus inhibition test (RFFIT).
- The laboratory report must be in English and completed on the testing laboratory’s letterhead. It must include:
- the dog’s microchip number
- the blood sampling date and location
- the signature of the person issuing the laboratory report
- the test type and test result
- A result of 0.5 IU/ml or more is acceptable. A result of less than 0.5 IU/ml is not acceptable and in this circumstance you must re-vaccinate and repeat the testing process.
- The RNATT test is valid for 24 months from the date of blood sampling. If the RNATT test is more than 24 months old at the time of export it is not valid and you cannot export the dog to Australia. You must have your dog retested.
- The dog is not eligible for export to Australia until at least one hundred and eighty (180) days after the date the blood sample is drawn for the RNATT test (with a satisfactory result). There is no requirement for the dog to stay in an approved country during this period.
Note: There are no exceptions or dispensations available for this mandatory 180 day waiting period.
Approved Parasite Treatments
A list of external and internal parasite treatments specifically approved by Australia can be found at: