Dog Travel Blog

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

Answers to frequently asked questions about the Pet Passport scheme

October7

These are some of the most common questions we get asked relating to the Pet Travel Scheme and travelling abroad with dogs (information correct as at October 2013). Our answers are based on travels into France from the UK and back into the UK from a French port.

 

What do I need to do to take my pet to France?
Take your dog to your vet to have a chip fitted and a rabies vaccination.  Your vet will fill in a Pet Passport recording the chip number and the date of the rabies vaccination and its date of expiry.  Check that he/she has filled the relevant pages correctly.  Wait 21 days, then travel.

 

What do I need to do to get my pet back into the UK?
You will need to see a vet in France no less than 1 day (24 hours) but no more than 5 days (120 hours) before your scheduled departure back to the UK.  The vet will administer treatment against tapeworm and will record this treatment within your dog’s Pet Passport.  He/she will check the validity of the rabies vaccination and that the chip recorded in the Passport is the same as the chip in your pet.  You MUST check that the vet has signed and stamped the relevant pages of the Passport correctly  He/she will enter the time and date of the tapeworm treatment – these two entries are crucial to your pet’s re-entry into the UK.  Ask them to use the same colour ink on each page. Vets closer to the ports will be more experienced in how to fill out the Passport than more rural parts (but, admittedly probably more expensive).

 

What happens at the port/Eurotunnel?
You will need to visit the Pet Control Centre to have your pet’s chip read and the Pet Passport scrutinised.  If anything is not in order, eg no tapeworm treatment (or treatment outside of the valid window), an out-of-date rabies vaccination or simply incomplete entries within the Passport, your pet will be refused entry to the UK.  There will be no negotiation on this so don’t think you can somehow skirt the rules.

 

Why are these rules in place? 
Rabies exists in wildlife in some parts of mainland Europe.  The risk is there.  We don’t have rabies in the UK and neither do we want it.  We are lucky this scheme exists.  Prior to the Pet Travel Scheme, your pet would have had to endure six months in quarantine and for good reason.  The rabies vaccinations have been proven successful barriers to this horrible disease which is why the UK has moved more in line with animal movements on the continent where annual rabies vaccinations are the law in most countries.  The tapeworm treatment is necessary because tapeworm is not currently a big problem in the UK and it needs to stay that way.

 

Why do I have to wait 21 days before travel?
It is considered that the rabies vaccination needs 21 days to fully ‘take’ within the pet.  You cannot enter the UK until 21 days after the initial rabies vaccination – if you tried, your pet would be refused entry.  This is in line with France where a very first rabies vaccination is not considered valid until 21 days after being given and there are clear rules that animals cannot enter the country until those 21 days have passed.  Therefore, if you travelled into France less than 21 days after an initial vaccination, you would be breaking French law.

 

What happens if I let the rabies vaccination expire?
Some rabies vaccinations last for 2 years, others for 3 years.  Make sure you know when your pet’s vaccination expires and get a re-vaccination in plenty of time.  If you do forget to renew the vaccination and you do let it expire, you will need to wait the 21 days once again before you travel as it will be considered once again a first vaccination.  The best thing is to keep those vaccinations up so that there are no gaps.

 

My dog’s rabies vaccination shows an expiry date of 2 years but I have been advised that it will expire in 3 years – can I assume it’s 3 years?
No.  Pet Control at the French departure point will simply look at the expiry date and if it’s out of date, your pet will be refused entry.  What’s written in the Pet Passport will be taken as gospel and you will have no grounds for argument or negotiation.

 

Are there any other vaccinations/protection I need to give my pet before travel?
France, and indeed mainland Europe, is not the UK and has different pests and parasites to us.  If you are travelling south to the hotter climates of the Mediterranean (including inland and mountain areas), you will need to protect your dog from leishmaniasis which is passed on by mosquitos called sandflies.  This is a nasty disease.  Scalibor collars are a necessary precaution (although there is nothing currently available which protects 100% against this disease). Here’s a link for more information. Normal worming and protection against fleas/ticks is advised.  If you are travelling to the southern areas of France, Spain and Portugal in the winter months, be aware of processionary caterpillars which can cause serious problems for a dog (and even death) if he/she sniffs their hairs – keep your dog under close control, probably on a lead.

