Moving to France with your pet can be difficult due to the numerous requirements, prerequisites, documentation, and travel arrangements that must be planned. If you do not prepare properly, you may be fined, and your pet may be quarantined or returned home.

So, to make the process easier for you and your beloved pet, we’ve created this guide.

Coming To France With Your Pet

The French customs authorities assist in protecting national territory by inspecting pets’ health and travel documents. Live animals can carry dangerous diseases like rabies or bird flu.

Rules For Importing Pets: General Framework

All the Pets imported from non-EU countries must be declared clearly and presented to Customs for documentation and identity checks before entering the European Union’s territory. Importing an undeclared animal may result in a fine and the animal’s confiscation.

Only the animals below accompanying a traveler are considered pets under veterinary regulations and are thus tolerated under the conditions outlined below:

  • Dogs (these include guide dogs as well), cats, ferrets
  • Reptiles
  • Ornamental fish
  • Amphibians
  • Rodents and domestic rabbits
  • Invertebrates (except bees and crustaceans)
  • Except for chickens, turkeys, guinea fowl, ducks, geese, quails, pigeons, pheasants, partridges, and ratites, all species of birds (Ratitae)

All other animals are prohibited and must be presented for veterinary inspection upon entering French territory at a border control post (BCP).

  • Customs officers inspect in the context of a non-commercial movement involving no more than five pets per person.
  • The person present with the animal must be either the owner or someone who assumes responsibility for it on behalf of the owner.
  • A health certificate must accompany the animals.

In the absence of these conditions, veterinary authorities inspect the animals at a border control post (BCP). After the inspection, a common health entry document (CHED) is issued and must be presented in support of the customs declaration.

Please remember that not all border control posts (BCP) are authorized to handle pets. Before boarding, you must inquire about the proficiency of the PCF when you enter.

Remember: When traveling for competitions, sporting events, or exhibitions, the maximum number of domestic carnivores (dogs, cats, and ferrets) can exceed five if the animals are older than six months and written proof of registration to compete or participate in such events can be presented.

The Convention on International Trade in Rare Species (CITES) imposes specific conditions and restrictions on protected species, particularly certain birds and reptiles.

Health Formalities For Importing Cats, Dogs, Or Ferrets

A European regulation governs the movement of domestic carnivores (dogs, cats, and ferrets) to reduce the risk of spreading animal diseases, particularly rabies.

When entering EU territory, you must demonstrate that your animal meets all of the cumulative health requirements implemented by Regulation (EU) 576/2013 of June 12, 2013. Customs officials will ensure that all of these cumulative health requirements are met.

Please follow the guidelines below if you wish to bring a dog, ferret, or cat from a non-European country.

  • An electronic transponder must be used to identify your animal. Animals tattooed before July 3, 2011, may continue to travel as long as the tattoo is legible. Microchips that meet ISO (International Organization for Standardization) standards ISO 11784 and ISO 11785 can be read by transport companies and customs in the EU. If your pet’s microchip does not meet the standards, you may need to bring your microchip reader when traveling.
  • You must have your pet microchipped before or concurrently with their rabies vaccination. The anti-rabies vaccination must be current at travel time, following Annex III of Regulation (EU) 576/2013. So, if the prior vaccination was not kept valid, or if the animal is being vaccinated for rabies for the first time, a minimum period of 21 days must have passed after completion of the manufacturer’s vaccination protocol.;
  • You should request a rabies antibody titration test at an EU-approved laboratory three months before your trip (there is a list of rabies testing authorized labs on the Europa website). This is a laboratory test of a blood sample to make sure that the anti-rabies vaccination is effective).

The titration test result, which must be greater than or equal to 0.5 UI/liter, shall be deemed valid for the animal’s entire lifetime if the anti-rabies vaccination remains valid (booster shots administered within the stipulated time limit).

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Health Requirements For Importing Other Pets

Birds (except chickens, turkeys, ducks, geese, quails, pigeons, pheasants, guinea fowl, partridges, as well as ratites (Ratitae))

Because of bird flu outbreaks in some third-world countries, the European Union has strict rules for importing pet birds.

Travelers wishing to import a maximum of five specimens must present a health certificate to customs authorities under Commission delegated Regulation (EU) 2021/1933. A licensed veterinarian must issue it. They must also provide a declaration signed by the owner or their representative (models provided in the annex portion to Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2021/1938 – Parts 1 and 2).

