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MOVING TO FRANCE

Paperwork and shots: How to bring a pet to France from the USA

Animal-loving Americans may wonder if they can bring their beloved pets with them when they travel to France - whether to live permanently or to stay for an extended period.

Dog
Your pet will need his or her paperwork in order to travel to France. Photo: Thomas Coex/AFP

The short answer is: Yes, you can.

The longer answer is: Yes, you can – but there’s rules and paperwork. 

Anyone bringing an animal into France from outside the EU faces paperwork and veterinary checks – travel within the Bloc is much simpler thanks to the EU Pet Passport scheme – but the exact rules vary from country to country.

Here are the requirements if you’re bringing an animal from the USA. 

What animals are allowed

First of all there’s the question of what a pet actually is. 

The USDA and EU authorities, including France, define a pet as a privately-owned companion animal not intended for research or resale and includes the following animal groups only: dogs, cats, ferrets, rabbits, rodents, hedgehog/tenrecs, reptiles, amphibians and pet birds (non-poultry). 

If your animal is not one of the types listed above or considered poultry, it does not qualify as a pet, and is subject to different rules

Meanwhile, the following breeds of dog are forbidden for travel into France unless they are registered by the American Kennel Club under special rules: Staffordshire terrier, American Staffordshire terrier (pitbulls), mastiff (boerbulls), rottweilers, and tosa.

The rules

The following requirements are necessary for travel into France with your pet (up to a maximum of five animals per family):

  • The animal must be at least 12 weeks old
  • Your pet must be identified by a microchip (standard ISO 11784 or annex A ISO standard 11785) or a tattoo. In case of identification with a tattoo, the tattoo must be clearly readable and applied before July 2011
  • Your pet must have a valid rabies vaccination. If it is a first vaccination against the virus, you must wait 21 days between the last shot of the vaccination and departure.
  • You must get a health certificate from your veterinarian and endorsed by USDA;
  • The official health certificate will be issued by an USDA accredited veterinarian and endorsed by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS).
  • You can find a State-by-State list of USDA offices here
  • USDA endorsement is required for all certificates except those issued by military veterinarians for dogs, cats and ferrets.

How long is the certificate valid?

The official health certificate will be valid for 10 days, from the date of endorsement until the date of arrival in France – or any EU port of entry. For maritime travel, the 10-day window is extended for a period equal to the duration of the voyage. 

This certificate continues to be valid for the purpose of further movements within the EU for up to four months from its date of issue.

Quarantine 

Pets do not need to be quarantined as long as all entry requirements are met.

The paperwork

The application form required for entry into France with a domestic pet, is available here as a pdf document.

Heading back to America

Remember, too, if your stay in France has a definitive end date, you’ll need to take your pet back to the US from France – and there’s rules and paperwork involved there, too.

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For members

PROPERTY

Garant: How the French guarantor system works for property rental

If you're looking to rent an apartment in a larger city in France, you're likely to see announcements that require a 'garant'. Here is what you need to know about finding a guarantor in France.

Garant: How the French guarantor system works for property rental

Renting in large cities in France – particularly in Paris – is a known challenge for foreigners, especially new arrivals. In the countryside, it’s a bit easier, with less competition properties, but in the big cities compiling your dossier and landing the right place can be a challenge.

One of the biggest surprises for many people is that most landlords ask for a guarantor (garant) in order to sign a lease for an apartment. It is not a legal requirement, but in competitive real estate markets, it certainly feels like one.

Though asking for a garant might feel a bit juvenile, it is quite common, and applies to a lot more people than you might realise. Here is what you need to know:

Who typically needs a guarantor?

The most common group to need guarantors are students. However, if you are a foreigner who is not employed with a CDI (indefinite contract) and if you do not make over three times your monthly rent, you will likely need a guarantor as well.

If you don’t collect your income in France (or if you don’t have an income) you will need a guarantor.

You will also likely need one if you are still in the probationary period of your CDI, or if you cannot show three months worth of pay stubs from your job yet (even if you pay meets the three times a month requirement). If you do have a CDI, you could ask your employer to sign you an attestation d’employeur which verifies your monthly income. 

If your income is not steady or consistent (perhaps you are a freelancer). Typically, if you use an agency during the leasing process, they will require a guarantor, especially if any of these conditions apply to you. 