 

Are dogs allowed on beaches?
The rules are largely the same as here – some beaches yes, others no.  Here’s a good link for dog friendly beaches.

 

Do dogs need to be restrained in vehicles eg in crates?
French law is ambiguous regarding this and considering the fact that we regularly see people driving with their little French dogs sunbathing on the dashboard, we can assume that no restraints are necessary.  However, we do know that other countries do have different laws so you would need to look this up before travelling.  There is much information on the web regarding this so a simple search should provide some answers. We are not aware of any requirements to restrain your dog while in your vehicle on Eurotunnel.

 

I’m worried about seeing a vet in France as I don’t speak French
If your French is very limited, we’d advise seeing a vet near to the port of departure.  They are more likely to be able to speak some English and will have more experience in completing the Pet Passport documentation.

 

How do I find a vet in France?
Your hotel or campsite will also be able to find a vet for you and make an appointment.  The local tourist information office will also be able to help you make an appointment. Or a simple Google search often works well.

 

Great hiking from Pra Loup with the dogs

Great hiking from Pra Loup in the Alps. Shame all the mountain biking trails were shut!

posted under | 53 Comments »

53 Responses to “Answers to frequently asked questions about the Pet Passport scheme”

  1. Maryanne says:

    Hello,

    I was wondering if you knew off hand if I could travel with a dog that does not belong to me but will have the “unaccompanied” pet from from DEFRA filled out by his owner. He has all the required vaccinations needed from defra and will be within the time frame. We are coming from Italy and I am concerned that since I am not an “authorized” carrier, just a friend, that they won’t let me in, even though I have the form and the vaccinations, health book, etc. We are traveling from Italy and the owner and the dog are registered/residents of the UK.

    Best,
    Maryanne

    • Editor says:

      You are best to contact DEFRA regarding this. My common sense tells me that if you have all the paperwork and travel arrangements in place then everything’s ok. I thought that approved carrier referred to the transport means ie plane, train, ferry. But best to check just in case.

  2. Simon says:

    We are travelling to the Netherlands with our new puppy travelling via Eurotunnel. Are there any additional requirements we might need to cross the borders through Belgium and then The Netherlands? Also, if we are going to be away for only four days, can we get the worming treatment done by our vet here in the UK and avoid doing it on the continent? Many thanks.

  3. Hella says:

    Hello,

    I’m a bit confused. :)
    Do I have to treat the dog against tapeworm when I leave the UK, or it’s enough to do it backwards?

    When I leave the UK towards France, is there a “pet office” just like on the French side? Or there’s nothing on the UK side when I go to France?

    Best,
    Hella

  4. Anita says:

    Hi
    What a fantastic site – you have answered so many things that have been going through my head, big big thank you.

    If you go over to France from the UK but only for a few days i.e a long weekend (say fri – mon 3 nights) how do you fulfil the vet criteria for the return into the UK within the time limit?(is it ok to see the vet virtually on day of arrival? We have family who live in northern france and we always leave the dog behind when we go over sometimes this is for the day (a long day) and sometimes it is over a weekend, but it would enable us to go over more often if we could take our girl with us. For a day it wouldn’t technically be possible to fulfil the requirements of travel would it?

    Thank you

    • Editor says:

      The best thing for you to do is phone DEFRA on this one – get their advice so you know where you stand on a short trip …… and let us know what they say! Thanks for the positive feedback.

  5. Anita says:

    Thanks. I have emailed Defra and this is the reply pasted below

    “Thank you for your email dated 8th June 2014.

    Please be advised that dogs travelling to the EU on day/weekend trips can be treated for tapeworm by a vet prior to leaving UK, providing the animal re-enters the UK within the 24-120 hour time period. In these circumstances, it is recommended that a further treatment should be administered 28 days after return.
    Pet owners are reminded that it is considered good practice to regularly treat their animals against a range of ticks and tapeworms as part of their routine health management, especially if travelling abroad. I would advise you to discuss this with your Vet.”

