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Pet Passports: The post-Brexit travel rules for trips between France and the UK

Brexit has changed a lot of things for human travellers, but the four-legged ones are not immune, with changes to European Pet Passport access meaning a different process for many dogs, cats and ferrets travelling between France and the UK.

Pet Passports: The post-Brexit travel rules for trips between France and the UK
The dog needs to get his papers in order before heading off on holiday. Photo: Ariana Drehsler/AFP

Since the end of the Brexit transition period, the UK is no longer part of the EU-created Pet Passport scheme.

READ ALSO Travel to France: What has changed since Brexit

Here’s what this means if you are travelling with a dog, cat or a ferret:

You live in France

If you live in France and your pet’s passport was issued by your vet in France, then nothing changes.

You can continue to use the French-issued passport on trips to the UK, and to countries within the EU.

If you live in France but are still using a UK-issued Pet Passport, you will need to get your French vet to issue you a new one. In order for this to be issued, your pet must be registered in the I-CAD national register (which is a legal requirement even if you don’t plan on travelling).

You live in the UK

However for people who live in the UK, there are big changes to travel.

The EU says: “From January 1st 2021, EU pet passports issued to a pet owner resident in Great Britain are no longer valid for travel with pets from Great Britain to an EU country or Northern Ireland.”

However the UK has been granted ‘listed’ status by the EU, which means things are not as complicated as they might have been.

Instead of a Pet Passport, dogs, cats and ferrets now need an Animal Health Certificate (AHC) – the big difference between this and the passport is that the AHC is only valid for one trip, so you will need a new certificate in advance of each trip to France.

Vets in the UK have been issuing AHCs since December 2020. To get one you need;

  • Proof of your pet’s microchipping history
  • Your pet’s vaccination record
  • A certificate for a rabies vaccination that was carried out at least 21 days before the date of travel

If the dog wants to travel onwards from France to Spain to watch a bullfight, his AHC will be valid for four months. Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP

The certificate costs an average of £100, although different vets charge different amounts, and obviously if you are travelling with more than one animal you need a certificate for each one.

Once you have the certificate, it is valid for entry to the EU for just 10 days – so your appointment needs to be close to your date of travel. The certificate can only be used for one entry to the EU.

Once you are in France, the certificate is valid for onward travel to other countries within the EU for four months and for re-entry to the UK for four months. If you intend to stay longer than four months in France, you will need to get a new certificate in order to re-enter the UK.

The EU rules state that arrivals from a non-EU country should also have a written declaration that their pet’s relocation is for non-commercial reasons, although this can be in the form of a simple letter. 

Second-home owners

There had previously been some confusion about the situation for second-home owners as some French vets had been happy to issue certificates with only proof of an address in France (eg a utility bill).

However the French government has now clarified the rules on this, requiring that pets be registered within the French domestic registry in order to get an EU Pet Passport.

This can only be done if the pet is staying in France for more than three months. The three months must be consecutive, not over the course of a year.

UK pets’ owners will normally require a visa if they want to stay in France for more than three months at a time (unless they have dual nationality with an EU country) – find full details on the rules for people HERE.

Member comments

  1. Regarding the new AHC for pets. This can get very expensive if you go across regularly, with a couple of dogs (which we do). It is possible/feasible/legal to get a French Pet Passport and use that for travelling back and forth instead of getting an AHC every time??

    1. Hi
      If you have a French address permanent or second home, should not be a problem. We’re resident and our vet here was happy to provide a French pet passport. I know of people with second homes here who have done the same. A lot cheaper €15 than an AHC.
      We’ve been back to the UK with the French pet passport without any problems.

      1. Hi, does the French pet passport work ok alongside the UK one…? Our collie is already chipped in UK…will this affect her ability to be ‘dual passport holder’? Thanks.

        1. Hi, for our first trip back to the UK, I Took both passports having asked our vet to put the worming details in both as a precaution. At Eurotunnel I just showed the French passport, no problem and they didn’t even read the chip. I asked them to confirm that nothing had to be done in the UK before returning to France eg worming which they did.
          Coming back from UK, again no problem with the French passport.
          Hope this helps.

  2. Yes, all dogs in France are supposed to be chipped but ours has a UK chip which wasn’t a problem. The vet copied all the details from our UK passport to the new French one including the chip number.

  3. Hi, interesting reading. We have a second home in Fouqueure and tried to get a French passport for our dog in September when we were here last at our local/regular vet in Mansle but were refused – said they’d had their knuckles rapped for issuing them to Brits who were non-resident (friends of ours, also second home owners had got one there in August). Keen to get one as we’re struggling to get the AHC with so few vets trained to issue and are paying £190 each time. Does anyone know of any vets issuing the French Passport for UK dogs in and around the Charente (happy to travel further afield)? Thanks for any advice in advance, Marcella

  4. OK now I am confused– Is there a difference between a French pet passport and an eu passport. My French vet issued me an EU passport.

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UPDATE: French air traffic controllers cancel strike action in September

The main union representing French air traffic controllers has cancelled calls for a strike from September 28th to 30th, after "reaching an agreement with their supervisory ministry."

UPDATE: French air traffic controllers cancel strike action in September

SNCTA, the main union for air traffic controllers said this week that they had lifted their calls for a three-day strike at the end of September after coming to an agreement with France Ministry of Transport. 

In a statement on its website, the SNCTA said “In view of the concrete progress made on the demands, the SNCTA is lifting its [strike] notice for September 28th, 29th and 30th. The strong mobilisation of September 16th was necessary and instrumental for reaching this conciliation in a very constrained calendar. Thank you to all of you!” 

The French ministry of transport has not yet commented on the above agreement or lifting of the strike.

The International Air Transport Association tweeted their support for the SNCTA’s decision to cancel further industrial action, calling Friday’s strike “unnecessary.”

The association also urged the European Union to implement a “Single European Sky.” This reform, which was put forward almost 20 years ago, has not yet reached fruition. It intends to shift the current system of air traffic organisation away from national borders and toward a “coherent zone” in order to reduce emissions and save both time and money.

The strike on September 16th left over 1,000 flights in France grounded, as well as widespread delays and over 2,400 flight cancellations across Europe. 

The SNCTA mobilised for wage increases due to the rising cost of living, in addition to an acceleration of recruitment in order to anticipate a wave of retirements. After Friday’s action, the union had called for further strikes from September 28th to 30th before reaching an agreement with their supervisory ministry.