To travel from the UK to France a pet must be micro-chipped, vaccinated against rabies, and issued with an EU pet passport.
Since 2004 the travel of animals within Europe is now governed by EU regulations.They require that all dogs, cats and ferrets must have a European Pet Passport.
By dispensation, the UK has been permitted by the EU to continue until 2011 with its own Pets Travel Scheme (PETS) certificates for bringing back pets to the UK, although no new ones have been issued since 2004.
In order to enter France your dog or cat will need:
- i. Identification – either by microchip or tattoo, although the latter will cease to be acceptable from 2011. You should make sure that the microchip can actually be read, as it must comply with international standards.
- ii. Vaccination – against rabies, with a confirmation blood test. A first vaccination will need to be followed by a booster, about which your vet will advise you. If it is the first vaccination then you must wait 21 days before you can travel to France, and the booster vaccinations can take place once you are in the country.
- iii. EU Pets Passport – obtainable from a registered vet (LVI) in the UK. The passport should provide information on identification and other vaccinations and cannot be issued without these minimum requirements.
As these regulations do change from time to time, you should check the DEFRA website (link below) for changes to these requirements.
Similar requirements apply bringing a pet from the USA or Canada, but from other countries you need to consult your local French embassy as quarantine regulations may apply.
A blood test for rabies must have been completed at least three months before stepping ashore in France.
Vaccinations for tapeworm and ticks are not compulsory but recommended by the authorities. Other diseases that the French authorities recommend you would be wise to have undertaken are against heartworm (dirofilaria), leishmaniasis, babesiosis, ehrlichiosis, distemper and hepatitis.
All animals must be at least three months old before being vaccinated, so your pet cannot enter France under three months old.
Strictly speaking, only up to five pets may be brought into the country, but this is a rule that is not always enforced or respected by those relocating to France!
Rabbits and rodents do not need a passport, although you would be wise to obtain a certificate of good health from your vet.
Once you are in France you should get the microchip read and registered by your local French vet, in order to ensure it can be traced if your pet gets lost.
If you are bringing birds to France then there are particular regulations, mainly as a result of the controls concerning bird flu. A 30 day quarantine period is required, either before you bring them into the country, or after arrival. It must also have been vaccinated against bird flu. You should discuss the particular requirements with your local vet.
If you are bringing a horse to France then there are no requirements over and above an up-to-date equine passport, as is required by all horse owners in the UK.
Travelling Back to UK
If you are travelling back to the UK from France with your pet then you are also obliged by the UK authorities to have them vaccinated against ticks and tapeworm between 24 and 48 hours before your check-in to travel back to the UK.
Dogs and cats are also required to have had a blood test. Six months must elapse between the blood test and the issue of the passport. This is because an animal infected by rabies before vaccination would not be protected by the vaccine.
If your pet has been outside of France in the six months proceeding your return, then depending on the country you visited, you may not be able to bring them into the country.
There are particular restrictions on the importation of classified dangerous dogs in France.
You cannot bring into the country any dog known as a Staffordshire terrier without pedigree, American Staffordshire terrier without pedigree, Mastiff or Tosa without a pedigree.
The American Staffordshire terrier, Rottweiler and Tosa can be brought into the country, provided you have a pedigree certificate. If you bring one of these dogs into the country, you are obliged to register it with the local council, and other regulations apply.