One of the ways in which the French customs authorities help to protect national territory is by inspecting pets’ health and travel documents.
Rules for importing pets: general framework
Pets imported from third countries (non-EU countries) must be declared and presented to Customs for document and identity checks before they can be allowed into the territory of the European Union. Importing an undeclared animal can result in a fine and confiscation of the animal.
Only the following animals accompanying a traveller are considered pets within the meaning of veterinary regularities and as such are tolerated under the conditions set out below:
- dogs (including guide dogs), cats, ferrets;
- invertebrates (except bees and crustaceans);
- rodents and domestic rabbits;
- ornamental fish;
- all species of birds (except poultry).
All other animals (including monkeys) are excluded and must therefore be presented for veterinary inspection at a border inspection post on entering French territory.
The person accompanying the animal must be either the owner or an individual who assumes responsibility for it on the owner’s behalf.
The customs authorities carry out their inspection in the context of a non-commercial movement involving no more than five specimens. Where these conditions are not met, the veterinary authorities are responsible for inspecting the animals concerned at a border inspection post. A common veterinary entry document (CVED) is issued on completion of the inspection and must be presented in support of the customs declaration.
Please note: Where travel is taking place in connection with exhibitions, competitions or sporting events, the maximum number of domestic carnivores (dogs, cats, ferrets) may exceed five if the animals are more than six months old and written proof of their registration to compete or take part in such events can be presented.
There is a ban on importing certain attack dogs into France. The dogs concerned are Category 1 dogs without a pedigree recognised by the French Ministry of Agriculture belonging to the following breeds: Staffordshire terrier, American Staffordshire terrier (pitbull), Mastiff (boerbull) and Tosa.
Specific conditions and restrictions apply to protected species, especially certain birds and reptiles, under the Washington Convention – Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).
Specific conditions exist for the introduction of such animals into other EU Member States. You should consult those countries’ embassy in the third country of residence.
Health formalities for importing dogs, cats or ferrets
You want to bring a dog, cat or ferret back to France
You are staying outside the European Union and intend to bring a dog, cat or ferret back to France (five animals at most).
A European regulation regulates movements of domestic carnivores (dogs, cats and ferrets) in order to limit the risk of introducing animal diseases, especially rabies.
When you arrive on EU territory you must be able to prove that your animal fulfils all the cumulative health requirements imposed by Regulation (EU) 576/2013 of 12 June 2013. The customs authorities will verify that all these cumulative health requirements are met.
If you wish to bring a dog, cat or ferret back from a third country (a country outside the European Union), please make sure you comply with the following recommendations:
- your animal must be identified by an electronic transponder. Animals identified by a tattoo before 3 July 2011 may continue to travel provided that the tattoo is clearly legible;
- the anti-rabies vaccination must be valid at the time of travel in compliance with the provisions of Annex III of Regulation (EU) 576/2013. If the animal is being vaccinated against rabies for the first time or if the previous vaccination has not been kept valid, a period of at least 21 days must have elapsed after completion of the vaccination protocol required by the manufacturer;
- at least three months before travelling, you should ask for a rabies antibody titration test (laboratory test of a blood sample to ensure that the anti-rabies vaccination is effective) to be performed at an EU-authorised laboratory (there is a list of rabies testing authorised laboratories on the Europa website).
The result of the titration test, which must be higher than or equal to 0.5 UI/litre, will be valid for the animal’s entire lifetime, provided that the anti-rabies vaccination is kept permanently valid (booster shots administered within the stipulated time limit).
Domestic carnivores from the following territories and third countries (listed in Annex II, Parts 1 and 2 of Regulation (EU) 577/2013 of 28 June 2013) are exempt from the antibody titration test for importation into the European Union: Andorra, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Aruba, Ascension Island, Australia, Bahrain, Barbados, Belarus, Bermuda, BES Islands (Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba), Bosnia-Herzegovina, British Virgin Islands, Canada, Cayman Islands, Chile, Curaçao, Faroe Islands, Falkland Islands, Fiji, French Polynesia, Gibraltar, Greenland, Hong Kong, Iceland, Jamaica, Japan, Liechtenstein, Macedonia (Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia), Malaysia, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Montserrat, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Norway, Russia, Saint Helena, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Pierre et Miquelon, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, San Marino, Singapore, Sint Maarten, Switzerland, Taiwan, Trinidad and Tobago, United Arab Emirates, United States of America (including Guam, American Samoa, Northern Marian Islands, Puerto Rico and US Virgin Islands), Vanuatu, Vatican City State, Wallis and Futuna.
