This is the story of how I traveled with Georgia Bear to England and France from Southern California.
This is how I did it, I’m not sure it will work for everyone, but we departed Southern California in November 2016 for Paris (CDG) and returned in January 2017 and didn’t have any problems. We flew into Paris and then took the eurotunnel to England.
Georgia Bear is an Australian Shepherd but she is very small, about 20 lbs, so she can fly in cabin. She goes everywhere with me and is very experienced at flying.
Every pet that flies internationally needs a form completed and stamped by the USDA. There is a different package of paperwork for each destination country. And it appeared that the forms changed rather often for some destinations. The form I needed was EN-FR 2015-561 and includes the dog’s gender, age, breed, microchips, vaccines, etc. and must be filled out by a licensed and USDA approved vet.
I started with www.aphis.usda.gov and checked out the paperwork that they suggest using. Internationally, the USDA was considered the gold standard and if the USDA approved the paperwork it was accepted. You can also call them at (310) 955-3311. I found them to be shockingly helpful for a government agency. They would not review the paperwork in advance, for example you could not fax the forms for review instead of going to their office and waiting in line, but you could call and ask questions. You must complete the USDA paperwork within 10 days of entering the EU.
I am a fairly meticulous person and my vet (who is USDA approved) is experienced at filling out the forms. My vet has been able to successfully get cats and dogs into lots of destinations including Singapore, Europe, etc. However, the USDA is detailed in their review. It took 2 visits for me to get my paperwork completed. Other people in the queue were on their 3rd and 4th visit. Some of them were representing professional pet relocation firms. I personally heard at least 2 people who hired a professional firm to accurately complete the paperwork whose pets would not be traveling as planned.
The endorsement is signed on each page with a 3 dimensional endorsement/raised stamp and a unique number. It looks like this:
The endorsement is stamped at least once on each page with a hand signature on each. Some places there are two stamps.
At the airport, the airline checked Georgia’s paperwork. To be frank, the person who was looking at the paperwork had no idea what they were looking at. However, they were extremely nice about it. A supervisor eventually processed our paperwork and we were given boarding passes. The process took a really long time, almost 2 hours, and all of our luggage was checked extensively. The picture is just of Georgia’s empty crate. She flew under the seat.
Once in France there was no one who asked any questions at customs. No one checked any paperwork, no one inquired, no one even stopped us to check our luggage. I even looked for someone because there is a spot on the USDA form to be stamped on entry into the EU. This is relevant for travel into England and potentially for return travel to the US. Although, I wasn’t able to obtain this stamp and I was still able to go to England and return to the US without a problem.
Once in France I needed to visit a vet to get a passport for Georgia Bear and for her to take a tapeworm pill so she can travel into England. The tapeworm pill must be administered by a vet within 5 days of entering the EU. The vet must sign the passport stating that the pill was administered and when. The vet also verifies that the animal is healthy. Our vet did a full health evaluation.
The vet issued a pet passport, however, the vet was not very experienced at completing the document. The intent was to obtain a pet passport that would be able to get Georgia in and out of England safely and back to Europe in the future. Unfortunately, the passport was completed incorrectly.
Travel to England from france on le shuttel
England does not allow pets to be imported into the country in the cabin of an airplane or in the cabin of the Eurostar. Georgia would be forced to be out of my control to be shipped as cargo. This is not acceptable. However, she could travel by boat from Calais or by train from Calais to Folkestone in a car. The eurotunnel website: https://www.eurotunnel.com/uk/tickets/travelling-with-your-pet/ gives a great description of exactly what needs to be done to travel from France to England.
Please note, they actually check your documents and they actually check the microchip in your pet, etc. The people at the eurotunnel stop are very serious about protecting their island and doing their jobs. They were super nice, but also followed the stated rules.
In the event there is a problem with your paperwork there is a vet nearby who can do a health check and administer the tapeworm pill. The cost is about $180. Although Georgia’s pet passport was not accepted, the USDA paperwork plus the certification that she had received her tapeworm medicine was adequate.
There is no check going from England to the EU.
In addition, the British provide access to DEFRA. DEFRA is the British equivalent of USDA. We called DEFRA before leaving for Calais because we were concerned that we didn’t have any stamp on our USDA paperwork showing Georgia’s arrival from the US. DEFRA was really helpful. You can call them at +44 80 70 241 1710. They will check your paperwork in advance. They even give you a reference number that you can refer to if you call back. When Georgia was inspected at Le Shuttel’s pet reception area (shown in the picture) they could see the notes from our conversation with DEFRA. It was REALLY, REALLY efficient and impressive. I believe there is some concern from travelers that because of Brexit there might have been some changes to this process, but our experience was that as long as your paperwork is in order they were very welcoming.
DEFRA can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/take-pet-abroad/pet-passport
If your paperwork is not in order, you will end up going to visit the vet again or leaving your pet at home. We did see someone get turned away and we heard about a cat that had arrived that morning who would be spending 21 days in quarantine because her paperwork was not accurate.
Georgia stayed on my lap while we drove the car onto the train. It took about 30 minutes to cross the Channel and then we were driving on the left side of the road!
Georgia had a fabulous trip
It was very stressful because I didn’t know what to expect with her paperwork, but in the end it was worth it and Georgia had a fabulous trip. I plan to take her next time too.