  6. Nina Coxwell says:

    We are travelling via Eurotunnel for the first with our dog late September. Driving down to the south of France. We are planning to stopovers for 3 nights, and 4 nights coming back. Anyone know of good B&B’s, we are going down to Cannes so more on the east side of France or suggestions of a good website or book?

    Thanks.

  7. Faye says:

    Hi, I want to be able to take my dogs abroad to Spain next year but unsure how much passports cost?
    Thanks

  8. Marisa says:

    We are planning on travelling around Europe for one year with our puppy. I am in the process of trying to arrange pet insurance for her. The companies I have spoken to say they only cover for a few weeks/ months.

    What did you do when travelling and can you recommend a pet insurance company?

    Many thanks

    • Editor says:

      We stopped with pet insurance many years ago. We save regularly into a contingency pot and dip into it when we have to. I think you will struggle to find any insurer who will cover a pet for any longer abroad than they would consider a holiday eg one month. You may well have to just make sure that you have access to enough funds to make sure you can cover any unforseeable vet bills yourselves while you’re away.

  9. Lesley says:

    My cats passport expires 9th April, 2015. I want to travel to Spain and return to UK but want to update her passport in Spain. Does the passport allow me to travel if only a few days left, the DEFRA site is confusing me. Thanks.

  10. Shirley okeeffe says:

    We want to travel to france in August with our dog . We will be taking the car and want to do a short ferry crossing from Ireland to UK to then travel on the eurotunnel to france. I would love to stay with my dog, so would love to know which ferry can accommodate us. Great site!!!

  11. Jilly says:

    I have a pet passport issued in the UK for my golden retriever which expires 22.7.16. I am planning on travelling to Italy via France, Germany, Switzerland (maybe returning via Austria). My vet has put doubts in my mind that I need to have a yearly rabies vaccination to travel in Germany and that I need to check with country of travel government guidelines to confirm requirements. Am I ok to travel to through these countries as my pet passport stands?

  12. Rosalind Jones says:

    Why am I not allowed to bring my dog back to the UK on a passenger plane when it has a pet passport. It seems that the only viable way to bring my dog back is by ferry and only if I take my car as it seems most convenient ferry route don’t allow pets with foot passengers.

  13. Jem says:

    You mention the processionary moth caterpillars and sandflies as particular worries — do you have info on their distribution and periods of most risk? We’re travelling only as far as the Champagne / Compiegne region and may get as far as Paris, at the end of August. Ticks we’re familiar with as we often travel to UK tick-infested areas. The info I have suggests the caterpillars are most problematic in winter/spring, but I’m guessing the sandflies, being mozzies in reality, will be a problem in affected regions in August.

    Are there any good distribution maps for these things? My net search hasn’t turned any up, and I’m left with vague descriptions of regions rather than useful info regarding current extent.

    Finally, are the worms we must protect against any more ferocious than the ones we usually treat for before going into cattle/sheep farming areas in the UK? Is anything stronger than Drontal needed?

    Thanks for a brilliant blog — the most helpful info anywhere on the UK web that I can find. Keep it up, please!

    • Editor says:

      Hello. Re sandflies, there is a link on our FAQ page where we mention scalibor collars which takes you to a map of affected areas. Re caterpillars, if you search ‘processionary caterpillars in France’, in Google this website -http://www.planetepassion.eu/WILDLIFE-IN-FRANCE/Pine-processionary-moth-France.html – shows up first in the list. The caterpillars are prevalent in pine forests in late winter/spring and not just in southern areas – we came across them at Easter in the Vendée. Re worming, you need a wormer which protects against heartworm and tapeworm, neither of which are hugely common in the UK but are more so in Europe. Our French vet uses milbemax. Have a great time – the Champagne area is lovely.

      • Jem says:

        Thanks. Sorry, I missed the link to the Scalibor site. That is very helpful. Re. caterpillars: it always helps to know what to include in your search. Thanks for that.

        My take on this info is, there is some risk to my dog in the areas we are planning to visit (north east of Paris), but sandflies are much more of a problem in the most southerly, particularly Mediterranean, départements. Processionary moth caterpillars are unlikely to present a risk in August. The main things we will have to deal with are worms and ticks, which are familiar threats, though the specific ones may be more virulent than in the UK. Got it. Will see the vet for final advice and info. Thanks again.

