Taking a dog to France and back in 2023: Exactly what you need to know
Taking your dog to France from the UK is a little more complex than it was before Brexit, however it's still pretty simple. In this guide we run through the 6 steps to take your dog from the UK to France and back again, including which documents, vaccinations and treatments are required, and when you'll need to get these done.
This guide is frequently updated by our vets to ensure our advice is up to date. If you think something is incorrect or out of date, please contact us so we can update it.
Six Point Checklist for Taking a Dog from the UK to France and Back Again
1. Book your dog in for a rabies vaccination at your vet practice
All dogs that travel to the EU from the UK are required to have an Animal Health Certificate, and the key requirements for an Animal Health Certificate is that your dog must be microchipped and vaccinated against rabies.
Your dog will need to have their rabies vaccination at least 21 days before an Animal Health Certificate can be issued, so it's worth booking your dog in for a rabies vaccination at your vets as early as possible to avoid delays to your travel. Most rabies vaccinations administered in the UK are valid for three years, so there is no downside to getting the rabies vaccination booked in well before your travel date.
Prices for a rabies vaccination vary by veterinary practice, but they typically range from £50-90.
At the rabies vaccination appointment, the vet should give you a document evidencing the vaccination details, such as a vaccination card or vaccination certificate.
You'll need to ensure that this document contains the following information in order to get an Animal Health Certificate:
Pet details including 15 digit microchip number
Date of rabies vaccination
Batch number and manufacturer of rabies vaccination
Practice stamp and signature of vet who administered the rabies vaccination
France does not require that your dog is up to date with the annual, routine vaccinations but it's advisable to keep these up to date anyway.
2. Research travel options and book your crossing to France
There are a number of different ways to travel to France with a dog.
Travelling from the UK to France by air is very complicated, so most people tend to travel by car, either through the Eurotunnel or by ferry. When travelling with a dog you will need to enter France through a designated travellers' point of entry (TPE).
The most popular routes are listed below:
Eurotunnel from Folkestone to Calais
Ferry from Portsmouth to Le Havre
Ferry from Portsmouth to Caen
Ferry from Portsmouth to Cherbourg
Ferry from Portsmouth to St. Malo
Ferry from Newhaven to Dieppe
Ferry from Poole to Cherbourg
Ferry from Plymouth to Roscoff
Ferry from Dover to Calais
Ferry from Dover to Dunkirk
You'll need to have an idea on which date you are planning on travelling to France before you book in for an Animal Health Certificate appointment, because the AHC needs to be issued within 10 days of your travel date and at least 21 days after the date the rabies vaccination was given.
If your pet is going to be travelling with a friend/family member or with a pet transport company, you (the owner) must be travelling within 5 days of your dog's departure date. If you are travelling more than 5 days outside your dog's departure date, an Export Health Certificate would be required instead.
3. Obtain an Animal Health Certificate within 10 days of your departure date
You will need to book in for an Animal Health Certificate (AHC) appointment with an Official Veterinarian (a vet that has done the extra course required to issue pet travel documents).
This appointment needs to be within 10 days of your travel date, and at least 21 days after your dog's rabies vaccination date. There is no way around the 21 day wait period following an initial rabies vaccination, so it's vital that you get the rabies vaccination booked in as soon as you have decided you want to take your dog to France.
Different vet practices have different protocols and prices when it comes to issuing Animal Health Certificates. Prices typically range from £100-£300 per pet. The Official Veterinarian vet that issues the Animal Health Certificate must physically scan your dog's microchip so Animal Health Certificates cannot be issued remotely.
See our page on Animal Health Certificate FAQs for more information.
4. Travel to France with your dog
Once you have the Animal Health Certificate in your hand, you can travel to France with your dog. You need to have departed on your trip no more than 10 days after the AHC was issued, otherwise you will need a new one.
Different ports have different procedures for checking pets in (they will inform you upon booking with them), but generally you'll need to take your dog to their pet reception where you'll need scan your dog's microchip and they will check through the Animal Health Certificate to ensure all the information is correct.
The Animal Health Certificate is valid for ongoing travel within the EU (including Switzerland and Norway) for a period of 4 months from the date it is issued or until your dog's rabies vaccination expires, whichever date is earlier. However, if you leave the EU (for example to come back to the UK), you will need another AHC in order to re-enter the EU.
5. Visit a vet in France to get tapeworm treatment administered between 1 and 5 days before returning to the UK
All dogs entering the UK need to have tapeworm treatment administered by a vet no less than 24 hours (1 day) and no more than 120 hours (5 days) before the dog's scheduled arrival time in the UK.
The treatment date and time must be recorded by the vet at the bottom of page 4 of the Animal Health Certificate. Most vets in France are familiar with having to do this, as it's been a requirement for many years, so you shouldn't have any trouble finding a vet to get this done.
This is an example of how the tapeworm treatment table at the bottom of page 4 needs to be completed:
If you are travelling to France and returning to the UK within 5 days, the tapeworm treatment can be administered by a vet in the UK before your outbound journey to France.
If the tapeworm treatment is not administered in time or if it has been incorrectly recorded on the AHC, it will result in your dog being refused travel, and you'll need to get this done again.
See here for more detailed information on the tapeworm treatment requirements for returning to the UK.
6. Return to the UK
On your return to the UK, you'll be asked to show the Animal Health Certificate (with the tapeworm treatment details added to it) at the border. If the tapeworm treatment has not been given in the correct time period (1 to 5 days before arriving in the UK), then you will either have to wait until 24 hours have passed, or you'll need to take the dog to a vet to get the tapeworm treatment administered again.
Other things to be aware of
Dog food & treats - no meat based products allowed
Now that the UK has left the EU, officially you are not allowed to bring meat or dairy-based dog food (including treats) with you unless your vet has given you written confirmation that your dog requires a certain dog food for medical reasons (and even then the limit is only 2kg).
So for your journey, you'll either want to consider feeding your dog at the port prior to arrival, or purchasing vegan dog food for the journey until you arrive in France and can buy some regular dog food. It's worth doing research before you go to work out where you can purchase your dog's regular food from in France.
On your return journey, there are no restrictions on bringing dog food from France to the UK.
Read the full rules from the EU here.
Some ferry companies require that all dogs brought on board and are not staying in the car wear a muzzle at all times, and some ports require that dogs wear a muzzle if they leave the car to walk around the port, so it's worth checking with the ferry company and port before you go to see what their rules are.
Pet Travel Insurance
Many pet insurance policies cover short trips abroad, but it's worth checking before you go to ensure your pet is covered.
Dogs travelling in a car
It's important to ensure your dog is safe when transporting them in your car.
When travelling with your dog in your car you should:
Always take plenty of water, ideally in a non-spill bowl
Feed your dog no sooner than two hours before you travel - your dog will travel better if they do not have a full stomach.
Take regular breaks
Ensure your dog is secure and comfortable, and has a familiar toy and blanket with them
Consider using calming tablets or calming spray
Never leave your dog in the car on a warm day
If you have any questions about taking your dog to France or anywhere else in the world, please don't hesitate to contact us. One of our team will be happy to help.