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So you’re thinking of moving to Australia, but there’s one thing holding you back. Possibly a few things, but they all have four paws, a tail and you couldn’t possibly imagine leaving them behind. So if you’re currently asking yourself, “Can I take my dog to Australia?” or “Can I take my cat to Australia?” we’ve got all the answers you’re looking for, right here. The short answer to the long questions: yes, you can take your beloved dogs or cats with you, it’s just going to take some time, planning and patience to get there.

This is because Australia has strict import and quarantine laws in place that work together with geographical isolation to stop a variety of diseases and foreign pests from crossing the border. As such, there are a range of requirements that you will have to meet before you can legally import your pets into Australia.

Planning your pet immigration to Australia from South Africa

The exact requirements you will need to fulfil when importing a dog or cat into Australia vary depending on your country of origin. If you’re moving from a Group 2 Country (countries that are rabies-free) or a Group 3 Country, like South Africa,  where rabies is absent or well-controlled, you will need to obtain an import permit for your dog or cat from the Australian Government Department of Agriculture and Water Resources.

Obtaining a permit

Before you get started on the import permit application, you’ll need to check whether your pet is eligible to enter Australia which means that the dog or cat in question needs to have been living in an approved country for a minimum of six months before import.

You will need to apply for the permit in South Africa several months before you plan to travel to Australia, and will need to meet the following eligibility requirements:

  • Your pet needs to be at least 12 weeks old – no puppies or kittens and you will only be allowed to bring two cats and/or two dogs.
  • Certain breeds are banned, including the Pit Bull Terrier, American Pit Bull, Japanese Tosa, Dogo Argentino and African Wild Cat and pets must be five generations or more removed from any non-domestic dog or cat.
  • Females must not be suckling puppies or kittens and must not be more than 30 days pregnant.
  • All pets must be microchipped.

If your pets tick all these boxes, you can apply online for a permit – just be sure to read the full details on the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources website before getting started.

Generally speaking, you should expect to have to produce on demand:

  • Vet certificate to verify your pet has been immunised against rabies and is current on parasite control and infectious diseases vaccinations.
  • Medical test results to verify, for example, that your dog has been tested for conditions such as leptospirosis and brucellosis.
  • Along with the most important piece of paper – a valid import permit.

How long does it take to apply for an import permit for your pet?

Import permit applications can take at least 20 days to process and their validity period is 12 months from the date of issue. The costs of pet immigration to Australia from South Africa can vary depending on the breed of dog or cat, and the pet transportation company you choose, but expect to pay a minimum of $2,000 per animal.

How is my pet transported to Australia from South Africa?

You won’t get to take your pets as hand luggage, unfortunately. Instead your pets will spend the duration of the flight in a pet travel container (it’s your responsibility as a pet owner to supply this) in a special part of the aircraft. All pets are given a tranquiliser to make them more comfortable and are inspected by a qualified vet to verify their travel readiness, before the flight takes off. 

If there’s no time to waste or you’re simply overwhelmed by the paperwork and how much needs to be done in order to move to Australia, you’re better off choosing a pet transport company that can handle everything for you – coordinating the importation process from start to finish. These companies organise all veterinary checks and import permits for you and secure a place for your pet in an Australian quarantine facility. You’ll have the peace of mind to make the journey yourself, knowing that your pets will be cared for. They’ll be picked up from your home, driven to the airport and transferred to a to a quarantine centre upon arrival in Australia.

How long will my pet have to stay in quarantine when we arrive in Australia?

With the exception of pets that come from New Zealand, Norfolk Island or Cocos Island, all pets must remain in an Australian quarantine facility  must serve at least 10 days in an Australian quarantine facility. These are located in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth, and it’s a smart idea you ensure that a place is booked for your pet, a few months before departure. You will not be allowed to visit your pets while in quarantine, but they will be cared for until you’re reunited.

FinGlobal: The financial emigration specialists

We might not be able to assist you directly with transporting your pets to Australia, but we can help you with just about everything else that South Africans might need abroad.

So what exactly can we do for you? We’re ready to help you with financial emigration from South Africa, we’re perfectly positioned to handle your retirement annuity capital surrender on your behalf and we’ve got all the in-house expertise to provide you with forex and exchange control services, tax refunds or tax compliance.

All it takes to get the ball rolling is a conversation about what you need. First step?