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What you need to know about travelling between the UK and France with your dog

Pets are part of the family and whether they're joining you as you embark on a new life in France or you travel back and forth a fair amount, it's important to know the rules for travelling with your beloved dog, cat (or ferret).

What you need to know about travelling between the UK and France with your dog
Photo: damedeeso/Depositphotos

Travelling in and out of France with pets can be stressful if you haven't got to grips with the rules. 

Read on to find out more about the regulations that govern travelling between France and the UK with your pet dog, cat and – for the eccentrics out there – pet ferret.

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A family arrive with their pet dog at Folkstone through the Channel Tunnel on 28 February 2000 on the first day of the pet passport scheme. Photo: AFP

There are some basic rules you have to follow before your furry friend can come on holiday with you to France and if you don't you're both in for a pretty miserable time of it. 
 
To travel with your pet dog, cat or ferret between the UK from France it must be microchipped, have a pet passport and have been vaccinated against rabies. 
 
Your pet is free to travel 21 days after the rabies injection. 
 
On top of that dogs have to have a tapeworm treatment before travelling into the UK from France, and a vet must record the treatment in the pet passport before the trip.
 
The treatment must have been given no less than 24 hours and no more than 120 hours (5 days) before you enter the UK. You can read more about the treatment here.
 
If you don't follow these rules your pet could be put into quarantine for up to four months or they might be refused entry if you travelled by sea, and you will be held responsible for any fees or charges.
 
So, if you don't want to see little Rover or Fluffy stuck behind bars for a few months, make sure you get organised before heading off on your travels together. 
 
It's also important to remember that your pet must arrive in the UK within five days of your own arrival (either before or after) and if this isn't possible there's a different set of rules you have to follow. Find them here.
 
Photo: AFP
 
You will also need to travel using an “authorised carrier and an approved route”, which by sea includes Brittany Ferries, as well as most of the other big ferry companies and Eurotunnel Le Shuttle also allows you to transport your pets. 
 
The full list of sea and rail companies that allows pets is available here and if you're someone who prefers air travel, you can check the list of airlines that carry animals here
 
Most companies have their own rules and regulations for transporting a pet – for example some airlines demand that they are checked within five days of the flight to ensure that they are fit and healthy – so be sure to check these out well in advance of travel. 
 
If you are not accompanying your pet, you need to sign a “declaration of owner not accompanying pet during its journey” form (available here). 
 
As a final note, it's likely Brexit is likely to change how the system works. 
 
Back in September, a warning notice about the impact a no-deal Brexit will have on the lives of British citizens (and their dogs) concerned holidaymakers who want to take their pets to France.
 
The British government warned that holidaymakers who want to take their pets on a trip to France and other EU countries will have to start preparing months in advance if there's no amicable divorce settlement between London and Brussels.
 
The paper warned that the current EU Pet Passport program which allows owners to take dogs, cats and ferrets to another EU country as long as it has a microchip and a rabies vaccination would end.
 
Watch this space for more information on the impact Brexit will have on travelling between France and the UK with a pet. 
 
When it comes to travelling between the USA and France with a pet, the rules are, unsurprisingly, a bit more complicated. 
 
You can find out the regulations on the United States Department of Agriculture page for pet travel here
 
Photo: belchonock/ Depositphotos
 
Tips for travelling long distances with a pet 
 
Of course it's not just important to get your beloved pet to its destination but to make sure they feel safe and comfortable while they are travelling. 
 
If you need advice on how to do this, the RSPCA has recommendations for how to maximise your pet’s wellbeing while travelling, which can be found here.
 
We also asked our readers who have experience of transporting pets to and from France from the UK for their advice on the matter. 
 
One reader said: “We travel to the south of France two or three times a year from Scotland to our house near Beziers, we spread the journey over two to three days, depending on the weather and traffic.
 
“We like to stop (for tea/ coffee and a comfort break) at the same rest areas and allow a good hour at the Eurotunnel doggy area for our dog Brodie to stretch his legs.
 
“I guess we are really spoiled that our dog is a good traveller (il parle bien le Francais aussi).”
 
Meanwhile a cat owner advised caution when it comes to taking your mog on a ferry. 
 
“Be cautious when traveling by ferry with a cat. I brought my girl over in July and ordered a pet friendly cabin only to realise that the area was filled with dogs who barked and  everywhere, obviously quite upsetting for her and as they were often very loosely leashed I was terrified for her safety when getting off as you leave your cabin before docking and line up in a corridor filled with overly excited canines.” 
 
