Group 3: step by step guide for cats

  • ​​​​​Cats coming to Australia from group 3 countries must be accompanied by a valid import permit, which provides the conditions for importing the cat.
    • The conditions on the import permit take precedence over any other source of information. This step-by-step guide explains what you must do to prepare your cat for export; it is not a substitute for the import permit.
    • Cats must comply with all conditions on the import permit.
    • Failure to comply w​ith the conditions on the import permit may result in the cat being (at your cost):
      • held longer in post entry quarantine
      • subject to additional testing
      • exported
      • euthanased.
  • On arrival cats must spend a minimum of 10 day at the Mickleham post entry quarantine facility.
  • A government approved veterinarian or official government veterinarian must perform all veterinary procedures listed below.
  • All testing must be done in an approved country in a laboratory recognised by the government of the country of export.
  • The department cannot give advice on treatments for diseases. Seek advice from a veterinarian if your cat tests positive to an infectious disease listed in the import conditions.

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Step 1: Contact the competent authority
Timeframe: Before starting the export process

    • which veterinarians and laboratories are approved to prepare your cat for export (all veterinary procedures and testing must be done in an approved country and testing must be done in a laboratory recognised by the competent authority of the approved exporting country)​
    • if the country of export has any requirements in addition to those stated on this webpage
    • if the country of export has an agreed veterinary health certificate to use instead of the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources standard veterinary health certificate.

Step 2: Confirm general eligibility
Timeframe: Before starting the export process

  • Cats
    • can only be exported to Australia from an approved country
    • can only be exported to Australia after 180 days from the time of blood sampling for the rabies neutralising antibody titre test (RNATT) – steps 4 and 5
    • must not be under quarantine restrictions at the time of export
    • must not be more than 30 days pregnant nor be suckling young at the time of export.
  • In accordance with the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, domestic/non domestic animal hybrids are generally not eligible for import. Hybrid cats include, but are not limited to:
    • Savannah cat, derived from crossbreeding domestic cat (Felis catus) with Serval cat (Felis serval)
    • Safari cat, domestic cat crossed with Geoffroy cat (Oncifelis geoffroyi)
    • Chausie, domestic cat crossed with Jungle cat (Felis chaus)
    • Bengal cat, domestic cat crossed with Asian Leopard cat (Prionailurus bengalensis).

Note – in certain circumstances, the Department of the Environment and Energy (DoEE) may permit the import of Bengal cats that are five generations or more removed from their wild ancestor. If you plan to import a Bengal cat, please contact DoEE to confirm your cat satisfies their requirements before you apply for an import permit from the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources. For more information about Bengal cats and other hybrid animals, DoEE can be contacted on +61 2 6274 2678 or email Exotic Species, or visit their website.

Step 3: Verify existing microchip or implant a new microchip
Timeframe: Before you start blood sampling for any pre export testing

  • Cats must be identified by a microchip that can be read by an Avid, Trovan, Destron or other ISO compatible reader.
  • A government approved veterinarian must scan the microchip at each veterinary visit and check that the scanned microchip number is correctly recorded on all documentation.
  • If the microchip cannot be read or is recorded incorrectly in the cat's documentation, the cat cannot be imported to Australia.

Step 4: Check rabies vaccination
Timeframe: Dependent on vaccine validity

  • Your cat must be vaccinated with an inactivated or recombinant rabies vaccine that:
    • was given in an approved country when the cat was at least 90 days old
    • is valid, in accordance with the manufacturer’s directions, at the time of export
    • is approved for use in cats by the competent authority of the country of export.
  • Rabies vaccines with a three (3) year validity are acceptable if given in accordance with manufacturer’s instructions.

Step 5: Rabies neutralising antibody titre (RNAT) test
Timeframe: Between 180 days and 24 months before the date of export

  • Wait 3-4 weeks between the date of rabies vaccination and blood sample collection for the RNAT test, but if the cat has a history of regular rabies vaccinations it may be possible to collect the blood sample sooner.
  • The RNAT test must meet the following requirements:
    • A government approved veterinarian must scan the cat’s microchip and collect the blood sample for the RNAT test in an approved country.
    • The cat’s microchip number must be written accurately on the blood tube and the laboratory submission form.
    • The testing laboratory must be approved by the competent authority in the exporting country. It is acceptable to draw blood in an approved country and test at a laboratory in a different approved country.
    • The testing laboratory must use either a fluorescent antibody virus neutralisation (FAVN) test or a rapid fluorescent focus inhibition test (RFFIT).
    • The laboratory report must be in English and written on the testing laboratory’s letterhead. It must include:
      • the cat’s microchip number
      • the blood sampling date and location
      • the signature of the person issuing the laboratory report
      • the test type and test result.
  • A result of 0.5 IU/ml or more is acceptable. A result of less than 0.5 IU/ml is not acceptable and in this circumstance you must re-vaccinate and repeat the testing process.
  •  The RNAT test is valid for 24 months from the date of blood sampling. If the RNAT test is more than 24 months old at the time of export, it is not valid and you cannot export the cat to Australia. You must have your cat retested.
  • The cat is not eligible for export to Australia until at least one hundred and eighty (180) days after the date the blood sample is drawn for the RNAT test (with a satisfactory result). There is no requirement for the cat to stay in an approved country during this period.
Note: There are no exceptions for dispensations available to this mandatory 180 day waiting period.

