Transporting pets to Australia following the completion of our expat life was one of the most important tasks that needed to be tended to. After a quick Google search, we enlisted Airpets to help with the process of flying dogs home to Australia. We always knew that it was going to be a lengthy process transporting pets to Australia as we had researched the requirements before we moved to York. So, let’s take a detailed look at what was required when it came to relocating pets, and my advice on how to make pet travel as easy and stress free as possible.
Disclosure: Airpets kindly offered a discount on our final bill for the pet relocation services, in exchange for content documenting our experience. All opinions are my own and an honest reflection on the process of transporting pets to Australia.
Transporting Pets to Australia
Preparing To Fly
There is a strict regime of vaccines, blood work and treatments which need to occur when transporting pets to Australia from the UK. These were carried out by our local vet in York who is a Government Approved Veterinarian, however Airpets can also assist with these requirements if you live close to their facilities.
Please note, below I have summarized the steps and requirements we followed when transporting pets to Australia. However these requirements may change at any time and it is essential that you do your own due diligence and check the entry requirements with the Australian Government – Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment. Again, Airpets are well versed and up to date with flying dogs and the relevant regulations. They will be able to assist you with every step along the way and therefore offer a stress-free option for international pet transport.
After making contact with Airpets, we confirmed the dog’s general eligibility to be relocated back to Australia as per the government’s criteria.
When transporting pets to Australia, dogs can only enter Australia after a rabies vaccine, followed by a positive titre test result followed by an incubation period. The test confirms whether or not rabies neutralising antibodies are now present. Provided the results are positive, Australia will approve entry for the dog 180 days after the date the first blood sample arrives at the laboratory, thus giving the antibodies time to build full virus resistance.
Therefore, it was critical that we commenced the progress as soon as possible when we initially started thinking about repatriating and transporting pets to Australia.
I remember distinctly – it was a bitterly cold winter’s day in York and snowflakes were falling from the sky as I drove the dogs to the veterinary clinic. Full lockdown restrictions were in effect in the UK at the time due to the pandemic, so I was not permitted inside the premises upon arrival. I handed over Bailey and Nellie to the vet and waited for them to be returned. The simple and easy part of transporting pets to Australia!
3-4 weeks after the rabies vaccines were administered, we could arrange blood tests for the dogs to check the level of antibodies. Again, I was not allowed in the surgery and this time I was left waiting outside for quite some time as Nellie would not cooperate. She came outside with a little blue bandage wrapped around her front leg and feeling very sorry for herself. When transporting pets to Australia, these blood test results are valid for 24 months from the date of blood samples.
Apply for Import Permits
Once we received the test results confirming the dogs had sufficient antibodies, this allowed us to submit the import permit application. The Australian government has a sophisticated online system which allows you to easily apply for permits to import animals. Once the forms are submitted and the fees paid, it takes up to 20 business days to be granted your approval for import.
Book Post Entry Quarantine Accommodation
Upon receiving an approved import permit for transporting pets to Australia, it will specify a date when access will be granted to Australia. From there, you can book a place for the post entry quarantine accommodation in Melbourne, Victoria for your animals. Note, when transporting pets to Australia, all dogs are required to arrive directly into Melbourne International Airport, regardless of the final destination.
And a word of advice – don’t do what I did and think ‘I will tend to that later‘. I may or may not have forgotten to ‘tend to that later‘ which then led to a mad scramble to reconfirm the reservation and pay for the booking a few days before the dogs were due to fly.
Airpets has recently set up an account so that they can easily make and pay for bookings for the post entry quarantine accommodation on behalf of their customers, making the process even easier!
Check Other Vaccines & Make Travel Arrangements.
The next step is to ensure that your dog has all their vaccinations up to date and make the necessary travel arrangements. If you take your pet to the vet regularly, there should be no issues in this regard. And with regards to the arrangements for transporting pets to Australia, Airpets will be there to arrange everything from flights to travel crates for you.
As the travel date drew closer, the two beagles were required to have internal and external parasite treatments administered by the vet. By this stage we were no longer in lockdown in the UK, and I was permitted into the vet surgery which made life much easier. Although of course Bailey who is known for eating everything under the sun, did not want to eat his worming tablets. Oh, the irony!
Final Blood Tests
The final piece of the puzzle – another round of blood tests to check several things plus more internal and external parasite treatments. This time Nellie was the brave one with the needle, but poor Bailey howled the place down which broke my heart.
As we had been so busy with the relocation to Australia, I accidentally missed one of the key dates which meant we had to expedite the blood work for the beagles. But once again, the wonderful team at Airpets were able to advise me who could assist with a quick turnaround on the blood results, and we managed to sort it out in time.
There is no denying that York to Perth is a very long way for the dogs to travel. Especially since they had already completed the expedition once in their lifetime. However, it was never an option for us to leave them behind. So, here is how the journey unfolded for transporting pets to Australia!