She recommended Feliway sprays, which are designed to reduce anxiety and stress for your cat. 

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READER INSIGHTS

‘Painful’ – is Paris Charles de Gaulle airport really that bad?

Following a survey that said Paris Charles de Gaulle airport was the best in Europe, we asked Local readers what they thought...

'Painful' - is Paris Charles de Gaulle airport really that bad?

Recently, Paris Charles de Gaulle was voted the best airport in Europe by passengers.

The 2022 World Airport Awards, based on customer satisfaction surveys between September 2021 and May 2022, listed the best airport on the planet as Doha, while Paris’s main airport came in at number 6 – the highest entry for a European airport – one place above Munich. 

READ ALSO Paris Charles de Gaulle voted best airport in Europe by passengers

Given CDG’s long-standing reputation doesn’t quite match what the World Airport Awards survey said – in 2009 it was rated the second-worst airport in the world, while in 2011 US site CNN judged it “the most hated airport in the world” – we wondered how accurate the survey could be.

So we asked readers of The Local for their opinion on their experience of Europe’s ‘best’ airport. 

Contrary to the World Airport Awards study, users erred towards the negative about the airport. A total 30.8 percent of Local readers – who had travelled through the airport in recent months – thought it was ‘terrible’, while another 33.3 percent agreed that it was ‘not great’ and had ‘some problems’.

But in total 12.8 percent of those who responded to our survey thought the airport was ‘brilliant’, and another 23.1 percent thought it ‘fine’, with ‘no major problems’.

So what are the problems with it?

Signage 

One respondent asked a simple – and obvious – question: “Why are there so many terminal twos?”

Barney Lehrer added: “They should change the terminal number system.”

In fact, signage and directions – not to mention the sheer size of the place – were common complaints, as were onward travel options. 

Christine Charaudeau told us: “The signage is terrible. I’ve often followed signs that led to nowhere. Thankfully, I speak French and am familiar with the airport but for first time travellers … yikes!”

Edwin Walley added that it was, “impossible to get from point A to point B,”  as he described the logistics at the airport as the “worst in the world”.

And James Patterson had a piece of advice taken from another airport. “The signage could be better – they could take a cue from Heathrow in that regard.”

Anthony Schofield said: “Arriving by car/taxi is painful due to congestion and the walk from the skytrain to baggage claim seems interminable.”

Border control

Border control, too, was a cause for complaint. “The wait at the frontière is shameful,” Linda, who preferred to use just her first name, told us. “I waited one and a half hours standing, with a lot of old people.”

Sharon Dubble agreed. She wrote: “The wait time to navigate passport control and customs is abysmal!”

Deborah Mur, too, bemoaned the issue of, “the long, long wait to pass border control in Terminal E, especially at 6am after an overnight flight.”

Beth Van Hulst, meanwhile, pulled no punches with her estimation of border staff and the airport in general. “[It] takes forever to go through immigration, and staff deserve their grumpy reputation. Also, queuing is very unclear and people get blocked because the airport layout is not well designed.”

Jeff VanderWolk highlighted the, “inadequate staffing of immigration counters and security checkpoints”, while Karel Prinsloo had no time for the brusque attitudes among security and border personnel. “Officers at customs are so rude. I once confronted the commander about their terrible behaviour.  His response said it all: ‘We are not here to be nice’. Also the security personnel.”

Connections

One of the most-complained-about aspects is one that is not actually within the airport’s control – public transport connections.  

Mahesh Chaturvedula was just one of those to wonder about integrated travel systems in France, noting problems with the reliability of onward RER rail services, and access to the RER network from the terminal.

The airport is connected to the city via RER B, one of the capital’s notoriously slow and crowded suburban trains. Although there are plans to create a new high-speed service to the airport, this now won’t begin until after the 2024 Olympics.

Sekhar also called for, “more frequent trains from SNCF to different cities across France with respect to the international flight schedules.”

The good news

But it wasn’t all bad news for the airport, 35 percent of survey respondents said the airport had more positives than negatives, while a Twitter poll of local readers came out in favour of Charles de Gaulle.

Conceding that the airport is “too spread out”, Jim Lockard said it, “generally operates well; [and has] decent amenities for food and shopping”.

Declan Murphy was one of a number of respondents to praise the, “good services and hotels in terminals”, while Dean Millar – who last passed through Charles de Gaulle in October – said the, “signage is very good. [It is] easy to find my way around”.

He added: “Considering the size (very large) [of the airport] it is very well done.  So no complaints at all.”

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