Dog Travel Blog

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

How we travelled

June16

Well, let me first say that we travelled by caravan. The only sensible way really for us and the dogs. We have been all over the UK for years towing the trusty caravan but this is the first time for us France.

Because of the dogs, we decided to travel via the Eurotunnel. This wasn’t an easy option for us because we live in Cornwall and it took us two days just to get to Folkestone! And the Tunnel isn’t cheap. We were even charged £30 for each dog (even though they never get out of the car! Bit cheeky really). But, we didn’t like the idea of them having to stay on the car deck during a ferry crossing (dogs are also charged for on those crossings too which I find even more annoying considering they don’t let you take the animals on deck). So, Eurotunnel it was.

And, expensive as it may be, it was a joy to travel across the Channel using the Eurotunnel. We arrived at 8.25 am, were on the train by 8.40 am and in France for 9.15 am (10.15 their time). There was no queuing on and off, no usual sea sickness and we were with the dogs the whole time which was better for them. If you’ve never tried it, I say use Eurotunnel. We will from now on!!

Anyhow, there were no dog checks at the UK or French side – just a reminder as we checked in at Dover to declare them on the French side when we return to the UK.

My husband declared that it was easier to drive onto the train than he had expected (we have a large single axle caravan). Watch out though for the partitions – we parked over one by accident! Put some space in between you and the vehicle boarding in front of you and watch the markings on the floor so you don’t make the same mistake we did!
Driving onto Eurotunnel train with caravan

Driving onto Eurotunnel train with caravan

We didn’t even notice the crossing. The dogs slept through it all. We only had time to check the map for where we were going when we got to France and … suddenly we were there! Excellent.

Important note - Eurotunnel will not take LPG dual fuel vehicles, even with a manufacturer-backed installation. If you have a dual fuel car then you will need to take a ferry – a fellow traveller recommended Norfolkline or see our recommended links page for alternatives.

posted under | 47 Comments »

47 Responses to “How we travelled”

  1. Kirsty Bower says:

    Hi What a great website! Has all the information I needed to know thankyou so much! We have been thinking about taking our doggie mastiff x staffy to france or Italy for quite a few years we even got him a passport a few years ago, and then was put off by what the vet said. He said we would have to worm as we enter and come back out of each country, so for example to go to Italy we would go through about 2 or 3 countries which would mean him being wormed in every country???? This just seemed stupid, do you know if this is correct?

    Also another concern I had is what happens as you go over the boarders, do the dogs have to get out the car and be examed or scanned microchips etc?? Because my dog hates being touched by strangers and he wouldnt like it at all!

    Thanks

    • Editor says:

      Hi Kirsty. Mainland EU is open border, so no checks and no border examinations. However there are differents parasites in different areas so do some research and be prepared. We understand worming every 4 weeks is a good idea and make sure it covers heartworm.
      Happy travels

  2. Prue Furby says:

    Good idea for site – thank you – I have taken my Yorkie to France with Brittany when the dog cabins did the French route but they have now moved these to the Spanish route. Has anyone been on the Fast Ferry Portsmouth to Cherbourg with dog ? If I use the tunnel it’s a very long drive each way and not sure that’s too good for her either !
    It’s about 3half hours ?
    Thanks for any comments.

  3. Clive DOREY says:

    We have been taking our two Yorkies to southern Spain, southern France and for last 3 years (as we are now in our mid 70s) to northern France, ever since the commencement of the Pet Passport scheme. We always use Eurotunnel, even though it can add quite a few miles to the overall journey, but it is well worth it because the dogs stay right next to you for the whole crossing. Compared to the Spanish, the French are super dog friendly and staying in one of the many motel/hotel groups, such as Premiere etc is perfect for on route stopovers as they all accept dogs – much more difficult in Spain, where we have often had to overnight stay in the car; us sitting more or less upright in the front seats and the dogs stretched out in the luxury of their beds on top of the luggage in the back !
    Campanile and Premiere are in the same group and Campanile restaurants are fantastic and very reasonably priced; on one occasion we left the dogs in our room when we went to the restaurant and the manageress came up to us and said that we were perfectly free to bring them into the restaurant. This attitude to dogs is common throughout France, but not in Spain, so if you have a lengthy journey to complete in Spain, try and make your last stopover in France as close to the border as possible. On the return journey, we have nearly always had a final night in Boulogne, where there is an excellent vet that we use for the anti-tic treatment, making the appointment to fit with departure time and the 24 hour window required. It really is all quite a doddle , so go for it.
    We are going to stay in a gite near Dieppe this year, for 3 weeks.

