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 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 chickens, turkeys, guinea fowl, ducks, geese, quails, pigeons, pheasants, partridges, as well as ratites (Ratitae)
All other animals are excluded and must therefore be presented for veterinary inspection at a border control post (BCP) on entering French territory.
- The customs authorities carry out their inspection in the context of a non-commercial movement involving no more than five specimens per person.
- The person accompanying the animal must be either the owner or an individual who assumes responsibility for it on the owner’s behalf.
- The animals must be accompagnied by a health certificate.
Where these conditions are not met, the veterinary authorities are responsible for inspecting the animals concerned at a border control post (BCP). A common health entry document (CHED) is issued on completion of the inspection and must be presented in support of the customs declaration.
Please note: not all border control posts (BCP) are authorized to control pets. You must, before boarding, find out about the competence of the PCF at the point of entry.
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.
Specific conditions and restrictions apply to protected species, especially certain birds and reptiles, under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).
Health formalities for importing dogs, cats or ferrets
You intend to bring a dog, cat or ferret to the UE (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 from a non-european country, 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. Transport companies and the customs in the EU can read microchips that meet International Organization for Standardization (ISO) standards ISO 11784 and ISO 11785.You may have to bring your own microchip reader when you travel if your pet’s microchip does not meet these standards.
- You must get your pet microchipped before, or at the same time as, their rabies vaccination. 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 non european 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:
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, Falkland Islands, Fiji, French Polynesia, Gibraltar, Great Britain, Guernesey, Hong Kong, Ile de Man, Jamaica, Japan, Jersey, Liechtenstein, Macedonia, Malaysia, Mauritius, Mexico, Montserrat, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Russia, Saint Helena, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Pierre et Miquelon, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Singapore, Sint Maarten, 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, Wallis and Futuna.
Dogs, cats and ferrets accompanying their owner from Andorra, Croatia, Faroe Islands, Greenland, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Norway, San Marino, Switzerland or Vatican City State are subject to the same health requirements as dogs, cats and ferrets travelling from a EU Member state.
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 as amended. The certificate contains the information mentioned above (identification, anti-rabies vaccination and antibody titration test where applicable).
The animal’s EU passport can replace the health certificate, when coming back to the EU.
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 16 weeks old, even vaccinated for rabies, into France is strictly prohibited.
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.
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.
However, rules on the movement and ownership of Category 2 dogs apply.
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.
Health requirements for importing other pets
Birds (except chickens, turkeys, guinea fowl, ducks, geese, quails, pigeons, pheasants, partridges, as well as ratites (Ratitae))
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 delegated Regulation (EU) 2021/1933, 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 provided for in the annex to Commission implementing Regulation (EU) 2021/1938 - part 1 and 2).
The health certificate states that one of the following additional conditions must be met:
- isolation 30 days before the date of their dispatch, under official supervision at the place of departure in a country mentioned in the first column of the table appearing in part 1 of Annex V, Annex XIV or Annex XIX of Implementing Regulation (EU) 2021/404
- primary vaccination and at least one booster against the H5 and H7 avian influenza virus during the last 6 months and at least 60 days before importation. The vaccine(s) used must have been approved for the species concerned, in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions; the vaccine must not be a live attenuated vaccine and must have been administered by a qualified veterinarian or an official veterinarian of the third country of dispatch)
- PCR screening for the H5 and H7 avian influenza virus with negative result on a sample taken at the earliest on the 7th day of isolation and isolation of the animal, under the supervision of an authorized veterinarian or an official veterinarian, before the importation at least 14 days (a serological test is not sufficient).
Finally, the birds must be transferred, by their owner or the authorized person, directly from the point of entry of the travelers to a private household or to another residence inside the EU. There, the birds must be kept under official surveillance for 30 days after entering the EU. During this period, birds should not be brought into a place where birds gather (performance venues, fairs, exhibitions).
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 subject to the same health requirements as pet birds travelling from a EU Member state.
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 per person), 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.