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Life in Rural France

Living the French Dream….The Good, The Bad, and The Hilarious

A border collie running across a grass field in the Charente in France

Taking Your Dog to France in 2023 | Everything you need to know

If you’re planning on taking your dog to France, there are a few things you need to know in advance to ensure you make no mistakes.

And let’s face it, none of us like being separated from our furry friends, so leaving them behind is not really an option. 

Speaking from experience of both holidaying in France with my dog and then moving to France with my dog, I’ve learnt a few things the hard way.

We have a border collie, Lottie, who absolutely hates to travel. In fact, she is sick just looking at the car.

We’ve tried everything we know of to make travelling easier for her, from car sprays to ginger biscuits and everything in between.

The only thing that works is some natural calming tablets given to us by the vet at €10 a pop.

These don’t knock her out but they make the whole experience manageable. They stop her panicking and tend to last for a good 12+ hours.

Now admittedly, we did all this prior to Brexit, and Lottie is now a French dog, complete with a French Pet Passport. 

She no longer travels unless it’s within France, and usually, one of us stays here with her if we go back to the UK to see family.

However, we’ve done our research and know exactly what you need to do whether you’re travelling to France from the UK, within Europe, or from the USA or any other country outside of the European Union. 

We’ll walk you through everything you need to know about taking your dog to France wherever you are in the world, whether it’s for a holiday or moving here permanently.

Does my dog need a Pet Passport to travel to France?

A black and white border collie standing by a stone wall in France

First things first, let’s tackle the issue of the Pet Passport. Unfortunately, this isn’t a simple yes or no answer, as it really depends on which country you’re coming from. 

There are, however, things your dog will need to have regardless of where you’re coming from, and I’ll go through those individually.

I’ll also give you a breakdown of who can apply for an EU Pet Passport and who can’t.

Taking your dog to France after Brexit

Although Brexit has made travelling to France with your dog a bit harder it’s not impossible. You just need to follow the rules.

Step 1 – Your dog must be microchipped and it must be an ISO-compliant 15-digit Microchip.

Step 2 – Your dog will need a rabies injection which must be done at least 21 days prior to travel. Your pet will need to be no less than three months old to have this injection

Step 3 – You’ll need an Animal Health Certificate (AHC) issued by a UK-registered vet within ten days of travelling. The UK Pet Passport is no longer sufficient for travelling to France.

As a side note, you can’t travel with more than five dogs as this is seen as a commercial enterprise.

Always make sure you check the most up-to-date information here on the government website.

Returning to the UK after taking your dog to France

A border collie with a lady outside an old stone building in the Charente in France

You must remember to get your dog treated for tapeworm before your return trip to the UK. Trust me this is important as you won’t be able to travel without it.

It must be done no more than five days before your trip and not less than 24 hours before you go.

We didn’t know this the first time we took Lottie to France and were turned away at the ferry port. We had to rebook our tickets for two days later when we’d managed to get into the vets. It was a huge hassle and something we never forgot again.

Taking your dog to France from the USA & Canada

The rules are similar to those in the UK and Australia and it’s relatively straightforward. 

Step 1 – Your dog must be microchipped with an ISO-compliant 15-digit Microchip, which should happen prior to the rabies injection.

Step 2 – A valid rabies injection administered at least 21 days prior to travel. Again, your dog will need to be a minimum of three months old.

Step 3 – An EU Health Certificate. You’ll need to print out a copy of the form and take it with you to a registered vet. Once completed you will need to get your paperwork endorsed by  APHIS Veterinary Services Office (US) or Canadian Food Inspection Agency (Canada). 

You’ll need to take a copy of your flight reservation, proof of the rabies vaccination along with the EU Health Certificate form.

IMPORTANT Your dog MUST arrive in France within ten days of the certificate being endorsed.

How to travel when taking your dog to France

Depending on where you’re travelling to France from will depend on the options available to you. From the UK you have the choice of Eurotunnel, ferry or flying. However, if you’re travelling from further afield like the USA, Canada or Australia then your main option is to fly.

However, if a long-haul flight is going to be too much for your pet then you could consider taking a ferry liner equipped to take pets.

Taking your dog to France on the Eurotunnel

Whilst the Eurotunnel does allow dogs you can’t actually take them on the Eurostar. They must remain in the car. If you aren’t travelling by car but want to take your pet with you, Le Pet Express is a great option. They’ll pick you and your dog up and take you to the station and you can stay with your pet for the whole journey.

