10 Successful Tips for Importing Your Dog to Australia

If you are feeling overwhelmed and wondering where to start with the process of importing your dog to Australia, don’t worry, you have come to the right place! 

Moving to Australia is not only an amazing opportunity for yourself, but it is also a wonderful country for dogs to enjoy; with so many dog-friendly public spaces and dog-friendly activities for you to participate in, it is no wonder that most dog owners will want to move their dog with them to Australia.   

However, the process of importing a dog to Australia can be complex. To protect the local wildlife in Australia, the safety of all animals and the people of Australia, there are strict biosecurity regulations in place to shield from exotic and introduced diseases, such as rabies.  

Following all the rules for importing a dog to Australia is paramount because failure to comply could result in your dog being denied entry to the country, increased quarantine time or further, expensive testing.   

The below 10 Tips have been created to answer questions you may have about importing your dog to Australia, making sure it goes as smoothly as possible.  

1. How Long Will My Dog Be In Quarantine in Australia? 

Moving your dog to Australia has become much easier in recent years, with a shorter period of quarantine required for domestic animals. It used to be the case that a dog would have to spend months in quarantine; which led to many owners making the heart-breaking decision to re-home their beloved dog before immigrating to Australia. Nowadays, you can expect to be reunited with your dog after only 10 days in quarantine, providing your dog is in good health with no ticks or fleas.  Your dog will spend a minimum of 10 days in quarantine and will then be released back into your care.  

There is only one pet quarantine facility in the whole of Australia. This government-operated post-entry quarantine centre is located in Mickleham on the outskirts of Melbourne, approximately 30 minutes from Melbourne International Airport. This means that your dog must fly into Melbourne International Airport, regardless of whether you are migrating to Perth, Sydney or any other city in Australia.  

You can book a space at the quarantine facility after your dog has received their import permit from the Department of Agriculture. This is booked via the Post Entry Biosecurity System website.  

There is only one exemption to quarantine and that is dogs residing in New Zealand; Norfolk Island & Cocos Island.  

2. How Long Does The Process of Importing a Dog To Australia Take? 

Preparation for importing your dog to Australia will start months before the intended date of export. In most circumstances, a seven month preparation period is required. 

You will have to satisfy all the biosecurity regulations set by the Department of Agriculture without exception if you are planning to bring your dog to Australia. Some of these regulations need to be completed to a specific time schedule, whilst others involve sorting out documentation and ensuring your dog has the correct health checks.

The main reason for the long-timescale is that most dogs travelling to Australia require a rabies titre test, also known as a rabies neutralising antibody titre test (RNAT). This blood test has to be performed a minimum of 180 days before departure. However, the test can only be performed 3-4 weeks after your dog is vaccinated for rabies; this ensures your dog has built up the appropriate level of antibodies prior to the rabies titre test. All dogs that have visited group 3 countries (or from un-approved countries) require a rabies titre test. This includes all countries in the mainland USA and Europe.

Therefore, if your dog has never been vaccinated, or is not up-to-date with its rabies vaccination you will need seven months to prepare to import your dog to Australia. If your dog has been vaccinated against rabies, then you will still need six months to prepare as there is a mandatory waiting period of 180 days after the blood sample is collected for the rabies titre test (with a satisfactory result) before your dog can enter Australia. 

There are lots of various steps you need to complete along the way such as obtaining an import permit and making sure all your dogs’ other vaccinations are up-to-date, as well as ensuring all your paperwork is correct and in order. So seven months may seem like a long time, but it will take some time to even get your head around all the various steps you need to complete. Importing a dog to Australia is not a quick process. 

3. Check Your Dog’s Eligibility to be Imported to Australia

Dogs can be imported to Australia only from approved countries. Certain countries of origin may require a different travel plan or could prevent you from moving your dog to Australia altogether.

Whilst Australia’s Department of Agriculture will not let your dog arrive directly from a country on a “non-approved” country list (for example, Brazil) this does not necessarily bar you from importing your dog to Australia, it may mean the process is more complex. 

There are four different country categories that are based on the risk of rabies coming from these countries. Provided all the veterinary requirements are met, dogs travelling from approved countries will be allowed to enter Australia.   For a full list of approved countries, you should visit the Australian Department of Agriculture Website

Additionally, dogs must also meet the following eligibility criteria:  

  • Must be at least eight weeks old.  
  • Your dog cannot be more than 40 days pregnant or suckling at the time of export.   
  • If you are travelling from New Zealand, your dog must have lived in the country since birth, or for 90 days before the date of export.  
  • Not be a banned breed. 
  • Can only be exported to Australia after 180 days have passed from the date the blood sample for the Rabies Neutralising Antibody Titre Test arrives at the testing lab. 