    • bev Dowling says:

      Hello Clive

      Thanks for this information it is really useful to know. Would you know the answer to my question please?
      We are travelling with our dog later this month, he had his initial rabies injection in 2014 and then sadly never had his booster in 2015. He has now had his rabies injection again yesterday but we intended to travel to France on the 27th which would not give him the 21 days. However we are not returning for 2 months. Do you think this will be ok or will the french side customs stop us from travelling or returning? Your advice would be greatly appreciated. Kind regards

      Bev Dowling

      • raymond bothwell says:

        im going the same day ,,,lol with my dog she has not had a booster ,, her expirey date is in august and have been assured that is in order ,, you only need to get the dog done every 3 yrs our, first time

      • Matthew Twist says:

        So did you get into France OK with your less than 21 days rabies jab?

  4. Aoife says:

    Hi there, we are taking our jrt x collie called Stormey to France with us this year and I am going to blog about it (if I don’t get too lazy) from an Irish point of view. We will have two extra ferry crossings to and fro England where we will have no choice but to leave Stormey in the car (grr). I wonder can you recommend any hotels on route, and fairly close to Dover where we can stop for the night with Stormey?

  5. Abi says:

    this website is amazing! thank you for all your advice. We are travelling to our house in Northern France in December and have taken the brave decision to take our 7 year old cavalier with us this time (having left him at home every other time!). I have had to book him into a kennel for the crossing which is preferencial to leaving him in the car for 10ish hours but does anyone have experience of leaving their dogs in these kennels? I cant seem to find much in the way of information on the web about them. Many thanks

  6. Eizy says:

    I am extremely worried. When we crossed the eurotunnel into France with dogs, it was early hours in the morning, with no one working there to direct us to where we had to declare our doggies, so after diving around we eventually gave up. Will it be a problem to re-enter back into the uk? Did they stamp the dogs passports or anything?

    • Editor says:

      Your dogs are not checked on the UK side of the tunnel. The checks are done on the French side before re-entry into the UK. If you are using the tunnel to come back into the UK, you will see the Pet Reception area before you go through the check-in gates and that is where your dog’s passport will be checked.

  7. David says:

    If you need to travel to Europe with your pet but do not have a car then try taking the channel tunnel with Folkestone Taxi Co Ltd (01303252000). You can be picked up from the station in Folkestone and dropped of at the station in Calais or vis versa.

  8. Francesca Lee says:

    Hi is there a limit on how many dogs you can take into the uk? Someone told me 5 per person but i have 7 to take back. They are all in my name etc and its just me travelling. Any advice would be appreciated :)

    • Editor says:

      I’m pretty sure that originally only 5 were allowed under the Pet Passport Scheme – any more than that was considered import and separate rules applied. DEFRA used to state this on its Pet Passport web pages but I can’t find this now so I would advise you to contact them before travelling – perhaps things have changed and you can travel with more now under the scheme. Let us know what you find out!

  9. Aline roberts says:

    At last somewhere to get info on travelling with your dogs. Thank you anyway we usually go ferry but your info on the tunnel might change my mind this time ..except you said there is no checks on uk side for the dogs is this correct ?

    • Editor says:

      No checks on the UK side in our experience of our now numerous crossings. That’s not to say that there wouldn’t be the chance of a spot check. The important stuff happens on the French side before re-entry into the UK.