Do not forget to ask an official veterinarian of the country of origin to draw up a health certificate in compliance with the model shown in Annex IV, Part 1 of Regulation 577/2013 of 28 June 2013. The certificate contains the information mentioned above (identification, anti-rabies vaccination and antibody titration test where applicable).
You will have to present this health certificate together with the documents relating to vaccination and the antibody test to the customs authorities carrying out the inspection.
For health and safety reasons, bringing domestic carnivores less than three months old and not vaccinated for rabies into France is strictly prohibited.
If you wish to bring a Category 2 dog of the Staffordshire terrier, American Staffordshire terrier or Tosa breed into France, you must produce a certificate of birth or pedigree issued by the central canine society of the dog’s country of origin in order to prove a pedigree recognised by the International Canine Federation to the customs authorities. A pedigree certificate is not compulsory for Category 2 dogs of the Rottweiler or Rottweiler-type breed.
However, rules on the movement and ownership of Category 2 dogs apply.
- More information on this subject is available on the Ministry of Agriculture website.
Please also note that on French territory, Category 2 dogs must be muzzled and kept on a leash on public thoroughfares, in public places and on public transport.
Dog, cat or ferret with which you had left France
If you are resident in France and intend to stay in a country outside the European Union with a domestic carnivore (dog, cat or ferret), you are advised, in order to facilitate its return to EU territory, to:
- make sure that the animal with which you leave EU territory is identified, validly vaccinated against rabies in compliance with the provisions of Annex III of Regulation (EU) 576/2013 and has a favourable result from the antibody titration test;
- carry out all formalities with the attending veterinarian at least two months before leaving for the foreign country.
The animal’s passport can replace the health certificate. You are reminded that you must have this passport with you in order to circulate with your pet on EU territory.
Additional conditions apply for the introduction of pets into the UK, Ireland, Malta, Sweden and Finland. If you wish to import animals into these Member States, you should contact their embassy in your country of residence.
Health requirements for importing other pets
Birds (except poultry)
Because of outbreaks of bird flu in a number of third countries, there are strict rules for importing pet birds into the European Union.
Pursuant to Commission Decision 2007/25/EC as amended, travellers wishing to import five specimens at most must present the customs authorities with a health certificate issued by an official veterinarian and a declaration by the owner or his/her representative (models of the certificate and declaration are provided in Annexes II and III of the above-mentioned Decision).
The health certificate states the measures taken by the bird’s owner to ensure that the bird is in perfect health (isolation for 30 days before departure or on arrival, vaccination against the H5 avian influenza virus or negative H5N1 antigen titration test).
N.B.: Pet birds accompanying their owner from Andorra, Croatia, Faroe Islands, Greenland, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Norway, San Marino, Switzerland or Vatican City State are not subject to the health requirements described above.
In all events, you are strongly advised to consult a veterinarian a few months before travelling in order to carry out these formalities.
Rodents, lagomorphs (rabbits), reptiles, amphibians and ornamental fish
In order to be importable into French territory (up to a maximum of five specimens), pet ornamental tropical fish, rodents, lagomorphs, reptiles and amphibians must be accompanied by a supporting document compliant with the model provided in Annex 27 of the Order of 19 July 2002, signed by a practising veterinarian (veterinarian authorised to practice veterinary medicine).
Specific conditions exist for the introduction of such animals into the other EU Member States. Please contact those countries’ embassy in the third country of residence.
Whether you are importing your pet into the EU for the first time or reimporting it, you must report to the customs authorities so that they can carry out a document and identity check of the animal.
Penalties for non-compliance with regulatory requirements
Where the health requirements described above are not fulfilled, under Articles L 236-9 and L 236‑10 of the Rural Code the officials responsible for carrying out checks may, at the owner’s expense, order the animal to be returned to the third country of origin, quarantined or put down.
Under Article L 228-3 of the Rural and Maritime Fishing Code, the penalty for involuntarily causing or helping to spread an epizootic disease among domestic or wild vertebrates or among farmed insects, crustaceans or molluscs as a result of failing to comply with regulations is a fine of 15,000 euros and imprisonment for two years.
In addition, if you fail to comply with the health requirements described above, you commit a customs offence (Article 414 of the Customs Code), the penalty for which is a fine and imprisonment for up to three years. These provisions apply where the total number of pets of all species accompanying the travellers does not exceed five (save exceptions for dogs, cats and ferrets taking part in competitions, exhibitions or sporting events). Above that number, animals may be introduced into the European Union only via a border inspection post and are subject to the same veterinary requirements as commercial movements.