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Taking Your Pets To France

Taking a pet to France and Europe is not difficult, all you need to do is follow the correct procedures. Although we talk about France here, the same rules apply to other EU countries and certain white listed countries outside the EU considered not to present a risk to your pets health. For shortness in the rest of the article we will use France to cover EU countries and listed countries.

Travelling from the UK into France is less involved than bringing a pet into to the UK from France.

The main restrictions apply to dogs, cats and ferrets. Other pets animals have fewer restrictions on travel – as always if you have one of these please check if this has changed before travelling.

These rules also only apply to personal pets. Animals for sale, re-homing or other reasons have separate rules and regulations

The EU Pet Passport Scheme or Passeport Européen

Dogs,cats and ferrets are part of the EU Pet Passport Scheme designed to prevent the spread of rabies. This scheme has clearly laid down rules to follow and restrictions on how, when and where they travel.

Travelling to France

All Pet Passport animals must meet the following requirements

  • The pet(s) must be microchipped
  • Be successfully vaccinated against rabies
  • The pet must be issued with a valid passport to travel
  • Travel via a carrier authorised to carry pets on an approved route

Microchipping

All pets travelling with you must be microchipped. This needs to be done before vaccinations are given otherwise the pet will need to be revaccinated.

The chip needs to comply with ISO standards (ISO 11784 or Annex A of ISO 11785) and should be read before and after fitting. The chip number is then recorded on the pets vaccination record and when issued, the Pet Passport. Please check the number on the passport is correct to save any issues later when travelling.

A good tip to check the microchip is still working for future travels is to have it read every time you visit the vets. If the microchip fails you will need to get a new one fitted and the new details recorded in the vaccination record and on the pet passport. Microchips do stop working in some cases, so do get it checked.

The pet’s microchip will be read on entry to France by an ISO compatible reader, and if the chip is unreadable (it sometimes takes several attempts), the pet can be refused entry. Return to the country of origin will be at your own expense.

All dogs in the UK will need to be micro chipped by 6thApril 2016.

Tattoos– Some pets may have identity tattoos with a unique reference number. These are only valid if the tattoo was done before 3rdJuly 2011, the tattoo is clearly legible and the pet was vaccinated after the tattoo was given. If in doubt, or to make sure, you should think about having a microchip as well; ask your vet for advice.

Pet Microchip Reader

Vaccinations

After the microchip has been fitted (important), your pet must be vaccinated for rabies and any other vaccinations due. You have the rabies vaccination done at least 21 days before travelling to allow the vaccine to work to it’s full effect.

The vaccination will be recorded by the vet on the vaccination record with the date and a valid until date. To keep your pet protected you must get a booster before the this date or you will have to start the process again.

Valid Pet Passport

Once the pet has been micro chipped and vaccinated, the vet will be able to issue you with a Pet Passport.

The Pet Passport is then valid for France as long as you meet the requirements for getting a passport – micro chipping, vaccinations etc.

Travel Arrangements

Only certain carriers – ferry companies, rail companies, airlines are authorised to carry pets. Please check with them before you travel. If you are travelling from the UK to France check the section below on authorised carriers into the UK as the outward journey will be the reverse.

Your transport company may need a statement from your vet confirming that your pet is fit to travel.

Travelling to the UK

The regulations for travelling to the UK are stricter than the rest of the EU. You need to follow all the requirements above plus

If you have a dog, you need to get a vet to give them tapeworm treatment too between 1 and 5 days (24 to 120 hours) before arriving in the UK. Please check the treatment contains praziquantel or equivalent as its active ingredient otherwise the treatment is not valid. The vet needs to record the treatment in the Pet Passport with the following information

  • The tapeworm treatment name and who manufactured it
  • The date and time of treatment
  • Their official stamp and signature

All pets must enter the UK through a UK Border Inspection Post via authorised carriers and approved routes.

If you have 5 or more pets travelling with you, from any country, you will require an additional health certificate from the country of origin at least 10 days before the day you travel.

Pet rabbits and rodents will be placed in a 4 month quarantine and need a rabies import licence. Other pets such as birds, ornamental fish, invertebrates, amphibians and reptiles have no restrictions on entering the UK from other EU countries currently.

You must travel via an authorised carrier on an approved route into the UK. From France these are

By Ferry

FromToFerry Company
CaenPortsmouthBrittany Ferries, P&O Ferries
CalaisDoverP&O Ferries, DFDS Seaways, MyFerryLink
CherbourgPlymouthBrittany Ferries
CherbourgPooleBrittany Ferries
CherbourgPortsmouthBrittany Ferries, Condor Ferries
DieppeDoverLD Lines
DieppeNewhavenLD Transmanche Ferries
DunkerqueDoverDFDS Seaways
Le HarveNewhavenLD Lines
Le HarvePortsmouthLD Lines
RoscoffPlymouthBrittany Ferries
St MaloPlymouthBrittany Ferries (winter only)
St MaloPooleCondor Ferries
St MaloPortsmouthBrittany Ferries

By Rail

FromToRail Company
CalaisDoverEurotunnel Shuttle

By Air

CarrierAirport
Air France – KLM CargoEdinburgh
British AirwaysLondon Heathrow, London Gatwick
FlybeManchester
Jet2.comEdinburgh, Manchester
My TravelBristol, Doncaster, London Gatwick
Thomas CookLondon Gatwick, Manchester
Thomson AirwaysBristol, Doncaster, Edinburgh, London Gatwick, Manchester
Charter FlightsCheck with the individual companies

The information is issued by Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency, DEFRA on 15thFebruary 2013. Routes change, new ones added and only operate during certain times of the year.

Please check with the Pet Travel Scheme website or call them on 0870 241 1710 to check these are still valid before booking any tickets.

Also check with the carrier that they will be able to carry your pet(s) on the route you would like to travel on, how the pet will travel and any additional terms of carriage that will affect you / them.

Quarantine

If you pet does not meet the entry requirements you will need to put your pet into quarantine. This is your responsibility to organise and pay for.

The quarantine premises usually help with the documentation needed, clearance through customs and collect your pet from the point of entry. If they are unable to help, again you are responsible to make sure this is all done correctly.

Release from quarantine is when your pet meets their entry requirements; the quarantine premises will tell you when this will be.

Travelling with Guide or Assistance Dogs

Guide or Assistance Dogs are allowed to travel with the owner on approved routes with authorised carriers. They are also allowed to travel on other forms of transport in areas other pets are not allowed. Please check before you travel your plans meet these criteria.

The Guide Dogs Association has advice for travelling with Guide and Assistance dogs here.

Top Travelling Tips for Pets

  1. Make sure your pet's vaccinations are up-to-date before you travel - don't leave it until the last minute – rabies vaccination must be given at least 21 days before the date of travel.
  2. So your pet is comfortable for the journey, give them a light meal before leaving, and take plenty of snacks for the journey.
  3. Always take plenty of water for the journey too.
  4. Take plenty of stops along the way especially when travelling with dogs, plan your route to allow for comfort breaks and exercise at pet friendly places.
  5. Don’t forget spares – pack extra leads, collars, bedding and toilet bags
  6. Pack food for them while they are away, you may not be able to get pet food easily, and less chance of upset tummy too.
  7. Pets are also affected by the sun, cold, insects etc, so make sure they are protected too.

If in doubt, ask your vet, they will be able to advise you on the best things to do for your pet when travelling.

All this guidance is correct as of April 2013. Rules and regulations change, so please make sure you check before travelling.

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