I wrote this article back in 2003 so some of the information may be out of date and you should check with the relevant agencies before travelling. However, French-Property.com has a similar article updated in June 2010 which has all the information you should need in order to ensure a smooth crossing with your pets.
We have a 'short haired domestic' to take to France with us, or at least that is how the vet describes her! I thought that after the introduction of Pet Passports the process of taking our cat abroad would be easy and painless - I was wrong.
There is a lot of paper work and trips to the vet required before you can even consider taking your pet abroad and I have detailed the information that we have found so far. Please take into account that this is for a cat, although I do believe that dogs follow the same rules.
All animals need to be microchipped - ours wasn't so a quick visit to the vet and £90 later this was resolved.
At the same time as the microchipping was done, the vet also vaccinated our cat against rabies.
At least 30 days after the rabies vaccination, another trip to the vet to allow him to take a blood test. This is then sent off to the laboratory to check that she is now immune to rabies. After about 8 working days the results were back and she had passed. If the blood test fails then you have to have another rabies vaccination and then wait another 30 days for a blood test.
Once the above steps have been completed, you can then apply for the PETS 1 certificate - which you need if you want to be able to bring your pet back into the UK. You will only be able to bring your pet back into the UK once 6 months have elapsed since the successful rabies blood test.
If you want to take your pet to France you either need a PETS 5 certificate or an 'Export Health Certificate' - you should not need both. The PETS 5 official name is an 'Export of Pet Dog or Cat to France in accordance with the Pet Travel Scheme' and this can be issued by your Local Veterinary Inspector at the same time as the PETS 1 certificate.
The PETS 1 and PETS 5 certificates do not last for ever and do need to be renewed. The PETS 1 certificate is valid from 6 months after the successful blood test and lasts for 2 years after the rabies jab was given. For example, our cat was given her rabies jab on 1st April 2003 and the blood test was taken on 12th May 2003 - therefore the PETS 1 certificate is valid from 12th November 2003 to 31st March 2005.
There are also some rules if you intend to keep your pet in France for more than 3 months. The first of these is that all pets need to officially identified and registered on a national database, which can be done via a microchip. The French also insist that pets are vaccinated against rabies on an annual basis, rather than every two years here in the UK.
At the moment the certificates which I understand are required to allow us to take our cat to France are as follows:
The information for taking pets abroad can change, therefore it is crucial that you speak to local Animal Health Office office to get them to send you the latest information.
A list of local offices and contact numbers