How Much Does It Cost to Bring a Dog to Australia?

The process of importing a dog to Australia is one of the most complex in the world, involving multiple tests as well as a stay in quarantine. Due to this, the cost of bringing a dog to Australia is quite expensive. But what are the costs involved and what is the likely total?

I share the costs that I paid to bring my dog to Australia. Note that I brought my dog to Australia in December 2018, so some costs may have increased. Standard government charges were last checked in May 2022 and I explain other likely changes to costs.

Find out more about my experience bringing my dog to Australia plus more tips on importing a dog to Australia, including the latest rule changes

Cost of Bringing a Dog to Australia

Cost of Vet Visits and Tests

One of the most variable costs of bringing a dog to Australia is the cost of the various vet visits and tests required to complete the paperwork required to bring your dog to Australia. This is due to two reasons: different pets will require different preparation steps and the cost of vet visits vary from country to country.

The very first test that most dogs require is a rabies titre test. This needs to be completed between 180 days and 24 months before importing your dog to Australia. Afterwards an official government veterinarian must complete an RNAT test declaration. Beforehand, your dog will also require a microchip and valid rabies vaccination, if they do not already have this, which will cost extra.

We didn’t need to complete this step as part of the process of returning to Australia with our dog, as we had this completed before leaving Australia, and it was still valid. As it was completed in Australia this also meant we could skip the RNAT test declaration.

Pet at Home
Dogs require multiple pets before being imported to Australia

For a list of the other tests required for your dog, see the detailed guides on the Department of Agriculture website. Note that the test for Ehrlichia canis is no longer required, as this parasite is now endemic in Australia.

At a minimum, dogs require tests Leishmania infantum, as well as Leptospira interrogans, if they are not vaccinated against Leptospira interrogans serovar Canicola, and Brucella canis, if they are not desexed.

There are also a number of treatments required for against external and internal parasites. Dogs that have visited mainland Africa need a treatment against Babesia canis. And then there’s the final pre-export clinical examination and completion of veterinary health certificate.

Our dog required all of the above tests and treatments, except the test for Brucella canis as he is desexed and the treatment for Babesia canis. He was also tested for Ehrlichia canis. These were all completed in the USA, one of the most expensive countries for veterinary bills.

Dog at vet about to have vaccinations
Dogs require multiple vet visits

The tests are likely cheaper in many other countries. For instance, someone exporting their pet from Canada reported they paid $833 AUD for their 3 vet visits, far lower than our cost.

As of 2022, these costs are likely to be similar. The fees charged by the specific vets I used are likely to have increased, but the greatest variability is still based on where you have the tests done, plus the number of tests and other steps required to prepare your dog.

Cost of rabies titre test incl. vet consultation (Australia): $367 AUD (2017)

Cost of remaining tests and 3 vet consultations (USA): $1537 AUD (2018)

Cost of an Import Permit

Once you have a rabies titre test and declaration completed for your dog, the next cost of bringing your dog to Australia is the cost of an import permit. This needs to be done at least 42 days in advance (ideally earlier!), on the Australian Biosecurity Import Conditions website, and is valid for up to 12 months, or until the rabies titre test expires.

There is a discounted rate for multiple animals in the same consignment. The latest fees are listed here.

Cost of import permit (one dog): $566 AUD (as of August 2023)

Familiarise your dog with their crate as soon as possible
Schnitzel in his crate used to fly him to Australia

Cost of Dog Quarantine in Australia

Once you have received the import permit, it’s best to book your dog’s quarantine stay as soon as possible, before making any further preparations. All pet dogs and cats entering Australia require a 10-day or 30-day quarantine stay at the Mickleham post-entry quarantine facility in Melbourne. This is booked at the Post Entry Biosecurity System website.

When making a quarantine booking, there is an application fee charged. Once you confirm the quarantine booking, at least 7 days before your pet’s arrival but generally before finalising your pet’s flight, you need to pay the quarantine set fees, based on a standard 10-day or 30-day stay.

You will also be charged at least one additional fee before your dog is released from quarantine, listed as “recovery of airline handling charge”. This is an airport charge paid by the quarantine staff on your behalf when your dog is collected from the airport.