  10. elle says:

    HI i am gettinga 8 week old puppy from the uk and need to cross the boarder into france using the eurotunnel. my pup has not had his rabies vacinnation but has had all his other shots! can i cross into france at this point? do they check your pet passports when getting on or of the train?

    • Editor says:

      I’m not sure I understand. Having your pet vaccinated against rabies is the LAW on mainland europe. This is because rabies exists in some parts of europe among wildlife and there are no borders for wildlife. You would not only be breaking the law by moving your dog to mainland europe without rabies vaccination, you would be irresponsible to the highest degree. And behaviour such as yours could put the whole pet passport scheme at risk.

      • Eve says:

        Puppies have to be 12 weeks old to be rabies vaccinated. UK is a rabie free zone so as long as you adhere to your country’s rabies requirements once puppy is home it should be OK.

  11. Tricia Gatesman says:

    I am interested in travelling to France with my small dog but not by car. I noticed someone said about getting a taxi across. Is this the only way to do it if you don’t want to drive? Is there any way of sharing the taxi with other travellers as it is very expensive?

    • Editor says:

      I think P&O might allow foot passengers to take pets on in carry containers but they then need to leave the pet on a secure deck during the crossing. You should contact P&O to see if this is correct. If you do an internet search you will find several companies offering to take foot people and their pets across via eurotunnel. :)

  12. Nayna Shetty says:

    Thanks so much for all this priceless information. It’s such a great thing to share views and help fellow travellers.
    Please can someone help me with an answer to this – I’m planning on taking my 11 year old labrador to France this year..preferably around summer.I live in London so the closest channel crossing for me is Dover – Calais. The cold atlantic won’t be suitable for my dog as I’ve already tried British beaches and he doesn’t enjoy the cold rough sea. Sadly, based on my reading I found that it takes over 11 hours to drive to places like Cote ‘d Azur on the Mediterannean side(even worse..I’m the only driver in the family my husband doesn’t drive). Can someone please suggest a suitable seaside town with dog-friendly (warm water) beaches which would be good but not-too-far from Calais?

    Thanks in advance.

    • Editor says:

      Generally the beaches on the French coast west from Calais are plentiful, big and sandy. Lots of nice resorts to choose from. They tend to be gently shelving which makes the water feel warmer. But it is still the English Channel and if you want very warm seas you do need to travel to the Med. :-)

  13. Nayna Shetty says:

    Hello again,
    As my first ever journey abroad with my dog is getting closer, I’m getting paranoid so have a few more questions. I’ll be grateful if someone can help on these -
    1.http://freespace.virgin.net/passports.forpets/Vets%20in%20Europe.htm – the link given on your website has only one vet in Paris. Does anyone have a few more names so that we don’t risk it to having just one name at hand?
    2.I don’t have a container/cage fitted in my car since the car is a hatchback. My dog is used to sitting in the back passenger seats with no harness on. Can you please confirm that this will be allowed on the ferry as well as throughout france? I searched through the P&O ferries website but couldn’t find an answer.
    3.I came across this on the DEFRA website and wanted to make sure if there’s really any requirement to get this sort of vet statement- Before you bring your pet into the UK you should check with the transport company if they need this veterinary statement, and if so, what form which it should take. The veterinary statement may be provided either by:

    Completion of section IX of the EU pet passport by a veterinarian confirming that ‘the animal is in good health and able to withstand carriage to its destination’ or
    a private statement from a veterinarian stating that: ‘On [date], I examined the animal described in EU Pet Passport/third country official veterinary certificate numbered [enter serial number] and found it to be free from clinical signs of infectious or contagious disease, including external parasites, and in my opinion, is fit to travel’

    Thanks in advance once again.

  14. Anne Pusey says:

    Very helpful reading – thanks all.
    Could anyone tell me if there is an excersise area for dogs in both Folkestone and Calais? Are they easy to spot?

    • Editor says:

      There’s an exercise area at both ends at Eurotunnel – at the side of the main car park at the Folkestone end, at the Pet Control Centre at the Calais end.

