Advice from Animalcouriers

Pet passportAnimalcouriers are licensed animal hauliers with an UK State Veterinary Service Licence (type 2) to carry animals by road throughout Europe. We also provide shipping solutions to places further afield. As members of IPATA, International Pet Animal Transport Association, we have high, ethical standards in our management of the animals we transport.

These notes cover Pet Travel for Dogs and Cats. To help readers we have four broad headings and are focussing on just cats and dogs for the sake of this piece. The movement of Cats and Dogs come broadly under the following 4 headings:

1. To France from the UK
2. To the UK from France
3. From France to countries within the European Community or
4. To destinations further afield

A Planning Phase is essential, if possible many months before travel. Neglect this aspect and any move may become very expensive and stressful.

As soon as you know that your pet’s going to be on the move, get along to your regular vet and ask for advice:

– Is your pet’s general health good?
– What will I need to do during the preparation phase.
– Does my pet need a pet passport?

Pet Passports:

An EU Pet Passport is a little blue booklet issued by the country Licensed Veterinarians. It’s a document which carries unique information relating to the dog or cat it belongs to. There is even a space for a photograph!

All EU countries are in the pet passport scheme and even some non EU countries that are within Europe have also followed their EU neighbours and recognise this method of travel for dogs and cats.

Many dogs are still being tattooed, this is a valid way to identify French dogs by Defra in England. Increasingly French vets are moving towards microchipping as it is a Global method of providing a unique ID and from 2011 tattooing will be phased out in France.

All the European Countries, including the non EU ones, are in the Pet Passport Scheme and so long as your pets have their passports and fulfil the conditions of travel, all movement between EU Countries are free of special permits. Nevertheless some, like the UK, Cyprus, Malta and Sweden, have their own methods of rabies and parasite control and ask for certain entry conditions and even home quarantine. The country websites are a good source of up-to-date information, use ‘pet imports’ as a link.

1. France from the UK

Pet passports for export from the UK need just a microchip and rabies injection. Your pet can travel after 21 days of receiving the rabies injection and before it reaches its expiry date. If travelling by air, a pre-flight health check is required and can be recorded in the section at the back of the passport. It means that most young cats and dogs cannot leave the UK before 15 weeks old.

2. From France to the UK

The French pet passport for entry to the UK needs:

a. A record of the microchip and/or tattoo and the date it/they were done.
b. The rabies injection must be done either on the same day as the microchip/tattoo or after. We regularly come across passports where the date of the rabies precedes the microchip. There is nothing to do but start the passport over again. The effect of this can be both expensive and devastating for families. Many French vets get this wrong so keep an eye on the Defra website for updates and information.
c. Dogs can come back into the UK provided that 24-120 hours (1-5 days) prior to check-in for the return journey, a vet treats your pet against tapeworm (with a product containing praziquantel), signing and stamping the passport appropriately.

3. From France to other countries within the EU

All that is needed is a microchip entered dated with implantation date, and this followed by a rabies injection of 21 days or more and both recorded into the passport book.

NB: check countries like Sweden and the islands like Cyprus and Malta as they have extra requirements. The general rule is to check the website of the country you are travelling to, and if you are going by road, check you can pass through other countries, including those not in the EU.

Outside the Pet Passport Scheme:

Pets have become globe trotters too! Leaving the EU with a pet passport is also useful, not only because it is unique record for that particular pet, but in case you return to Europe. For this reason, it is also important to keep the rabies jabs up-to-date.

Six months residency rule:

Most receiving countries like to know where your cat or dog has lived for the past six months before your arrival, and this may have a bearing on the eligibility for your pets to move again within 6 months residency in France.

This applies to any movement. E.g. If you arrived from South Africa to live in France, your pets will have fulfilled certain conditions to get to France. If you decide to travel onto England, or leave Europe to travel to another country, different rules apply.

Other pets – birds, small mammals and equines have their own guidelines and livestock movements are strictly regulated.

Animalcouriers have couriers in France and can provide road travel around neighbouring countries and airfreight to the rest of the world. We have prepared pets for New Zealand, Australia, North America and South Africa recently. Please don’t hesitate to contact us for advice. Contact details can be found on our website: as can links to further information.

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