Why did the chicken cross the channel?
For all the reasons we did, I suppose. Assuming they had a vote, they’d opt for 3 times the land area with an equivalent population, cleaner air, cheaper land, affordable properties offering potential to improve… Julie Savill looks at making the move with the family pets
We had sold the house in Chelmsford and bought one in the Dordogne, we had sold both the cars, the removals van had been and gone, so there we were on a wet Monday morning piling into the in-laws’ Mondeo with 4 cats in two large dog crates in the boot. There was just enough space left for a small bag each for us but, hey, we were off to a new life in the sun so who needs more than a cozzie and a toothbrush?
Our fears of 12 hours of wailing from the cats proved unfounded. We had lined the crates with disposable baby changing mats just in case of accidents but there was not a peep (or a pee) from any of them for the whole journey. The in-laws were another story…
Home from home
Selling up and moving to France is a huge adventure for you and your animals. Getting organised is the secret.
It might sounds obvious, but choosing the right property in France is going to be key to your pets’ (and therefore your) happiness. Land is plentiful in rural areas and you should have no trouble finding a property with space for your pony/donkey/llama. Keen walkers with dogs that love to be off the lead will appreciate the randonées (marked walks of varying lengths from a couple of kilometres to several hundred) through woods and countryside. Riders, too, will enjoy the freedom of these tracks and trails through beautiful, unspoilt landscapes.
If your dream is actually to be at the centre of village life, that too can be suitable for animals. From the centre of a village you are rarely more than a 5 minute walk to open countryside. And if you want to combine village comforts with horsey outings or a taste of small-holding you’ll often find land to rent or buy nearby.
You are allowed to take 5 domestic pets from the UK to France.
There are various sites that offer more information including the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (just google DEFRA) and ambafrance-uk.org.
Be sure to check with ferry, train or other transport companies that you are allowed to carry your animals on their service.
Cats, dogs and ferrets
Dogs need to be chipped or tattooed, cats and ferrets must be chipped. If you get a pet passport for each of them to show they are up to date with their vaccinations (including rabies) they’ll be able to travel back to the UK with you at any time.
These animals are entitled to a pet passport even if the owner is not an EU citizen.
If you know you are not returning with the animals a simple export certificate is all that is needed. See the Defra website for details.
Rabbits and rodents
Don’t need passports but you need to declare them at the border. A vet certificate is required to say they are in good health.
Need to have been vaccinated with the H5 vaccine 60 days prior to travel. You will also need to provide a veterinary certificate of good health and a declaration that you are the owner and will not sell the birds on.
Livestock and poultry
These need to be inspected by an official vet and have an Intra Trade Animal Health Certificate (ITAHC)
Horses, donkeys and zebras!
Unless you have your own horsebox or lorry it is best to use the services of one of the many professional companies that specialise in horse transport. Each animal will need to be chipped and have a current passport. The transport company will organise the necessary paperwork. If it is going to be a long journey the company will organise overnight stops and ensure the animals are fed, watered and rested. If time is flexible opt to put your animals on a shared load to reduce the cost. Budget in the region of £300 - £600 per animal.
There is a list of dogs that cannot be taken into France including non-pedigree Staffordshire-types, non-pedigree American Staffordshires (pitbulls), mastiffs, non-pedigree Tosa-types
- Monkeys, crocodiles and scorpions are not allowed.
- Parrots, turtles, iguanas and snakes are not forbidden but in a listed category and difficult to import. You will need to take advice from a vet allowed to issue certificates for the import/export of animals.
You can carry one falcon in economy class on a Qatar Airways flight
Hoof it across the channel
Jennifer Spouse has more experience than most in transporting horses from the UK to France
‘In my previous professional capacity as a racehorse trainer I have exported and transported many horses to France. France is a lovely country to own horses, with quiet lanes and a beautiful countryside full of wildlife. Bringing them here is a relatively simple procedure, however there are procedures to be observed.
Use a reliable Transport company and let them do the paperwork for you. I have always used Parkers Horse Transport in Kent and find them extremely reliable. The horses arrive in good condition with their paperwork correct, but there are other reliable transport companies.
An approximate price from Hatfield, Hertfordshire to Bordeaux, France would be £500+VAT per horse on a shared load.
Export health papers need to be signed by the ministry vet and are £80+VAT per horse, the transport company will organise this for you at their premises before the ferry crossing
Horses must have a passport to travel. If it is a thoroughbred horse it must be issued with an export visa from Weatherbys which costs €152 euros (not necessary for other breeds).
On arrival in France all horses then have to be registered with the Haras Nationaux if they are a registered or non-registered breed, and France Galop if they are thoroughbred.
All horses must have the markings sheet in their passport inspected and updated in french by a french vet for around €100 in total
An ownership card then has to be issued by the Haras Nationaux for all breeds, the initial cost of this is €23 for a paper document and €7 on line.
If you have 3 or more horses on your property it is compulsory to register as an equine establishment by registering as a lieu detention on line on the Haras Nationaux website. This is free, and is a good idea even if you only have one or two horses, as it lets the mairie know you have horses, and you will always be notified if there are any infectious diseases you should know about.
Two very useful websites are http://www.ifce.fr/ http://www.france-galop.com
These both have the options to be in english by clicking on the union jack flag
Those chickens we mentioned earlier………..
Yes, we really do know people who brought their chickens with them.
Whilst many of us move to France for the differences it offers over and above life in the UK, for chickens life may seem much the same. The resident fox population is just as great a challenge to your average poultry as it is anywhere else.
Whilst many (most) jobs will wait until some time after the move, secure accommodation for the more vulnerable members of the family absolutely needs to be completed in advance. Put building the chicken-run right up there on your ‘to-do’ list with understanding the buying process, choosing a good agent and arranging currency exchange.
For properties in pet-friendly areas look at... the whole of our area! There are houses in quiet areas, properties with land, great walking areas - anything your pets might need:
First published in French Property News