Taking your dog to France on the ferry

If you’re travelling to France from the UK using a ferry there are lots of great options and we’ve done most of them. 

For where we live in South West France we like the Dieppe to Newhaven route although we’ve also done Caen to Portsmouth many times too.

Brittany Ferries are great and definitely have a better level of comfort but DFDS is the one we use the most as they do the Newhaven route.

For details of routes use the links below:

    • Brittany Ferries – Portsmouth, Poole & Plymouth
    • DFDS – Dover & Newhaven
    • P&O – Dover

Taking your dog to France by plane

It’s not unusual now for dogs to go on flights but there are some size restrictions and each airline has its own policies.

The most pet-friendly airlines in Europe are Air France, KLM, Lufthansa, Iberia, and Finnair. Costs are dependent on the airline but ranger from €60 – €120.

Pets that travel has a great list of airlines that accommodate dogs along with the rules and regulations.

Flying with your pet can be stressful but if you’re flying from the UK to France I highly recommend PetAir UK. It’s a travel company run by vets and they take care of every part of the travel process for you, including the paperwork. It’s a great service and will put your mind at ease.

Benefits of taking your dog to France when you go on vacation

A woman sat on a stone wall in a blue coat with her dog in France

One of the many benefits of having a dog is that they’re one of the best things for helping you to make friends and fit in. People can’t resist a dog, and you’ll find they’ll stop and talk to you because you have one.

They’re the perfect conversation starter and will stop you from looking like a tourist, even though you are.

I met my French friend Anne by walking Lottie. We’d walk past her house every day and often see her outside in her garden. A wave led to an introduction which led to a conversation, which has now led to a great friendship.

Lottie made friends before I did, especially with the post lady who keeps dog treats in her van for all the dogs on her route. Lottie loves her, and she always stops to pet her. 

I must admit Lottie was frightened of her at first, I think it was the fact she spoke French, and Lottie just didn’t get it. Now she runs to her every time she sees her.

And then there’s Claud, the farmer two houses up. Actually, maybe Claud isn’t a great example, as Lottie used to use his beautiful Charentais melons as toys.

She’d run across his fields with one in her mouth and drop it at Claud’s feet for him to throw – I don’t think she was too popular for that particular trick.

Keep your dog away from processionary caterpillars in France

Yellow and grey caterpillars

Please don’t panic about these, as France is a very safe place for your dog. However, you do need to be aware of pine processionary caterpillars

We had some in our garden a couple of years ago and were told about them by our French neighbour, Stefan.

They are dangerous, and it’s important you know what they are. 

What you’re looking for are nests that look a bit like white cotton wool in pine trees. And if you see a long procession of caterpillars that look a bit like bits of old twigs moving, get your dog away from them quickly.

The issue isn’t your dog eating them, although you don’t want that to happen either, it’s the hairs on the caterpillar that can cause severe issues and make your dog extremely ill. 

They could also die, not that I want to scare monger you, but these caterpillars are serious, and they mean business.

A little prick from one of these hairs and your dog could go into anaphylactic shock.

Steer well clear of them because these hairs can get onto your dog very quickly, from a breeze blowing them to your dog licking them.

Telltale signs are swollen tongues and faces followed by lots of itching. Get them to the vet immediately, as it will spread and could easily lead to the tongue being amputated.

And remember, these caterpillars live in ordinary pine trees, not some rare species of tree. 

Be vigilant, and you’ll be fine but forewarned is forearmed.

Moving to France with your dog

All the rules above for bringing your dog into France apply when you’re moving permanently. However, once you’ve been in France for three months you can apply for an EU Pet Passport which makes travelling with your dog so much easier. 

The Ordre des Vétérinaires (The National Order of Veterinarians) is a really useful resource for owning a pet in France. You’ll find details of local vets and everything you need to know.

Of course, you’ll want to get pet insurance once you’re settled. We used My French House as it’s all in English so you know what you’re agreeing to. It made the whole process much easier and less stressful.

Something to remember is you should have a sign displayed somewhere visible that says “ATTENTION AU CHIEN” (Beware of the dog). If someone was to come into your garden and get bitten by your dog and you didn’t have that sign you wouldn’t be insured.