Before your dog is released, you will also be invoiced any additional quarantine costs, for example if your dog requires a longer stay in quarantine (which is thankfully not common, with a charge of $50 per day) or out-of-hours collection fees. The full list of current charges are listed here.

Importation charge (Reservation charge) (previously initial booking fee): $253 AUD (as of August 2023)

Quarantine set fees for 10-day stay: $1660 AUD (as of August 2022)

Quarantine set fees for 30-day stay: $2660 AUD (as of August 2022)

Recovery of airline handling charge: $120-250 AUD (I paid $97 AUD in 2018)

Cost of Flights to Australia

The other largest cost of bringing a dog to Australia is the actual cost of the flight. As dogs have to fly as cargo when flying to Australia on commercial airlines, the flight costs are far more expensive than the typical fees for dogs flying in the cabin or as excess luggage in other countries.

The two main factors in the flight cost are the size of your dog and the flight duration. Just like when posting a package, the measurement of your dog’s crate is used by most airlines to determine an equivalent chargeable weight.

When flying my dog, Schnitzel, back to Australia, we booked him directly with Qantas to fly from Los Angeles to Melbourne on a non-stop 15-hour flight. He’s only a small 5kg, so his crate was quite small, and his flight cost far less than for a large dog.

Qantas plane at LA Airport
Schnitzel’s plane at the gate at LA Airport

As of 2022, the fees to transport pets have significantly increased, although hopefully as international travel returns to normal, they settle down to close to their previous rates. In particular, Qantas states on their website for now that they are not accepting direct bookings, so even this flight would cost more through a pet transport company.

Additionally, if you have a larger dog, expect for the flight cost to be significantly higher.

Flight from Los Angeles to Melbourne for a small dog (PP40 crate): $1314 AUD (2018)

Miscellaneous Costs

There may be some additional costs that apply, depending on your circumstances.

For starters, if you haven’t previously flown with your dog in the hold, you will likely need to purchase a suitable crate. For information on the IATA guidelines and how to calculate the minimum size crate for your dog, see this IATA page. I detail more about selecting a crate on my posts about bringing a dog to Australia.

There is also likely to be a charge for an official government veterinarian to endorse your dog’s veterinary health certificate and additional paperwork. In the USA, this is done by the USDA APHIS Veterinary Services.

USDA Office in Los Angeles
In the USA, the USDA charges to endorse the paperwork

Finally, as the only post-entry quarantine facility in Australia is located in Melbourne, if you don’t live in Melbourne there is the cost to transport your dog to their final destination in Australia. In my case, we choose to have our dog picked up and flown to Sydney by a pet transport company, Jetpets.

Note that the cost to transport pets within Australia are now significantly more expensive, since the interstate border closures started in 2020 and Australian airlines stopped taking direct bookings for flights. As of 2023, these costs are still significantly higher – approximately double.

Crate (similar to PP40) and water bowl: $82 AUD (2018)

Health certificate endorsement (USDA APHIS VS): $231 AUD (as of August 2023)

Delivery from quarantine to Sydney Airport (small dog): $235 AUD (2018)

What If Your Use a Pet Transport Company?

Many airlines require you to book via a pet transport company. Not to mention using a pet transport company is far easier than handling the complex process to bring a pet to Australia yourself. (Read my post on the reasons why you might want to use a pet transport company.)

The downside to using a pet transport company is the additional cost involved. However, often the overhead isn’t as high as people realise (although it varies).

Even without using a pet transport company it is very expensive to bring a dog to Australia, with more costs involved than many people realise, and pet transport companies often just list one daunting large number, rather than breaking down the component costs.

Picking up Schnitzel
At times we have used Jetpets to fly Schnitzel

Total Cost of Bringing a Dog to Australia

The total cost to bring your dog to Australia varies, depending on where you are currently located, the size of your dog, what specific tests are required, and whether you use a pet transport company.

