Traveling To Paris With Your Dog: everything you need to know

[ Updated May 1, 2018. ]

Traveling To Paris With Your Dog

Ok guys. This post is a big one. Months before I left to Paris, I was online doing SO much research on how to bring your dog to Europe. The one thing I noticed is that a lot of the info is scattered and sometimes hard to read, boring or complicated. I hear a lot of people saying that dogs must be in quarantine when traveling internationally. That is not the case–as long as you do the steps and paperwork then you’re good to go.

Getting the correct paperwork to travel with your dog can be an anxious + lengthy process but follow these steps below (and don’t forget your own passport!).

 

Let’s start…

For official instructions for each country, the United States Department of Agriculture is the best place to go to print out forms etc.

 

1. Microchip

Your pet’s microchip must be 15 digits. If you have something different, then you must get them microchipped with a 15 digit microchip OR bring your own scanner. Personally, I think bringing your own scanner is the best bet, so your dog doesn’t need to have 2 microchips implanted on his body.

If you do decide to get a separate microchip implanted, then your pup must get a new rabies vaccine at least 21 days before travel. Hold onto the signed certificate.

If your original microchip is good or you’re bringing a scanner and the rabies vaccine is up to date, then just make sure to bring their signed rabies certificate.

2. Health Certificate

Visit your USDA-accredited vet within 10 days of travel to get a health certificate and forms signed. The vet will know what to do and fill out the correct paperwork in blue ink. For France, it was a 7-page document and the signed rabies certificate.

3. Stamped by USDA Office

Next is to have all your paperwork stamped at your local USDA office. You can find a list on the USDA page. Note: no dogs allowed in the office. It’s basically like waiting at the DMV. You get a ticket and wait. And wait. I waited 1.5 hours and it wasn’t even busy (around 4-5 people total) so make sure you schedule some time. It was $38 and you get a fancy embossed stamp on all the paperwork.

This used to be in walk-in only, but now it is appointment only!

4. Time to fly!

Keep all your paperwork in one place. I used my laptop sleeve and it kept everything nice and neat. We flew from LA to NYC and stayed one night to break up the flight. Helps with jet lag too. I think that’s a must as LA to Paris is 11 hours compared to NYC to Paris = 7 hours. Here is a list of airlines that go to Paris + allow dogs in-cabin.

Flight wasn’t bad at all and Fira slept right through. When we landed though, that was a different story. Going through customs took about half an hour and I was so worried for Fira. She was trembling because she had to pee so bad. Then when we got up to baggage claim I found out you can’t actually LEAVE the airport until you have your luggage.

Once you go outside, you can’t come back in.

WHAT. So, we waited and finally got my luggage, ran out the door and there was no dirt/grass patch in sight. None. Everything was cement. I didn’t want to get yelled at for Fira peeing on cement so I got an Uber as fast as I could. Driver, of course, spoke no english and I had to signal him to pull over the second I saw some grass. Imagine the scene: we’re on the highway and I start flailing my arms around and pointing “PEE PEE”–finally we pull over and Fira probably took the best pee of her life.

(Optional) Pet Passport

If you’re thinking of coming to Europe more often with your pup, consider getting a pet passport. You can only get it issued in Europe so I saw a vet in Paris and got Fira a France passport. There’s an EU Passport too but I think they only had the France ones. Plus, next year we’re coming back to France and going to England from Paris so I’m fine with that. Now, I don’t have to do the paperwork all over again each time I travel. 


So, that’s it!

It’s really pretty straightforward–doing it for the first time does ensue some anxiety but now I feel pretty confident for next Spring. I will also be doing London from Paris so that will be an adventure. England is soo much more complicated as it’s considered an island, there are stricter rules and you cannot fly directly into the country (unless your dog is in cargo, BUT frenchie breeds are not allowed in cargo).

Overall, Paris is surprisingly a dog-friendly city. They’re very relaxed about dogs in general. We were even able to bring dogs inside a few restaurants (Montpartnasse 1900) and there are dog-friendly areas of the big parks (Tuileries, Palais Royal Gardens, Luxembourg etc)–perfect. You can read my dog-friendly Paris guide here.

Let me know if you have any questions in the comments. It was pretty daunting for me in the beginning but I knew I wanted to create a guide that was written in you know, normal human sentences that were easy to understand. Also, here’s a free step-by-step checklist!

