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Why was my dog’s EU pet passport not accepted on UK to France ferry?

The refusal for boarding reveals two common problems linked to getting new EU pet passports after the UK versions stopped being valid this year due to Brexit

Complicationos over your pet's rabies injections can end in you being turned away from a travel booking Pic: La Su / Shutterstock

Reader question: Why was I refused boarding with my dog on Brittany Ferries recently after showing them my pet’s new EU pet passport that was issued by a French vet?

Several British travellers going between the UK and France have been turned away by authorities, be it ferry or train services, due to issues with their pet’s new EU passports or old UK pet passports.

British EU pet passports ceased to be valid from January 1 this year due to the UK leaving the EU. 

Now, pet-owners who previously had British pet passports have two options if they wish to travel to the EU with their animals.

They can visit a vet in the UK 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 can typically cost around £100 each, plus any treatments and vaccinations the pet may need. 

Or, those who are residents in France or have a second home there, can change to getting an EU pet passport. An EU pet passport issued in France will cost between €15 to €20, and can be used for up to 28 trips, including to the UK, where it is valid. 

However our reader, who has chosen to get a new EU pet passport in France, experienced a combination of two issues on his recent trip.

Rabies vaccine details must be included on EU passport

The main problem was that his vet did not include the details of his animal’s rabies vaccine on his new EU pet passport.

This means that the only travel record our reader has of his animal’s rabies vaccination history is on his old UK pet passport, which is now a defunct document. 

Furthermore, the last jab was done by a UK vet.

Read more: Can a UK vet give a rabies jab for a French pet passport? 

An expert from the Pet Travel Scheme helpline run by the UK’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said that some, but not all, French vets are willing to transfer over details of a UK jab into an EU pet passport. 

In this case, he said, the French vet should include as much detail as possible about the rabies vaccination on the new EU pet passport on page five of the document.

This includes the vaccine type, the batch number, date of the vaccination, its expiry date and any other relevant details.

We note, however, that this contradicts information previously given to The Connexion by a French Agriculture Ministry spokesman, who said:
“The last vaccination must have been done by a vet accredited in the EU” and that if the last one was done in the UK this invalidates the EU passport.

The alternative therefore, where the animal has not had a French or other EU jab, is to get a French vet to give your animal a new booster dose of a rabies vaccine, which will be valid after three weeks. 

However, anyone getting a new EU pet passport should be careful with the date of the rabies vaccination, as it is important.

Date of application / reading of transponder must predate rabies vaccine

On page three of the EU pet passport is the section: Date of application or reading of the transponder (referring to the animal’s identification chip, with ‘application’ referring to the date it was fitted to the animal).

Under EU rules, the date that is written here must precede the date the most recent rabies vaccination was given. 

Some vets in France will score out the “date of application” of the microchip if they do not know it, and instead only insert the “reading date”, which means the date they themselves scanned the microchip.

They will then be likely to mark the reading date as whatever the day’s date is. This is not a problem if they then go on to give the animal a rabies booster shot. 

However, if they are using details about a rabies vaccination that was done before then it will cause a problem as the reading date will be later than the vaccination date. This was another issue our reader faced. 

The Defra helpline adviser said that if this is the case on your EU pet passport, then there are two solutions.

The first is that you ask your vet to write in the “date of application” of the microchip, if they know it, which will undoubtedly predate the last rabies vaccination date. 

If they cannot do that or do not know the application date, then the only other solution is to give the animal another rabies shot, ensuring that the date of the vaccination comes after the reading date they have included on the document. 

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