Category 3: step by step guide for cats

Introduction

  • All cats must complete a minimum 10 day period in an Australian quarantine facility. To be eligible for import, all cats must be compliant with all the import conditions stated on the valid import permit.
  • It is a requirement under Australian legislation that live animals coming to Australia from category 3 countries must be accompanied by a valid import permit.
  • If an animal arrives in Australia and it does not meet all of the conditions on the accompanying import permit, then it may be exported to the country of origin or euthanised.
  • A Government Approved Veterinarian or Official Government Veterinarian must perform all veterinary procedures listed below.
  • All testing must be conducted in an approved country in a laboratory recognised by the government of the country of export.
  • You must contact the competent authority in the country of export to determine which veterinarians and laboratories are approved to prepare your cat for export.
  • You must contact the competent authority in the country of export to determine if there are any additional export requirements and/or if the country of export has an agreed veterinary health certificate to use in place of the Department of Agriculture’s standard veterinary health certificate.
  • The Department of Agriculture recommends that you take this information to your Government Approved Veterinarian or pet transport agent to assist you with understanding the requirements.

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Step 1: Confirm general eligibility
Timeframe: Before starting the export process

  • Cats must not be under quarantine restrictions at the time of export and can only be exported to Australia from an approved country.
  • Pregnancy: Cats must not be more than 30 days pregnant nor be suckling young at the time of export.
  • Cat Breeds: In accordance with the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act), the cat you plan on importing to Australia must not be a domestic/ non-domestic hybrid. These are cats that are derived from a cross with a wild cat species and includes (but is not limited to) breeds such as the Savannah cat (which is a cat derived from crossbreeding a domestic cat (Felis catus) with a serval cat (Felis serval), the Safari cat (crossed with a Geoffroy cat, Oncifelis geoffroyi) and the Chausie (crossed with the Jungle cat, Felis chaus). The only exception to this is the Bengal cat (Felis catus x Prionailurus bengalensis) which may continue to be imported provided it is five generations removed from the Asian Leopard Cat (Prionailurus bengalensis).
    [For more information on cat breeds and hybrids, contact the Wildlife Trade Regulation Section, the Department of the Environment phone +61 6274 1111.]

Step 2: Verify existing microchip or implant a new microchip
Timeframe: A microchip must be present before you can 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 ensure that the microchip is scanned at each veterinary visit. They must also check that the scanned microchip number is correctly recorded on documentation.
  • If the microchip cannot be read or is inconsistent across the animal's documentation, the animal may be exported from Australia at the importer's expense.

Step 3: Check Rabies Vaccination
Timeframe: Dependent on vaccine validity

  • Your cat must be vaccinated with an inactivated or recombinant rabies virus vaccine that:
  • was given when the cat was at least 90 days of age; and
  • is valid, in accordance with the manufacturer’s directions, from at least 180 days prior to export until the date of export.
  • The rabies vaccine must be approved for use in cats by the competent authority of the country of export.
  • Three (3) yearly rabies vaccinations are acceptable.
  • Rabies vaccinations must be administered in an approved country.

Step 4: Rabies Neutralising Antibody Titre (RNAT) test and Quarantine period
Timeframe: Between 180 days and 24 months before export

For your RNAT test to be valid, the following requirements must be met:

  • Following a rabies virus vaccination a Government Approved Veterinarian must scan the animal’s microchip and collect a blood sample for the RNAT test.
  • The blood sample must be drawn in an approved country.
  • The animal’s microchip number must be written 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 completed on the testing laboratory ’s letterhead. The report must include the animal’s microchip number, the blood sampling date, the signature of the person responsible for issuing the laboratory report, the location where the blood sample was taken and the 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 department recognises the RNAT test result for 24 months from the date of blood sampling to the date of export. The animal must have a valid RNAT test Laboratory Report at the time of export. If the RNAT test is due to expire (i.e. greater than 24 months old) prior to the date of export, you must have your cat retested prior to the expiry date.
  • The animal is not eligible for export to Australia until at least one hundred and eighty (180) days have passed from the date that the blood sample is drawn for the RNAT test (with a satisfactory result).

Step 5: The Official Government Veterinarian must complete the Rabies Vaccination and Rabies Neutralising Antibody Titre (RNAT) test declaration
Timeframe: Before applying for an import permit

  • You must contact an Official Government Veterinarian in the country of export to complete the RNAT test Declaration. This is not the Government Approved Veterinarian (your preparing veterinarian).
  • You must submit the RNAT test laboratory report and rabies vaccination certificate to the Official Government Veterinarian so they can complete 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.
  • You must ensure that the completed RNAT test Declaration states the name of the testing laboratory, not the submitting laboratory.

