If you are considering buying a new home in France, the chances are you have a pet you’d like to take with you, either to live in France permanently, or to travel to and from a holiday home. So what is the pet passport system, what steps do you need to take, and how will Brexit affect the free movement of our four-legged friends?
Microchip, Vaccination and Passport
While we are in the Transition Period, which ends on December 31st 2020, nothing has changed, and pets (cats, dogs and ferrets) require a pet passport, a microchip and a valid rabies vaccination, from at least 21 days before your proposed date of travel.
- Microchip: you’ll need to get your pet microchipped with an ISO 11784/11785 compliant 15 digit pet microchip
- Primary Rabies Vaccination: after the microchip is implanted, the primary vaccination must be administered no sooner than 21 days before entering France. These should last for one year
- Booster Rabies Vaccination: all subsequent vaccinations are called booster vaccinations and should be administered before the previous vaccination has expired
- Pet Passport: a health certificate and booklet that provides all your pet’s essential information, including an identification number and proof of all relevant vaccinations. It remains valid throughout your pet’s life
Once your pet has entered France, a 21 day waiting period is not required for subsequent visits, provided rabies boosters are kept up to date, and the other entry requirements are met. A tapeworm treatment is not required when entering France.
Travelling to France With Your Pet
While many airlines will take pets, you are probably intending to drive to France, in which case the two main options are a cross channel ferry or the Eurotunnel, but you will need to let them know that you are bringing your pet when booking. Dogs are not allowed on the Eurostar to Paris. One ferry crossing, between Newhaven and Dieppe, allows foot passengers to transport dogs. There are also many professional pet travel companies if you can’t take your pet yourself.
Returning With Your Pet to the UK
The UK government has promised that there won’t be any rule changes for pets travelling to the UK post Brexit. This means the need for a microchip, rabies vaccine at least 21 days before travel and worming treatment between 24 hours and 5 days before arrival will continue to apply.
EU pet passports will continue to be accepted, as well as an Animal Health Certificate, or AHC, issued in the UK (for up to 4 months after the date of issue) and UK pet health certificates (for travel into the UK only).
How will Brexit Affect Pet Travel to France?
From the end of the Brexit Transition Period on 31st December 2020, pet travel between the UK and Europe will change. As the negotiations haven’t been finalised, the details aren’t yet known, but there are three possible outcomes: the UK may become either a Listed or Unlisted country for the purposes of pet travel to the EU, and Listed is broken into Parts 1 and 2.
If The UK Becomes Listed
There is a good chance that the UK will become a Listed country, joining Switzerland, Norway, the USA and Canada. Pet owners will need to obtain documents from an official vet that replace the EU pet passport. The type of document will depend on whether the UK becomes a Part 1 or Part 2 Listed country.
Part 1 Listed Country Status
Part 1 listed countries operate under similar rules as EU member states. If the UK becomes a Part 1 Listed country, you will need to apply for a new UK pet passport to replace to the current UK-issued EU pet passports. This will involve getting your pet microchipped and vaccinated against rabies at least 21 days before travel. You’ll need to make sure your pet’s rabies vaccinations are kept up to date and make sure your dog has tapeworm treatment if needed. An Animal Health Certificate, or AHC, will not be required.
Part 2 Listed Country Status
If the UK becomes a Part 2 Listed country, you must have your pet microchipped and vaccinated against rabies at least 21 days before travel. You’ll need to make sure your pet’s rabies vaccinations are kept up to date and make sure your dog has tapeworm treatment if needed.
You must also visit an official vet no more than 10 days before you travel to get an Animal Health Certificate, confirming that your pet is microchipped and vaccinated against rabies. This will be necessary for each trip. On arrival in France, anyone travelling with pets need to enter through a designated Travellers’ Point of Entry, or TPE, where they must present proof of microchip, rabies vaccination and tapeworm treatment if required.
If The UK Becomes Unlisted
In the worst case scenario of the UK becoming an Unlisted country, your pet will be required to have a rabies titre test at least three months before entering France. This means the total preparation time could take four months, so if you are moving to France on the 1st January 2021, for example, you will need to start by at least 1st September 2020. A current EU pet passport issued in the UK will no longer be valid for travel to the EU, and you’ll need to take the following steps:
- Have your pet microchipped and then vaccinated against rabies
- Have a blood sample taken at least 30 days after the last rabies vaccination, which will be sent to an EU-approved blood testing laboratory
- Wait 3 months from the date the successful blood sample was taken before you can travel
- The vet must give you a copy of the test results and enter the day the blood sample was taken in an animal health certificate
- If the blood test result is not successful, you’ll need a repeat vaccination and another blood test taken at least 30 days after the repeat vaccination
Some breeds have certain restrictions when entering France: American Staffordshire Terriers, Staffordshire Terriers and Japanese Tosas can only be imported to France as class 2 guard dogs, and then only with pedigree papers. Rottweilers may be imported as class 2 dogs without pedigree papers.
Owners must have liability insurance, the dog must receive approval from the local town council, have a detention permit, have behavioral evaluations and be leashed and muzzled when in public.
Mastiffs and Boerboels are not permitted entry into France.
Other pets, such as rabbits, rodents and reptiles will need a certificate of good health. Horses need a horse passport, and should be micro-chipped and have proof that they are in good health. The person or company transporting the animals needs to have an export licence that must be presented to the transportation company.
Pet Travel Helpline
For more help and information, contact the government’s pet travel helpline:
Telephone: 0370 241 1710 Monday to Friday, 8:30am to 5pm (closed on bank holidays)