Moving your pets to France

The idea if moving your pets to France can feel like an overwhelming obstacle. Here I cover the current UK requirements and associated costs which accompany moving our companions over to a new life in France or bringing them to your French holiday home.

Moving your pets to France
Taking pets to a French holiday home also requires some planning

What steps do I need to take?

The UK no longer issues pet passports, which used to allow travel into France, whatever means you travel by. France (and the Schengen Zone) monitor the animals passing through it to ensure that the risk of contagion and infectious disease transmission is minimised (for example rabies).

It’s therefore imperative that you talk to your vet early in your moving process about what steps need to be taken to allow your pet to move to France with you – or to come with you to your holiday home.

This can be expensive, depending upon the veterinary surgery in question.

In my experience, the Pet Passports for two adult cats cost me around £300 including rabies injections. This is a significant sum for anyone, so whatever your rules are, considering including the sum in your list of moving costs is a worthwhile exercise to avoid a nasty surprise later on.

My beloved Ginger cat before our move to France

How to transport your pets to France

Wherever you’re travelling from, the logistics of moving pets to France as economically as possible is not necessarily going to be the best one for your pet. You will need to take into account their temperament and put their wellbeing at the top of the agenda, before price.

We chose to move our cats to France by car to reduce stress

We chose to travel via the Eurotunnel which meant that the cats could be in the car with us and that we could make them as comfortable as possible for the long drive. We actually ended up buying a bigger car to be able to fit in large carriers which I picked up second-hand in Bristol before we travelled. The carriers were large wooden air freight animal carriers, and allowed space for constant access to food and water, somewhere to lie down and a small kitten-sized litter tray. Our cats managed this fourteen-hour journey with no issues whatsoever and did not need to be sedated.

The Pet Passports were not checked on departure from the UK, nor where the cats examined for corresponding microchips etc – however, I would not have taken the chance of not having them in case we had been stopped, and I wanted to be sure that my cats’ health were optimal for the journey.

Travelling to France with pets via the Eurotunnel
It does cost extra to take your pet with you on the Eurotunnel (or Le Shuttle)

There was an additional cost to travelling on the Eurotunnel with pets – in December 2018 we paid £16 per cat for a single crossing. If you want to cross with Eurotunnel legally, there is no avoiding this charge. In my opinion, this method of travel is less stressful for pets, since they are inside a vehicle with you and have the comfort of familiar sights, smells and sounds, and this is particularly true for dogs. The crossing is very quick at only 35 minutes and we had a very efficient and positive experience using Eurotunnel for this part of our move to France.

How Brexit impacts travelling to France with your pet

The UK left the EU on the 31st December 2020. From 1st January 2021, the rules around moving your pets to France have changed. Below is some information from the website advising pet owners on the new rules following Brexit.

Moving your pets to France
Moving pets to France involved some costly paperwork

Travelling to an EU country

You can no longer use a pet passport issued in Great Britain (England, Wales and Scotland) for travel to an EU country or Northern Ireland. You can still use a pet passport issued in an EU country or Northern Ireland.

When travelling to an EU country or Northern Ireland, your pet needs:

  • a microchip
  • a valid rabies vaccination
  • an animal health certificate unless you have a pet passport issued in an EU country or Northern Ireland

These requirements also apply to assistance dogs.

Arriving in an EU country

You’ll need to go through a travellers’ point of entry when you arrive in an EU country.

You may need to show your pet’s animal health certificate along with proof of their:

  • microchip
  • rabies vaccination

Repeat trips to an EU country

Your pet will need a new animal health certificate for each trip to an EU country or Northern Ireland.

Your pet will not need a repeat rabies vaccination so long as it’s rabies vaccinations are up to date.

Get an animal health certificate (AHC)

You must also take your pet to your vet no more than 10 days before travel to get an AHC. (The AHC needs to be signed by an official vet. Check with your vet that they can issue AHCs for pets.) You must take proof of:

  • your pet’s vaccination history
  • your pet’s microchipping date
  • a successful rabies antibody blood test result

Your pet’s AHC will be valid for:

  • 10 days after the date of issue for entry into the EU
  • onward travel within the EU for 4 months after the date of issue
  • re-entry to the UK for 4 months after the date of issue

Please note: If you are travelling from another country you can find your home country’s travel advice on their official government website.

Please check this before travel as this information is subject to change.

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