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BREXIT

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The EU says: “From January 1st 2021, EU pet passports issued to a pet owner resident in Great Britain are no longer valid for travel with pets from Great Britain to an EU country or Northern Ireland.”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

BREXIT

French government clarifies post-Brexit rules on pets for second-home owners

Brexit hasn't just brought about changes in passport rules for humans, pets are also affected and now the French government has laid out the rules for pet passports for British second-home owners.

French government clarifies post-Brexit rules on pets for second-home owners

Pre-Brexit, people travelling between France and the UK could obtain an EU Pet Passport for their car, dog or ferret which ensured a hassle-free transport experience.

But since the UK left the EU things have become more complicated – and a lot more expensive – for UK residents wanting to travel to France with pets.

You can find a full breakdown of the new rules HERE, but the main difference for people living in the UK is that that they now need an Animal Health Certificate for travel.

Unlike the Pet Passport, a new ACH is required for each trip and vets charge around £100 (€118) for the certificate. So for people making multiple trips a year, especially those who have more than one pet, the charges can quickly mount up.

UK nationals who live in France can still benefit from the EU Pet Passport, but until now the situation for second-home owners has been a little unclear.

However the French Agriculture ministry has now published updated information on its website.

The rules state: “The veterinarian can only issue a French passport to an animal holding a UK/EU passport issued before January 1st, 2021, after verifying that the animal’s identification number has been registered in the Fichier national d’identification des carnivores domestiques (I-CAD).”

I-CAD is the national database that all residents of France must register their pets in – find full details HERE.

The ministry’s advice continues: “If not registered, the veterinarian may proceed to register the animal in I-CAD, if the animal’s stay in France is longer than 3 consecutive months, in accordance with Article 22 of the AM of August 1st, 2012 on the identification of domestic carnivores.”

So if you are staying in France for longer than 90 days (which usually requires a visa for humans) your pet can be registered and get a Pet Passport, but those staying less than three months at a time will have to continue to use the AHC.

The confusion had arisen for second-home owners because previously some vets had been happy to issue the Passport using proof of a French address, such as utility bills. The Ministry’s ruling, however, makes it clear that this is not allowed.

So here’s a full breakdown of the rules;

Living in France

If you are living in France full time your pet is entitled to an EU Pet Passport regardless of your nationality (which means your pet has more travel rights than you do. Although they probably still rely on you to drive the car/book the ferry tickets).

Your cat, dog or ferret must be fully up to date with their vaccinations and must be registered in the national pet database I-CAD (full details here).

Once issued, the EU Pet Passport is valid for the length of the animal’s life, although you must be sure to keep up with their rabies vaccinations. Vets in France usually charge between €50-€100 for a consultation and completing the Passport paperwork.

Living in the UK

If you are living in the UK and travelling to France (or the rest of the EU) you will need an Animal Health Certificate for your cat, dog or ferret.

The vaccination requirements are the same as for the EU Pet Passport, but an ACH is valid for only 10 days after issue for entry to the EU (and then for four months for onward travel within the EU).

So if you’re making multiple trips in a year you will need a new certificate each time.

UK vets charge around £100 (€118) for a certificate, although prices vary between practices. Veterinary associations in the UK are also warning of delays in issuing certificates as many people begin travelling again after the pandemic (often with new pets bought during lockdown), so you will need to book in advance. 

Second-home owners

Although previously some French vets had been happy to issue certificates with only proof of an address in France, 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.

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