Last year I wrote here about the joys of being able to take your pet on holiday to Europe from the UK.
The rules changed on 1st January this year, making it slightly cheaper and much easier to do this.
In a nutshell, if you are considering taking your dog (or cat or ferret) on holiday for the first time, you have to visit a vet in the UK for a rabies vaccination and identichipping. There is no longer any requirement for a blood test for EU countries such as France; you can take your dog on holiday almost straight away.
The confusing part has always been that in actual fact, taking the dog (or cat or ferret) out of the UK has never been a problem, it’s bringing them back in that is the problem. Nobody takes any notice of a pet travelling with you on the way out. On the way back, you have to show the pet passport at the port.
Prior to 1st January this year, after the first inoculation, you had to have a blood test after one month then could bring the dog back into the country six months after that.
Now, under the new rules, you can bring the dog (or cat or ferret) back in after 21 days. This means that if you are considering taking your dog on holiday you don’t have to plan more than half a year ahead if you have never done it before. You can have the rabies inoculation a week before you go away for two weeks and you will be ok.
The other major difference is a great help to people like us who already have a pet passport and take their dog (or cat or ferret) to and fro across the channel regularly.
Prior to 1st January, you had to visit a vet in France between 24 and 48 hours of boarding your train and ferry home, for a worm and tick treatment, an examination of the animal and the all-important stamping of the passport. This was occasionally very awkward – having to arrange travel times such that you could get the passport stamped at the right time. For example, if you intended to travel home on a Monday evening, you would have to be visiting a vet on a Sunday – not at all easy.
Then, if something went wrong with your travel arrangements, you could very easily come unstuck. If your car broke down, someone was ill, there was a hold-up on the motorway or any number of common problems that could delay you, you could end up presenting your dog at the ferry port or tunnel after the very short time slot had expired. This happened to many travellers every year, who were then faced with having to stay in France for an extra 1-2 days to give the dog the treatment all over again. This was costly and not good for the dog either – having two worm tablets within the space of a few days.
Under the new rules, you must visit a vet in France between 24 and 120 hours before travelling. In other words, so long as you visit a vet in France between one and five days before going back home you are fine. (So long as it is not less than one day.)
This is the one thing that is going to make the biggest difference to people like us, I think. We can now visit the vet at any time towards the end of our stay and have the peace of mind of knowing that if our usual vet is not available, which is what happened the last visit, we needn’t panic and have time to find another one. Also we don’t have to plan our journey quite so precisely, our travel can be slightly more flexible and if for some reason we are delayed by a day or two we will probably be fine.
The other difference is that the tick treatment is now not necessary at all, which saves some money, although we will continue to give Lulu regular tick treatments ourselves as it seems a sensible thing to do.
To re-enter the UK only a worm tablet is needed, and the stamping of the passport with the date and time of it having been given.
To sum up:
If taking your pet to France for the first time, visit a vet for a rabies innoculation, identichip and issue of a passport. The pet can then re-enter the UK three weeks later.
To return home, visit a vet in France with the pet and the passport for examination, a worm tablet and stamping of the passport. The pet can then re-enter the UK up to five days and no less than 24 hours later.
These are the rules that apply to France, as I understand them. They do vary for other countries. You can read the official version on the government website here.