It is worth noting that showing bank statements typically do not suffice – landlords are looking for proof of ongoing income, not savings.

Who can count as a guarantor?

The guarantor should be a third party, such as a parent or close relative who agrees to pay your rent if you fail to pay.

This person must fulfil all the requirements outlined above (ie earning more than three times your rent with an indefinite contract).

The other tricky part is that this person must work and live in France, and usually it’s best that they are French themselves.

However, this can pose a problem for foreigners who might not know anyone that fits that description, so thankfully there are some other options fill this requirement, like taking out a caution bancaire or using an online agency. We explained the ins-and-outs of these bellow.

What does my guarantor need to show?

The guarantor needs to put together a dossier of documents including;

  • Proof of identification (a passport or French ID card)
  • Proof of residence that is less than three months old (eg utility bills).
  • Most recent tax returns
  • Employment contract and typically three months worth of payslips
  • If they earn money via real estate, they must also provide documentation for this
  • If the person in question is retired, they must provide proof of pension (again, this must exceed your monthly rent threefold). 

So, what if I don’t have a French person who can be my guarantor? There are a few options for you:

Use an online service

There are two main online services that can act as guarantors for foreigners in France.

The first is Visale, which is accessible primarily to foreign students.

This is a programme offered via the French state through “Action Logement” and it covers up to three years of unpaid rent. You must be between 18 and 30 years old to apply, and you must hold a long-stay visa (VLS-TS) – either a student visa or a ‘talent’ one.

For students who are already citizens of a European Union country, then simply presenting a student card and a valid passport will be sufficient. It can be applied to private housing and student residences, but it is ultimately up to the landlord as to whether they will accept a tenant who uses Visale as their guarantor. The main benefit to Visale is that it is free for the user.

Visale does come with some restrictions, however. Your rent (including charges) cannot exceed €1,500 in Paris, and €1,300 in the rest of the country. In addition, the lease must be for a primary residence, and your rent should not exceed 50 percent of your total income.

Another option is GarantMe, a paid online website that can also serve as an official guarantor.

Landlords might actually prefer this service over a physical guarantor who might refuse to pay or for whatever reason not have the funds to do so. The benefit to GarantMe is that they accept a wider range of tenants for their service, but the downside is that there is a fee. The minimum payment (per year) is €150, but the fee is normally 3.5 percent of the annual rent (including charges) and it renews automatically.

The nice thing about GarantMe, is that in order to apply for the service, you basically need to create a full dossier that will be identical to what you’ll need for your apartment search anyways.

Take out a Caution Bancaire

Basically, a caution bancaire is a bank guarantee, and typically its a bit more of a last resort option because it is quite restrictive for the tenant. It involves blocking off a large sum of money to be used to pay rent if you fail to do so.

Depending on the landlord (and the bank), they might ask you to block between six months worth of rent to sometimes up to two years. This would be used as guarantee during the duration of your lease, but it takes a bit of administrative coordination and obviously requires a large sum of liquid funds.

Sometimes activating a bank guarantee can take a few weeks, and for foreigners, of course, this would require already having a French bank account. There can also be fees, depending on the bank, for using a caution bancaire, and simply closing of caution bancaire account in itself can involve fees.

The other downside to this is that not all landlords will accept it, which is why this option might be best served as a last resort.

Attempt to find an apartment that does not require a garant

This is quite difficult in Paris (and other large cities around France). It is possible sometimes if you stick to foreigner-oriented sites like NY Habitat or Paris Attitude. Another possible loophole could be to see if your insurance plan offers coverage of unpaid rent. This is quite uncommon, but could be a possible option. If you rent specifically particulier-à-particulier (meaning you do not use an agency at all) you might be able to negotiate with the landlord, or if you have a sub-lease you might not need to show proof of a guarantor.

Ultimately, however, in most cases when renting in France’s large cities, you’ll likely need a guarantor.

What should I be aware of when it comes to guarantor websites?

As mentioned previously, Visale is only for people in the 18-30 age group, so unfortunately it does not apply to everyone. It is also intended for lower income people or students, so if you are a high earner you might be rejected.

Regarding using a website like GarantMe, beware that they will charge you every year – it is not a one time fee. This will be deducted from the card you put on the site and the only way to cancel the charge will be to show proof that you have moved out (i.e. an état des lieux or letter releasing you from the obligation signed from your landlord)

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