How to go about bringing dogs to Australia after living abroad

bringing dogs to Australia when living abroad

Bringing dogs to Australia after living abroad is not always a straightforward process with Australia’s quarantine laws but with adequate preparation and motivation, it is possible.  Exactly how easy the process is will depend on what country you are moving from to Australia.

How to go about bringing dogs to Australia after living abroad

bringing dogs to AustraliaWhen your time abroad is over, getting back to life in Australia will in involve not only the organisation of homes, work, schools and furniture, but also your family pets.  If you decided to take your pets overseas from Australia when you originally moved abroad, or you added the new family member while overseas, you need to know all the rules and regulations regarding bringing dogs to Australia otherwise it could cost you a lot of time, money and hassle. Bringing dogs to Australia after living abroad is not an easy process but with adequate preparation and motivation, it is possible.

Be prepared to organise some parts of your return through Melbourne International Airport. It may not be your final destination but all dogs and cats have to be processed through the Mickleham Post-Entry Quarantine Facility in Victoria. You should also know that they only have a limited capacity to take in animals, so it’s important that you make a reservation well in advance. After you have received confirmation from PEQF, then you can begin to start getting the blood tests to comply with the import conditions.

The rules vary by country

It is so important to follow the specific rules to the letter. If there is a mistake in your forms, vaccination records and timetable, or even the particular vet you used to get the shots, there can be serious consequences. As stated on the government’s own website :

Failure to comply with the conditions on the import permit may result in the dog being (at your cost):

  • held longer in post entry quarantine
  • subject to additional testing
  • exported

Remember that the second your pet leaves Australia, it immediately loses its Australian Health Status, this means all processes for animal import will need to be followed.

How much time will it take to organise?

The timescale varies depending not only on which country you are coming back from (groups one, two or three), but also on other factors. These can include the breed of dog, the availability of the PEQF, the veterinary processing time and also if your pet has visited a non approved country within the last six months.

To give yourself the best chance of a swift return, if possible make sure your dog has its RNAT shots (rabies neutralising antibody titre) and rabies vaccination before you actually leave. These could help make the return process easier.

The procedures for a group one country

taking pets overseas from Australia when moving abroad
Group One countries are those that share a common environment and proximity to Australia; it’s a limited list that includes only New Zealand, Norfolk Island and Cocos Island.  Bringing dogs to Australia from a group one country is the most straight forward.

  • Your pet must have been either in a group one or two (rabies free) country for at least 180 days (or born in one and never left/or has only been to Australia).
  • Your dog must be properly micro chipped with a recognised type.
  • Apply and pay for an Import Permit (this must be at the very least 20 days before planned travel).
  • External and Internal Parasite treatment must be given by an approved vet within five days before the date of export.
  • Also within five days before the date of export, you must complete the Import Permit and Appendix 1 and undergo the final export examination.
  • If all these steps have been completed correctly, you travel and on arrival have a customs check to ensure that everything has been done right.

The procedures for a group two country

Group two countries are the countries that are (mostly) geographically close to Australia and which share many common environmental characteristics and are rabies free. They include American Samoa, Bahrain, Barbados, Christmas Island, Cook Island, Falkland Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, French Polynesia, Guam, Hawaii, Iceland, Japan, Kiribati Mauritius, Nauru, New Caledonia, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Singapore, Solomon Islands, Kingdom of Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, Wallis and Futuna.

  • The process is similar to group one in many ways, but the scales are longer.
  • Get your dog micro chipped and then apply and pay for an Import Permit.
  • Book tentative accommodation at the Melbourne PEQF (dogs will have to stay at least 10 days).
  • Get all vaccinations and treatments in accordance with export permit. You can begin this up to 12 months in advance.
  • There are a range of testings for disease that your dog must undergo. Again there is a variance in time, but if you follow a 45-50 day in advance rule, you should be ok.
  • Follow the Import Permit specifications to the letter or your dog will not be allowed in.

The procedures for a group three country

Group three countries are the largest list and cover almost all “Western Countries” including all nations in the EU.  Bringing dogs to Australia from group three countries starts to get a little more complicated.

The process is much the same as for group two countries except that there is additional work to be done to ensure your dog is rabies free. You need to begin the rabies and RNAT process at least 180 days to 24 months before applying for the Import Permit, keep checking back with the Agriculture Department to see if any updates have come in. Other than that, follow the procedures on the Import Permit.

Moving from a non-approved country

taking pets overseas from Australia when moving abroad
Bringing dogs to Australia directly from a non-approved country is not possible, and attempting to do so will cause a lot of problems and may even result in your dog being euthanized. This does not mean however, that you can never bring your dog back, but you will have to complete the process through a group two or three country. Remember though, you will of course have to fulfil the import requirements of the transit country as well.

Keeping up to date with the facts

Although this article can give you a basic idea of the aspects to consider and the general regulations, when you begin planning for your return to Australia, make sure to check the Government website here. There may also be certain conditions that apply to the specific country you’re in. Most countries will have a government website or an office that deals directly with the import and export of animals. In some cases, there might even be restrictions that apply only to certain breeds of dogs, and these restrictions may require different forms to be used and timescales to be adhered to.

Things to remember

By far the most important thing to remember when bringing dogs to Australia (and for that matter other pets) is that the Import Permit is King. It doesn’t matter what information you get from other sources, the Import Permit is what needs to be followed; deviation from the Permit can lead to many problems. If you start the process early and use only approved veterinarian services, the whole exploit should go smoothly. As with every aspect of your time and life abroad, preparation is the true key to success.

What are your experiences bringing dogs to Australia?  Would you do it again? How did your dog cope with quarantine?  What would you recommend to others?  Share in the comments section below.

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