Dog breeds that are banned from entering Australia:

Australia has a strict ban on allowing several domestic and non-domestic hybrid dogs into the country.  The following pure breeds are prohibited from entering Australia:  

  • Dogo Argentino  
  • Fila Brasileiro  
  • Japanese Tosa  
  • American Pit Bull Terrier or Pit Bull Terrier  
  • Perro de Presa Canario or Presa Canario  

Domestic/ non Domestic hybrids (for example wolf-dog crossbreeds) are also strictly banned from entering Australia.  This includes the following breeds:  

  • Czechoslovakian Wolfdog or Czechoslovakian Vlcak  
  • Saarloos Wolfdog or Saarloos wolfhound  
  • Lupo Italiano or Italian wolfdog  
  • Kunming Wolfdog or Kunming dog.  

When you submit your application to import your dog to Australia, you must state what breed your dog is and sign a declaration stating that you are not importing a prohibited (and therefore ineligible breed) to the country.   

4. Consider Your Dog’s Health & Best Interest

This goes without saying, and I think any loving dog owner will have major stress and anxiety, as they go through the turmoil of deciding if your dog is capable of dealing with a move to Australia. 

Whilst older age and medical conditions are not a barrier to importing your dog to Australia, consideration needs to be given to how your dog will cope with long-haul flight, stress and a new climate. Often, elderly dogs or those with medical conditions are more likely to deteriorate rapidly en-route. 

Ultimately, as a dog owner, you will need to consider whether it is in your dog’s best interest to go through a long-haul flight and then 10 days quarantine. For some dogs, leaving them behind may cause them more stress than the move to Australia itself. 

Many people import their dogs to Australia successfully, so although the above may sound scary, it’s more of a consideration to those with older dogs or those with chronic illnesses. 

5. How Much Does It Cost To Move a Dog To Australia?

If you are wondering how much it will cost to import your dog to Australia, you might be in for a shock, because bringing a dog to Australia is expensive. The cost can range from $5,000 – $10,000AUD depending on the number of dogs you are importing, their size and the country they are being imported from. The cost also factors in multiple tests, as well as a stay in quarantine. 

Australia tends to be more expensive than many other countries when it comes to importing pets. However, the more information you have, the easier it will be to manage and prepare for these expenses. 

Below are some expenses to expect as well as tips for keeping the cost lower. *All costs in this article are estimates gained through research and should be used as a guide only. 

Vet Consultations
The cost of microchipping, vaccinations and treatment will vary depending upon your veterinarian and your home country. 

Australia is a rabies-free country and therefore dogs need both an up-to-date rabies vaccine and a rabies titre test. The rabies titre test is a blood test performed 2-3 weeks after the rabies vaccination is administered.  

Not only will your pet require a rabies vaccination and the rabies titre test, but dogs travelling to Australia also need to be vaccinated against Leptospirosis and Canine Influenza Virus. 

Before you can bring your dog to Australia they must also be treated against internal and external parasites. At each subsequent veterinary visit, your dog will need to be examined for external parasites such as ticks or fleas. Continuous protection from external parasites must be maintained until your dog arrives in Australia. 

Finally, you will need a health certificate from an approved veterinarian, which usually costs in the region of $40AUD. A health certificate is mandatory in order to obtain your import permit. When your dog arrives in Australia customs officials will need both an import permit and the dogs’ health certificate – which has been signed by an official government veterinarian in the country of export.

Between vet visits and fees for testing, most pet owners will end up spending around $1,400AUD. However, this can vary dramatically depending on which country you currently reside in. 

Import Permit
Before importing your dog to Australia you will need an import permit from the Department of Agriculture, which can be applied for online from the Department of Agriculture, Water and Environment. The fees for an import permit are broken down into fees for lodgement of the application and assessment fees. The total cost is $480AUD however if the application is incomplete or requires further information additional charges may apply. 

If you are considering importing more than one pet to Australia, each additional pet will cost you $240AUD. 

You should ensure that your dog’s import permit is applied for well in advance of your expected arrival date in Australia. An import permit is valid for 12 months from the date of issue and can be applied for as soon as you have passed the Rabies Titre Test. 