  14. Sharon says:

    Hi

    We have our pet passports sorted and was very excited until we saw something that said Mastiffs aren’t allowed in France. The sites I’ve been on are confusing, some say Mastiff ‘types’ other sites just say Mastiff (Boerbulls) which are a well known SA aggressive (specialised breed). I just can’t see a country banning the whole breed, especially as French mastiffs are so popular.

    I appreciate you don’t have a mastiff but wondered if you’d seen anything about it or could recommend a site where I could get definitive details?

    Thx in advance

    S

    • Editor says:

      Really don’t know what to say on this. If you go to this link http://www.ambafrance-uk.org/Pet-cats-dogs-and-ferrets,12197 the reference is to any dog known as a mastiff. But we know of a family in France with three Dogue de Bordeaux which are French Mastiffs. It’s very confusing. But there is a statement on that page which says “if you have any doubt that your dog’s breed is on the dangerous list, do not bring it into the country”. Perhaps someone else can advise. Have you contacted the Kennel Club for advice?

  15. Lisa says:

    Hi there, thanks for all this information, we are just waiting to take ownership of our first puppy and have found the information a little confusing elsewhere so this is a welcome find. I was wondering if there are checks when you leave the UK? Our puppy’s 21 days post rabies jab falls while we’re away, so I am naively hoping we might be able to take him as long as it’s valid and we have done the worming before we re-enter the UK! I know it’s a long shot but I can’t seem to find anything about exit checks and we really don’t want to leave him behind. Thanks in advance.

  16. Jo says:

    Hi all
    Bit confused!!!!! First time taking our dog abroad we are planning to do 2 years touring Europe in our motorhome regarding the worming between 24 & 120 hours is that just when you return to the UK????? Or do you have to worm between 24 hours & 120 hours every time you go from one EU country to another? Sorry if that sounds a silly question I just want to get things right as I’m panicking about takin the dog anyway but if I don’t take her we’ll never go travelling as I refuse to leave her any info regarding muzzling & seatbelts would be great as she’s never had either so need to prepare her now as we’re not going till March 2016

  17. Pedro says:

    Hi,
    I am travelling with my dog from UK to France this Christmas. We have the passport ready however we fail in the 21 days required for the vaccination. My question is?
    How likely are you to be stopped at the French Border?
    Thanks!
    Pedro

  18. Scarlett Brown says:

    Hello!

    I have a position teaching English in Huelva, Spain. I’m currently trying to find a way either directly to Spain or failing that France, however I can’t drive so will be travelling by foot.

    I’m really struggling to find a train or ferry that will allow me to travel on foot and keep my little Jack Russell, Dotty, as hand luggage.

    I really don’t want to lock her away in a kennel so it would be great if I could avoid this. Do you have any ideas?

    Thank you for your help,

    Scarlett and Dotty dog!

    • Editor says:

      Look up Eurotunnel pet taxi on Google and there’s loads of links for taxi services which will transport you and your pet across the Channel via the tunnel or ferry. Eurostar doesn’t allow pets, Eurotunnel doesn’t allow foot passengers and the ferries won’t take pets as foot passengers.

      • Scarlett Brown says:

        I’ve decided to lift share through Bla Bla car and catch a ride on the ferry to Calais.

        Dotty has had her Rabies vaccination, she’s already microshipped and the vet also recommended another job that would protect her from various deseases in Spain.

      • Scarlett Brown says:

        Sorry, clicked submit comment too early!!

        …..

        (Carrying on from the last comment)

        Are you aware of anything I else I need to do in order to get dotty abroad?

        What about the ‘Third-country official veterinary certificate’ is that something I need in order to travel through France and Spain?

        I will be getting her wormed and treated for fleas/ticks right before I leave.

        Sorry for all the questions, all the websites I’ve looked at are very confusing and this is the first time I’ll be travelling by myself.

        Thank you!

    • c. says:

      Brittany ferries does a crossing from Portsmouth to Le Havre with pet cabins onboard, so you can take your pet with you on the ferry in the cabin.

