Importing and exporting pets

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Thinking of leaving or coming into Australia with your pets? Follow these simple tips to stay out of ‘Johnny Depp and Amber Heard’-style trouble.

WORDS David Gilchrist

Back in April, Hollywood actress Amber Heard copped a one-month good behaviour bond from a Gold Coast court for failing to declare her dogs Pistol and Boo when visiting husband Johnny Depp in Australia while he was filming the latest instalment of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise.

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Thankfully, by following these few simple tips even the most recidivist pet-lovin’ rapscallion with a hankering to bring a pet into Australia will be less likely to break the law.

  1. Dogs must be under quarantine at the time of export and can only be exported to Australia from a county that the Australian Government Department of Agriculture and Water Resources has approved.
  2. Dogs must not be more than 30 days pregnant nor be suckling young at the time of export.
  3. Some dog breeds are prohibited and not eligible for import into Australia.
  4. If you leave Australia with your dog or cat and plan to return with them, they should have a rabies vaccination and Rabies Neutralising Antibody Titre test performed before leaving Australia.
  5. The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources requires an International Standards Organisation (ISO) compatible microchip be implanted into the pet before any pre-export blood sampling or testing takes place.
  6. Pets should be scanned at each visit to the veterinarian and must be scanned before any blood sampling takes place.
  7. It might take up to 20 business days to assess and grant an import permit.
  8. Cats and dogs imported to Australia always arrive directly into Melbourne airport to be kept in quarantine at the post-entry quarantine facility. They cannot arrive in any other facility then transfer to Melbourne.
  9. All pets stay in quarantine for a minimum of 10 days unless a tick is found then they might stay for a month or more.
  10. You will need an Import Permit from the Australian Quarantine Service costing around $280. And then there are entry fees and veterinary inspection fees on arrival that may be considerable.
  11. Remember, pets lose their Australian health status as soon as they’re exported. If your pet is not a native animal, and is not listed on the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora list, it can usually leave Australia as long as it meets the permit and quarantine requirements of the importing country.

LEGAL REQUIREMENTS

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There are certain legal considerations of which travellers should be aware. There are laws that oblige owners to be mindful of:

  • Providing sufficient food, water, shelter and veterinary treatment.
  • Humane treatment.
  • Pet registration.
  • Tethering pets in public places.
  • Barking dogs.
  • Requirements for dangerous, menacing and restricted breed dogs.

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