What's Going on With Canine Travel to Australia From Japan?

 So it's at least once a week that I have to answer this question in all its varieties: Can you help me figure out how to get a dog from Japan to Australia?

Short answer: If you are a pet owner that is having issues figuring out how to get your dog to Australia, yes. If you are a breeder or someone looking to purchase a dog from Japan and have it shipped to you, no.

The reasons for this require some explanation, and I've wasted a lot of time going over this with so many people. So I am posting this here so I can link it to future requests.

Firstly, Australia requires all canines entering the country to arrive as manifest cargo. That means they can't travel with someone as check in baggage (or in the cabin).

Secondly, Australia has very specific rules about where and how the dogs arrive in the country due to the need to transport them directly to the Mickleham quarantine facility.

Due to COVID, most flights from Japan to Australia were cancelled. There is a JAL flight that I can book pets on, but I've been requested to only use it in case of emergency (ie pets needing to be reunited with their owners etc). A new purchase/import of a dog is not an emergency. The reason for this is that there is limited space on this one flight. Cargo (like medical supplies etc) takes priority over pets, so if there is not enough space, pets get bumped. The JAL flight from Narita is a morning flight (11:40), which does not leave enough time to do the Animal Quarantine Services export inspection, customs inspection, and cargo check in. A dog being shipped on this flight would need all necessary inspections and paperwork done the day before (AQS is only open from 8:30-17:00), and once all is done the animal cannot leave the cargo area of the airport. There is no overnight pet care at Narita International Airport's cargo terminal, so essentially the dog has to overnight with no walks etc from around 17:00-11:40 (18+hours) and then handle the flight which is another 10+hours. The dog then has to clear entry into Australia at Melbourne, be transported to the quarantine facility, and finally be released from its crate. So at the minimum, we're talking about 29+hours crated, and most likely more like 35-40hours crated. That's going to be massively stressful for any dog.

Logistically, the best way to plan a flight to Australia from Japan would be to ship a dog on an afternoon or evening flight. Unfortunately that flight does not currently exist (thank you COVID).

So now the Australian border is open so all is good right? Not really. Qantas is resuming flights to/from Japan, but operated by their budget carrier which cannot handle pets. So this doesn't really change anything.

How about connecting flights using other airlines and through other countries? Essentially we're looking at the same issues as the JAL flight: massive amounts of crate time and stress. I would generally not be comfortable putting one of my dogs through this, so unless absolutely necessary, I have not been and am not accepting requests to arrange pet transport to Australia.