Dog Travel Blog

Real life experience of travel with dogs and Pet Passports in France

New DEFRA pet passport travel rules from 2012


This is an update as at 1st January 2012

As at 1st January 2012, the pet passport process became much simpler (and much cheaper!).  Gone are the days of the rabies jab, blood tests and then a six month wait before re-entry into the UK that we were familiar with.  The new requirements, as we understand them, are set out below.  However, we urge you to double check with the DEFRA website, by phoning DEFRA itself or by talking to your vet that you have everything fully prepared before you cross that channel.  In our experiences on Eurotunnel,  there has been NO check as we leave the UK – we are not asked for our pet passports, we have not been required to show any documentation.  That all happens when we come back into the UK.  So, if you leave the UK without the proper paperwork, you and your pet will be in trouble when you try to re-enter the UK.  You are warned!

So, from 1st January 2012 (for entry into the UK from the EU and some specifically listed non EU countries – refer to DEFRA’s website for more detailed information regarding the requirements for pets coming into the UK from other non EU countries):

  • Your pet will need to be chipped by your vet
  • Your pet will need to have a rabies vaccination
  • Your vet will need to complete a pet passport, documenting your pet’s chip number and stamping the correct page to show the rabies vaccination has been given and its expiry date – you will need to keep this passport very safe and take it with you when you and your pet travel!
  • Wait 21 days before travel
  • No less than 1 day but no more than 5 days before your scheduled return to the UK, you must visit a vet to have your pet treated for tapeworm (the requirement for the treatment for ticks has now ended).  This will usually be in the form of tablets, perhaps Milbemax.  The vet MUST stamp the relevant page to show that treatment has been given (with date and time).  This is what will be examined at your departure point.   Our advice is to double check the vet’s entry in the passport before you leave the surgery especially if the treatment has been given at a surgery a long way from your departure port/airport.  If this treatment isn’t given or the treatment has been given outside of the 1 to 5 day window, you will not be able to re-enter the UK.

Things are much simpler now.  But, don’t forget that there are bugs and pests which will make a beeline for your pet while abroad so you still need to give him or her protection:

  • You should buy a Scalibor collar if you are going to the hot climates like the southern regions of France, Spain, Portugal, Greece etc to protect your pet from mosquitos which can pass on leishmaniasis (this is a very nasty disease and you will want your pet to avoid it at all costs)
  • Even though tick treatment is not necessary now for re-entry into the UK, you’d be well advised to still treat your pet yourself against ticks as they can carry nasty diseases.  We would still plan to treat our dogs just before heading into France and just as we get back.  We also give them a dose of Milbemax before we arrive in France to protect them against tapeworm and heartworm while they are there, on top of the treatment they will also receive at the vet before coming back into the UK.

I must say that I’m not entirely comfortable with giving my dogs too many chemicals in these tablets and topical treatments but I’d rather do that than risk them getting leishmaniasis, heartworm or some horrible illness from a tick.

And, finally, do not let that rabies vaccination expire.  At least now it wouldn’t mean another six month wait but you would be stranded abroad for 21 days at least if you realised you’d let the rabies vaccination expire while you were away.

If you’re thinking of somehow skirting the rules, perhaps by taking a risk and trying to avoid the Pet Control at the ferry ports, don’t.  Rabies exists in some parts of Europe – that’s a horrible fact.  We do not want it in the UK and we do not want the Pet Travel Scheme being put at risk by people trying to bend the rules.

The motto of all this is be prepared and organised where your pets are concerned so that you can all have a bon voyage!

posted under | 228 Comments »

228 Responses to “New DEFRA pet passport travel rules from 2012”

  1. Inger Morris says:

    My Yorkie is really stubborn about taking tablets – am worried that the vet in Switzerland will not be able to get her to swallow one! are their injections instead for tape worm?

    • Cara says:

      Yes injections are available. I didn’t have a great experience as it is intra muscular and our dog didn’t like it but he was a big wussy boxer,
      I did find the vet was very patient so I’m sure either way you’ll be fine!
      Good luck!

  2. Ann says:

    I take my dog abroad a few times a year. The vet gives him a Drontel tablet I take with me, obtained from my vet here. Also Advantix-but I’m seriously considering trying something else as it had made him quite sick with vomiting and diarrhea.

  3. Kev P says:

    Hi has anybody had any problems with the Scalibor collar? We’ve read reviews that some chihuahuas have reacted badly to them, just wondered if anybody else had experienced this?

  4. Gavin says:

    Hi, many thanks for the time taken to put this website together, great resource.
    Just a question on the paperwork for entering France, even though I can see you never had to show any when coming through the eurotunnel, this web page here – – says that you need to have a seperate certificate confirming treatment against ticks and tapeworm and also distemper, and the declaration of residency. Is this out of date? I can’t find any reference to it on your blog so assume it might be old.