Government Endorsements 
It is likely that you will need to pay an additional charge for an official government veterinarian to verify proof of required vaccinations, as well as verification of  your dog’s health certificate. The cost of this varies depending upon your country of export but will likely be around $205AUD.

Airline Fees
The second biggest cost of importing your dog to Australia is the cost of the flight. All dogs flying into Australia must fly as cargo, which makes the cost considerably higher than the fees for dogs flying in the cabin or as excess luggage in other countries. 

The cost of flying your dog to Australia will vary greatly depending upon where you are flying from and the size of your dog. Airlines base the ticket price on the weight and size of the crate, therefore the bigger your dog, the more expensive the airline fee will be. 

For example, if you are flying from the United Kingdom to Australia, you can expect to spend in the region of $1,400 for small dogs, with larger breeds costing considerably more.

Quarantine Fees
After you have received your dog’s import permit, you will need to book your dog into quarantine as soon as possible. Dog’s entering Australia require a minimum 10-day quarantine stay at the Mickleham facility in Melbourne. This can be booked online on the Post Entry Biosecurity System Website

At the time of booking, you will be required to pay an application fee of around $29AUD. Once you confirm the quarantine booking, which is usually just before finalising your dog’s flight, you will need to pay the set quarantine fee which is around $2,200AUD per dog, based on a standard 10-day stay. 

Before your dog is released from quarantine, you will be charged an additional fee for “recovery of airline handling charge”. This is the fee paid by quarantine staff on your behalf when they collect your dog from the airport.  The airline handling charge is approximately $120-250 AUD.

Finally, in order for your dog to be released from quarantine, you will be invoiced with any additional costs that occurred during your dog’s stay. For example, if your dog required a longer stay in quarantine or if they required any veterinary care during their stay. You can find the full list of current charges here

Miscellaneous Costs

Depending upon individual circumstances, there may be additional costs when importing your dog to Australia. 

For example, if your dog has never flown on an aeroplane, you will need to purchase an IATA approved crate.

6. Should I Use A Pet Transport Company To Import My Dog To Australia

The Australian government have a systematic step by step guide to importing a dog to Australia, which is easy to follow.  The step by step guides are divided into country categories, so you will be able to find the exact steps you need to take depending upon your country of export. 

Generally speaking, you do not need to use a pet transport company to import your dog to Australia however, it may be simpler and more effective if you choose to use one. If you are not familiar with the process of moving a dog or cat to another country, it can be quite overwhelming, especially for dog owners as there are lots of extra steps. 

Due to strict import regulations, important steps can be easily missed which can cost more to rectify than it would to engage with a professional pet export company in the first instance. 

It is also important to note that some airlines only allow bookings directly from pet transport companies. Currently, Qantas, one of Australia’s biggest airlines, require all animal bookings to be made through pet travel specialists. You can find out more about their pet booking policy here. 

You should consider using a pet transport company, such as JetPets for the following reasons: 

  • As they do this every day as a job, they will be familiar with all the steps required, ensuring nothing crucial is missed. 
  • They will take responsibility for ensuring that all steps are completed, meaning it is one less thing for you to worry about.  
  • If anything goes wrong, such as your dog becoming unwell, they can help you make alternative arrangements.  

Ultimately, using a pet transport company comes at a cost however, it will remove the stress out of a complex process. For this reason, the cost will be well justified for many people importing their dogs to Australia.   

7. Dog’s Must Fly in The Hold to Travel to Australia

Unfortunately, dogs are not allowed to travel in the cabin on flights to and from Australia. The only exception to this rule is a recognised service dog, such as a guide dog however, the dog will still need to satisfy all the rules and paperwork of the airline you are travelling with.   

Dogs need to fly into Australia in the hold of the aeroplane, generally as cargo. To do this you need to make a booking with the freight division of the airline. You will then drop them off at the cargo terminal. Your dog will be loaded alongside the cargo onto the aeroplane (with extra care) and then when you land in Melbourne your dog will be transported to the quarantine facility in Melbourne. As previously stated, the only quarantine facility is in Melbourne and therefore your dog must fly into Melbourne International Airport.   

8. Your Dog will need an Approved Flight Crate to Fly to Australia

All dogs travelling to Australia must fly in an International Air Transport Association (IATA) approved crate. This is to ensure your dog’s safety as crates that are too small, low or narrow will cause your dog immense discomfort and harm.