  15. Andonella says:

    Hi, I’m also looking to see if my dog needs to travel in a cage or if we need a guard (in a BMW x5). Can’t see if anyone has answered this above. Can you help please?

    • Editor says:

      I’m almost certain that dogs need to be restrained when in vehicles in Spain. Not a requirement in France.

  16. Ciara says:

    Hi,

    I am trying to find a way to get my dog into London from either Germany or Paris. Last time I took her I had to try and find a ride from Calais to Dover because she needs to be in a car on the ferry. Is there no other way, any other train from Paris to London that is dog friendly? I am desperate.

  17. Andonella says:

    Thank you. Via the PDSA site (very helpful), I found details to get onto .gov.uk site and they also have a helpline. You don’t need a cage or guard, legally, just a lead. However, we have bought a mesh guard, which should be useful without taking up too much space.
    thanks for the help – useful site!

  18. Ladislav says:

    Hi,

    It’s been mentioned few times already, but still concerned. We are travelling from UK to Slovakia and our dog is vaccinated but only 19 days prior to travel we move for later as we are just sharing a ride. Why is that, that if UK is free from rabies we still need it on leaving UK? It doesn’t make any sense to me. That’s why I wonder if there are still no checks upon leaving UK via tunnel. Any help appreciated.

    • Editor says:

      Hi. Check out our FAQ page for help. The 21 day rule is pan-European so technically covers entry to France as well as every other country. However we have never seen anyone checking on our way out to France.

    • Ava Plaint says:

      An unprotected dog could pick it up from wildlife when he/she gets there.
      The rules may seem inelegant but they are for everyone’s protection.
      If that are unsatisfactory take it up with your MP.
      Transgression isn’t recommended.

  19. Sly says:

    Hi, can someone tell me what sort of vet treatment my dog should receive before entering France? Mine has only “rabies” vaccination. What else I need to do? Please answer

  20. Candice says:

    Hi!
    I have a very anxious minature Maltese (he only weighs 1.3kg). We have booked flights London/Paris/Nice on Air France and have been assured he can be taken in the cabin with us from London to Nice. On the way back same thing apart from the Paris/London leg where it is not allowed. He is too anxious to go in the hold so we will look to travel via the taxi service.

    I just wanted to check this sounds reasonable as I can’t understand the logic in them allowing a small animal to be in the cabin leaving the UK on the same airline as it is returning but it is not allowed on the return journey?

    Many thanks

    • Jeannette says:

      that’s is correct, no animals are allowed in cabin to UK except for Service Registered Animals coming from the USA. :(

  21. Ian Moran says:

    Hi
    Any problems we can take by road for you we travel from Uk through France to Spain every Month visit pawstransportuk on Facebook for more comments and travel time updates please note whoever you use make sure they are registered with Defra Animal Welfare
    Ian and Nicola Moran

  22. Scott and Sue says:

    Can anyone recommend a dog sitting business for our cocker spaniel on occasional day trips away. We are caravaning at La Manga site in Murcia for 3 months from October

  23. Siobhan says:

    Going to try taking our three dogs to France by ferry. Too far to drive to our destination from Calais.
    A muzzle is compulsory. Why? When do the dogs have to wear one?

  24. Maureen wood says:

    I think it’s a cheek to charge for dog either way, I can take a car full of passengers at no extra cost but have to pay for my dogs, I always use the train as I won’t muzzle or remove my dogs from my van, I’d like to know why they charge for them in the first place!!!!

  25. vilte says:

    Hello I want to take both of my akitas to a different country through the euro shuttle. they both have been chipped and have passport but they havent been vaccinated from the rabies and its too late to get the vaccination now as i am leavin the uk on the 6th of july.
    so i wanted to ask if i can still go past with my dogs or will they take them away as they havent got the rabies vaccination.

  26. dorothy barton says:

    hi can anyone tell me if I have to put my dog in a cage while travelling to spain or can I just clip her harness into the seat belt thanks

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