Aviation Rules and Live Animal Transport in Australia


With recent changes implemented by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) to its “carriage of animals” policy, it is now legal for passengers to bring their pets with them in the cabin of an aircraft while flying in Australia. 

Before you get excited about travelling across Australia with Fido, the decision to allow this remains with the individual airline or pilot. There are currently no plans to allow pets to accompany their owners by the major Australian airlines. However, authorised service or assistant dogs, such as seeing or hearing dogs, have always been permitted to travel in the cabin with their owner on a case-by-case basis. 

There are many aviation safety regulations to be considered before any dog can sit alongside a human in a commercial aircraft in the future. The safety of those on board will always be paramount.

Domestic Airlines and Pet Transport in Australia

In Australia, the major airlines currently require animals to be checked into the aircraft cargo hold. A variety of pets can be carried on airlines in Australia with strict rules for carriage in place.  There is even provision for aquatic pets that require oxygenation during long-range flights.

Animals must meet weight restrictions, and some breeds, such as greyhounds or brachycephalic, snub-nosed, or flat-faced breeds, are not permitted on flights. 

Each State and Territory in Australia has a list of animals that are not permitted entry. For example, Tasmania does not allow entry to foxes, live rock lobsters and shellfish, but most domestic pets including birds are fine.  

Covid19 caused a reduction in flights over the last couple of years, so some airlines suspended any accompanied pet travel on their aircraft.

International Flights and Pet Transport to Australia

Many international airlines have allowed pets to be carried in the cabin for a fee, and not just your usual dog or cat. There have been cases of miniature pigs, horses and even ducks!

However, the rules and regulations for bringing pets into Australia are subject to strict conditions to manage biosecurity risks. The Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment has strict biosecurity rules for pets flying in from all countries apart from New Zealand and New Norfolk; however, conditions still apply.

These strict rules have been heart-breaking for some Australian citizens caught overseas during the pandemic. Some family pets have been unable to accompany their humans back to Australia, and others have had to endure long periods in quarantine.

A recent disease, Ehrlichiosis, which affects dogs, is caused by a bacteria called Ehrlichia canis (E. canis). Infected brown dog ticks spread the disease. The brown dog tick is present in Australia and is known as the primary carrier and spreader of the disease.

Scientists first detected the disease in Australia in 2020 in northwest Western Australia. Import conditions require that all dogs are tested for Ehrlichiosis and found negative before being allowed to board a flight.

Australian Businesses that Transport Live Animals by Air

Live animal transport makes up a considerable part of the air cargo industry. For example, hundreds of racehorses are shipped by air every day. When dealing with living creatures, the safe delivery of each animal is at the forefront of the process.

According to the IATA regulations, any company or person involved in the shipping of animals by air must adhere to the IATA Live Animals Regulations  when they are:

  • Relocating pets
  • Transporting animals for zoological or conservations purposes
  • Transporting racehorses to and from their competitions
  • Shipping animals for life science or agricultural needs

Animal Air Transport contractors must monitor animal behaviour while flying to ensure the safe arrival of live cargo. The air carrier is responsible for the welfare and safe delivery of any animal in its care.

Biosecurity and Transporting Biological Samples by Air

If you are in the business of transporting, not live animals but animal samples, by air, you must adhere to strict biosecurity regulations.

Some biological samples come under both the Infectious Substances and the Dangerous Goods Regulations. For example, there are strict packaging requirements for the air transport of hazardous biological substances such as pathogens (bacteria, fungi, viruses) and animal or human viruses such as Hepatitis B or African Swine Fever virus. These are Category A Infectious Substances.

Biological samples that do not contain pathogens such as blood, tissue, or tissue fluids are Category B Biological Substances and have their own packaging requirements.

There is one other category in Australia, the Exempt Category C, biological material that has minimal likelihood of containing pathogens such as urine samples. These items can be shipped freely by road or rail with strict packaging requirements. However, if this material needs to be transported by air, the IATA regulations for exempt patient specimens must be followed.

Keeping Up to date with Approvals and Regulations in Australia

Your approvals must be current to keep abreast of all the changing regulations and additional information including live animal transport. 

The Civil Aviation Academy is your one-stop shop for all approved aviation training courses and IATA documents. We even supply shipping labels.

 Our online courses are available 24/7. Contact the Civil Aviation Academy today to access current IATA Dangerous Goods Regulations documents and complete approvals for:

For further information visit our website to fill out our contact form, or call our professional team on  (08) 6180 7939.

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