Dog Travel Blog

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

Preparations before leaving (2009)


Please be aware that these are procedures that we went through pre the new 2012 rules.  This section is now just for historic record as far as the pet passport is concerned!  However, there is information below relating to Scalibor collars so do read on … it’s still relevant and important!  To read about the new 2012 rules, click here.

We knew that we wanted to travel in May 09 so in September 08 we had the dogs vaccinated against rabies. They need to be chipped, vaccinated and then a blood sample taken to check the rabies antibodies exist in the body after the vaccination. The receipt of a successful blood sample is the key date because you can go abroad at any point after that time but you cannot return to the UK until six months after that date. The whole shebang cost around £160 per dog and a passport is issued by the vet which you must NOT lose! You’ll need it for your dog to regain entry into the UK. Between 48 and 24 hours before you return to the UK you must see a vet for worming and flea treatment. Go to the Defra website or phone them – they’re helpful and will give you guidance if you’re worrying about the process.

One week before leaving, the dogs started wearing Scalibor collars because we knew we were heading to the South of France. You can get these from your vet (prescription only). They need to wear them before you leave as they work at their maximum after one week. These collars will help protect against the dreaded Sandfly (which carries leishmaniasis – a very sorry disease which could seriously harm your dog). These Sandflies are mosquitos and do not live in the sand! They are everywhere in warm Europe and your dog will need protection. We also Frontlined against ticks and fleas before going and wormed using Milbemax against worms, including Heartworm (another thing you don’t want your dog getting but which does exist in France and other parts of Europe). We were also advised to worm them again after a week of being in France. But don’t forget that your dog will have another dose of worming and flea treatment when you see the vet before coming back into the UK.

Don’t forget, also, that you need to keep the rables innoculation up. If you let the innoculation lapse, you will have to start the Pet Passport process all over again. And, at the price we had to pay for each dog’s passport ….. no way will I let that happen!

Indeed, the vet in France had a few sorry tales to tell. She told us that on numerous occasions, she’d come across two problems. Firstly that people forget that you have to wait a full six months after you receive the positive test result from the rabies vaccination before you can return to the UK with your dog. Some people had travelled to France with their dogs just weeks after taking the test and discovered that they couldn’t return to the UK because the six months hadn’t elapsed. Secondly, a number of people had let the rabies vaccination expire. The whole pet passport process has to start all over again, but this time from France – this means that these people were looking at eight months (including all the vaccination and testing time plus the six months) before getting their dog back to the UK. The vet told us that it breaks her heart when this happens – there is much crying on the part of the British people when they realise the mistake. Don’t let this happen to you and your dog. Don’t let that vaccination expire.

So in summary, if you read anything read this – there are three important things to remember:

Important thing number one: You can take your pet abroad the very next day after receiving the positive blood result from the rabies test BUT you will not be able to return to the UK for SIX MONTHS. After the six months are up, you can come and go as you please.

Important thing number two: You MUST visit the vet in France (or wherever you’re departing from) between 48 and 24 hours before your departure to the UK. This is non negotiable. Don’t cut it fine – if your ferry/tunnel crossing is delayed you will face problems. Don’t forget that most vets will be closed on Sundays and have limited opening hours on Saturdays so bear that in mind when booking your return crossing.

Important thing number three: Do not, do not, DO NOT let that rabies vaccination expire and, for heaven’s sake, don’t let it expire while you’re abroad. The whole process has to start all over again – if you’re in the UK it will be more expense and testing time plus another six months of waiting time. If you’re abroad, it will be six weeks of vaccination and testing time plus six months of waiting to get your pet back to the UK. That’s a long time for your canine friend to spend in kennels.

Remember these three things and you’ll be ok!

posted under | 12 Comments »

12 Responses to “Preparations before leaving (2009)”

  1. sophia says:


    i want to go to france like you did and take my mini yorkie with me but the whole process is abit daunghting, i dont get the whole 6 month wait, and could you just explain the whole process realy simpley for my please, i no 1st i need to get her chipped, 2nd vaccined, and blood tested then apply for her certificate, im just having trouble understanding it all, i’d be realy greatful if you could help,

    thanks sophia.

