Guide to Importing Cats and Dogs into Australia from Approved Countries
To bring cats and dogs to Australia, they must meet all of the AQIS import conditions prior to export. This is to minimise the risk of exotic diseases being introduced into Australia. Australia is free from many animal-related diseases found in other parts of the world.
Select the country you intend to export a cat or dog from the list below to determine if the importation to Australia is permitted. If permitted, you will able to download an information package that outlines the AQIS import conditions that apply and the steps involved for bringing cats and dogs to Australia.
Further information are available here by visiting the AQIS website.
NOTE: The Pet Travel Scheme (PETS) commonly known as the Pet Passport Scheme, does not apply to cats and dogs being imported or returning to Australia. All cats and dogs being imported to Australia, whether it be for the first time or returning, must meet the standard AQIS import conditions.
Overview of the Quarantine Station Accommodation: –
About our Quarantine Stations
Australia has a highly favourable animal health status and is free from a number of cat and dog diseases. In order to protect this status, cats and dogs entering Australia are required to undertake a period of quarantine on arrival. This quarantine period allows the Australian Quarantine and Inspectation Service (AQIS) to monitor the animal’s health and become aware of any disease concerns prior to the animal’s release into Australia.
AQIS operates three animal quarantine stations that are equipped to accommodate cats and dogs. The information provided on this page applies to all three. More detailed information about each individual quarantine station can be viewed below: –
Staff at our Quarantine Stations
Our staff are experienced and carefully selected, ensuring that cats and dogs receive expert care and attention throughout their stay in quarantine. Staff are fully trained and in many cases have prior experience as veterinary nurses and boarding kennel attendants. An assigned attendant will care for your animal/s during the quarantine period.
Our staff are Commonwealth government employees and are unable to accept gifts. If you wish to express your thanks to staff members, client feedback forms are available at the quarantine stations or from the AQIS website.
Bookings are essential to reserve a space for your animal/s. Once a valid import permit has been granted, you will need to contact the relevant animal quarantine station to make a reservation.
An import permit does not guarantee a space at an animal quarantine station.
You must provide an air waybill number to the animal quarantine station to confirm your animal/s reservation closer to the date of departure.
AQIS will not allow imported cats and dogs to travel on domestic flights within Australia. Your animal must travel to Sydney, Melbourne or Perth on an international flight. If there are no direct flights from the country of export into either Sydney, Melbourne or Perth, contact the Live Animal Imports Program to discuss your animal’s flight route.
Your Contact Information
If your postal address and/or contact information has changed since you received the AQIS import permit, you must contact the quarantine station to update your records.
It is important that you provide the animal quarantine station with a name, address and telephone numbers of a contact person based in Australia in the event that your animal experiences any feeding or health problems.
Once your animal is booked onto a flight to Australia, the airline will notify the relevant quarantine station of your animal’s import permit number, arrival date and time.
Your animal will be met at the airport by an AQIS officer.
You will not be able to visit your animal at the airport.
When a plane lands there are a number of formalities that must occur before your animal leaves the airport and is taken straight to the quarantine station.
Your animal will need to be cleared by the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service. To avoid any delays with this clearance your physical /home address in Australia (rather than a post office box number or the quarantine station address) should be noted on the air waybill.
Staff will always endeavour to get your animal to the quarantine station in the shortest time practicable.
On arrival at the quarantine station your animal will be introduced to a quarantine officer. The quarantine officer will weigh your animal and check for signs of stress and illness before settling your animal into the accommodation.
Transport crates are the property of the importer; it is the importer’s responsibility to collect the crate with the animal. Any crates that are not collected will be considered forfeit to the Commonwealth of Australia and will be disposed of.
Animals must not arrive on Australian public holidays, weekends or outside the quarantine station office hours. Please refer to the individual quarantine station information for further details.
Animals Sharing Accommodation
Two animals of the same species may share quarantine accommodation.
The animals must be sent from the same household and have the same importer and exporter as listed on the AQIS import permit.
If your animals arrive in Australia on different dates, they will not be allowed to share accommodation until it has been determined that both animals have met the import requirements.
