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Travelling to France with your pet

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Moving to France with a pet is a relatively straightforward and streamlined process. The French ministry of agriculture sets out a clear set of guidelines regarding the processes involved as well the types of animals which can be brought into France. One essential point to bear in mind is that many breeds which are allowed in certain parts of the world are banned, so be sure to check beforehand whether it will be possible for you to bring your pet over before making a firm commitment to moving to France.

Pets coming from non-European countries

Moving to France with a pet requires advance planning, and it is highly advisable for you to start acquainting yourself of the formalities well in advance. In general however, the country is mostly welcoming towards pets provided you comply with existing rules and conditions. Since the rules tend to evolve over time, it is better to consult the website of the French ministry of agriculture, or alternatively to get in touch with one of the many associations in France which cater to animals and ensure that animal rights are respected. There are specific guidelines for pets coming from non-European countries. The pets should:

  • be more than three months old;
  • wear an electronic identification microchip or clearly visible tattoo (applied before the 3rd of July 2011);
  • be in possession of a European pet passport - this passport will be provided by an officially accredited veterinary and must include all information relating to the animal's vaccines;
  • have been vaccinated against rabies four months before its arrival date into France;
  • undergo a blood test to as to verify the effectiveness of the rabies vaccine at least three months before the scheduled departure date in a European Union accredited laboratory (however, this test is not required if the animal is coming from a rabies-free country);
  • be in possession of a health certificate as per the European model and established by a licensed veterinarian in your home country, along with a vaccination certificate;
  • be in possession of its health certificate and other required documents on its arrival at the Customs department.

If you are travelling with a bird, a health certificate specifying a quarantine, screening or vaccination against the H5 virus will be required.

Moving back to your home country

If you are moving back to your home country with your pet following your stay in France, you need to follow a specific set of procedures. Your pet must undergo a rabies screening test and be confirmed to be free from rabies before leaving the European Union. In case the rabies vaccine is still valid, there is no need to carry out a further blood test, and the pet’s passport can be used as a health certificate.

Prohibited breeds

The following dog breeds, classifieds as Category 1, are not allowed into France, even if these belong to expatriates who intend to stay in the country:

  • Staffordshire terrier or American Staffordshire terrier (called pitbull)
  • Mastiff (called dogs boerbulls)
  • Tosa

The following category 2 dogs, known as dog or defence dogs, are subject to strict import regulations:

  • American Staffordshire terrier
  • Rottweiler
  • Tosa
  • Dogs that are assimilable to the Rottweiler by their morphological characteristics

Expats who wish to import these category 2 dogs must:

  • be more than 18 years old
  • not be under guardianship
  • not to be convicted for a criminal offense listed in Notice No. 2 of the criminal record (or equivalent for foreigners), or a decision withdrawing the right of ownership or custody of a dog

 Important:

In the case of attack dogs, the owner must also make sure to sterilise the animal which must then in possession of a pet health certificate. In all cases, make sure to comply with all the above rules, otherwise you risk the chance of seeing your pet being repatriated, quarantined or euthanised.

 Useful links:

Ministry of Agriculture – Conditions for pets coming from non European countries
Ministry of Agriculture – health certificate sample
Categorized dogs table
Service Public – Pets

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