top of page

Bringing your 4 legged friends to Australia – what to know

Habitat Relocations understands that your 4 legged friends, be it a beloved cat or dog or both, are important members of your family.

While most pet owners would not dream of leaving their pets behind, the cost of bringing them to Australia can be expensive and do bring significant complications and consequences, so it is important to make this decision to bring your pet with you with a full understanding of all these aspects. We set out below some factors to ensure a smooth ride for you and your pet.

Plan well in advance

It is more difficult to bring animals into Australia than in other countries due to very struct quarantine rules protecting Australia from animal diseases common in other parts of the world (e.g. rabies). It is important to determine if your country of origin is an approved country, and if so, what health checks, vaccinations, microchipping etc are required prior to applying for import approval. If your country of origin is not rabies controlled, the rules are more complicated. Countries such as USA, UK, Canada, Hong Kong are approved countries but people must be then be aware that there is typically at least a 6 month lead in time for vet testing, rabies vaccinations and other treatments prior to the animal being allowed entry into Australia.

Cats and dogs entering from overseas must enter Australia on an international flight directly into Melbourne and must spend a minimum of 10 days at the quarantine facility. No visitors are allowed.

Livestock holds of most aircraft are limited, so you will need to make a booking for your pet well in advance. Although import permit processing typically takes 10-20 days, it can take longer in busy periods such as Christmas, so apply for your import permit as soon as possible after all veterinary preparations and tests are complete. The timing of when the animal can enter Australia will be dependent on availability at the quarantine facility and lack of space can cause delays, so apply for a spot as soon as your import permit is received. If your pet has any dietary, medical or well being needs, make sure you provide this information on your pet's import permit and special food must be sourced and sent to the quarantine facility along with a veterinary letter.

Budget for all costs

The minimum cost for 10 days in quarantine is $2,000 assuming no complications and delays (e.g. treatment for parasites and ticks) and no additional veterinary costs are required during quarantine. However, you will also need to ensure that you budget for all other costs involved, including specialist pet carrier international travel and post quarantine domestic travel costs, import permit costs and pre and post importation veterinarian costs.

As an indication of potential costs, one Habitat Relocations client bringing two cats from Hong Kong into Australia in 2017 estimates their costs at $7,000 excluding veterinary costs in Hong Kong. Another family bringing their small dog from Canada in 2018 estimated spent around $6,000 including all veterinary costs and use of a pet transport carrier in both locations. One family bringing a larger dog from the USA spent almost $15,000 to relocate their pet to Brisbane.

Not all cats and dogs are permitted

It should be noted that some pet breeds are prohibited from entry into Australia. These include particularly aggressive breeds and some dog and cat hybrids such as American pit bull terriers, Bengal cats and dog-wolf hybrids.

How will the pet cope with the experience?

International travel as well as domestic transit and time in quarantine is an ordeal for all animals so it is critical to consider the age, physical and mental health of your and to seek veterinary advice with regards to how the animal will manage. Try to get your pet acclimatized to the kennel before the flight and don't use sedatives unless recommended by your vet.

Further Import Information

Full importation rules, step by step guides, links to pet transport companies and a pre-export preparation calendar calculator are available at

Complications for finding a rental property in Australia

It is also critical to be aware that securing a rental property can be more problematic with furry family members. For more information on this topic, read our Blog Article: Renting with Pets in Australia - A Challenge.

If you need assistance with your move to Australia with pets do not hesitate to contact our friendly and experienced relocation consultants. We'd be happy to help.

bottom of page