If you’re planning to bring your four-legged family with you to France this summer, you’ll need to make sure they have the right documents to enter the EU, as well as being aware of French laws and regulations. We’ve got all the answers to your most commonly asked questions.
1. What are the rules for taking dogs to France?
To bring your dog to France, they must be over 12 weeks/three months old (the age at which dogs may be vaccinated for rabies), be microchipped, and have been vaccinated for rabies at least 21 days prior to travel. You will need to present either an EU pet passport or a valid Animal Health Certificate along with your pet’s vaccination record. If you are travelling from an unlisted country (listed countries include the UK, US, or Australia, and you can see the full list here), you will also need to carry out a rabies antibody titration test (a blood test carried out by an authorised lab) to confirm that your dog has been successfully vaccinated. You cannot travel with more than five pets unless you are travelling for a competition, show, or sporting event. See the official rules here.
2. Can I Use My EU Pet Passport?
Unless you have an EU or Northern Ireland-issued pet passport, this remains valid for travel. However, if you have a UK-issued Pet Passport, this is no longer valid after Brexit – you will need an Animal Health Certificate instead (see below). France recently clarified rules for UK owners looking to obtain an EU pet passport for their dog. Pets must now be registered with I-CAD (France’s national pet register) in order for veterinarians to issue a pet passport, and this is only possible if the animal is staying in France for longer than three months. This means it may be possible for second-home owners visiting on a temporary long-stay visa to obtain an EU pet passport for their pet, but it will no longer be possible for short-term travellers.
3. Do I Need an Animal Health Certificate And How Do I Get One?
If you are travelling to France with your pet from outside the EU (including the UK after Brexit) and do not have a valid EU pet passport (see above), then you will need an Animal Health Certificate (AHC). These are issued by certified vets (check with your veterinarian whether they are able to issue an AHC or not) within ten days of the date of travel and require your pet to be microchipped and up-to-date with their vaccinations (in particular, rabies). The cost of these varies depending on the country, but in the UK, the average cost is £100 (€118). A new ACH is required for each trip, but each ACH lasts for four months and is valid for onward travel in the EU.
4. What Do I Need to Return to the UK from France with my Pet?
If you’re returning to the UK from France with your pet, your pet must be treated for tapeworm (echinococcus multilocularis) within 24 hours to 120 hours (five days) of travel. This treatment must be carried out by a vet, who will issue a certificate (or stamp your pet passport). For short trips to France (less than five days), this treatment may be carried out in the UK prior to travel. See the official rules here.
If you are travelling to the UK with your French pet, you will also need your EU pet passport, including proof of rabies vaccination and tapeworm treatment – in this instance; you won’t need an Animal Health Certificate.
5. Can I Bring My Rottweiler or American Staffordshire Terrier to France?
Under French rules, certain dog breeds, including the Rottweiler and the purebred American Staffordshire Terrier, are classed as a category 2 Guard and Defence dog, and strict rules apply for the ownership of such a dog in France. Most notably, as the owner, you must have an “Attestation d’aptitude” showing that you have received training to own a guard/defence dog, proof that your dog has undergone a behavioural assessment, and take out third-party insurance for your dog. Your dog must be kept on a lead and muzzled at all times in public areas. If you do wish to travel with a Category 2 dog, you should contact your transport provider prior to travel to find out the rules (and whether or not they will be accepted for travel). Category 1 dogs are banned from import to France altogether. Read the official rules here.
6. What’s the Best Way to Travel to France With My Pet?
Most visitors to France bring their pets by car, whether driving across the border from a neighbouring EU country or taking the ferry or Eurotunnel from the UK or Ireland. Most ferries and trains allow pets onboard, but you must book your pet’s ticket in advance, and there is typically a surcharge. See our guide to travelling by ferry with your dog from the UK. If you’re coming from further afield, some airlines do allow dogs either in the cabin or in the hold, although there are restrictions on some sizes and breeds (snub-nosed dogs such as pugs and bulldogs may not be able to fly). Air France-KLM, Delta, British Airways, and Vueling are among the airlines that accept pets, but be sure to check the airline’s rules before booking.
7. Can I Take My Dog on Public Transport in France?
Dogs of all sizes are allowed on SNCF’s long-distance trains, but tickets are required, and your dog must be muzzled or (if less than 6kg) in a container less than 45cm long. Read the official rules here.
Small dogs are allowed on all public transport in Paris free of charge, providing they can be carried in a bag or container no larger than 45cm. Larger dogs are also allowed on metro and RER trains free of charge but must be leashed and muzzled, and are not allowed on buses or trams. See the full rules here. Rules vary in other cities, so you should check at your local Mairie or Office de Tourisme.
8. Can I Take My Dog to the Beach in France?
Rules can vary throughout France, but generally, dogs are allowed on beaches unless signs state otherwise. However, during the summer months of July and August, dogs are prohibited from accessing public beaches. Exceptions may be made to unpatrolled sections of the beach, where dogs may be permitted during limited hours (typically before 8am and after 8pm). The local Mairie or Office de Tourisme will be able to advise on local regulations. You should keep your dog on a lead and, of course, clean up after them.
9. Does France Have Dog-Friendly Hotels/Gites/Campsites?
Yes. France has plenty of dog-friendly hotels, gites, and campsites, and many price comparison and booking websites allow you to search for pet-friendly accommodation. Chain hotels such as Ibis, B&B, and Campanile are a good choice for travellers with pets, as most do allow dogs. Expect to pay a per night surcharge for your pet and to follow any rules set out by the establishment, such as keeping your dog on a lead and not leaving your dog unattended in your room.
10. What Else Do I Need to Know When Bringing My Dog to France?
Dogs are typically welcomed throughout France, and your furry plus-one will likely be allowed to join you at restaurants, cafés, open-air events, and outdoor markets (although it’s always best to ask first). French law requires that dogs are kept on a lead in public parks and gardens, and muzzles are required on public transport, at ferry ports, and in some other public places. Fines may apply for non-compliance, including for owners who fail to pick up after their dog.
If you’re driving in France with your pet, the law states that your pet is restrained in a way so that they cannot interfere with or block the field of vision of the driver, both whilst driving and in the event of an accident – a crate, fixed grill/partition, or seat belt would all suffice.
Finally, watch out for processionary caterpillars which are a risk throughout central Europe – if your dog comes into contact with one, rinse their mouth and eyes with water, and take them straight to a vet. The toxins released can be fatal if left untreated, so seeking veterinary advice is essential.
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