According to the health certificate, one of the following additional conditions must be met:

  • Thirty days before their dispatch, they must be isolated under official supervision at the point of departure in a country listed in the first column of the table in part 1 of Annex V, Annex XIX, or Annex XIV of Implementing Regulation (EU) 2021/404.
  • Primary vaccination and a minimum of one booster against the H5 and H7 avian influenza viruses within the last six months and at least 60 days before importation are required. The vaccine(s) used should have been approved for the species in question and administered by a certified veterinarian or an official veterinarian of the third country of dispatch following the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • PCR screening for the H7 and H5 avian influenza viruses yielded a negative result on a sample taken as early as the seventh day of isolation, and the animal was isolated for at least 14 days prior to importation under the supervision of an authorized and certified veterinarian or an official veterinarian (a serological test is not sufficient).

Finally, the birds must be transferred directly from the point of entry of the travelers to a private household or another residence within the EU by their owner or an authorized person. After entering the EU, the birds must be kept under official surveillance for 30 days. During this time, birds should not be brought into an area where birds congregate (performance venues, fairs, exhibitions).

Rodents, Reptiles, Lagomorphs (Rabbits), Amphibians, And Ornamental Fish

Pet ornamental tropical fish, lagomorphs, reptiles, rodents, and amphibians must have a supporting document following the model present in Annex 27 of the Order of July 19, 2002. It should be signed by a practicing veterinarian to be imported into French territory (maximum of five specimens per person) (veterinarian authorized to practice veterinary medicine).

There are specific conditions for introducing such animals into other EU Member States. Please contact the embassy of those countries in your third country of residence.

10 Steps To Taking Pets To France

As a pet owner, you want to ensure you can bring your pet to France. The procedure is fairly straightforward, but some paperwork must be completed. And, as with everything else in international relocation, planning ahead of time is essential. I’d recommend starting the process 4 to 6 months before your intended move date.

The French pet immigration rules are identical to the EU rules for traveling with pets. We’ll concentrate on the non-commercial importation of domestic dogs, cats, and ferrets to France. This procedure does not apply to pets traveling to France with an EU passport.

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Make Sure Your Pet Is Not Restricted From Traveling To The EU 

Certain breeds, as well as puppies under the age of 12 or 16 weeks, are prohibited.

Certain attack dogs are prohibited from being imported into France. The dogs in question are Category 1 dogs without a recognized pedigree from the following breeds: Staffordshire terrier, American Staffordshire terrier (pitbull), Mastiff (Boer bulls), and Tosa.

If your dog appears to be mixed with a category 1 dog, ensure you have a veterinarian’s statement translated into French confirming the breed. Then, consult with a French veterinarian to confirm the initial statement.

Under certain conditions, Category 2 dogs may be imported into France:

  • 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

Before Buying A Ticket, Check The Rules Of Your Airline Company

Inform the airline that you will be traveling with a pet (maximum number of pets per flight)

If you have a connecting flight through a non-rabies-free country, avoid it, as it can be stressful for your pet and may complicate the process. You might want to look into pet relocation services if there is no direct flight from where you live.

The cost of traveling with your pet is determined by whether it:

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

Make Your Pet Loves The Crate

Begin acclimating your pet to its crate a few months before travel if it hasn’t already, and especially if it has never traveled a long distance before.

At Least Three Months Before Traveling: Get An ISO-Compliant Microchip

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

EU entry for dogs, cats, and ferrets with clearly visible tattoos will be accepted if applied before July 3, 2011.

Any ISO-compliant chip will be unreadable in the EU and, thus, by your next French veterinarian. As a result, a new EU-compliant chip must be implanted for your pet’s safety.

At Least Three Months Before Traveling: Have A Rabies Jab Done After The Mico-Chip Is Inserted

Any rabies vaccination administered before ISO microchipping is deemed ineffective for transporting pets to France. Also, keep the microchip certificate and have it with you when traveling or visiting the vet. The pet must travel for at least 21 days following vaccination. Pets that have not been vaccinated will not be allowed on European soil.

At Least 30 Days After Vaccination And 3 Months Before Travel: Have The Rabies Serology 

A European Commission-approved laboratory must perform the serology. There is a list of over 30 countries that are exempt from rabies titration.

Suppose you are transiting through a country not exempt from rabies titration. In that case, you must prove that the animals were not in contact with rabies-susceptible species during transit and remained confined in the mode of transportation or within the international airport.

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10 Days Before Traveling: Get A Health Certificate 

This certificate must adhere to a European model established by the country of origin’s official veterinarian. In addition, proof of vaccination should be included on the certificate. This certificate is valid for further travel within the EU for four months from the date of issue or until the rabies vaccination expires, whichever comes first.

Again, if your pet appears to have been mixed with a category one pet, have a statement from your veterinarian translated into French that specifies the exact breed. This will then need to be confirmed by a French veterinarian.