It is recommended that you purchase an IATA approved crate well in advance so that your dog can become familiar with it before departure. Try putting their bedding or food in it to familiarise your dog with the crate.

The crate will need to have a fixed water container, with an external funnel and hose so that people handling your dog’s import can top-up the water from outside. Once the crate is sealed by authorities it cannot be opened until arrival at the county of import.  

On departure day, you will need to provide absorbent bedding for the crate to keep your dog comfortable for the duration of the journey. You can buy a “dry-bed blanket” which are commonly used in veterinary practices or a baby cot liner. 

On arrival to Australia, all bedding will be destroyed as it poses a biosecurity risk, so don’t use anything you want to keep. Similarly, it is not recommended that you give your dog valuable toys as these will also be destroyed on entry to Australia. 

9. Should I Sedate My Dog for the Flight?

It is easy to imagine why some would come to the conclusion that sedating your dog for the duration of the flight would be the kindest option, however, pet sedation or tranquillizing pets is not recommended by the International Air Transport Association. 

In fact, sedating your dog for the duration of the importation to Australia can be extremely dangerous. Drugs act differently at the pressure of 8,000 feet above sea level, which is similar to the pressure in an aircraft during flight. 

If you think your dog will be anxious and distressed during the flight, spend months leading up to departure familiarising the dog with their crate,  buy them toys that can be disposed of, so they have something familiar to play with during transportation.

Ultimately, as a dog owner, you will have to make the decision if your dog will cope with the journey to Australia and 10 days of quarantine prior to commencing the process of moving your dog to Australia.  

10. Moving Your Dog to Australia Should be Permanent

Once your dog has arrived in Australia, you want them to stay for as long as possible, if not permanently.

I would strongly discourage anyone from bringing a dog to Australia for a short amount of time. This includes if you are going to Australia for a holiday or any temporary stay up to one year. 

Firstly, the cost of importing your dog to Australia is significant, but also the cost to take a dog back overseas from Australia is still huge, albeit less than bringing them to Australia. Don’t expect to be taking your dog back to your home country for a holiday because all the same quarantine rules will apply, even if your dog was originally from Australia. 

Another significant reason is the amount of work it takes to prepare your dog for importation to Australia. The stay in quarantine can be stressful for not only the owner who is unable to see their dog but also the dog itself who is in unfamiliar surroundings.  The flight can cause unprecedented amounts of stress for a dog and can exacerbate any underlying medical conditions they may have. 

The only time I would recommend moving a dog back out of Australia is if you are moving away permanently. Instead, you should look for a holiday in Australia so that your dog can accompany you. If you do need to leave Australia for a short period of time, you should consider employing a pet-sitter/ house-sitter who can come to your home and look after your dog in their own surroundings. Pet-sitting is quite common in Australia. 

Importing Your Dog to Australia: Frequently Asked Questions

How Can I Save Money When Importing My Dog To Australia?

Whilst there are some unavoidable expenses when importing a dog to Australia such as import permit and quarantine costs which are all compulsory, there are ways to save money and keep costs low,

Spending less on your veterinary fees is the easiest way to save money when moving your dog to Australia. 

-Compare prices of different veterinary practices – different veterinary practices will have different prices so it is worth researching to get the cheapest deal. 
-Free microchipping and/or vaccinations with local charities- many animal charities offer these services for free! 
-Check for package deals – Some veterinary practices will offer bundle deals on vaccinations for moving abroad.  

Can I Visit my Dog in Quarantine in Australia?

Unfortunately, you cannot visit your dog whilst in quarantine in Australia. This is mainly due to the short 10-day duration that your dog will spend in quarantine before being released back into your care. 

How to Avoid Pet Quarantine in Australia?

Australia has strict importation rules for animals and as such, there is no way to avoid your dog having to quarantine. There is a mandatory 10 day quarantine period that must be undertaken at the government-run quarantine facility in Melbourne.  
There is only one exemption to quarantine and that is dogs residing in New Zealand; Norfolk Island & Cocos Island.  

Can you Import Other Pets to Australia?

Besides dogs, the only other pets that are eligible to be imported to Australia are Birds (selected species from New Zealand only) cats and horses (from approved countries only) and rabbits (from New Zealand only).  
Animals that are used for breeding, sale or competition are not defined as pets and would be referred to as commercial animals which follow a different set of rules.

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