Moving to Australia with Your Pet

travel with pet

Relocating to a new country can be a logistical nightmare, and, most of the time, you are relocating with a beloved pet, making the process even more complicated. If you are moving to Australia, the land down under, then have no fear. Australia is very pet-friendly, making it a popular destination for people who wish to relocate with their pets. Most public places are accommodating to pets, and places where pets are unwelcome are clearly marked.

The process for getting your pet into Australia is quite simple. Different stages are involved in the transportation process. You first have to check for eligibility, then arrange your pet’s transport, and end with quarantine. A step by step guide is provided by the Department of Agriculture (DA) to help you prepare your pet for this process.

travel with pet


For your pet to enter the country, you must apply for an import permit and pay an application fee. Processing your application takes an average of 20 days. There are different guidelines depending on the country your pet is to be transported from.

The DA website provides a helpful tool to help check the country your pet is eligible to be transported from. Group 1 countries include New Zealand, Norfolk Island, and the Cocos Island. No permits are needed for dogs and cats from New Zealand and Norfolk Island, while permits are required for cats from the Cocos Island. Countries and territories in the Group 2 category are recognised as rabies-free by the Australian government. Pets from these countries require an import permit to be moved into Australia. Pets from Group 3 countries also require import permits to be eligible for transport.

Group 3 countries are those recognised as rabies-free or who have proven to have the disease under control. Pets from unapproved countries, countries not included in Groups 1 – 3, are ineligible for import into Australia. If you wish to relocate your pet from any of these unapproved countries, you must do so via a Group 2 or 3 country and follow the guidelines for those approved countries. The step by step guides for each group have been made available online by the Department of Agriculture. It is important to adhere to these guidelines for a less complicated importation process.


Spaces in the livestock hold of aircrafts are often limited, so it is important to book passage for your pet in advance. Pets must travel in kennels approved by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), which provide information on pet transports, including the size guide for your pet’s container, animal shippers associated with some airlines, and regulations required by the airlines. Shippers are often associated with certain airlines, and the airlines may not accept your pet unless you go through them. You are also required to present a health certificate signed by a veterinarian confirming that your pet is healthy and fit to fly. Sedating your pet is not advisable, and some airlines may refuse to fly animals if the weather conditions are not suitable. Once the airline has confirmed your pet’s documentation, you should reconfirm your flight at least 48 hours before departure. If you choose to use animal shippers, you should choose those who are well-qualified and can take charge of the needs of your pet before, during and after the flight. If you are handling the transport yourself, you need to check your pet in early on the day of departure to avoid causing the animal stress before and during the flight. Pets can also be shipped to Australia, rather than flown. You must still ensure you have the necessary documentation for your pet’s transport. You can also find useful information on the International Pet and Animal Transportation Association’s website.

moving with pet


Once your pet arrives in Australia it will be placed under quarantine, and you will have to pay for your pet’s accommodation in quarantine. If the animal is certified healthy and disease-free, you will be reunited in only 10 days. Longer quarantine periods are required if any complications are detected. The quarantine measures are quite routine and are in place to protect Australian animal species from foreign threats. There are two quarantine facilities, one in Sydney and the other in Melbourne. It is important to arrange your pet’s stay in advance as space is limited in both areas.

Assistance Dogs

Assistance dogs go through the same processes as other pets, but with a few additions. Assistance dogs must fulfil the eligibility criteria presented by the Department of Agriculture, not just those from their home country. Owners must submit documentation showing that their dogs are trained to assist those with disabilities. Certificates or accreditations must be from training institutions that are members of the International Guide Dog Federation or Assistance Dogs International.  Certificates from an Australian government office are also accepted. Owners must submit evidence that the assistance dog has been in service for at least six months before the transfer. They must also submit a medical history from, detailing their disability and dependence their assistance dog.

Exotic Pets

Very few exotic animals are allowed into Australia to protect the country’s unique ecosystem. Only cats, dogs, horses and certain types of birds from approved countries can be transported into Australia, using the steps outlined by the Department of Agriculture. Reptiles, amphibians, insects and invertebrates are not allowed into the country. If you wish to check to see if your exotic pet is eligible for entry into Australia, visit the Live Animal and Reproductive Material page or the Biosecurity Import Conditions System, both on the Department’s website.

Start Planning Today

Moving your pet to Australia is as straightforward and hassle-free as the process can be. There will be planning involved, paperwork to fill out, applications to file, checks with your vet, fees to pay and the long flight your pet will have to endure.  However, if you follow the detailed guidelines from the Australian Department of Agriculture, IPATA and IATA, transporting your pet will be as smooth as possible. If you wish to transport your pet from New Zealand, visit, a New Zealand-based company that deals in the transportation of various items to Australia.