Moving with pets
Your guide to the rules and regulations when taking animals to France
CATS, DOGS AND (SHOULD YOU HAVE ONE) FERRETS
Microchip identification – the French authorities require a European standard microchip that conforms to ISO 11784/5 norms. If your pet has a different type of microchip, it will be allowed as long as you bring the equipment that enables the authorities to read it. The old-style identity tattoo is also accepted as long as it’s still legible and relates to a registration before 3 July 2011 – the date the legal requirement changed.
Rabies vaccination – the animal must have an up-to-date rabies vaccination. In the case of the first vaccination, it must have been administered at least 21 days prior to entry into France. A potential problem could occur if bringing very young pets to France because in general they cannot be vaccinated against rabies before 12 weeks, so factor this into your travel timing if applicable.
EU pet passport – you need a pet passport, provided by a licensed vet, which includes the animal’s date of birth, the microchip
15-digit identity number and details of rabies vaccinations (date of vaccination, date the booster vaccination is due and the batch number).
Dangerous dogs – fighting dogs (category 1), such as pit bull terriers and mastiffs, are forbidden in France. Guard dogs (category 2), such as some pit bull terriers and Rottweilers, are allowed as long as you have a permit from the local mairie. Certain regulations must be met to obtain the permit, including proof of civil liability insurance and proof that owners have been trained in how to handle these dogs and avoid accidents. Canine disease – certain canine diseases are more prevalent in France, such as leishmaniasis passed on by mosquitoes, so it is strongly advised to check with a vet and protect your pet dog as necessary before entering the country.
You can only take up to five pet birds into France and each bird must have an ownership certificate that testifies to its good health. Check with UK authorities if a bird flu vaccination is necessary (60 days before arrival) and whether the bird will need to be in isolation for 30 days prior to and after arrival in France – this will depend on whether the UK is considered a risk country for avian flu at the time.
Your pet horse will need to be microchipped and requires a horse passport. You don’t need a health certificate in addition to the horse passport, but the animal should be in good health – EU vet experts may be present to carry out on- the-spot inspections.
Bear in mind that you cannot transport horses through the Channel Tunnel because of the air pressure. Plan the trip carefully – including stopovers, food and water – to ensure the comfort and safety of your horse. If using a transport company, try to seek personal recommendations and if possible meet the transporter in person to inspect the vehicle and go over arrangements in detail.
On arrival in France, you will need to register the horse on the SIRE database ( système d’information relatif aux équidés).
RODENTS, RABBITS, REPTILES, MAMMALS AND TROPICAL FISH
These animals simply require a practising vet’s certificate stating they are in good health. It is the same for a tortoise, unless it is a protected species, in which case you’ll need an export authorisation. Mammals also need to have been checked for parasites before entering France.
If you’re moving further into the heart or south of France, air travel may come into the equation. Some airlines allow smaller pets to travel with an adult in the cabin as long as they are in an airline-compliant carrier that can be stowed under the seat in front. However, the animals should be booked to travel in advance.
Pets that are not permitted to travel in the cabin with an adult passenger can be transported as checked-in baggage in the cargo hold. Unaccompanied and larger pets will travel as manifest cargo in the hold, again in suitable carriers. Nearly all airlines permit recognised assistant animals, such as guide dogs, to travel in the cabin with their owner.
Different airlines have different policies regarding pet transport, different services for taking care of unaccompanied animals en route and different price structures, so check out which airlines offer the best solution for you and your pets.
For example, Air France permits accompanied pets under 8kg in the cabin; British Airways and Thomson Airways do not permit animals in the cabin but will transport them in the hold; easyJet and Ryanair do not transport live animals full stop; and Virgin Atlantic has a Flying Paws air miles scheme for cats and dogs (the only animal types it transports).