Taking pets to Australia by plane is complicated and can be quite expensive. However, many thousands of dogs and cats fly to Australia to start their new lives with the families who move there. There is a strong feeling amongst the expat community that bringing your pets is the final piece of the jigsaw to assist your settling into your new lives in Australia.

Since 2012 and the relaxation of pets being allowed to enter the UK, the Australian now class the UK as rabies absent/well-controlled rather than rabies free, which means that the preparation has now been extended greatly to try to ensure that rabies does not enter Australia.

Below is a watered down version of what it takes to fly your pet to Australia from the UK – the full version is at http://www.agriculture.gov.au/cats-dogs – published by the Australian quarantine department. If your situation has doesn’t neatly fit the information supplied on the website or there are bits you don’t understand please get in touch!

Since 01st March 2023, the rules have changed slightly and now pets need to serve 30 days quarantine rather than 10 days, unless they are pets returning to Australia. Pets need to have their identities verified by a government veterinarian and due to the way government vets are organised in UK, this is not possible at this time, but we hope it will change.

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Step 1: Decide when you want your dog or cat to fly to Australia. More than 12 months? Do nothing. Between 7 months and 12 months? Start the rabies work. Less than 7 months? Start the rabies work very urgently.
Most pets in the UK are not routinely vaccinated against rabies, so we have assumed this for the rules below. Dogs and cats travelling to Australia need to have a rabies vaccine at least 7 months before they travel to Australia, then around 3-4 weeks after this they will then need a rabies blood sample or Rabies Neutralising Antibody Titre Test (RNATT). This determines if your dog or cat has made enough antibodies to keep them safe from picking up rabies. Your dog or cat is not allowed to enter Australia until at least 180 days after the rabies blood sample. The idea being that if they made antibodies because they actually had rabies, then it would have shown itself by now!

Step 2: With the RNATT in your hand, you can apply for an import permit. A UK government vet (Official Veterinarian) will need to fill out an RNATT declaration (http://www.agriculture.gov.au/cats-dogs/rabies-neutralising-antibody). The vet looks at the rabies serology certificate, as well as any rabies vaccination history, and then is able to fill out the RNATT declaration, sign it and stamp it with an official UK government stamp. The key thing is that the vet who takes the blood cannot sign off the RNATT declaration, it must be a whole different practice . Just bear in mind that most of the time, vets will charge you to complete the RNATT declaration but at PetAir UK, we include the cost of this in our fees.

Step 3: Apply for the import permit. In order to allow your dog or cat to be allowed into Australia, the Australian quarantine department will issue an import permit. In order to get one of these, you will need the following details: Name and address in the UK, name/address and Australian phone numbers in Australia, your pet’s name, pet’s date of birth and chip details, the copy of the rabies serology certificate (RNATT certificate) and the actual RNATT declaration. You apply and pay for the permit at the www.agriculture.gov.au website and off you go.

Step 4: Decide on an actual flight date and then liaise with a pet shipper or airline to get your pet’s flight to Australia booked. With your import permit in hand, you then need to get a quarantine space booked in Melbourne. Once quarantine is booked, you then need to pay for the 10 day stay in quarantine in order to confirm the booking. You can find more details about quarantine here: http://www.agriculture.gov.au/cats-dogs/quarantine-facilities-and-fees/post-entry-quarantine-facilities

Step 5: So, you’ve done the first stages of getting your pet ready to fly to Australia and, depending on how organised you have been, now is chance for a bit of downtime to organise all the other things you need to arrange for your move. If you’ve been organised, then you need to race on with the next sections!

Step 6: Day 52-43 before the flight. These days just work, but they need to be at least 21 days before the next vet appointment. This appointment is only if you have dogs flying to Australia and is the appointment for your vets to have a look at your dog, examine them for ticks and apply a long acting anti-tick treatment. You need to be quite careful about what tick treatment your vet uses as the Australians only accept certain ones which kill the ticks before they bite the dog. This appointment is also a great chance to check the vaccination status of your dogs. An entry requirement to Australia is for them to be fully vaccinated against Leptospira and so if your dogs are not, then at this appointment your vets can do the first of 2 Lepto vaccines to get you all back on track. At this time, the DEFRA export paperwork need to be applied for. You need to email DEFRA (Pet Exports – APHA – Petexports.carlisle@apha.gsi.gov.uk) and ask them for an application form and EXA form for you to apply to fly your pet to Australia. This paperwork gets posted straight to your vets.

Step 7: Day 30-22 before the flight date. Big day! This is the date that the dogs need to have blood samples to check that they are not carrying any odd diseases with them into Australia. All dogs need to have blood taken to check for Ehrlichia or Leishmania and if they have NOT been neutered then they need blood samples for Brucella as well. At this point, dogs will need another tick treatment, an internal worming treatment and your vets need to check they have not got any ticks on them. If your dog needs a second Lepto vaccine, then this is the day to do this. If you have cats, then today is the day for the vets to check they have not got any ticks on them, apply an anti-tick treatment and apply an anti-worm treatment. Preparing a cat to fly to Australia is much simpler.

Step 8: Final check date. Within 5 days of the flight, your dog or cat needs to be checked to make sure they are fit/healthy and free from signs of infectious or contagious diseases. A government approved vet needs to fill out the UK export paperwork – this must be a different vet practice to the vet practice who has done the preparation work. Petair can help with this if necessary, just ask us. Dogs and cats need to have treatment against worms and ticks again at this point.

Step 9: Head down to the airport and get your dog or cat checking before the travel to Australia.

Step 10: After your pet flies to Australia and lands in quarantine. The quarantine team will collect them from the airport and settle them in. You will be emailed to say they are safe and well.

Don’t forget, you can skip all of this and the “oh my god, have I done that?” moments in the middle of the night, by asking us to arrange and plan your Australia pet travel. We do this every day and fly around 50-80 pets to Australia every month, so we know the pitfalls and the things people generally misinterpret. All of the above aspects you have to pay someone for, so why not pay a little extra and get it done by PetAir UK, who fly more pets to Australia than any other and take much of the worry away.

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