Home Living in France Family & Pets Pet travel to France: a guide to French pet immigration rules
Last update on 17/02/2023

Make your four-legged friend’s journey to France as seamless as possible with our guide to importing a pet into France.

Pets are welcome in France, but there are strict rules relating to bringing pets into the country. If you plan to take a pet to France, it’s important to check the latest French regulations. Make sure you have the correct papers for France, as well as all the countries you pass through. Be aware that these may differ from country to country depending on where you are relocating your pet from. Here is the general information you will need when you decide to move to France with your pet.


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Pet immigration rules for France

Pets moving within Europe can take advantage of the system of European Pet Passports, which is designed for domestic animals. The Pet Passport is a booklet that provides all of the essential information on your pet. It includes an identification number and proof of all relevant vaccinations. The passport remains valid for the whole life of your pet.

An EU pet passport can only be issued by a vet that is licensed and all vaccinations should be kept current by the vet who also needs to ensure that the pet is micro-chipped, has had the relevant rabies vaccine and has undergone a blood test to ensure that the vaccine is present in the pet’s system. If your animal was vaccinated before it was fitted with a microchip, it will have to be vaccinated again after the microchip is inserted. Additionally, if your pet’s microchip is not ISO 11784/11785 compliant, you will have to bring your own microchip scanner. The EU pet passport is a certificate of health.

Pets entering France from a country with a high incidence of rabies must have a Blood Titer Test one month after vaccination and three months prior to departure.

Restrictions for pet relocation

Unvaccinated pets (dogs and cats only) less than three months old may enter the EU with additional restrictions. Certain aggressive breeds of dogs are prohibited from entry.

Different regulations apply when taking birds to France due to avian flu alerts. There is a maximum of five birds that can be taken into the country. You have a choice between a 30-day pre-export quarantine or a 30-day quarantine after the birds have been imported. If you had the bird vaccinated for avian flu, this must happen at least 60 days before importation. Alternatively, the bird can be isolated for 10 days before departure and undergo a test for avian flu after at least three days of isolation. A licensed vet must verify that these criteria have been carried out.

For other types of animals (e.g., rabbits, rodents, reptiles), you need a certificate that confirms the animal’s good health. Horses need a horse passport. The person or company transporting the animals needs to have an export licence that must be presented to the transportation company. The horses should be micro-chipped and, as with all other types of animals, proof will need to be presented that they are in good health.

Pet insurance for relocation

Another important issue is pet insurance. Pet insurance can cover much of the expense of unexpected vet bills in case of an injury or illness, so there are several considerations when choosing pet insurance:

  • Does the policy cover all chronic, congenital and hereditary conditions?
  • Is there a time limit on treatment per condition?
  • Is there a financial limit on treatment per condition?
  • Are there flexible coverage options to fit your budget and needs exactly?
  • How well established is the company? How is it rated?

Airline pet container requirements

The rules regarding approved types of containers for cats, dogs, ferrets and birds flying in the cabin and as cargo were created by IATA, and for the most part have been accepted by the world’s airlines.

Pets in the cabin

On flights of less than ten hours, many airlines will allow small cats or dogs to be taken with the passenger in the cabin (except travel to the UK and Hong Kong). Generally, the airline will only allow one pet per passenger and a maximum of two pets per cabin. The container for the pet must fit under the seat in front of you and have a waterproof bottom and adequate ventilation. The Sherpa, Bergan and SturdiBag pet carriers are all airline compliant as long as the carrier is the proper size for your pet.

IATA pet crates requirements

Your pet must be in an IATA compliant pet crate and meet certain other requirements. It is considered best to have only one animal per container, but the IATA rules state that two animals can share the same container if the animals are less than 14kg (30lbs) and are of the same species.

If you are purchasing a container, make sure that it meets these minimum requirements:

  • The container must be large enough for the animal(s) to stand, turn around, and lie down.
  • The kennel must be made of sturdy plastic.
  • The container must have a secure, spring-loaded, all around locking system with the pins extending beyond the horizontal extrusions above and below the door.
  • Although this is not an IATA requirement, many airlines are now requiring steel crate hardware instead of plastic fasteners. We would recommend that you use this hardware on your pet’s crate to be sure there will be no problems.
  • Both water and food bowls must be attached to the inside of the front door and be refillable from the outside of the container without opening the door.
  • The container must have ventilation on all sides for international travel and three sides minimum for domestic travel.
  • The Container must have LIVE ANIMAL stickers on the top and sides in letters at least one inch tall.
  • NO WHEELS. If the container has wheels, they should be removed or taped securely so that the kennel cannot roll.
  • The container must be identified with your pet’s name and owner’s contact information. The best way to do this is to attach your pet’s information to the outside of the crate.
  • Make sure to attach an extra copy of your pet’s health certificate to the container.