What Is an Animal Health Certificate & Does Your Pet Need One?


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What Is an Animal Health Certificate & Does Your Pet Need One?

Many of us simply cannot contemplate leaving our furry friends behind when travelling to France or beyond in Europe. If you are travelling from the UK to France with your pet post-Brexit or bringing your pet to France from any other non-EU country, you will need to get an Animal Health Certificate from your vet prior to travel. Here’s what you need to know about the Animal Health Certificate.

What is an Animal Health Certificate?

The Animal Health Certificate or AHC is a legally required document for pets should you wish to travel to France (or any other EU country) from a non-EU country. Essentially, it is a certificate signed by your vet stating that the pet meets the health requirements of the EU.

All pets that do not have an EU-issued Pet Passport must have an Animal Health Certificate to travel.

Note that since Brexit, UK-issued Pet Passports are no longer valid for travel, and UK-registered animals travelling to France must all have an Animal Health Certificate. In the US, the Animal Health Certificate is typically known as an EU Health Certificate.

One Animal Health Certificate can be issued for up to FIVE animals, and the reason for travel must be non-commercial.

When do I need an Animal Health Certificate?

If you are travelling to France or another EU certificate, you must obtain an Animal Healthcare Certificate within ten days of entering the European Union. See the official guidelines for travel to France with pets here.

How do I get an Animal Health Certificate?

Animal Health Certificates can only be issued by an ‘Official Veterinarian’ who needs to sign the certificate, so you will need to verify that your usual vet is able to do this. If this is not possible, they should be able to signpost you to a Vet who is registered as an ‘Official Veterinarian’.

In order to be issued the certificate, you will be asked to provide details and proof of the following:

  • Your pet has been microchipped
  • Your pet’s vaccination history

This is a simple process if your pet is already up-to-date with their rabies vaccinations and boosters. It’s a good idea to let your vet know when you make the appointment that you require an Animal Health Certificate, so that they can have all the paperwork in place. Your vet should also be able to advise you of your circumstances and any specific requirements for your pet.

However, if your pet needs to receive a rabies vaccination, the law requires you to wait 21 days after vaccination until you may receive the Animal Health Certificate. It is also worth noting that day one is counted as the first day AFTER the vaccination took place.

During the appointment, the vet should check your animal’s records and check over your animal, ensuring they are in good health and that all the paperwork is in order. The process usually takes from 45 minutes to an hour but can vary from surgery to surgery.

How long is an Animal Health Certificate valid?

From the date the certificate has been issued, you have ten days in which to enter an EU country. You are then able to travel for four months within the EU. A single Animal Health Certificate can be used for onward travel within the EU, but you must leave the EU within four months and/or apply for an EU Pet Passport (in the instance that you are moving permanently to France).

Each time you wish to take your pet to the EU, you will need to go through this process to obtain a new, valid Animal Health Certificate.

How much does an Animal Health Certificate cost?

Vets are able to set their own prices for an Animal Health Certificate, so you may find that costs vary substantially. The average price in the UK is £100, but it’s not unheard of for practices to charge up to £280, so be sure to check in advance. Typically, it is cheaper to add additional pets to the same certificate – expect to pay a minimum of £100 for the first pet and £50 for each additional pet.

What else do I need to know about the Animal Health Certificate?

In the UK, many vets are experiencing high volumes of requests for an AHC, with waiting lists up to a month or longer in some areas, so plan ahead and book your appointment as soon as you know your travel plans. In the US and other countries, you may have to search further afield to find a vet certified to issue travel health certificates, so don’t leave it until the last minimum.

Remember, your pet must be a minimum of 12 weeks old due to the rabies vaccination requirements.

If you (the owner) will not be travelling with your pet, you must provide details of the transport company or a written declaration naming the person that your pet will be travelling with to the vet during the AHC appointment. This documentation must be presented at the French border.

Assistance dogs also need an Animal Healthcare Certificate.

Good luck and Bon Voyage!

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Carol, a teacher from Hurworth in Darlington, lives in Charente in South-West France, where she runs La Grue Gites with her family.

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  •  Mia Evans
    2023-04-21 03:54:25
    Mia Evans
    It's interesting to know that we would have to wait for 21 days until we can get an animal health certificate after we get a rabies pet vaccination for our dog. It will be our first dog together, and we want to protect it from various illnesses and diseases. And we have to do these necessary medical procedures wth the help of a vet as well so that we are responsible owners.


  •  Caroline OConnell
    2023-03-03 11:44:29
    Caroline OConnell
    Merci, good advice. There is one other thing to keep in mind if you're bringing your pet from the U.S. The Animal Health Certificate needs to be stamped the US Agriculture Dept. Believe me, it's a hassle - I've done it. Your Vet should know how to do this, but you need to factor that time in (to get the certificate to the department and back). Bonne chance!


    • Zoë Smith
      2023-03-06 09:51:01
      Zoë Smith
      Thanks so muchfor the tip, Caroline! I'm sure that will be very useful for our US readers. Zoe