  2. vicky says:

    Hi I get the first bit. chipped, tested, vaccinated, passport. I also get the six months, and i get the 24 – 48 hours bit. But once you have followed these rules right first time round. Do you need to do the vet bit before returning to uk everytime and the yearly vacsination. or can you just come and go as you please but just make sure the are up to date on the vacine.

  3. Ylande Evison says:

    Just to make everyone aware, the pet passport rules are changing from 1 Jan 2012. You will no longer have to have a blood test after the rabies vaccination and you only have to wait 21 days after the vaccination to enter the UK. They are also changing the vet treatment rules, but these are yet to be confirmed. Info here:

    We’ve been visiting France & Spain with our dog since 2002 & would thoroughly recommend it to everyone.

  4. Mona-Lisa says:

    I want to take my dog to Italy for Christmas and I’m confused about the blood test, if I return after the 1st Jan 2012 do I still have to wait for the 6 months before re-entering the UK?

  5. roxanne symes says:

    Hi,i am looking to move to france in struggling to see how long it take for a passport to go over.if you have any help i would be very greatfull

  6. JD says:

    Am travelling to France with 2 dogs in the next couple of weeks. Travelling to a place just a little SE of Bordeaux and will be there for up to a month. Do you know of anything special I need to worry about – will get them sorted for flea, tick and lungworm. Not sure whether to get one of those scaribor collars. First time abroad with dogs so grateful for any advice

    • Editor says:

      The scalibor collars are really for the hot months in France to protect against the sand flies. You might want to be watchful for processionary caterpillars though which can be a problem in the pine forests. Have a wonderful time …. we’re pretty envious!

      • Lynda Plant-Wells says:

        I was just looking at a Dog Forums site and there were several adverse comments re the Scalibor collars being fairly toxic with a lot of contra-indications. People say they come off too easily, smell terrible and are poisonous if chewed. It sounds as if the chemicals used are rather strong. Advantix is suggested as a good alternative and a bit safer.

      • Editor says:

        The forum is a US forum and the scalibor collars for the US protect against different diseases and have a higher levels of chemicals. My dogs wear scalibor collars for France for at least 4 months per year. The collars are odourless, fit well and stay on a slender greyhound neck and the dogs have never experienced side effects. But it’s worth considering that there is no 100% protection against leishmaniasis.

  7. trevor Murphy says:

    Hello,Owing to conflicting stories I would like to clarify the process for taking my Airdale abroad.Probably france and spain initially from the uk.As I understand it I will have to,
    1. Obtain a passport from my vets as well as having annual jabs he will have one for rabies.He is already chipped.
    2.Following the rabies jab I will get confirmation that the jab has worked allowing me to travel. However I would not be able to bring my dog back to the uk for 6 months from the date of the injection working.
    3.Scalibor collars are recommended if travelling in france because of insects which can harm dogs and these should be worn prior to travelling to be effective.
    4.Who do you have to declare that you are taking a dog with you too and can the dog travel say on a ferry with you and does the dog have to be in a dog crate.
    5.What is the process on arriving at the docks for getting through passport control.
    6.Are there lists of vets which provide the service required for bringing the dog back with you to uk. ie in france.
    7.It appears that it is advisable to wait six months before travelling so that you can returm with your dogand am I right in thinking that you simply need to keep rabies jab up to date and the dog passport is for life.
    I appreciate Im asking for a virtual idiots guide to travelling with my dog but there seems so many variations in advice.Some one taking the time to sequentially answer my questions and concerns are very much appreciated.

    • Editor says:

      I think you are getting confused between the old rules pre 2012 and the new rules in place since 2012. If you go to our home page and click on New DEFRA Pet Passport Travel Rules from 2012, you will find all the answers to your questions. Similarly, our FAQ link will help you.

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