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10 steps to taking pets to France

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When relocating, you want to make sure you can take your pet to France with you as a pet owner.

The process is quite straightforward forward but there is still a bit of bureaucracy to take care of. And like with everything with international relocation, anticipation will be key to bringing your pet successfully. I’d recommend anticipating the process 4 to 6 months before your planned relocation date.

French pet immigration rules follow exactly the EU rules on travelling with pets. Here we’ll focus on the pet importation of domestic dogs, cats and ferrets for non-commercial transport to France. 

This process does not apply to pets holding an EU pet passport to France.

Taking pets to France 10 steps process:

#1. Make sure your pet is not restricted to travel to the EU

There is a ban on certain breeds and also puppies under 12 or 16 weeks.

There is a ban on importing certain attack dogs into France. The dogs concerned are Category 1 dogs without a pedigree recognised by the French Ministry of Agriculture belonging to the following breeds: Staffordshire terrier, American Staffordshire terrier (pitbull), Mastiff (Boer bulls) and Tosa.

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If your dog appears to be mixed with a category 1 dog: make sure you have a statement from a vet translated into French confirming the breed. Then, have a consultation with a French vet that will confirm the initial statement.

Category 2 dogs can be imported to France under certain conditions:

–   Be registered

–   Micro-chipped

–   The dog owner must be 18 y.o.

–   Have taken 7 hours of training

–   Be covered by a pet insurance policy

#2. Before buying a ticket, check the rules of your airline company

Inform the airline you are taking your pet with you (maximum number of pets per flight)

Avoid connecting flights as it can be both hard on your pet and may complexify the process if you have a connecting flight through a non-rabies-free country. And if there is no direct flight from where you live, it might be a good idea to consider pet relocation services.

Your pet’s travel cost will depend on whether it travels:

  • on the plane with you (in-cabin or as cargo)
  • on a different flight
  • with a licensed commercial shipper

#3. Make your pet loves the crate

Start a few months before travelling acclimatising your pet to its crate if it is not already the case, and, especially if it has never travelled a long distance before.

#4. At least three months before travelling: Get an ISO-compliant microchip

Every animal must be identified by a pet microchip (standard ISO 11784 or annexe A ISO standard 11785) or in some instances a tattoo.

EU entry of dogs, cats and ferrets marked by a clearly readable tattoo will be accepted if applied before 3 July 2011.

None ISO-compliant chip will be unreadable in the EU and therefore by your next French vet. So it is essential to have a new EU-compliant chip inserted for your pet’s well-being.

#5. At least three months before travelling: Have a rabies jab done AFTER the mico-chip is inserted.

Any rabies vaccination done prior to ISO micro-chipping is considered non-valid for taking pets to France. Also, make sure you keep the microchip certificate and have it with you when travelling or going to the vet. The pet must travel at least 21 days after the vaccination. Non-vaccinated pets will not be accepted on European soil.

#6. At least 30 days after vaccination and 3 months before travel: Have the rabies serology 

The serology must be done by a lab approved by the European Commission. There is a list of more than 30 countries exempt from rabies titration.

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In case of transit through a country not exempted from rabies titration: You must provide a declaration that the animals have not been in contact with rabies-susceptible species during transit and have remained confined in the means of transport or within the international airport.

#7. 10 days before travelling: Get a health certificate 

This certificate must conform to a European model established by an official veterinarian of the country of origin. Also, the certificate should include proof of vaccination. This certificate will be valid for further travels within the EU for a total of 4 months from the date of issue or until the date of expiration of the rabies vaccination, whichever date is earlier.

Again, if your pet appears to be mixed with a category 1 pet: have a statement from your vet translated into French, stating the exact breed. Then, this will have to be confirmed by a French vet.

#8. Your pet travel

It must travel up to five days before or after your travel. And if it doesn’t travel at the same time as you, it should be carried out by someone who has authorisation in writing from you to carry out your pet’s transportation on your behalf.

If your pet goes in cargo, it will be in an air-conditioned place. It does not go together with your luggage. Also, a 5 to 10 kg pet can go inside the plane with you depending on the company.  In any case, an authorised IATA pet crate will have to be used.

#9. Your pet’s arrival in France:

You will have to present at arrival in France to the customs authorities carrying out the inspection:

  • Your pet’s health certificate 
  • the documents relating to vaccination 
  • the antibody test (if applicable to your country)

#10. In the first week after your arrival, register the microchip with a French vet

Once your pet has entered France legally, it must be declared within 8 days to ICAD in order to register its identification in the French national file of domestic carnivores.
To do this, you must have your French veterinarian fill in the “provisional identification certificate for import or intra-community exchange” form and send it to ICAD with the supporting documents.

Good to know:

France does not quarantine pets upon arrival, providing they meet all the stated health requirements.

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Assistance dogs are subject to the exact same health requirements as all other pet dogs. No exceptions are made.

What is an EU Pet Passport?  

An EU Pet Passport is a document issued by an official veterinarian in a European Union Member State containing official health information related to a dog, cat and ferret only.

This document cannot be obtained outside of the EU. The purpose of the pet passport is to simplify travel between EU member states. In addition, the European Commission has also allowed it to be used for pets returning to the EU from third countries.

In short

As you can see taking pets to France is possible but it requires quite a bit of anticipation. If you live in one of the countries exempted from rabies serology, it will be even easier. However, it is recommended to avoid connecting flights in a non-exempt country.

I hope this breakdown will help you take your pets to France. 

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