Expats Relocating with Families and Pets in Australia

Submitted: August 2013

Relocating with Families

When relocating to Australia with your family,  it is a good idea to plan well in advance. It can be a lengthy process to get the paperwork sorted for all family members, find appropriate schooling options and family-friendly housing.

First of all, you should familiarise yourself with the immigration regulations for moving to Australia with family members. Obtaining a family visa will be easiest if one of the family members is already an Australian citizen or permanently resident in Australia, if you are an eligible New Zealand citizen, or if you have previously lived in Australia. For others the process is more complicated. In certain cases, one family member will have to move first and the rest of the family will only be able to relocate at a later stage. Note that this process can even take several years. To read more about visa options for family members see: Family Members and Marriage for Expats in Australia.

Once you have your visa sorted out, it is also essential to look into good childcare and schooling options. Bear in mind that there can be long waiting lists for kindergartens and schools in Australia and that certain schools have admission tests. It is therefore a good idea to plan ahead and submit applications prior to relocation. The Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) provides a helpful online platform where you can search for schools in different areas of Australia and see their school performance statistics, see: My School. To read more about the Australian schooling system and international schools in Australia see EDUCATION.

In general Australia is a welcoming place for families. It has also benefitted from decreasing crime levels nation-wide. However, not every area is equally family-friendly. It is advisable to compare different cities and neighbourhoods, by having a look at the respective local websites and forums which include advice on local schooling, childcare and children’s activities in the area. For more information on crime rates in Australia have a look at the Institute of Criminology’s report.

You might also wish to consider surveys such as the Suncorp Bank Family Friendly City Report, which ranks cities according to their family-friendliness, by taking into account factors like crime rates, schooling options, access to healthcare, income levels, housing options, etc. The winner of the most recent survey was Launceston in Tasmania, followed by Canberra and Toowoomba. Meanwhile, Perth was 5th, Melbourne 14th, Sydney 23rd and Brisbane 24th.

Finally, you should take ample time to prepare your children for the move. If approached the right away, the move will be an exciting new start for your children. If you are not an English native-speaker, it is recommended to enrol your child into an English language course prior to departure. Also make sure to tell them about Australia and Australian culture. For other useful guidance on preparing children for relocation, see Resources for People on the Move: Kids’ Relocation Issues.

To read more about family life in Australia, see Family Life and Childcare for Expats.

Relocating Pets

Expats wishing to relocate to Australia with their pets will have to familiarise themselves with the strict import regulations for pets prescribed by Australia’s Department of Agricultures, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF). The requirements differ depending on the country of departure and the type of pet you wish to take along.

Australia generally only allows the import of cats, dogs and horses – and even this only for DAFF approved countries. Certain birds and rabbits may also be taken along, but only from New Zealand. The following family friends will unfortunately have to stay behind: chinchillas, fish, ferrets, guinea pigs, hamsters, lizards, mice, snakes, spiders and turtles.

Cats and dogs will normally be required to have:

In addition to this, you will need to book quarantine accommodation for your pet and pay the applicable fees. When in quarantine, your pet will undergo comprehensive medical testing and parasite treatment. This can take a few weeks or even months.

As the quarantine and vaccine requirements vary significantly depending on the country of departure, it is advisable to consult the DEFF Website for detailed rules and regulations. If you enter your country of export, you will receive a step-by-step guide on how to proceed.

Note that there are exceptions for those travelling with disability assistance dogs. For further information on importing pets, you can contact DEFF.




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