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Access Rights for Guide Dogs

Guide Dog owner walking up stairs onto plane, with his chocolate brown labrador

In NSW, a Guide Dog in harness is legally allowed to enter all public places. It is an offence to deny or charge a fee for the entry of a Guide Dog. People using Guide Dogs are legally allowed to enter all public places, including

  • Shops and supermarkets
  • Cafes and restaurants
  • Pubs and clubs
  • Hotels and motels
  • Hospitals, medical practices and dental surgeries
  • They can also travel on all forms of public transport, including taxis

Police and other authorised officers can issue on-the-spot fines or take further summary action on any violation of these rights.

Why can a Guide Dog go anywhere?

When a Guide Dog is in a harness, it is working and assisting a person who is blind or has impaired vision to move around safely and independently. A person using a harnessed Guide Dog is allowed entry into all public places including restaurants under the:

  • Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Section 9)
  • NSW Companion Animals Act 1998 (Sections 14 & 59)
  • Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code (Chapter 3, section 24 (1) b).

A Guide Dog undergoes extensive training where it is taught about how to behave in public areas. For example, when the Guide Dog is taken to a restaurant or café, it will usually sit under the chair or table its user is sitting at, so it will not be in the way of staff or other patrons. Just like a regular restaurant or café patron, a person using a Guide Dog will not enter the food preparation area of a food service business.

Guide Dogs can also travel on all forms of public transport, including taxis and planes. In their training, Guide Dogs are taught how to safely lead the person with vision impairment on and off the particular mode of transport, as well as how to behave on the vehicle while it is travelling.

For further information about the legal rights of Guide Dogs and their handlers to enter public areas or how you can best assist a person who has impaired vision, please contact Guide Dogs NSW/ACT on (02) 9412 9300, or fill out a Contact Form online.