    Thanks in advance for your comments.

    • Editor says:

      That’s an old web page and is out of date. Read our web page about the new rules since 2012 or our FAQ page. 🙂

  5. We have just returned from France and all the info in our dogs passport was fine.Just check it has been signed and stamped by your vet in France.

  6. Stuart says:

    Hello. We are in Provence for the first time and would like to find an English speaking vet to administer the tapeworm Treatment for our GSD. Has anyone got any advice please. We would love to finish this amazing first visit without distressing our boy.
    Thank you

  7. lorraine benson says:

    Has anyones vet used Milbemax on the new passports as the required wormer treatment for entry to UK please,we were told it was only Drontal that was accepted at Calais

  8. We take Milebax with us from our own UK vet as it is the only one that doesn’t have an adverse diarrhoea. However we travel from Cherbourg and our French vet is in the town where we holiday 2 or 3 times each year.Good luck.

  9. Pete Aspinall says:


    How strict are officials from your experience on details in the passport? The vet that completed ours in date format dd/mm/yy e.g. 09/09/15 and the defra notes say it should be in the form of dd/mm/yyyy e.g. 09/09/2015. I don’t want to get stuck in Calais due to a minor technicality.



  10. Dani Fox says:

    We’ve just got a dog and hoped to take her to France with us, we travel several times a year, sometimes for short weekends. Is it still necessary to visit a vet before returning to the UK for tapeworm treatment if we have only been for a couple of days?

    • I worry about this as well.We travel to France several times each year and our Border Collie has treatment each time.It seems excessive.

    • Dani says:

      I have spoken to my vet and the pet travel scheme helpline. If you are travelling to France for a short trip as long as you have had the worm treatment within 120 hours of returning you can have you dog treated in England before going.
      The website is not clear – it only mentions day trips.

      • Dave says:

        So – just to clarify, on a trip shorter than 5 days, as long as everything is in order and my dog has had all treatments within 5 days at our vet our home (we live close to France in Kent), no vet visit is required in France at all for the return? Even for a return health check etc?
        Many thanks

  11. Pete Aspinall says:

    Well we got stuck in Calais as expected because our vet didn’t fill out the details properly in the Rabies section where it is required to have at least Name, Address, Telephone Number and Signature of Vet. Because he filled in the passport originally he said that it wasn’t required as the detail was already there. I questioned it before we left and he said that he had done loads of them and never had issues. How wrong could he be, after a few hours and the fortunate case that our vets is a 24hr hospital the clinical director there forwarded the supporting information to pet control and we were allowed to continue our journey. Moral of the story, make sure the detail is entered correctly to the DEFRA website notes and don’t let your vet fob you off.

  12. Drew Smith says:

    Is it still the case that pet passport is not checked when leaving the UK, only on return? We are moving perninantly to France and our cat will only have been vacinated against rabies a werk before we leave. She will not be in danger of contracting rabies as we will keep her in for a month or so to get her settled . Will we have a problem leaving with her? I can get the passport posted to us. Many thanks

  13. Pete Aspinall says:

    Our dogs were not checked leaving the UK on the Eurotunnel, we just had to confirm they were travelling with us. Only on return were their passports and chips checked at the border.

    • Caroll Prosser says:

      As stated above by Pete Aspinell, we have travelled by Eurotunnel and ferry and not been required to show the pet passport. Also just need to confirm we have a dog with us. double ALWAYS double check THE VET has completed your pet passport correctly! we got to the Eurotunnel and on checking in our dog, our vet had not STAMPED it. We were directed to a local vet…..a phone call and faxed conformation got us sorted But we missed our slot on the train….had to pay an extra 20 euro…our vet in Holland was horrified and as regular visitors gave our dog two visits @ no-charge!

  14. Sue stephenson says:

    Hi, we have a new pup and will be going to the South of France in June, we camp on te way ther and back then spend 4 was in our caravan. As we have never taken a dog with us before we want to get it right. Our breeder treated our pup with Adocat and we expect tot reset her every 4 week, would this be ok or do we need anything else, I’m a bit worried about Drontal as I’ve heard it causes tummy upsets. Also where do you get the mosquito collar and is it expensive?

