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How To Travel To France With Your Dog

Travelling to France with a dog has become complicated post-Brexit. Read on to discover what you need to know!

In May 2018 Clinical Animal Behaviourist, Rachel Rodgers from Nose to Trail, travelled to France with her dogs Rico and Maisy. Rico who is a rescued street dog from Portugal had an up-to-date pet passport. With a few vet trips for a rabies vaccine, Maisy (his slightly older “sister”) had hers too. Travelling over on the Eurotunnel was quick and easy and as the fur family had the holiday of a lifetime, they planned another trip for 2020.

Rico outside a Champagne house in France in 2018

When Covid Struck!

We all know what happened in March 2020. Sadly the second trip to France got postponed 4 times! Rico and Maisy were fortunately oblivious to all the stress and upset this caused Rachel and her partner. Fast forward to May 2022, restrictions had lifted, and it was time to finally get to head back to beautiful Lake Annecy in the Haute-Savoie.

However, things have changed since the families first trip as Brexit impacted pet travel regulations.

What Do I Need To Organise To Travel With A Dog To France?

When planning on travelling to France with your dogs, it is vitally important that you have all your ducks in a row. Errors in paperwork, missed tablets or mistimed worming treatment can spell disaster. Potentially the end of the holiday before it even begins! 

Fortunately, this story isn’t one of disaster. However, there was a lot of admin for the holiday. If that isn’t for you then perhaps stay UK based with your dogs instead. Areas like Cornwall and the Lake District offer beautiful dog friendly getaways with minimal fuss.

Firstly, they needed to sort Rico’s paperwork. Now this was actually the easiest because Rico was born in Portugal. Therefore he has an EU issued passport which was still valid. This is so long as the rabies vaccinations written in the passport is still in date. A quick check showed that he had until February 2023 on his rabies vaccine, so he was ready for his holidays!

Just a little note: If you have a dog who has an EU passport, but their rabies vaccination has expired, then sadly you can’t just get your local vet in the UK to give your dog their jab and fill the passport in again.

If, however you can get the rabies jab done while you are already abroad in Europe, you can extend the life of your pet’s EU passport and be able to keep using that for as long as the vaccinations remain valid. Have a rabies vaccine done in the UK at least 21 days before you intend to go on holiday. You can then travel out of the country on an AHC (Animal Health Certificate). Vets in Europe can transfer this information into your pet passport. Then you can travel back into the UK using it. Complicated or what?!

What If My Dog Has A UK Passport?

Now Rico’s sister Maisy, was born in England (Preston to be exact) and had a UK issued pet passport. This meant she could not travel to France as these are invalid since Brexit. So, she needed the new AHC paperwork from the vet. Not all vets offer this service so if you’re planning on travelling with your pet you need to check this out in advance. 

Fortunately, Maisy’s vet does offer this service. So, she was booked in for her paperwork to be completed the week of the trip. This again takes some working out as the paperwork must be completed within 10 days of your intended date to leave the UK. Once this has been done the paperwork is valid for up to 4 months for onward travel and one return trip to home. This means that if you’re planning two trips this summer, you require two AHC’s.

AHC costs vary greatly so are something to factor into the cost of your trip. There’s a whole group on Facebook (AHC – Animal Health Certificate U.K. | Facebook) dedicated to AHC. Here, people discuss the range of costs and suggest the cheapest places to get the paperwork done. You can expect to pay anything from £80-£300 for the paperwork with most vets offering a cheaper price for any additional dogs. 

A quick summary of what you need:

  • Your pet must be microchipped
  • Rabies vaccine must be given a minimum 21 days before departure from the UK
  • AHC paperwork completed by your vet within 10 days of travel OR your dog has a valid EU pet passport

Travelling To Dog Friendly France

Once armed with all up to date paperwork the rest of the trip was very similar to 2017. Rachel and her dogs travelled on the Eurotunnel as this meant that the dogs are never left alone. On some ferries you must leave the dogs in the car unattended. Going by tunnel means that you can stay with your dog and enjoy the crossing with them. 

When you arrive at the Eurotunnel you follow the very clearly marked signs for the Pet Check In. Here their documentation is checked. As part of this process, you are given the microchip scanner to show that the dogs with you are the ones listed on the paperwork. 

Navigating The Scanners!

As a behaviourist, Rachel sees a lot of anxious and stressed dogs in her day job. So, she was delighted to see that the staff pass the scanner over to the dog’s carers. This makes the process less stressful for the dogs. If your dog can be worried by things going near their head (you’ll need to scan the shoulder blades), why not practice with some treats and your TV remote at home before you go?

You can watch Maisy and Rico’s short TikTok video of Pet Check In here. 

Once that’s done, you’re free to explore duty free and board the train to France!

And of course, give your dogs that important last toilet break!

A quick trip over gets you to Calais in well under an hour and then your holiday can begin. Rachel will be sharing her favourite dog friendly locations and activities in part 2 of the blog but for now a quick note on return travel to the UK.

What Do I Need To Do Returning From France With A Dog?

At the end of your trip, you need to plan a visit to the vets.

When returning to the UK from certain countries in Europe, including France your dog needs tapeworm treatment. This must be given by a vet and the details entered in the EU passport or AHC between 1-5 days before arrival back into the UK. Please check your travel times correctly. This is arrival back into the UK not the time you leave your departure country. This may mean you need to book a vet appointment near a port.

Again, prices for this treatment vary. Rachel paid 98 euros for two dogs to receive their treatment and health checks at Clinique Vétérinaire du Bout du Lac. The staff spoke English, were gentle and caring with the dogs and took time to really check the dogs over for signs of fleas or ticks. This may have cost more than other people report online but worth every penny!

For more travel articles about dog friendly France and other destinations check out Houndy!


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