Confusion over EU pet passport rules costs British dog owner £500

The dog owner who lives in France fell foul of a mix up in rules around EU pet passports and rabies injections on a recent visit to the UK

8 September 2021

A complication over rabies injections on EU pet passports has cost one British pet owner around £500 Pic: Monika Wisniewska / Shutterstock

By Thomas Brent

A British pet owner who lives in France has told how a difference in French and UK rules for EU pet passports cost him around £500 on a recent trip to the UK with his two dogs.

Dr Cris Emson, who lives in Morbihan (Brittany), has EU pet passports for his dogs issued in France, and also UK pet passports, which are now defunct.

British EU pet passports ceased to be valid from January 1 this year, due to the UK leaving the EU. Now, UK pet-owners who wish to travel to the EU must visit a vet for an animal health certificate (AHC), valid for up to four months for a single trip, onward travel in the EU and re-entry. These usually cost around £100 each. 

Despite the UK pet passports no longer being valid, Dr Emson used his one to enter the UK with his two dogs.

However, on the return journey to France he used his French EU pet passport, but was refused boarding by Brittany Ferries, due to a problem with the pet passports. The Brittany Ferries staff member did not explain the nature of the problem. 

A British vet told Dr Emson the issue was that his French EU pet passport did not contain details of rabies vaccinations for his dogs, but instead referenced the rabies vaccinations on his UK pet passport. As the UK pet passport is now no longer valid, he was told the rabies vaccinations listed on it were no longer valid.

Dr Emson instead had to pay for two AHCs for his dogs, and an extra three nights’ stay in the UK, costing him around £500, before he could take a ferry home. 

This is despite France’s pet identification database, known as I-CAD, stating that when French vets issue EU pet passports to British people, they should reference the UK pet passport number for the rabies vaccination details.

“When issuing the passport, the veterinarian must record and validate the identification and current rabies vaccination details, referencing the UK passport number,” I-CAD states.

“The pet owner may keep the UK passport as proof of valid vaccinations,” it adds.

Solution to the problem

A vet based in Nice, who The Connexion spoke to for a previous article about how British second home owners can get an EU pet passport, said that if a British person came in to get an EU pet passport, he would carry out the rabies vaccinations on the animals himself, for a fee, and put the details of it directly onto the French EU pet passport. 

France’s Agriculture Ministry also previously told The Connexion that when British pet owners go to obtain a French pet passport, an EU vet must administer the pet’s rabies jabs.

One way to avoid any confusion when travelling between the UK and EU with an EU pet passport is to ensure that details of the animal’s rabies vaccination are included on the EU pet passport itself, and not just a reference number linked to the now defunct British EU pet passport. 

EU pet passports issued in France are valid and accepted in the UK. 

The Connexion has found that it is possible for British people with second homes in France to obtain an EU pet passport in France, a cheaper option than paying for AHCs. 

Read more: How to get a French EU pet passport as a British second-home owner

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