  15. Caroline says:

    Can anyone help me as I am so confused by so much information on traveling to France for the first time with our dog.
    We are planning to take our touring caravan via the feery cross to France sometime this summer. I understand he will need a rabies jab ( given at a certain time) but what else do i need , does he need to see a vet before we leave France and where do I get a pet passport from ? . There is nothing that tells you what you need in black and white .
    Thanks Caroline xxx

    • Editor says:

      If you go to our Home page and click on the link to our Frequently Asked Questions, you will find everything you need to know set clearly out. It’s very simple and everything will make sense once you’ve read it 🙂

    • jen says:

      hi it was our first time too, go to your vet, they will give the dog all necessary meds and passport( no less than 21 days before travel).cost us £75.00 at our vets. they will also chip the dog if not chipped already.
      then go to any vets on the way back no less than 5-1 day before travel. they complete the passport and give injection to come home..vets are everywhere esp around ports. we went to one in la Rochelle cost 40 euro..
      make sure you contact your pet insurance too, our covered our dog for 10 weeks in Europe for no additional cost.

  16. steff Govier says:

    do you need a pet passport etc to take a spanish dog on holiday by car to France and then back to Spain?

    • jen says:

      hi we travelled England to france to spain. and back.
      our dogs passport were checked at Portsmouth when we left, dogs also scanned. the same then happened when we left caen. no checks between france and spain.

  17. Susan says:

    Hi, we’re driving from Spain to uk, taking our GS cross with us, does anyone know if I’ll have any issues about his breed, as he does look vey much like a GS.
    Many thanks.

  18. Anthony says:

    Vacination against leishmaniasis is now available in the UK. It is called Canileish.

    Initially, there are three jabs given over two months and then an annual booster.

    Advised as well to use Advantix when away every three weeks and Advantage every four weeks. This advice provided by Chief vet whose co supplies both. In Spain so don’t have link here.

  19. kate says:

    So much to plan here so thanks for the great website. I am flying my beagle from the US into the UK in August and then we will spend two months in the UK and then go onto France and maybe Italy for another month or two. We are deciding whether flying from UK to France is best or hiring a car and driving. Seems from your site that driving is pretty easy and places to stay easy to find (it will be me and 2 kids and a beagle so easy is a must:) Have you heard of any airlines that are better or worse? Is Heathrow or Gatwick easiest? Sorry I know you guys drive but I am just trying to find real world folks doing it and not just government rules:)

  20. michael hickley says:

    I am going to France in June and taking my dog.He has had his chip and rabies injection and has his own passport.Everything is up to date.However,I would like to know if anyone can give me some local vets in France for tapewrom.I will be staying in Southern France, District 86, vienne.And any idea on the cost of treatment please.

  21. J Coles says:

    My vets bill for the two Cavaliers was 93 euros – it was quite distressing to see the vet ramming the enormous pills down their throats. We had it done way before Calais during a short stay in La Carezze region

  22. michael hickley says:

    WOW! It sounds like the vets aren’t too good with animals.It would be easier and more compassionate to crush the tablet and put it in some food…that aside, i will guess that it will cost me around 50 euros for my dog.I always like to be prepared and have the money at hand.Thank you for the replies so far.

  23. Pete Aspinall says:

    Hi Michael,

    The vet I visited was fantastic and the tablets were only small, My French Bulldog hates vets so he let me put it in some ham and feed it to him that way. As long as they witness it going in and not coming out they are usually quite happy signing the passport.

    Everyone I have spoken to about the vets in France has been a positive experience.

    One thing though ensure your documentation is exactly filled out as per the requirements on the DEFRA website, my UK vet was not up to date on the specific requirements and when I came back I was held up at Calais as he hadn’t filled in the document correctly. I had to get the vets (6.00AM on a Sunday, luckily a 24hr practice) to send a fax over with more details until they would let us travel.


  24. michael hickley says:

    Thank you for that info.Pete.Will look on DEFRA’s website this weekend.

  25. Joy says:

    I have friends from Poland in a real mess. They were going on holiday back to Poland for 3 weeks when their old GSD became unwell. She is still not great however this dog has been part of the family many years and their daughter hopes for the dog at her wedding – in Poland in the next few weeks. As she was unwell the vets would not vaccinate her, now my friends are due to go to daughters wedding, the dog is ill, and not rabies vaccinated. They are desperate. They need to leave in about 10 days, can anyone help them at all? They are aware this is probably a one way journey for the dog as she won’t live much longer so they are asking if they can get a one way passport for her? Please help anyone??

  26. Pete Aspinall says:

    One way which way? On Eurotunnel They don’t check passports leaving the UK only that you have a dog onboard (you must book dogs on to travel) the only time they check is on return and you must have a valid passport with all the relevant vaccinations as per the DEFRA website rules.

  27. Joy says:

    UK to Poland. Think it would be poor dogs last journey really. I don’t know if my neighbours drive but if so this may just mean they can get her home! Thanks

  28. michael hickley says:

    I was on the understanding that Eurostar will only allow assisstance dogs for travel.

  29. Pete Aspinall says:

    On foot maybe but in a car no problem I have taken my two many times.

