Australian Government Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities, 2010
This fact sheet provides information on how to legally export or import household pets from and to Australia. It should be read in conjunction with the general information sheets entitled How to export or import wildlife and wildlife products and The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
The Australian Government is committed to protecting and conserving Australian native wildlife by regulating international trade. This helps to protect targeted species against overexploitation, and Australian ecosystems against the introduction of invasive species.
The Australian Government also works with other nations to protect wildlife globally, by implementing CITES (see CITES fact sheet mentioned above).
In Australia, the export and import of wildlife and wildlife products is regulated under Part 13A of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act), which is administered by the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities.
Regulation applies equally to individuals, commercial organisations and not-for-profit organisations.
Household pets and CITES
Many 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 trade. Species of interest include various snakes, lizards, frogs, invertebrates, parrots and cockatoos, among others.
A permit is needed to export a household pet that is a regulated native species or a CITES listed species. A pet that is not a native or CITES-listed species can be legally exported without a permit.
Before a permit may be issued, you must demonstrate that you are an Australian resident (not necessarily a citizen) leaving Australia indefinitely and that you have legally owned and kept the animal as a bona fide household pet.
The export of live native animals is strictly regulated for conservation and welfare reasons. Export of live native animals (except fish and invertebrates) for commercial purposes is not permitted. The export of live native animals is limited to:
- a maximum of three pet birds (in total) from the following species:
- sulphur-crested cockatoo (Cacatua galerita)
- galah (Eolophus roseicapillus)
- little corella (Cacatua sanguinea), and
- long-billed corella (Cacatua tenuirostris).
- any non-commercial quantity of pet birds of the following species:
- cockatiel (Nymphicus hollandicus), and
- budgerigar (Melopsittacus undulatus).
No other native animal may be exported under the household pet provisions of the legislation.
If your pet is a CITES-listed specimen you will need both an export and import permit in place before export can legally occur.
CITES Appendix I species are more rigidly regulated and are treated differently. If your pet is listed in CITES Appendix I, you will need to acquire a CITES import permit from the destination country before applying for an Australian export permit. The import permit will be required to support the export permit application.
The import of live animals into Australia is strictly regulated. However some animals are suitable for live import and do not need a permit.
Species or specimens listed under Part 1 of the EPBC Act List of specimens suitable for live import do not need a permit.
Species or specimens listed under Part 2 of the list cannot be imported without an import permit.
Live specimens of species not included in either part 1 or 2 of the list may not be imported under any circumstances.
State governments may impose additional restrictions on the import of live animals.
If your pet is a CITES Appendix II listed species, an export permit must be acquired from the exporting country's CITES management authority before any application for an Australian import permit. A copy of the export permit will be required to support the import permit application.
You must be able to demonstrate that you are relocating to Australia indefinitely and that you have legally owned and kept the animal as a bona fide household pet.
If a permit is required, you should make an application according to the guidelines provided in the separate fact sheet entitled How to export or import wildlife and wildlife products. Your application should include Supplementary Form E (Household pet). The requisite application fee is AU$150. This fee will not be refunded if your application is unsuccessful.
In addition to any CITES permits that may be required, documentation will be required to verify that:
- you are an Australian resident (export only); for example, Australian electricity or telephone bill, Australian passport, tenancy agreement, driving licence, etc
- you have acquired and owned your pet legally; for example, receipt, pedigree documents, council or state government licence
- 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
- you are leaving (exports) or relocating to (imports) Australia indefinitely; for example, letter of employment, tenancy agreement, residency visa.
What else do I need to know?
The international movement of live animals is generally subject to strict quarantine requirements. You should make yourself familiar with the quarantine requirements of your destination country.
Exports and imports of wildlife and wildlife products may also be subject to regulation under the Customs Act 1901 (administered by the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service) and the Quarantine Act 1908 (administered by the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service). These organisations may be contacted through offices in each state capital, or through their head offices:
Australian Customs and Border Protection Service
5 Constitution Avenue
Canberra ACT 2601
Telephone: 02 6275 6666
Freecall: 1300 363 263
Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS)
GPO Box 858
Canberra ACT 2601
Telephone: 02 6272 3933
Freecall: 1800 020 504
Where can I get more information?
For more information on permits, please read the general information sheet entitled How to export or import wildlife and wildlife products, or contact the department at the address below:
Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities
Wildlife Trade Regulation Section
GPO BOX 787
Canberra ACT 2601
Phone: 02 6274 1900
Facsimile: 02 6274 1921
Please remember that the international movement of live animals is generally subject to strict quarantine requirements. You should make yourself familiar with the quarantine requirements of your destination country, so that you do not waste your time and money on a permit that you cannot use.
The following links may also be of use or interest:
- List of CITES species
- List of exempt native specimens
- List of specimens taken to be suitable for live import
- Australian stricter domestic measures
- Permit application forms
- CITES authorities in other countries
- Approved sources
- Appendix I captive breeding operations registered with the CITES Secretariat