Step 6: 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 prior to proposed date of export.

Please ensure you allow at least 20 working days for the processing and granting of your permit application. It is recommended that you read How to complete the import application before proceeding.

How to apply

  • You may submit your import permit application, as well as full payment and all supporting documentation by any of the following methods:
    • Online application using e-lodge (you must scan and attach all supporting documentation).
    • Manual application - send a copy of your application and all supporting documentation to:
  • Additional charges may be applied if information required to assess the application is missing or incorrect or if an application is put on hold.
  • Import permits are valid for up to twelve (12) months from the date of issue.

Step 7: Book tentative post arrival quarantine accommodation at an Australian government quarantine facility and make travel arrangements
Timeframe: After you have received your import permit

See the Australian Post Entry Quarantine Facilities webpage for information on booking quarantine accommodation and arranging transport for your cat(s).

Please also note the following:

  • The department does not place any restrictions on the airline you choose. However, the animal must travel as "manifested cargo" (not in the cabin) and 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 on your behalf. 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, and all transport costs are at the importer's expense.

Transiting

  • During transport to Australia the cat may transit (touch down but stay on the same plane) in all countries (applies to approved and non-approved countries).

Transhipment

  • The cat may tranship (change aircraft) in any country en route to Australia. However, the department does not accept certification provided in non-approved countries so transhipment of cats in non-approved countries is not recommended. The department strongly advises booking direct flights to prevent mishaps from occurring.
  • The cat must not leave the international side of the airport and must be under the supervision of the competent authority in the country of transhipment, in a location or facility where contact with other animals is restricted.
  • The cat may not be eligible for import if these requirements are not met.

Note: 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
- any additional conditions that may apply.

Step 8: Check general vaccinations
Timeframe: Dependent on your 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-arrival quarantine period.

Step 9: Internal parasite treatments
Timeframe: Two treatments at least 14 days apart, with the second treatment given within 5 days of export

The cat must be treated by a Government Approved Veterinarian twice with an internal parasite treatment effective against internal parasites (nematodes and cestodes) . The two treatments must be administered at least 14 days apart and within 45 days before export. The second treatment must be given within 5 days before export.

Step 10: External parasite treatments
Timeframe: Commence at least 21 days prior to export and repeated according to manufacturer’s directions until export

  • A Government Approved Veterinarian must treat the cat with a product that kills ticks on contact. To maintain continuous protection from external parasites until the time of export, you may need to repeat treatment in accordance with the manufacturer’s directions.
  • You should discuss suitable external parasite treatments with the Government Approved Veterinarian.
  • At each subsequent veterinary visit, the Government Approved Veterinarian should thoroughly examine the cat for external parasites. If any ticks are found from the time of treatment referred to above until export, they must be removed and the preparation must be restarted.

Step 11: Pre-export clinical examination
Timeframe: Within 5 days before export

The cat must be examined by a Government Approved Veterinarian or Official Government Veterinarian and found to be free from ticks and clinical signs of infectious or contagious disease within 5 days before export. You must take the animal and all documentation to this examination.

Step 12: Completion of Veterinary Health Certificate (Attachment A)
Timeframe: Within 5 days of export

The Veterinary Health Certificate (Attachment A) is located in your valid import permit. It must be completed by the Official Government Veterinarian.

The following documents must accompany the animal on arrival in Australia. Copies can be used, but all documents must bear the original signature of the Official Government Veterinarian and stamp of the competent authority on each page:

  • A valid import permit;
  • A completed Veterinary Health Certificate (Attachment A of the import permit);
  • Rabies Neutralising Antibody Titre (RNAT) test laboratory report; and
  • Rabies Neutralising Antibody Titre (RNAT) Test Declaration.
    [It is recommended that you retain a copy of each of these documents.]

Any corrections made to the Veterinary Health Certificate must be struck through, remain legible and be signed and stamped by the Official Government Veterinarian (NB: Correction fluid must not be used).

Step 13: Travel to Australia

  • The cat must be consigned to Australia in a container that meets the standard required in the International Air Transport Association (IATA) Live Animals Regulation Container Requirement 1.
  • In most cases the animal will be checked in at the freight terminal, not the passenger terminal.
  • The cat must arrive in Australia prior to the expiry date of the permit.

Step 14: On Arrival in Australia

  • Department staff will collect your animal on arrival for transport directly to the Quarantine Facility.
  • All cats and dogs must complete a minimum of 10 days in an Australian quarantine facility. Please note that 10 days quarantine is the minimum requirement only and that any issues that may increase the biosecurity risk posed by an animal may result in a longer stay in post-entry quarantine (for example, if a tick is found on your cat, they will need to stay for 21-30+ days until they repeat their blood testing; at the importer’s cost).