York > Heathrow
We set off from York with the entire contents of our lives crammed into a hire car, including the dogs. The drive from York to Heathrow was approximately 3.5 hours. We arrived midday Sunday when the Airpets Lounge is closed apart from the care takers looking after the animals.
Airpets have a large facility in close proximity to Heathrow, with spacious kennels for the animals and a big play field for the dogs to exercise and take rest breaks. Bailey and Nellie did not hesitate in the slightest as we showed them to their shared kennel and said our goodbyes.
If you are considering transporting pets to Australia, Airpets also offer private hire pet services to transfer you and your pets to the airport in style and comfort.
Heathrow > Dubai > Melbourne
The dogs stayed with Airpets for a couple of nights before departing from Heathrow. As I mentioned above, we dropped the ball with regards to paying for the post entry quarantine accommodation and submitting some of the paperwork from the vet. This in turn caused a few delays and rescheduling of flights. However, thankfully the dogs were in good hands with Airpets, and they were booked onto an Emirates flight that departed a couple of days later.
We received photos of Bailey and Nellie in their custom made Airkennels™ before they boarded their flight. Then it was a waiting game until we received confirmation that they had safely arrived in Melbourne. We were flying at the same time as the dogs, albeit on different flights, but it meant I wasn’t as focused on their progress as I was when they made the original journey from Australia to the UK. One option if you are transporting pets to Australia is to track their flight on an app such as Flight Radar.
When transporting pets to Australia, dogs must spend at least 10 days at the Mickleham post entry quarantine facility in Victoria. When Bailey and Nellie arrived, I received an automated email from the Australian Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment confirming such and that they were undergoing initial quarantine checks. Within 48 hours I received a full update from the vets at the facility detailing how they were both coping and raising any concerns.
It is against government policy for any photos to be shared of the animals unless there is an issue, so we just had to trust that they were all okay whilst we undertook our own 14-day hotel quarantine in Perth.
Melbourne > Perth
Following the 10 days in quarantine, Bailey and Nellie were collected by Jet Pets (in collaboration with Airpets) and taken to their boarding facility. At this point we received some photos and videos, much to our delight.
The dogs were required to board with Jet Pets for a further few days. Due to Covid, there were a limited number of flights between Melbourne and Perth each week which meant there was no sooner availability for them to travel. Although in hindsight I think this worked out for the best, as it meant we had been released from our own quarantine and were able to collect the dogs ourselves from the airport.
Happily Ever After
After almost 3 weeks apart, we were finally all reunited back in Perth. It was a busy Thursday evening at the Qantas Freight Terminal with many people collecting animals. The luggage buggy arrived from the plane with several animal crates, and I immediately heard Nellie crying and was so relieved they were finally here. When it was our turn to collect our precious cargo, the dogs were so incredibly happy to see us once they realised who was peering into their crates.
The process of transporting pets to Australia was certainly a lengthy one, however they have settled back into Perth life so well and it is so comforting to know that they are now safe and well.
So, I hear you asking – how much to move pets overseas? There is no denying it – it is not a cheap exercise transporting pets to Australia. But we all know that pets are another member of the family, and personally leaving them behind was not an option for us.
The costs will of course differ for each pet, as there are many variables to consider for each individual pet relocation. This includes things such as the size of your animal, final destination, entry and / or quarantine requirements etc.
I would estimate our final costs for the relocation of both dogs to be in the vicinity of £7,500. This includes all the vet appointments, flights, boarding and mandatory quarantine in Melbourne.
When transporting pets to Australia, my advice is start planning early. Check the eligibility requirements for your pet and prepare a realistic timeline for yourself, putting together a to-do list so you know what is required and when. I was interested to find out that the rabbis vaccine lasts for 3 years, and if I had known this in advance, I might have had it administered earlier to prepare for the probability of returning to Australia at some point.
I also think it is quite important to ensure that your chosen vet is well accustomed with the process and requirements of transporting pets to Australia. If Airpets are contacted +6 months in advance of travel for a quote, they can provide a veterinary schedule specific to your time scales, so that you and your vet have this to refer to and key dates to aim for.
Finally – stay informed, ask questions, ensure all requirements are met and don’t miss any of the critical dates and payments. Transporting pets to Australia can be an awful lot to deal with on top of packing up your home and wrapping up your life overseas. But that is the great benefit of engaging an expert company like Airpets to assist with pet relocation services – they take the stress out of it for you.
Airpets is the UK’s leading pet travel agency – providing you peace of mind and a first-class travel experience for your pet based on your needs. They work across all aspects of the travel industry, including pet import and export, boarding, quarantine and wildlife movement. So whether you are planning on relocating overseas or simply a holiday with your pet, Airpets will take care of all the difficult and daunting aspects of international pet transport for you plus help you navigate the rest.