  19. Jonathan Wright says:

    Because I frequently travel between the UK and France and Belgium my pet passport is full. Will the vet provide additional pages or do I have to get a new passport.

  20. Claire Farley says:

    Our dog had a pet passport in 2011 for when we travelled to France I have not renewed her passport as not expected to need to but husband is looking at a job in Munich and she will need to get a new passport. Will she need blood tests as well as the injections again? Also is there anything to be aware of in particular with dogs in Germany – it appears you need a liability insurance but don’t seem to really do the medical side of pet insurance – any creepy crawlies?

  21. Stuart Hadden says:

    Hi, I’m traveling with my border collie to Norway in June, we’ll be crossing to Rotterdam then driving up through Germany and Denmark to catch another ferry to Norway, return will be via Finland, Sweden, then Denmark, Germany and Netherlands again before crossing through Belgium and France for a channel crossing, (I know Norway isn’t an EC member and I’ve got that in hand) but my question is this, do I need to stop and have my dog’s documentation checked at every border crossing or can I just drive through as I’ve done on previous trips without the dog?

    • Amie says:

      Hey Stuart,

      I was looking for pet travel advice as I am going to be making the same journey as you next year and found your post! Hope you don’t mind me commenting.. So I was wondering how did it go? Did you have to stop at every border? Was it easy getting in to Norway?

      Thanks!

  22. Laura says:

    Hi there,

    Love the blog really helpful! We are planning to go to France via the tunnel and head for lake Geneva, Annecy with our beagle Finn. So we will be going out of France in to Switzerland an potentially Italy. Do we need to get the dog wormed every time we leave one country and into another?

    Many thanks in advance :)

  23. John says:

    Our dog has had rabies vacination each year in January and was due on 2/1.2017. on taking her to the vet she was in season and vet told us to come back in 2 weeks which is 2 weeks past the expiry date, for the rabies jab, will we have to wait 21 days after this jab to travel outside France and will we not need test.

    Thank you

    • Charlie says:

      You are correct about the wait since you have probably missed the final date to maintain continuous rabies cover. Check the expiry date because UK jabs often run for two or even three years and so you may not have exceeded the date. Most European internal regulations require annual jabs but this does not apply to the UK and the Pet Passport.

  24. James de Beer says:

    Hi all,

    Any info on how i would be able to bring my pug which was born in Laos and has had all vaccinations and worming to uk standards to date. is it possible or is it simply a fact that Laos is a high risk rabies country regardless of vaccinations?

    Thanks in advance for any info large or small

  25. price of dog passport? price of cat passport to go to CYPRUS thanks

  26. DANIELA says:

    Hello i need help!!

    Tommorow i’m travelling with my yorkshire terrier, to the UK, his rabies vaccine was expired 04/2016, and had his renewal yesterday 25/1/2017, will they not allow him in UK? because of the 21 waiting days?

    thank you!

  27. ian says:

    Hi, on a slightly different topic, is a PP compulsary for exiting the UK or a re-entry requirement ONLY?
    I have searched high and low for a definitive answer to this question but they all seem determined that you fork out £120+ to your vet regardless of whether it is a requirement?
    I’d be obliged if anyone out there knows the answer and where they gleaned this knowledge?
    many thanks….ian.

  28. Julie says:

    We are traveling from the US with our service dog and traveling around Europe. Can US citizens get a passport for their dog?

    • Shandos says:

      We’re from Australia and travelling in Europe with our dog. While we couldn’t get the passport before leaving Australia (instead we’ve got the original rabies form and keeping it with our important documents), we got the passport in Europe after being here for a couple of months.

  29. Mark says:

    Hi

    Really helpful blog. We are packing for three kids and two dogs. Busy car – do we need the dog passports/details for the trip through passport control out of the UK or jus for the ‘human’ contingent. We have overflowing hand luggage and was going to put in the suitcase but don’t want to hold everyone up. Any advice welcome!

    Thanks

    • Shandos says:

      When taking the ferry from the UK to Netherlands, no-one wanted to see the dog’s passport, just our human passports. But I’d keep it handy just in case.

  30. Jan Lillie says:

    Hi. Can I get our pet passport renewed in Spain?

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