  30. Joy says:

    She has had her rabies vaccine now and has her pet passport, and is chipped etc. So hopefully she will get home to Poland without a hitch. Sad to think she will probably not return with them but many thanks for the advice guys

  31. Rachel Dedman says:

    We are taking our two Cockapoos to Switzerland and it would be good to get their tapeworm treatment done there before starting the journey home as it can be done up to five days ahead of arrival back into the UK now I think? Can any vet administer the treatment and fill in the passport?

  32. Pete Aspinall says:

    As long as the following is followed then they will be fine. The Vet must be a qualified registered vet and be able to state their vet number / sign and stamp (practice stamp) the tapeworm section in the pet passport. Please follow the details on the Defra website link below.


  33. Liz Banaszak says:

    We are travelling to France with our dog in the next couple of weeks and I wondered if anyone had found an English speaking vet near Roscoff for the treatment before our return trip.

  34. Sue says:

    Hi Pete, when worming do you bout day one as the day treatment is given or the next day as with the rabies. Also can you travel on day 5

  35. Liz Banaszak says:

    I found a list on the Brittany Ferries site and the receptionist spoke enough English to arrange the appointment near the Roscoff ferry. Good luck.

  36. Tracy says:

    Is it still the case that passports and microchips are not checked on the eurotunnel

  37. Joann Bartrum says:

    Hi were leaving for France to live all my dogs passport is done but I am wondering does he need the tapeworm vaccine before we leave the UK.

    Many Thanks.

  38. Josephine Wilde says:

    Hi there,

    I’m due to take my dog away with me next week, can I just check he doesnt need a vet administered tapeworming tablet BEFORE leaving the UK? and he just needs it on returning? He is all upto date with them otherwise.

    Many thanks!

  39. Pete Aspinall says:


    Tapeworm treatment is only required if you return to the UK and it must be administered between 24hrs and 5 days before you return. You say you are going to live out in France? Then you probably won’t be returning except for visits so ensure you adhere to the travel rules at that time. I would of course ensure that your tapeworm treatment is up to date anyway to protect your dog(s).

  40. Sarah Cooper says:

    Hi I hope someone can help and I don’t make this too complicated!!
    Our dog was issued with a UK Pet Passport in June 2016 and had the rabies vaccination that is valid for 3 years. We have been living in Albania since August which is classed as high rabies risk. We want to drive back to the UK via Italy and France but are being told that she has to have a Titer test. Is this correct as she’s had the vaccination in the U.K but has been in Albania since?!!! I know that we will probably have to get her treated for tapeworm in France or Italy 4-5 days before re entering the UK!!!

    • Editor says:

      hiya. Talk to Defra on this. I think you will be ok because the dog was prepped in the UK and you are coming back from France. Never heard of a Titer test but I don’t think Albania is even a ‘listed’ country for Pet Passport so check before you travel or risk quarantine.

  41. liz says:


    Travelling to France this summer for the first time with our dogs – can anyone recommend a vet in Normandy (we’ll be staying at the Bois-Francs Centerparcs in Les Barils, 27130 Verneuil-sur-Avre)? Many thanks


  42. Keith Turner says:

    Hello, we have just returned from Lithuania with out Skamper. Not the best of trips, prior to leaving the UK my ‘vet’ gave him the rabies jab and duly signed our Spanish health certificate. I went to a Lithuanian vet for the worming tablet and was told my certificate was not valid to travel with. How true she was, we were not allowed to leave Calais which then entailed a night in hotel and visit to local vet to get European passport. I now have no faith in my Vets4Pets vet if she is not up to date with the conditions etc. They will be getting the bill for €55 plus bank fees in the next few days. If you can’t trust your vet who can you trust ?????

  43. Abby W says:

    Hi there,

    My dog’s clinical examination pages in her passport are full as the French vet fills this in each time she is wormed for re-entry into the UK. Therefore she must have a new passport, is this correct? If so do you know if she needs a full re-examination or if the vet will just re-issue a new passport? Seems to be some confusion on the matter.

    Thank you!

  44. Lindsay Futcher says:

    In Spain at the moment with my dog, returning via Bilbao Ferry to UK 25th January, planning to visit vets for worming tablets and his passport stamp on 20th any idea of charge for this service?

  45. mike says:

    Am I required to give my dog tapeworm treatment prior to going to france, if I am staying over in france for 10 days?

  46. KIM says:

    Does anyone know is say you got tablet or injection on a Tuesday lunchtime would this cover you if you weren’t going back Sunday 7.30am would you still be covered as not 5 full days but in days covered it would be tues/wed/thurs/fri/sat/sun?

  47. lorraine Henderson says:

    Hi, we will be taking our dog to South West France in a couple of weeks. We are travelling by ferry to Bilbao Spain, driving into france then returning home from Bilbao. Do we need to get our tapeworm administered in France or Spain?

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