If one animal is eligible for release from quarantine prior to the other, they must spend a minimum of 30 days together before the animal is released – this may result in one animal spending longer in quarantine than would be required if they weren’t sharing accommodation.
The decision to allow animals to share quarantine accommodation is at the discretion of the quarantine station.
Should any quarantine, behavioural, welfare or staff occupational health and safety issues arise due to animals sharing accommodation, the animals may be seperated.
If your animals are separated you will be charged the full quarantine fees for each animal.
Eastern Creek, Spotswood and Byford Quarantine Stations: The Qurarantine invoice will be forwarded to the Importer’s address as listed on the permit. This invoice will be sent within approximately 7 days of the animal arrival.
Once your animal has arrived, we recommend you contact the animal quarantine station to confirm the release date of your animal and the amount of the quarantine fees, and to update your contact details.
Your account must be paid prior to the release of your animal. If your animal is due for release on a weekend or an Australian public holiday, please ensure that your amount is paid in full on a business day prior, as payment cannot be taken on weekends.
AQIS can accept payment via EFTPOS, Cash, Visa, MasterCard or American Express. Payment by bank cheque/draft must be received at least 14 working days prior to your animal’s collection. No personal cheques will be accepted.
NOTE: AQIS fees and charges may change at any time. Fees for government animal quarantine stations for cats and dogs.
Animal departure hours differ between the quarantine stations. Please refer to the individual quarantine station information for further details.
Due to the large number of animals at the quarantine stations, AQIS cannot quarantee the return of belongings that arrive with your animal.
Importers are responsible for the collection of their animals from the quarantine station. The animal will only be released once the quarantine station account has been paid in full.
Photo identification must be presented at the time of release.
The animal will only be released to the importer or their authorised agent. This authority must be arranged with the quarantine station prior to the collection of the animal.
If you are unable to pick up your animal on their release date, you must contact the quarantine station prior to the specified release date.
In most cases it is not possible for your animal to stay beyond its designated release date.
Many pet transport companies offer the service of collecting your animal from the quarantine station and provide boarding until you are able to take it yourself.
Pet transport companies worldwide and within Australia: www.ipata.com
Owner Representative or Agent
The person listed as the importer, on the AQIS import permit, is classified as the owner and is responsible for the animal during the quarantine period, the release of the animal from quarantine, and all associated fees.
The importer may authorise other persons – ‘agents’ (e.g. family members, friends, pet transport agencies, etc.) – by written permission to make enquires, visit or collect the animal at its intended release date.
This written permission must to be forwarded to the animal quarantine station may be given out to the exporter or pet transport agent that transported the animal to Australia. Any other information regarding an animal will only be given out to the importer or their authorised agent.
Visiting your Animal
You can visit and interact with your animal during the quarantine period. As visiting hours differ, please refer to the individual quarantine station information for further details.
AQIS does not allow the visiting of animals of the day of arrival.
This is because staff are busy making the trip to and from the airport, checking your animal into the quarantine station, providing food and water, and settling the animal into the accommodation.
Whilst AQIS staff do not generally exercise the animals, each quarantine station is equipped with outdoor exercise yards for dogs. Importers may exercise their dogs, weather permitting, subject to the availability of the yards.
Importers may employ the services of a private dog walker, at their own expense.
Contact the relevant quarantine station to find out more information about when your dog/s can be exercised.
Your animal will be fed a high quality nutritionally balanced commercial cat or dog food.
As feeding differs between the quarantine stations, please contact the relevant quarantine station for further information.
It is the importer’s responsibility to provide any special dietary requirements, including prescription diets, to the quarantine station for your animal/s if required. Please be advised that AQIS is unable to reduce the daily accommodation animal fee where importers choose to supply their own food.
Do not send food with your animal/s as it will be destroyed upon arrival due to quarantine risk.
Bedding which travels in the crate with your animal is generally soiled and may be destroyed on arrival due to quarantine risk. If you wish to send bedding for your animal’s stay in quarantine it should be attached to the outside of the crate.
Alternatively bedding can be sourced in Australia and mailed to the quarantine station or supplied by you during a visit.
Beanbags and hammock beds are not permitted as a form of bedding.
