The Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment issues permits and manages quarantine requirements for the import of domestic animals. If you wish to import a domestic cat or dog (non-hybrid breeds only), information on permit requirements and how to complete the permit application is available at: Bringing cats and dogs (and other pets) to Australia.
Additional requirements may apply to the pet trade into and out of Australia when the species is a native and/or listed on the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), or is not currently permitted into Australia. You can read more about these categories and their trade requirements below.
The export of live Australian native animals is highly regulated. This is to protect and conserve Australian native wildlife. It is possible to take certain native Australian species overseas as long as they will not be used for commercial purposes such as selling or trading.
The Australian native household pets that may be taken internationally are listed below. All have a limit of three animals, except budgerigars (Melopsittacuc undulatus) and cockatiels (Nymphicus hollandicus), which are limited to a non-commercial quantity:
- Sulphur-crested cockatoo (Cacatua galerita)
- Galah (Eolophus roseicapillus)
- Little corella (Cacatua sanguinea)
- Long-billed corella (Cacatua tenuirostris)
- Cockatiel (Nymphicus hollandicus)
- Budgerigar (Melopsittacus undulatus).
Pet fish, cockroaches and spiders can be exported if sourced from an approved source. For the purposes of export approved source means a commercial harvest or breeding program. You can read more about these approved sources on our commercial trade pages.
No other native Australian animal may be taken outside Australia as a household pet.
If you would like to take your pet with you when you leave Australia, you must:
- Be an Australian resident or ordinarily reside in Australia.
- Have owned and kept the animal as a household pet.
- Be leaving Australia with the intention of taking up permanent residence in another country.
You must also apply for an Australian export permit and provide the following:
- Evidence that you are an Australian resident (for example, Australian passport, driving licence, residency visa, Australian electricity or telephone bill, tenancy agreement).
- Evidence you have acquired and owned your pet legally (for example, purchase receipt, pedigree documents, council or state government licence).
- Evidence showing the animal is a bona fide household pet and has not been acquired for the purpose of export or import (for example, photographs of the animal in the home environment, veterinary bills, statements by friends or relatives).
- Evidence that you are leaving Australia indefinitely (for example, letter of employment, tenancy agreement, residency visa).
Animals that do not occur naturally in the wild in Australia are defined as ‘exotic animals’. Many exotic species encountered as household pets have been included in CITES Appendix I or II in response to the decline in some wild populations as a result of unregulated international pet trade. While you are allowed to own a wide range of exotic animals, there are some restrictions. These restrictions are in place to:
- Protect Australia against exotic pests and diseases that could threaten our unique environment, and agricultural and tourism industries.
- Protect Australian communities against potentially dangerous animals.
- Protect endangered species from uncontrolled trade, which can lead to population decline and extinction.
The import of live animals into Australia is controlled by the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, and the Biosecurity Act 2015. These laws apply to anyone who intends to bring a live exotic animal into Australia.
If a live specimen is not included on the Live Import List then the specimen cannot be imported.
You can access the Live Import List to check whether these animals were imported into Australia legally: List of Specimens Taken to be Suitable for Live Import .
If the species your pet belongs to is not specifically included on the Live Import List and you export your pet (including taking it on holidays overseas) you will not be allowed to bring it back into Australia, even if your pet was born/bought in Australia.
You can read more about the list on the Live Import List page.
If you are thinking about buying an exotic animal, first check that it was imported legally to Australia, or is allowed to be owned in Australia. Australian states and territories have laws on the private keeping of exotic animals within their borders. These laws set out the types of animals, number of animals, and conditions under which animals can be kept. You must meet all relevant laws. Make sure that you can keep the animal legally in your state or territory before you buy it.
Some of the exotic animals available in Australia have been imported illegally despite Australia’s strict import laws. Possessing illegally imported animals (or their offspring) is an offence under national environment law. The illegal import of wildlife is known to be cruel and cause serious harm. Smuggled animals suffer stress, dehydration, or starvation and many more animals die than reach pet owners.
You can help by making sure that you are not buying or keeping illegally imported animals. You'll be helping to protect Australia, and stop wildlife smuggling and related cruelty. You might also be protecting yourself from fines.
The Department offers specific advice for both exotic birds and fish. This can be found in the sections below.
The penalty for illegal possession under national environment law is imprisonment for five years and/or a fine of up to $210,000. Releasing exotic animals into the wild may damage the environment. It could introduce an exotic disease or become a pest itself. Exotic animals threaten our unique environment, agriculture and the tourism industry. It is also cruel to the animal as it is likely to die from exposure or starvation.
