If your pet is a dear part of your family, and if you are willing to go through a long list of specifications, tests and inoculations in order to qualify your dog or cat to make the move, you can take it along with you when you move to Australia.
Cats, dogs and horses may be brought in from numerous countries, subject to quarantine controls. Be aware, however, that import bans apply to breeds such as pit bull terriers, serval and serval-mix cats, ferrets, hamsters, guinea pigs and caged birds. You can buy some of these animals from breeders or pet shops once you are in Australia, but you cannot bring them in as pets.
It is recommended that you use a registered migration agent to guide you in the process if you don’t feel confident to handle all the detailed and complex paperwork yourself. Migration agents can advise on immigration matters to help you in preparing an application with the Department of Immigration and Citizenship, normally for a fee. An Australian migration agent must be registered with the Office of the Migration Agents Registration Authority (MARA) and have a sound knowledge of migration law.
Australia has strict rules, through its Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS), regarding animal importation as well as controlling the types of animals that can come in and which countries they can come from.
As of February 3, 2014, a federal government quarantine system overhaul cut the minimum time cats and dogs are held upon their arrival in Australia from 30 days to as little as 10 days. Long quarantine periods of as much as 18 months were previously required because no diagnostic technology was available to determine if an animal had been exposed to rabies.
The new policy places greater confidence in departure systems in other countries. The Agriculture Department has an online calculator giving a step-by-step timeline of required veterinary visits, microchip implanting, tests and vaccinations, parasite treatments, permit applications and quarantine bookings. Animals are no longer required to stay in an ‘approved’ country for six months before coming to Australia.
Category one and two rabies-free countries such as Japan, New Zealand, Hawaii, South Pacific countries and Bahrain do not require rabies testing or vaccination before importation. Category three countries such as the United States, China, those in Europe and much of the Middle East and Asia, have many more requirements.