Your Pet Travel

Traveling up to five days before or after your trip is required. If it does not travel at the same time as you, it should be carried out by someone who has written authorization from you to transport your pet on your behalf.

If your pet is transported in cargo, it will be in an air-conditioned environment. It is not compatible with your luggage. A 5 to 10-kg pet can also travel inside the plane with you, depending on the airline. In any case, an IATA-approved pet crate must be used.

Your Pet’s Arrival In France

You must present the following documents to the customs authorities conducting the inspection upon your arrival in France:

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

In The First Week After Your Arrival, Register The Microchip With A French Pet

Once your pet has legally entered France, it must be declared to ICAD within eight days for its identification to be recorded in the French national file of domestic carnivores.

To do so, have your French veterinarian fill out the “provisional identification certificate for import or intra-community exchange” form and send it to ICAD along with the necessary documents.

Book A Pet-Friendly Apartment In France

Not every landlord will let you have pets when it comes to renting. Even if they allow pets, you should choose a good neighborhood with (dog) parks or ensure that your apartment has enough space for your cat to roam freely.

Finding such an apartment will also take a few months, so you should book your rental accommodation before moving to France. Consider using an online rental platform like HousingAnywhere, which allows you to narrow down to apartments that allow pets to make your search easier and less stressful.

Animals Are Allowed As Pets In France

Dogs, cats, fish, ferrets, and birds are the most common pets brought into France (except poultry). You can bring your frog, reptile, rodent, and domestic rabbit to France, unlike in Spain.

Exotic or poisonous animals, wild animals weighing more than 2kg, and adult mammals are not permitted as pets in France.

Bringing Potentially Dangerous Dogs To France

In France, there are two types of dangerous dogs:

  1. Category 1: Attack dogs  
  2. Category 2: Guard and defense dogs

Bringing category 1 dogs into France is strictly prohibited, and bringing them risks imprisonment and fines. American Staffordshire Terriers, Mastiffs, and Tosa-type dogs are included in Category 1.

You can bring category 2 dogs into France if they have an officially registered pedigree recognized by the French Ministry of Agriculture. To prove purebred status, the pedigree certificate must be issued by the central canine society of the dog’s origin country.

Category 2 dogs include purebred (American) Staffordshire Terriers and Tosa breeds. Rottweilers and Rottweiler-type dogs are also in Category 2 but do not require a pedigree certificate.

Requirements To Bring Your Pet To France

You are only permitted to bring a maximum of 5 pets to France. In general, your pet must be at least four months old.

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You only need to show your European pet passport to bring your pet to France from another EU country. The EU pet passport, issued by a licensed veterinarian, should include information about your pet, such as proof of vaccination and a microchip ID number. It lasts a lifetime and costs between €40 and €500.

Keep the following requirements in mind when relocating to France with your pet from a non-European country:

  1. Get your pet microchipped. A certified veterinarian must implant an internationally recognized (15-digit) microchip that follows protocol with ISO 11784 or 11785. A microchip costs between €20 and €40. Alternatively, tattoo identification is permitted only if it was issued before 2011.
  2. Get rabies vaccination: Rabies vaccination is required for entry into France and must be completed after your pet has been microchipped. Your pet must be at least three months or 12 weeks old to receive its first vaccination. Dogs, cats, and ferrets can travel 21 days after receiving their primary vaccination. Birds must wait 60 days. Vaccination can range in price from €25 to €100.
  3. If you’re coming from a rabies-endemic country, get a rabies titer blood test. This must be performed by an EU-approved lab at least 30 days after the vaccination and three months before the pet arrives in France. The end result must be at least 0.5 UI/liter.
  4. Within ten days of travel, obtain a health certificate from a licensed veterinarian in your country. This is good for four months and can be used to travel within the EU. An official French translation is also required if this is not in English. This will cost you between €30 and €100 in total.
  5. Fill out a declaration form to confirm that you are bringing your pet for non-commercial reasons. If your pet is traveling with you or joining you within five days of your arrival in France, you must also fill it up. If someone else is transporting your pet to France, they must complete this form. The form is valid for four months and is only valid within the EU.

Pet Transport To France

Most international trains, planes, buses, and ferries will require you to kennel your pet or have them wear leashes and muzzles. So, before you travel, double-check the carrier’s specific requirements. Here are some details:

  • Pets are not permitted on Eurostar trains.
  • Pets weighing less than 6kg are welcome on Thalys trains as long as they fit into a standard-sized kennel. If your pet is larger, you must pay €30 for dog fare and keep your pet on your lap or the floor, leashed and adequately muzzled.
  • AVE (including Renfe-SNCF) allows one pet per person for €15 as long as it is not heavier than 10 kg and fits in a kennel no larger than 60cm x 35cm x 35cm.
  • If you’re driving yourself, make sure your pet is restrained enough not to obstruct the driver’s view. Passing through the Eurotunnel with your car will cost you €23 per pet.

