So you’ve decided to move to France, but it’s not just your human family who’s coming, it’s your furry, scaly or feathered (or hooved, pawed or clawed) family too! You’ll need the answers to plenty of pet questions!

Let’s give you a helping hand with the basics:

Does my pet need to be micro-chipped?

Yes, your animal does need to be microchipped, but here is something I bet you didn’t know – your pet must be microchipped with an ISO 11784/11785 pet microchip that has a 15 digit, non-encrypted number. If your pet’s microchip is not ISO compliant, you have to travel with your own microchip scanner!

Will a tattoo suffice?

If you can prove the tattoo was performed before 3 July 2011, it is considered an acceptable form of identification. It also needs to be clearly visible and you should provide evidence that your pet’s current rabies vaccination was administered after the tattoo was applied.

What are the requirements in terms of vaccinations and other medical treatments before bringing a cat or dog into France?

Dogs, cats and indeed, everyone’s favorite household pet, ferrets (!) need a rabies vaccination and a blood titer test. Dogs also need a distemper vaccination. You’ll need to time your pet’s vaccinations carefully around your travel dates, as the ‘jabs’ need to be administered within strict time-frames before leaving home and arriving at your new ‘nest’, so make your vet appointment and add it onto your Final Things To Do list.

What is a pet passport?

A pet passport is another term for the paperwork record you get once your pet is correctly vaccinated and treated for travel. If you are coming from a member country of “PETS” (Pet Travel Scheme – see what they did there?), you can apply for a pet passport and avoid any quarantine regulations in the country your pet is travelling to. And no, your pet does not need a non-smiling, perfectly-centered, face-unobstructed-by-hairy-floppy-ears passport photo, thank goodness!

Can I bring my puppy or kitten to France?

Unvaccinated puppies, kittens and ferrets are not permitted to enter France from any country or EU Member State. Rabies vaccinations must not be administered prior to 12 weeks of age and there is a 21 day wait for puppies and kittens arriving from EU Member States or rabies-controlled countries.

Can I bring a horse to France?

I’m itching to say “Neigh” here but actually it’s a “Yes, of course”! You’ll need to use its stud book to get the passport, then once in France follow a few official steps depending on the breed and intended use of the horse (breeding, racing etc). This is to register with, and eventually allow identification by, SIRE (the Système d’Information Relatif aux Equidés – the Equestrian Information System – another clever acronym, non?).

Flying with pets – what should I know?

Apparently it’s easier to travel with animals than children! So firstly, you’ll need to check which airlines on your flying route accept animals. They will tell you whether your pet can travel in the hold or in the cabin with you, and at what cost. You MAY be obliged to purchase a particular size or brand of pet-carrier (which fits under your seat).

You should note also that there are specific entry points in France that are the only ones you can fly a pet into from outside the EU – Paris, Reunion (French Territories), Marseille, Nice, Lyon and Toulouse. If you are flying into a neighboring country, and then coming to France by land, check customs procedures for animals for BOTH countries. If you are taking more than one flight, check every step/airline for their animal rules and regs. Clearly label your pet carrier and pet. And lastly, if you have a nervous pet, think about getting a vet to prescribe some medication to calm them. Dose ‘em up, make ‘em comfy and they’ll be flying high in more ways than one!

Do I need pet insurance for travel and/or when I arrive in France?

It’s a great idea to be covered. Some insurers include pet travel insurance as part of your policy, others do not so you’ll need to add it for travelling…Especially if you are traveling with a non-sedated Ninja cat.

Once in France you can take out insurance to cover medical costs for your pet, if you choose. A simple veterinary visit costs around 30€ and vaccinations range from 50-80€.

Is there any quarantine time upon arrival in France?

Although there is generally no quarantine in France (thanks to the pet passport system), note that birds should be quarantined for 30 days prior to leaving your home country.

Does France welcome all races of dogs?

You may import certain large breeds (Rottweiler, Pitbull, etc.) to France as guard dogs, as long as they have pedigree papers. Crossbreeds are not permitted. You must: have insurance to protect against liability, register them with the local town council upon arrival, and ensure they’re leashed and muzzled when in public.

Oh, go on then, what about the rest of the animal kingdom?

Birds: All birds entering France from other EU countries and rabies-controlled countries need a health certificate. Birds entering France from rabies-controlled countries need to meet the following additional requirements: your bird must be quarantined in an approved facility for 30 days prior to transport. You must enter France with 5 birds or fewer with no intention to sell, rehome or transfer ownership in any way. These birds must be YOUR birds! Your bird must be vaccinated against avian influenza H5 at least 60 days before importation and have tested negative for H5N1 PCR.
Not birds (!): Invertebrates, tropical fish, reptiles, amphibians and mammals such as rodents and rabbits do not require a rabies vaccination but may have other requirements and should have a health certificate. Mammals will need parasite treatment prior to entering France.

What if I own something really weird and wonderful?

This is where the ‘CITES’ – Endangered Species Convention – comes into play. If your pet is NOT a dog, cat or beloved ferret, and especially if it IS a turtle or parrot, you should verify that it is not protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES – although I actually make that COITIESOWFAF – I think the clever and pertinent acronym ball got dropped here!). You will need to apply for additional permits if this is the case. Over 180 countries participate and enforce CITES regulations.

Coming soon – Renestance’s Pet Information Report, including full details on all of the above.

Nicole Hammond

Nicole is a bilingual Brit from Cambridge who has been living in the Languedoc since 2002 and is one of the first Renestance's Consultants. She knows how to get things done and can find the key contacts, having worked in real estate, managed two businesses of her own, and started a large social group for English-speakers in the area.

All articles by: Nicole Hammond

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