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Rabies shot for dogs: How often is it required for France-UK travel?

The UK requires dogs to be vaccinated every three years, while the majority of rabies vaccinations in France are only valid for one year, prompting the question of how long the vaccine is valid for on an Animal Health Certificate

A dog preparing to travel

The UK and France have different rules on the length of validity of rabies vaccines for dogs Pic: Monika Wisniewska / Shutterstock

Reader question: Rabies vaccines for dogs for travel purposes are valid for three years in the UK, and usually one year in France. When I travel between the UK and France using an Animal Health Certificate, should my dog have had a shot within the past year or three years?

The expiry date of the rabies vaccine that is added to the Animal Health Certificate (AHC) will be the one set by the vet who carried out the rabies vaccine, a call handler for the UK’s Pet Travel Scheme helpline said.

This means that if the vaccine was done in the UK and the expiry date of the vaccine was set as three years, then this is the length of validity that should be added to the AHC and accepted by authorities when travelling with a pet. 

All dogs that are taken on travels must be vaccinated against rabies, under UK and French law.

Rabies vaccines in the UK are usually valid for three years, while the majority of rabies vaccines in France are only valid for one year.

You can see a list of validity lengths of rabies vaccines used in France at this link - scroll down to the section ‘Tableau des rappels’. 

British EU pet passports ceased to be valid from January 1 this year, due to the UK leaving the EU. Now, UK pet-owners must visit a vet for an AHC, valid for up to four months for a single trip, onward travel in the EU and re-entry.

These can typically cost around £100 each, plus any treatments and vaccinations the pet may need. 

If your pet's last rabies vaccine is out of date, you must get a booster vaccine for it at least three weeks before you apply for an AHC.

For people who travel regularly with a pet between the UK and France, it could be worth getting an EU pet passport issued in France. These are valid in both France and the UK, and are also available to second-home owners or frequent travellers in France.

You can read our article here on the process: How to get a French EU pet passport as a British second-home owner

For more information about pet travel between the UK and EU, see this information page here

Related stories:

Here’s what you need to know about pets and vets in France

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

What are the rules for buying a pet in France?

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