Entering France With Your Pet By Airplane

If you’re flying, there are four things you should do.

  1. Read the airline’s pet-travel policies before you leave.
  2. Pets are only permitted in a limited number of cabins per flight. So notify the airline about your pet a few weeks before your flight.
  3. Check the kennel requirements for your pet’s trip.
  4. Fly into one of the approved Border Inspection Posts at one of the international airports in Paris, Marseille, Nice, [Lyon]—France, Reunion, or Toulouse (BIP). Notify the airport of your arrival 24 hours in advance.

Air France, KLM, Lufthansa, Iberia, and Finnair are Europe’s top five pet-friendly airlines. Depending on the airline, flying your pet will cost you between €60 and €120.

Arriving In France With Your Pet

When you own a pet in France, the Ordre des Vétérinaires (National Order of Veterinarians) is a great resource. There, you can find nearby vets, useful information about pet ownership, what to do if you disagree with your vet, and so on.

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Get Pet Insurance In France

When renting a house in France, you are legally required to obtain liability insurance. As a result, you do not need additional liability insurance for your pet. Most home insurance policies include civil liability insurance (responsabilité civile propriétaire), which covers any accidental damage your pet may cause to others. Still, it’s a good idea to double-check with your insurer.

Although health insurance is not required, protecting yourself from unexpectedly expensive medical treatments is a good idea. We recommend the following health insurance companies for low-cost but high-quality care.

  1. April: They provide flat-rate packages regardless of the age of your pet. Their basic insurance package starts at €15 per month.
  2. ECA: This company is unique because it provides insurance for almost all domestic animals, including ferrets and rabbits. You can get a quote from their website based on the characteristics of your pet.
  3. My French House: This insurance company is ideal for expats because they communicate in English, which is unusual given France’s high language barrier.

Apply For An EU Pet Passport (Optional)

If your pet does not already have an EU pet passport, now is the time to apply for one! You can do this after three months in France. Your French veterinarian can register your pet with I-CAD, France’s national pet registry, and then apply for a passport. This will simplify your life when returning to the EU or traveling within the EU with your pet.

Owning A Guard Dog In France

In France, not everyone is allowed to own a guard dog. To keep a guard dog in France, you must first obtain a permit (permis de détention)__ from your local municipality. This permit is only available if:

  • You complete a 7-hour canine education and behavior course with an approved trainer and receive an aptitude certificate (une attestation d’aptitude). Remember that this will most likely be in French.
  • When the dog is between 8 months and one year old, have a registered veterinarian conduct a behavioral evaluation. Alternatively, provide proof that this has been done.
  • Have the proper identification documentation, vaccination proof, and civil liability insurance.

You will be fined €3,750 if you do not have a license to own a guard dog. In the event of a dog attack on a person, you could face up to ten years in jail and a maximum fine of €150,000.

Rules To Remember When Owning A Pet In France

  1. On your door or gate, you must post an “ATTENTION AU CHIEN” (Beware of the dog) sign. If someone enters without permission and is bitten, your insurance should cover you; you’ll be personally liable if there isn’t a sign.
  2. In public places, you must clean up after your dog. If you do not, you risk receiving a fine.
  3. In public places, you must walk your dog on a leash.
  4. On public transportation, dogs must be leashed and muzzled.
  5. Small pets in carriers can travel free of charge. Large dogs are welcome on the metro and RER trains but are not permitted on buses or trams.
  6. If you own a guard dog, the muzzle should always be worn in public places.
  7. To own a guard dog, you must always keep your license on you.
  8. During July and August, most public beaches are off-limits to dogs.
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Good To Know

Pets arriving in France are not quarantined if they meet all of the stated health requirements.

Assistance dogs must meet the same health standards as all other pet dogs. There are no exceptions.

What Exactly Is An EU Pet Passport?

The EU Pet Passport is a document issued by an official and certified veterinarian in a European Union Member State. It contains official health information for only a dog, cat, or ferret.

This document is not available outside of the EU. The pet passport is intended to make travel between EU member states easier. Furthermore, the European Commission has approved its use for pets returning to the EU from third countries.

In Short

As you can see, taking pets to France is possible, but it takes some planning. It will be even easier if you live in one of the countries exempt from rabies serology. It is, however, advised to avoid connecting flights in non-exempt countries.

I hope this breakdown will assist you in transporting your pets to France.