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All Creatures Great and Small: Pet Immigration to France

When moving to France, you won’t want to leave your furry or feathered friends behind. Fortunately, expats can bring their pets along from home, and our guide explains the particulars of the pet immigration process in France, from vaccinations to vets.

At a Glance:

  • Regulations differ depending on the type of pet you have and the country your pet is coming from.
  • Every domestic animal imported into France needs to be microchipped and vaccinated for rabies; make sure this is done in the correct sequence.
  • Depending on whether you are moving from in or out of the EU, different rules regarding your pet and its vaccinations apply.
  • It is important to fly your pet into an airport with an International Border Post.

Moving with Your Furry Friend

When bringing pets from abroad through French customs, there are several things to consider. First and foremost, the authorities must be able to identify the pet through a microchip, which should also be documented in the pet’s passport — a certificate will not suffice for entry to France. 

Stay Informed: Pet Passports and Vaccinations

If you are moving your pet to France from within Europe, you will need a pet passport. This document will prove that your pet has had all vaccinations needed to gain entry to France and indicate its medical history. This should include proof of a rabies vaccination which has been inserted after the pet was microchipped. Providing your pet is coming from a country without rabies, the vaccination can take place 21 days before you enter France, if not before. However, pets must have been vaccinated within the last twelve months before the move to France.

If you are moving to France from a country with a high risk of rabies, your pet must be vaccinated before being subject to a 30-day wait to determine the test results. Moreover, this rabies vaccination for high-risk countries must be done within no more than three months prior to your entry to France.

There is a limit of how many animals you may bring into the country and this is currently capped at five. Should you have more than five pets, it is necessary to gain permission from the Ministry of Agriculture.

Adorable Imports: Young Pets

Puppies, kittens and ferrets are not permitted to enter the country from within or outside of the EU until they reach 12 weeks of age, at which point they must be vaccinated. If your pet is not vaccinated, they will not be allowed to enter France. For expats moving from high-rabies countries, the age of your young pet must be at least seven months before you can bring them to France.

Coming from Outside of the EU?

For expats moving to France from outside of the EU, it is important to get a non-commercial EU health certificate from a licensed vet within ten days of entering the country. If you are coming from a country where rabies is either not present or is controlled, a bilingual version of the commercial EU health certificate for France must be completed by a vet within 48 hours of your arrival. Expats from Canada or the USA should also ensure that their pets have had the non-commercial EU health certificate endorsed by the local USDA.

If you are flying into France from outside of the EU, you must arrive at one of the following airports, which have International Border Inspection Posts:

  • Paris (CGD)
  • Toulouse (TLS)
  • Reunion (RUN)
  • Nice (NCE)
  • Marseille (MRS)
  • Lyon (LYS)

You can find more information regarding the conditions of transporting pets from outside of the EU to France on the EU Commission website.

Caring for Your Pet in France

You can find a veterinary practice in all major towns and cities in France, and they are easy to recognize by their signs with a blue cross. Your local vet may not be able to communicate the medical problems of your pet in English as most vets will have trained in France, so it is worth asking a French acquaintance to accompany you to appointments to translate.

The standard of healthcare for pets in France is high; however, this does not mean that pets are not at risk. If your pet does need a visit to the vet, you will be given a carnet de santé et de vaccination, which will form part of your pet’s passport, detailing the various treatments your pet has received. It is crucial that this is kept updated if you are planning on taking your pet in and out of the country. Many countries have rescue homes; however, veterinary surgeries in France are also often a central place for adopting unwanted pets.

Pet owners moving to France should be particularly aware of the following illnesses:

  • leishmaniasis, which is common in the south of France
  • heartworm, a disease which can affect both cats and dogs
  • ehrlichiosis, a bacterial infection
  • babesiosis, a disease caused by ticks

Safe and Secure: Guard Dogs in France

If your canine companion is a guard dog, it is important to check that the breed is legal in France. The country currently bans Staffordshire terriers without a pedigree, as well as American Staffordshire terriers without a pedigree, also known as Pitbulls. Mastiffs, also named boerbulls, and any dog known as a Tosa without a pedigree is also forbidden.

In order to avoid difficulty upon arrival, it is advisable to bring a certificate that proves your guard dog has a pedigree. When living in France, your guard dog should be vaccinated, registered with the town council, muzzled and on a lead in public. Guard dog owners are also not permitted to be under 18 years of age.


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