As an example of a lower end cost, where my dog flew directly from Los Angeles to Melbourne, is a small dog, and we did not use a pet transport company except for the final flight to Sydney, here were my total costs (using the latest August 2023 fees for set government costs):

Rabies titre test (before leaving Australia): $367
Remaining tests and 3 x vet consultations (USA): $1537
Import permit: $566*
Quarantine initial booking fee: $253*
Quarantine set fees (10-day stay): $1660*
Recovery of airline handling charge: $97
Flight from LA to Melbourne (small dog): $1314
Crate (similar to PP40) and water bowl: $82
Health certificate endorsement (USDA APHIS VS): $211
Delivery from quarantine to Sydney Airport (small dog): $235

Total cost: $6322 AUD (approx. $4100 USD)

Dog-Friendly Hotels Sydney
It’s expensive to bring a dog to Australia

Note that the three charges that I’ve marked with an asterisk above are set Australian government charges (as of August 2023), that apply regardless of dog size or location, totalling $2479. If a 30-day stay in quarantine is required, these total $3479. The other charges will vary, including based on location and dog size.

With the higher costs of flights for pets these days, a more accurate estimate of the total costs to transport a pet to Australia is $5000 to $10,000 USD, depending on location and dog size.

Hopefully, the details I’ve provided can give you a starting point to estimate what are the likely costs to bring your own dog to Australia.

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About the Author

Photo of Shandos & Schnitzel

Shandos Cleaver is the founder of Travelnuity: Dog-Friendly Travel. She has travelled extensively with her Miniature Dachshund, Schnitzel, including to 33 countries across Europe, every state and territory of Australia except Tasmania, and 10 of the United States. She’s passionate about providing inspiration and information to others wanting to travel with their dogs, whether close to home or internationally.

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9 thoughts on “How Much Does It Cost to Bring a Dog to Australia?”

  1. I’ve never been all that excited to travel to Australia with my beloved pup. I would NEVER fly her as cargo and I would NEVER put her in a kennel for 14 days! I can’t imagine the distress my pup would feel. And placing a live animal in the hold of a plane for 15 hours is INSANE!!!

    • While I would never recommend people visit Australia with their dog for a holiday, this is the reality for people moving to Australia (unless they leave their dog behind) or Australians like myself who head overseas to live for a couple of years and have a dog (that they don’t leave behind for the duration).

    • Well, you have to if you want to bring your dog. I’m Australian but living abroad. What do you expect me to do, leave her here? That would be very uncomfortable for both of us.

  2. Thanks so much for the super informative content! We are looking at options should we take our little Westie abroad and want to return. Of course Australia would have to make it so difficult, typical. Appreciate all your advice, we’d love to take our little guy on adventures as you have, maybe even to TBEX some time 😉

  3. as an update in Oct 2022.. I just went through all of this and can tell you if you have a larger size dog (mine is medium size husky)… the total costs came to around 15,000$ all included! much much more than this post for a small dog… the vet bills also not mentioned ~500$ for rabies titre test and another 600$ for the Leishmania and Erlichia blood tests (done in Canada) Every other vet appt was probably around 100$ or so and there were many (at least 5). Also finding the canine influenza vaccine for dogs in North America was a challenge and also costs 100$ a dose x 2. His travel crate was also 450$. Overall very expensive but obviously worth it. My pet transport agency said the prices have basically doubled for pet flights since Covid.

    • Thanks for sharing your experience Serena! I had hoped that once travel returned relatively to normal after Covid lockdowns, that pet flight prices would come back down, but this doesn’t seem to be the case.

  4. Bringing my shelter dog that I adopted here in Zagreb back home to Oz. I’ve done the titre-test so far, and that was equivalent to about 150$au. The rabies booster was not even 30$au. Still a whiles to go, I think I’ll use a pet transport agent, hoping to use Emirates. I met a woman From Melbourne here in Zagreb who brought her dog over, and she used Emirates. Thankfully I have the means to pay. I expect to pay about 20k$au. I don’t care.

    • I hope everything goes smoothly for your return to Australia! When we flew to Madrid with our dog, we flew a combination of Qantas then Emirates, with a stopover in Dubai, and everything went well.


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