If you’re wondering where to start with the process of importing your dog to Australia, don’t worry, we have you covered! Australia’s leading travel dog expert, Shandos from Travelnuity is bringing you everything you need to know about pet transport to Australia.
But what about importing your pets to Australia? If you’re unsure where to start, Shandos took her miniature Dachshund, Schnitzel along on her journey through Europe, USA and ending in Australia.
Australia has some of the strictest biosecurity laws in the world. To ensure many diseases are kept out of the country, your pet will require a long series of tests and treatments and, yes, a stay in quarantine upon arrival. Here’s what you need to know before you start the process of bringing your pets to Australia…
Table of Contents
1. How long will my dog be in quarantine in Australia?
Not long ago, many people relocating to Australia choose to give their pets away for one key reason. The quarantine period required for dogs and cats arriving in Australia up until about a decade ago was a lengthy two months. Even until 2012, a month-long stay was required. Such a long period of time, not only for yourself, but more so for your pet stuck in quarantine, not knowing what’s happening or if they’ll ever be reunited with you.
10 days quarantine time for your pets coming to Australia
Luckily these days the quarantine period is shorter in Australia. The standard period of time is just 10 days, assuming your animal remains in good health with no ticks or fleas. This is how long my dog stayed in quarantine when we returned to Australia.
If you’re wondering if you can visit your dog in quarantine in Australia, unfortunately no visits are allowed. There’s also now only a single quarantine facility, on the outskirts of Melbourne.
There is only one country where dogs and cats travelling to Australia are exempted from quarantine: New Zealand. (Plus the Australian territories of Norfolk Island and the Cocos (Keeling) Islands.)
2. How long does it take to bring my dog into Australia?
The time required to prepare your dog or cat to travel to Australia varies depending on what treatments your pet has already had. If you’re starting from scratch, a seven-month preparation period is required. The main factor is that Australia requires your pet to have a rabies neutralising antibody titre test at least 180 days before travelling to Australia. And this test needs to be done 3-4 weeks after your pet is vaccinated for rabies.
So, if your pet has never been vaccinated for rabies, or is not up-to-date on their shots, the total period required is seven months. If your first step is having the titre test, at least six months (180 days) is required. Alternatively, if you have had this test done within the last two years for travel elsewhere, still allow at least two months for the various steps.
3. Should I use a pet transport company to Australia?
If you’re taking a dog or cat to Australia, the government has a well laid-out series of steps to follow. Find the appropriate steps for your dog or cat depending on your export country here.
However, if you’re not familiar with preparing an animal for travel, it is quite daunting. (Especially for dog owners, with more steps required.) And if everything isn’t done correctly, including on the right dates, your pet may be denied permission to travel to Australia until you’ve re-completed the preparation.
For this reason, consider using a pet transport company.
⇒Firstly, they’re used to doing this every day, so are familiar with the steps required and can help organise everything.
⇒Secondly, they can take responsibility for making sure everything is ticked off and done on the correct dates, taking a burden off your shoulders at a busy time.
⇒Thirdly, if something goes wrong, which could happen even if all the correct steps is done, such as if your pet falls ill, they can help make alternative arrangements.
4. How much does it cost to bring my pets into Australia?
Regular airfares these days aren’t that expensive, even to Australia. If you’re wondering how much it costs to bring your pets into Australia, you’ll get a bit of a shock. Not only is there the actual flight cost for your pet (which is usually higher than your own seat), but there’s also the import fee, quarantine fee, vet costs and other administrative costs.
When planning to fly my dog back to Australia from Europe, I heard stories of people receiving quotes of around $8,000-$10,000 from pet transport companies. (And was that in Australian dollars, US dollars, or Euros? And what was included? I didn’t double check.)
Because of the cost, I decided to make all the preparations myself, and fly my dog home via a couple of months in the US. The prospect of dealing with English-speaking vets in the US rather than vets in Greece (my final stop in Europe) was also welcoming.
Many airlines don’t allow you to directly book a pet for transport to Australia, just via a pet transport company. However, Qantas allows direct bookings on flights going on a single code to Melbourne (the destination your pet has to arrive, as that is where quarantine is located). Our dog flew with Qantas on flight QF94 from Los Angeles to Melbourne, just one of many animals in the hold that day. Another option (and the only one from Europe) is flight QF10 from London to Melbourne.
The total cost for my small 5kg dog ended up being about $5,500 AUD, including everything from his crate to the extra flight up to our home in Sydney.
The biggest single cost was the quarantine fee, followed by his flight.
Be prepared for a higher cost for larger dogs (for the flight component). Cats should be cheaper as the multiple blood tests required for dogs don’t apply.
You can find out more about the breakdown on all of the costs here.
5. Pets must fly in the hold to Australia
You may have noticed above that I referred to animals flying in the hold. Similar to the restrictions in the UK, pets flying on planes in Australia need to travel in the hold. This applies on all flights to and from Australia, as well as domestic flights.
The only exception is for approved assistance dogs, with a stringent list of requirements. Emotional support dogs are unlikely to be approved. Contact the airline well in advance, as an application process may be required.
6. Check your pet’s eligibility
There are a few more obstacles that you may need to consider. For starters, there are a few breeds of cats and dogs that are not allowed to enter Australia. For cats, this applies to all hybrid breeds, including savannah cats and bengal cats.
For dogs, the following breeds are prohibited:
Domestic/non-domestic hybrids such as wolf-dog hybrids
American pit bull terrier or pit bull terrier
Perro de Presa Canario or Presa Canario
Secondly, pets are only allowed to be imported from Australia from an approved list of countries. This includes most more developed nations (including the UK, US, Canada, Singapore and South Africa), but excludes many countries in Africa, Asia and South America.
For a full list of approved countries, see the list of Group 1, Group 2 and Group 3 countries in this glossary.
If you wish to import your dog or cat to Australia from a country that is not on these lists, you will need to go via a country that is on the list. This will involved moving your cat or dog to this country at least 4 weeks prior to their final journey to Australia.
7. Don’t bring your dog into Australia temporarily
Once your pet has arrived in Australia, ideally you’re expecting them to stay in Australia for a long period of time.
For starters, I would discourage you from bringing your pet to Australia if you’re only temporarily staying for a short period of time. This includes if you’re just visiting Australia on a holiday, plus I would include any temporary stays up to a year. (Or perhaps six months, if you’re committed.)
This is partially due to the cost of importing your dog to Australia, but also the stay in quarantine and amount of work it takes to prepare your pet (especially dogs). Note that the cost to take a pet back overseas from Australia is still significant, although far less than bringing them to Australia. The main cost is just the flight cost. (When I had my small dog flown from Sydney to Madrid by a pet transport company, including door-to-door transport and the inspection appointment, the cost was around $3000 AUD.)
Also don’t be expecting to take your pet on any upcoming overseas holidays, including trips back to your home country. The rules for bringing pets to Australia apply to all pets, even if they are originally from Australia. I would only take a pet back out of Australia if it’s a permanent or long-term move. Instead, look into the options for pet-friendly holidays in Australia.
Shandos Cleaver is the founder and blogger-in-chief of Travelnuity, a travel blog focused on dog-friendly travel around the world. Shandos recently returned to Australia after spending nearly two years travelling around Europe and the USA with her Miniature Dachshund, Schnitzel. On her blog she shares hands-on information for other people wishing to travel with their dog.
7 tips for importing your dog to Australia
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