Sign Up For My Mailing List + Get Your Free Copy of The Most Comprehensive Dog-Friendly Airline List (includes in-cabin fees, carrier size + weight)

Comments

  1. Thanks for posting. I was debating on whether to bring my dog to Paris and your post is SO helpful.

    Would you mind sharing your experience on bringing your dog back to the US? If you don’t mind, the vet experience to get your dog’s EU passport? Both things I would love to know about.

    • Hi Virginia! On our way back into the US, the customs officer just looked at all my paperwork again and that was it! The vet appointment in Paris was super simple–they do all the work for you. Just show them your paperwork and they’ll grab your pet’s info off of that (age, microchip # etc). I think it cost 80 euros.

      • Hi, thank you for your post! SO I have a small service dog I travel with and we are also going to France in 2 weeks. However my dog doesn’t have a microchip and the vet said she is too old to get one because she would need to be sedated to get it because the needle is so large and my dog is so small. Also, she just had a rabies shot 5 weeks ago and as ALWAYS, she had a severe reaction. She cannot get a microchip NOR another rabies shot to travel as she just had one and just got done fighting the side effects 4 weeks later. My vet said she should NOT have another shot. Did the airline actually ASK you for your paperwork for the dog going both ways at check in? If so which airline was it? My airline I have a reso with right now said all I need is my service dog ID and that’s it, mentioned NOTHING of a 7 page health certificate. I also emailed the customs office at Paris airport and they told me it is the airlines duty… ??? I see online what you have to have but I can’t get these things like a normal pet can because of complications. I can however get a regular vet health certif. It sucks these rules are so strict. Can you just share your experience with how strict they were with the paperwork and when you had to present it? THANK YOU!

        • Hi Lissa,
          We flew Delta. They checked the papers thoroughly at the check-in desk going to and coming back to US. In Paris, nobody looked at the papers so yes, it is the airline’s discretion. I did notice they checked every single page and made sure there was a rabies certificate but I don’t know if it is different for a service animal as I have no experience with that. I would definitely call your airline and get super specific and make sure they are clear with the rules!

          • Ok thank you! We are taking Norwegian and we have called 3 times to make sure and they didn’t once mention a USDA health certif, just a rabies proof of vax and her service dog ID. 🙂 I appreciate your response! 🙂

  2. Thanks for all the info.
    But I m having some problems with the weight.
    I want to do argentina-ny and even he fits under the sit, he is over 9kg (17/18 lb) and he is a frenchie and they dont want them (same travel airlines you have Delta, united, etc)
    Can anyone help me with an idea??
    I know that a famous actress here took several trips with ger dog (she paid a first class ticket) but they told me I can even if I have the money 🙁

    • Hi! Are you sure you made it clear that you were bringing him in-cabin? Frenchies are not allowed in cargo but in-cabin for most airlines should be ok!

      • Some airlines have strange policies though. For example, American Airlines is fine for dogs to travel but not if it’s a TransAtlantic flight. Strange. Have you tried other airlines like Avianca?

  3. This is Amazing post … I’m currently looking into more travel destinations with my dog as its very hard on her since she’s older for me to be gone for long periods of time. Do you know if its an absolute must for the dogs to be microchipped in order to take them internationally? I’m planning for paris in November for a wedding and a few other destinations following that. Im totally not for microchipping as she’s older and had surgeries in the past and was suggested by a Vet not to do this procedure on her. Any help is so appreciated. Thank you

    • Hi Dajia- yes must be microchipped. Does she not have a chip at all?? Weston has one but is not EU-approved so I just bring my own scanner so that he doesn’t need another chip implanted. If she is not chipped, I’m not sure of any way around that unfortunately.

  4. Hi Nicki!

    Thanks for this post, it is really informative and making the process of taking my dog overseas much less stressful hearing a firsthand experience! I’ve done a lot of policy research for the specific EU countries we are visiting and had a question about your experience completing Fira’s pet passport: did they require a new rabies vaccination at the vet’s office in France before completing the French passport?

    I read that with the EU pet passports they require an EU vet to administer the rabies vaccination before signing off on the passport. I also read that in order for the passport to remain valid, additional rabies vaccinations must be completed by a vet in Europe. My dog just received her 3-year vaccination this month, so it seems a bit crazy to have to get her vaccinated again once I’m there for the passport! It may be different since you received a country-specific passport but I was still curious about your experience.

    Thanks!

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