Toys and Treats
If you wish to bring in treats for your animal, please discuss their suitability with AQIS staff to ensure that your animal is not overfed.
You will need to discuss the suitability of toys with your animal’s attendant. Some toys can present a hazard. Please avoid toys that are easily destroyed by biting or chewing as they are choking hazard (e.g. tennis balls) and those suspended by string. Suitable toys can be sourced in Australia and sent to the quarantine station once the animal has arrived.
Importers are welcome to groom their animals during the quarantine period or to arrange for a private groomer.
The quarantine stations’ grooming rooms are available by appointing only. Appointments must be arranged with the administration office 48 hours in advance.
Importers can also arrange for a professional groomer to attend to their animals. Please speak to the relevant quarantine station regarding private grooming arrangements.
Importers of long coated cats and dogs should arrange for private grooming. If an animal arrives at the quarantine station in a matted condition or is difficult to groom, it is the responsibility of the importer to arrange for a private groomer.
All private grooming fees are at the importer’s expense.
Veterinary Attendance for Animals
An AQIS veterinary officer examines your animal within three days of arriving at the quarantine station. AQIS veterinary officers only investigate exotic disease symptoms.
If AQIS staff identify an illness in your animal, veterinary attention must be provided by a private veterinarian at the importer’s expense.
A Veterinary Attendance and Treatment Authorisation form must be completed at the time you submit your import permit application. This form gives AQIS the authorisation to seek veterinary services for your animal during the quarantine period, if required.
It also allows you to nominate a private veterinarian of your choice. If you do not have a private veterinarian, the quarantine station will contact one on your behalf.
In the event that your animal/s require veterinary attention, the quarantine station will make every attempt to contact you. However, in the event of an emergency, the quarantine station will not delay in obtaining veterinary care for your animal should you be unreachable.
Private veterinary fees are not included in your quarantee fees. If a private veterinarian is contacted for your animal, they will invoice you separately. The payment of all costs and expenses associated with attendances and treatment by a private veterinarian is the responsibility of the importer.
All fees due to the private veterinarian must be paid prior to the release of your animal/s from the quarantine station.
Medicating Animals whilst in Quarantine
AQIS discourages, on welfare grounds, the importation of chronically ill animals.
Importers should take into account the age and condition of their animals as well as travel and climatic stress when deciding to send their animals to Australia.
If your animal is on any kind of prescription medication a letter from your animal’s veterinarian must be submitted with your import permit application. This letter must outline the animal’s medical history, the type of medication required and the dosage rate.
AQIS staff will administer medication to your animal.
AQIS does not supply medication.
Due to Australian legislative requirements and the potential quarantine risk associated with imported veterinary medication, any medication that arrives with your animal is unable to be released from the quarantine station. This medication will be destroyed following the release of your animal. This applies to all medications, even those that may be commercially available in Australia. As such, you should only send medication in a sufficient quantity as required to treat your animal during its stay in quarantine.
AQIS recommends that you check that your animal’s current medication is available in Australia. If your animal’s medication is not available in Australia, you may wish to consider changing its medication to an equivalent one that is available in Australia.
You should arrange for a private veterinarian in Australia to examine your animal either during the quarantine period or after the animal is released. Your veterinarian can then prescribe appropriate medication.
Medication can only be administered between the hours of 8.00am to 4.30pm – 7 days a week. There is no medication administered outside these hours.
There are not the hours that the animal quarantine stations are open to the public.
Importers of animals that require the administration of therapeutics (e.g. diabetic or epileptic animals) outside the medication hours should discuss alternative treatment intervals with the animal’s veterinarian prior to export.
If attendance is required after hours or in the case of an emergency, additional overtime charges will apply.
Female animals must not be more than 3 weeks pregnant nor be suckling young and must be eligible for the minimum 30 days in Australia quarantine at time of export.
Heartworm for Dogs
Heartworm disease for dogs is endemic in Australia. Its occurance varies widely in different areas of Australia. Heartworm is caused by the microorganism Dirofilaria immitis and is spread by mosquitoes. No testing or treatment for heartworm is required for your dog to be eligible for importation to Australia.