If you would like to import a live exotic animal into Australia you may need to apply for a permit.
The ornamental fish industry in Australia — which includes traders, fish breeders, retail outlets and the hobby industry — is estimated to be worth $350 million a year. Aquarium fish make great pets, but if they are released into the wild they can pose a serious threat to Australia's aquatic biodiversity.
What are the laws?
The import of live animals (including ornamental fish) into Australia is controlled by the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act), administered by the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment. These laws apply to all importers of live exotic animals.
What are the import requirements?
Only fish listed on the live import list can be imported into Australia. You should be aware that species not listed on the live import list are prohibited imports. People importing and keeping them must be able to demonstrate lawful import.
The Department also manages applications to amend the live import list to include animals. Every import into Australia has the potential to introduce new pests and diseases. To minimise this risk, a range of quarantine procedures under the Biosecurity Act 2015. Before considering the import of any species including fish for pet purposes, you will need to contact the Department to determine what permits you will be required to obtain. Information on the procedures and requirements for the live import of ornamental fish can be found on: Biosecurity.
You can read more about the live import list, apply for an amendment and check the status of species on our Live Import List page. The Department has provided a guide to help assist with compliance.
Australians may own, trade and breed exotic (non-native) birds in Australia. The Department regulates international trade in exotic birds to:
- Help reduce illegal international trade in endangered species.
- Prevent exotic birds becoming established in the wild as pest species (feral animals).
- Prevent the introduction of new diseases into captive and wild bird populations in Australia.
Under national environment law, it is the responsibility of the owner to be able to prove that any exotic bird they hold is legal. The easiest way to do this is to keep records of where the bird was purchased and evidence of its legitimate origin. The Department manages a record keeping scheme (EBRS) to help bird keepers maintain adequate records and minimise the risk of acquiring illegally traded birds.
Exotic Bird Record-keeping Scheme (EBRS)
The Exotic Bird keepers Advisory Group (EBAG) played a major role in the consultation process to develop this scheme and in advising the Department. Under the scheme all exotic birds in Australia have been classified as either ‘high interest’ or ‘low interest’ based on their pest and disease risk and the potential for illegal trade.
To find out whether your birds are high interest or low interest read the 2007 Inventory of Exotic (non-native) Bird Species known to be in Australia. The inventory is not a list of species that have been legally imported into Australia. Buyers of exotic birds should therefore ensure that the seller is able to provide a genuine copy of relevant documents and records for individual birds that prove legal entry or legal ownership. The Department has provided a guide to help assist with compliance.
Under the scheme you will need to be able to keep accurate records, identify the individuals in your possession and prove legal source.
The forms for high-interest birds and low-interest birds are different. You cannot use record forms for low-interest birds to record movements and activities involving high-interest birds.
Forms for high-interest exotic birds
Forms for high-interest exotic birds are only available in hard copy (book form) and can only be sent to you through the post. To order high-interest forms you can either email your address to email@example.com or call 1800 720 466.
Forms for low-interest exotic birds
Movement transaction record form for low-interest species exotic birds are used when you sell, loan or give birds as gifts-for low-interest species only.
Low-interest bird activity record form is used to record information about your birds-for low-interest species only.
Hybrid animals are defined as the offspring of two different species or subspecies. Common hybrids include savannah cats (Serval x domestic Cat) and wolfdogs (Wolf x domestic Dog). All hybrid animals, including hybrids kept as domestic pets, must pass a risk assessment for inclusion on the Live Import List. The only hybrid on the Live Import List is the mule/hinny (horse x donkey).
Some hybrid animals such as Czechoslovakian Vlacks (a wolf dog) or Chausies and Bengals (hybrid cats) may be recognised by international groups as a dog/cat breeds. The Department does not use lists of registered breeds as a basis for import. Therefore these breeds are not on the Live Import List, and may not be imported.
The Department has provided guidance on hybrid cats: Importing wild or hybrid cat species.
The Department is updating the Guidance on the Import of Live Hybrid Animals. You can read more about this Guidance on the hybrids section of the Live Import List page.
You can find out if your species is found in Australia and if it is protected by checking the Atlas of living Australia.
To find out if your species is CITES listed check Species+.
The Department has also provided some advice in its FAQ’s.
If you wish to import a domestic cat or dog (non-hybrid breeds), information on permit requirements and how to complete the permit application is available at: Bringing cats and dogs (and other pets) to Australia.