What to do if your dog goes missing in France

A large woodshed filled with wood and blue sky in the background in the mountains in France

Losing your dog is awful, I know it’s happened to me. Not so long ago we went away for a long weekend with friends of ours to the Dordogne. We both have dogs and the dogs, Lizzie and Lottie, get on really together.

The men had taken the dogs for a long two-hour walk to tire them out whilst we got some food ready. 

Lottie is renowned for running off when we’re at home which doesn’t worry us as she knows her way home and always comes back within an hour or so.

But it’s different when you’re somewhere new that your dog isn’t familiar with.

Anyway, just as they were coming back from their walk, literally metres away from the house, Lottie ran off.

A woman in a swing chair with a black and white dog

She’d seen something and was gone. No amount of shouting brought her back she had gone temporarily deaf.

As you can imagine we were panicking as one hour turned into two which turned into ten and still no sign of Lottie.

Luckily, quite a few of our friends are dog lovers and after a few frantic phone calls and messages, we knew what to do.

The first thing we did was post on the Pet Alert France department FB Group and let our host know. He made a load of phone calls on our behalf but nobody had seen Lottie.

Another friend suggested ADA France which is more active than Pet Alert. We were about to post on there when we saw a picture of Lottie at the top of the page.

A wonderfully kind French lady had found her wandering around her farm and taken a picture of her and posted it. The picture showed Lottie having a wonderful time being looked after by her new French friends.

I was too relieved to be mad at her and alls well that ends well.

These two Facebook Pages are amazing and many a lost pet has been found through them so they are worth making a note of. They’re regionalised so it makes the whole thing easier to narrow down.

Something else to remember is to ensure your contact details are up to date on your dog’s chip by checking on I-CAD.

FAQS for Taking Your Dog to France

Can I take my dog to the beach in France?

Like many countries with beautiful beaches, each beach has its own rules and regulations. However, typically dogs are allowed on beaches in France between October and May, but the usual etiquette applies – make sure you take bags to pick up the mess your dogs make. 

The rule of thumb is that most public beaches prohibit dogs during the months of June, July & August.

There are usually signs around the beach telling you what you can and can’t do and if and when dogs are allowed off the lead. 

If in doubt, visit the local tourist office or Marie to double check. Or ask where you’re staying as most hosts will know.

Can I travel on public transport with my dog in France?

All dogs, regardless of size, are allowed on the SNCF, but you will need a ticket for them. And dogs over 6kg will need to be muzzled. Those under that weight should be in a container. For full details click here >>>

For other forms of public transport, the rules vary by city, so again, check with the local Marie to see what’s allowed.

Does France have dog-friendly gites, campsites and hotels?

Absolutely. We’ve stayed in lots of dog-friendly accommodation and found some great options.

Pretty much every booking website has the option to search for accommodation where pets are allowed. Often though, there will be a small surcharge for pets.

Will I be able to take my dog to restaurants and cafes in France?

France is generally a very dog-friendly country, and we’ve taken Lottie to quite a few restaurants, markets and bars. Many will bring water bowls for your furry friends and make a fuss over them. However, it’s always best to check first.

If you’re having a picnic in a public park or garden French law states they need to be on the lead. You can also get fined for not picking up after your dog, just the same as in many other countries.

Do I need an Animal Health Certificate (AHC) if I’m taking my dog to France?

If you’re travelling from outside the EU and don’t have a valid EU-issued Pet Passport, you will need an AHC for a short stay of under three months. If you’re staying for longer, you may be eligible for an EU-issued Pet Passport but you’ll be required to register with I-CAD (France’s national pet register).

Can I use my dog’s UK-issued Pet Passport to bring my dog into France?

No, I’m afraid not. Since Brexit, a UK-issued Pet Passport is no longer valid for bringing your dog into France. You’ll need an Animal Health Certificate, as discussed above.


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About Me

I’m Kylie….

And I live in the beautiful Charente region of France having made the move back in 2016, and I’ve never looked back.

Now, I’m sharing everything I’ve learned about living in rural France. From visiting wineries & chateaux to negotiating French admin and learning the language.


Here are my favourite resources I use each time I travel!

🇺🇸 🇨🇦 Travel Insurance US & Canada – I use Safety Wing

🇪🇺 🇬🇧 Travel Insurance UK and Europe – I use Globelink

🚘 Car Hire Comparison – I use Discover Cars

🚌 🍷 Day Trips and Wine Tours – I use Viator

🚂 Booking Train Tickets – I use Trainline

🏨 Accommodation – I use Booking.com

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