Step 6: An Official government veterinarian must complete the rabies vaccination and RNAT test declaration
Timeframe: Before applying for an import permit

  • Submit the RNAT test laboratory report and rabies vaccination certificate to an official government veterinarian.
  • An official government veterinarian in the country of export (not the Government approved veterinarian – your preparing veterinarian) must complete, sign and stamp the RNAT test declaration.
  • The microchip number, test result and blood sampling date must be consistent between the RNAT test laboratory report and RNAT test declaration.
  • Ensure that the completed RNAT test declaration states the name of the testing laboratory, not the submitting laboratory.

Step 7: Apply and pay for the import permit
Timeframe: After you have received the completed rabies vaccination and RNAT test declaration, and at least 42 days before the proposed date of export

  • Submit your import permit application, as well as full payment and all supporting documentation online through our Biosecurity Import Conditions System (BICON).
  • Supporting documentation (original documents are not required):
      • Rabies vaccination and RNAT test declaration form.
      • RNAT test laboratory report.
      • A veterinary medical form from your veterinarian detailing the condition(s) - for animals with ongoing medical condition(s).
  • Additional charges may apply if information is missing, incorrect or if an application is put on hold.
  • Please allow at least 20 working days for processing your import permit application.
  • Import permits are valid for up to twelve (12) months from the date of issue.

Step 8: Book tentative post entry quarantine accommodation and make travel arrangements
Timeframe: After you have received your import permit

Cats must spend at least 10 days at the Mickleham post entry quarantine facility in Melbourne. See the Australian Post Entry Quarantine Facilities webpage for further information.

Travel arrangements

  • The department does not place any restrictions on the airline you choose. But the cat must arrive direct into Melbourne International Airport. Domestic transfers from an Australian city to Melbourne are not permitted.
  • The cat must travel as manifested cargo (not in the cabin), in an International Air Transport Association (IATA) approved crate for cats. IATA guidelines can be viewed at Traveller's Pet Corner.
  • There are animal transport companies in most countries that can make arrangements for you. Visit Independent Pet and Animal Transportation Association International, Inc. for a list of animal transport companies worldwide.
  • The department accepts no responsibility for animals that escape en route.
  • All transport costs are at the importer's expense.

Transit/Transhipment

  • The cat may transit (touch down but stay on the same plane) or tranship (change aircraft) in any country en route to Australia. Cats transhipped through international airports in non-approved countries must not leave the international side of the airport.
  • It is the importer’s responsibility to contact the competent authority in the country of transhipment to find out:
    • whether they allow animals to tranship
    • whether they have a facility to accommodate animals during transhipment
    • how long the animals can be held
    • if any additional conditions apply.

Step 9: Check general vaccinations
Timeframe: Dependent on the validity of your cat’s vaccination

The department recommends that your cat receives a vaccination that protects against feline enteritis (also known as feline panleucopenia or feline distemper), rhinotracheitis and calicivirus and is valid for the entire post entry quarantine period.

Step 10: Internal parasite treatments
Timeframe: Two treatments at least 14 days apart but within 45 days before the date of export, with the second treatment within 5 days before the date of export

The cat must be given an internal parasite treatment effective against nematodes and cestodes, by a government approved veterinarian. Two treatments must be given at least 14 days apart and within 45 days before the date of export. The second treatment must be given within 5 days before the date of export.

Further information on acceptable treatments.

Step 11: External parasite treatments
Timeframe: Start at least 21 days before export and repeat according to manufacturer’s directions until the date of export

  • A government approved veterinarian must treat the cat with a product that kills fleas and ticks on contact at least 21 days before the date of export. Continuous protection from external parasites must be maintained until the time of export and treatments may need to be repeated by the veterinarian in accordance with the manufacturer’s directions.
  • To calculate 21 days before the date of export, count the first day the treatment is applied as day 0. For example, if treatment is given 1 January then the earliest date of export is 22 January.
  • At each subsequent veterinary visit, a Government approved veterinarian should examine the cat for external parasites. If fleas or ticks are found, they must be removed and the treatment restarted.
  • Further information on acceptable treatments.

Step 12: Pre-export clinical examination
Timeframe: Within 5 days before the date of export

The cat must be examined by a government approved veterinarian or official government veterinarian and found to be free from external parasites and clinical signs of infectious or contagious disease within 5 days before export. You must bring all documents to this examination.

Step 13: Completion of veterinary health certificate (Appendix 1)
Timeframe: Within 5 days before the date of export

  • The veterinary health certificate is Appendix 1 of your import permit.
  • A valid import permit, with a veterinary health certificate completed by an official government veterinarian in the country of export must accompany the cat on arrival in Australia.
  • An Official government veterinarian must complete, sign and stamp all pages of the veterinary health certificate
  • Any corrections made to the veterinary health certificate must be struck through, remain legible and be signed and stamped by the Official government veterinarian (correction fluid must not be used).
  • An Official government veterinarian must also sign and stamp every page of the:
    • RNATT declaration
    • RNATT laboratory report.

  • Copies can be used, but they must bear the original signature of the Official government veterinarian and stamp of the competent authority on every page.
  • It is recommended that you also keep a copy of every document.

Step 14: Travel to Australia

  • The cat must travel to Australia in an International Air Transport Association (IATA) approved crate for cats (see step 8).
  • In most cases the cat will be checked in at the freight terminal, not the passenger terminal.
  • The cat must arrive in Australia before the import permit expires.

Step 15: On arrival in Australia

  • Department staff will collect your cat on arrival for transport directly to the Mickleham post entry quarantine facility.
  • All cats must stay at Mickleham for a minimum of 10 days. Any issues that increase biosecurity risk may result in a longer stay.
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