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. Also, a lot of people are misinformed thinking 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. Surprisingly, when we landed and went through Customs at the Paris airport I was never stopped or asked for Fira’s paperwork. Just breezed right through–I was shocked! The only times the paperwork was looked at was at the check-in at each airline. You can find my step-by-step travel checklist to save or print here.
Sooo, 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.
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, as it’s less than $90 and your dog doesn’t need to have 2 microchips 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 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, plus the health certificate and 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. I made that mistake and missed an appointment I had later that day! It was $38 and you get a fancy embossed stamp on all the paperwork.
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. You only need to get a health certificate from your vet back home per the airline rules.
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). So perfect. Paris has honestly become one of my favorite cities in the world! 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 be sure to save and/or print my free step-by-step checklist!