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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

SCHOOLS

‘Section internationales’: How do France’s bilingual secondary schools work?

For foreign parents in France looking at secondary school options for their children one option to consider is the bilingual 'international sections' in certain state schools. But how do they work?

'Section internationales': How do France's bilingual secondary schools work?

What is an ‘international section’

Essentially international sections in French secondary schools allow students to learn a modern foreign language, such as English or German in much more depth than a standard state secondary. These sections also facilitate the integration of foreign students into the French school system.

There are about 200 ‘International’ establishments (primary schools, colleges and high schools) around France offering international sections in 16 languages.

Most are state run, so for many foreign families they are a much cheaper alternative to private schools, though it should be noted that some of the international sections are fee-paying.

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Even state establishments can charge for enrolment into their international sections. Fees are usually in the region of €1,000 to €2,000 per year (although that’s still cheap compared to somewhere like the American school of Paris which charges between €20,000 and €35,000 a year)

American and British sections are particularly popular – and, as a result are usually the most expensive, while less-popular German sections are less costly. 

Why do they exist?

These sections are ideal for the children of immigrant families, as well as those where one parent is of foreign origin. Syllabuses are set up and developed by French educational authorities and those of the partner country.

In addition to lessons dedicated to modern languages, students benefit from lessons in another subject given in a foreign language. The international sections promote the discovery of the culture and civilisation of the countries associated with the section.

Top tips for raising a bilingual child in France

What languages are available?

According to the government website, 19 languages are available. But that’s not strictly accurate as it then lists American, British and Australian as separate ‘languages’, along with Portuguese and Brazilian. It’s more accurate to say these establishments offer education in 16 languages.

It’s more accurate to say that there are 19 “sections”, dedicated to learning with a linguistic and cultural education slant in favour of the following nations/languages:

American, Arabic, Australian, Brazilian, Chinese, Danish, Dutch, English, Franco-Moroccan, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Spanish, Swedish, Russian.

In total, there are two Australian schools, 20 American ones, over 50 British schools – most in Paris and the Ile-de-France (Versailles is very popular)

So, what’s studied – and what qualifications do you get?

As well as usual collège-level classes in core subjects, such as maths, history and the sciences, students have four hours of classes in the language, including literary studies, of their choice.

From troisième (age 14), an additional two hours of classes per week cover that country’s history and geography and moral and civic education – the latter is replaced by maths for those studying in Chinese sections.

They can obtain the diplôme national du brevet with the mention “série collège, option internationale”. The dedicated brevet includes two specific tests: history-geography and foreign language.

At lycée, students study four hours of foreign literature per week, as well as two hours of history-geography in the language of the section (maths for the Chinese section) as well as two hours of French as they study towards an OIB (option internationale du bac), often at the same time as a standard French bac.

How to enrol

The first step is to contact the collège you wish your child to attend. This should take place no later than January before the September rentree you want your child to go to the collège.

If you live in France, and your child is attending an école primaire or élémentaire, you should do this in the January of the year they would move up to collège.

Be aware, that some schools require potential students to pass a language test – written and oral – before they can enter an international section. A child wishing to enter sixth grade must be able to read books of the level of Harry Potter in English, to enter the international school of Sèvres’ British section, while another has said that only 20 percent of candidates achieve the grade that would allow them entry into an international section.

Find a school

You will find sections internationales de collège at educational academies across the country. For a full list, with contact details, click here.

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