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ANIMAL WELFARE

What you need to know about owning a dog in France

There's a practical side to puppy love in France. From the certificates you need to sign, to the microchips you need to insert and the documents you need to travel there’s much more to owning a dog than loving them, feeding them and taking them for a walk.

What you need to know about owning a dog in France
(Photo: Laurent Emmanuel / AFP)

Getting a dog

Popping down to the pet store and picking up a perfect pooch is pretty much a thing of the past already. Pet shops will not be able to sell dogs and cats from 2024 – and won’t be able to display them in shop windows – and many have already removed puppies from displays. Only abandoned dogs and cats will be available for sale in pet stores, working with rescue shelters. 

A new law – which was published in the Journal Officiel in July – makes sure that first-time buyers of cats or dogs have to sign a ‘certificate of commitment and understanding’ before making their purchase. After the signed document is delivered to the authorities, future owners have seven days to change their mind – the idea is to prevent people from ‘impulsively’ buying pets only to abandon them later. For more detail, click here

Pet abandonement is a massive problem in France, which means there are lots of lovely dogs in animal shelters that need good homes.

Registration  

Under French law, pet dogs – and cats and ferrets – over a certain age must be identified and registered on a national database. This applies whether you get a new dog in France, or whether you move to France with your dog.

The animal must be identifiable by a tattoo or microchip – the latter is the most common method – that is registered on the Identification des carnivores domestiques (I-CAD) database. 

The procedure to insert the microchip, or ink the tattoo, must be carried out by an approved professional. The procedure should be done by a vet and costs between €40 and €70.

Once the animal is registered on the database, the owner will receive a letter from I-CAD, along with a credit card-sized document listing the registered animal’s details, including its home address.

For more details, click here

Pet passports

If you live in France you can get a pet passport issued by your vet in France, and use it to travel to other EU countries, and the UK.

For UK dog owners planning to bring their beloved pet to France, for example to a second home here, dogs – and cats and ferrets – now need an Animal Health Certificate (AHC) for a trip over, and a new certificate is required for each trip.

To get one you need:

  • Proof of your pet’s microchipping history
  • Your pet’s vaccination record
  • A certificate for a rabies vaccination that was carried out at least 21 days before the date of travel

For more on pet passports and Animal Health Certificates, click here

Other rules

You might not believe it if you have worked along certain streets in Paris, but it is in fact illegal in France to just to walk on after your dog has done its business on pavements, public roads, green spaces and public parks reserved for children. You can be fined if you fail to pick up after your pet. 

The standard fine is €68, but the mayor’s of some towns have imposed stricter rules in the street, in parks, gardens and other public spaces. 

In Bergerac (Dordogne) the fine has been increased to €750 –  while dog owners who do not carry two bags to collect the waste while they are out with their dogs could be fined €38.

The French government’s Service Public website lists other rules regarding the health and wellbeing of pets. Read it here

Collar

Among a range of rules this web page states that any dog out on the public highway, whether it is on a leash or not, must have a collar bearing the name and address of its owner engraved on a metal plate.

Trains and cafés

In many ways, France is a pretty dog-friendly place and most cafés and restaurants are happy to welcome dogs – guide dogs must be accepted at all businesses by law. Especially if you’re outside on a café terrace, don’t be surprised to see a dog lying under the next table.

Dogs can also travel on all trains in France (with the exception of the Eurostar) although they do need a ticket (€7) and of course must be accompanied by a human. 

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For members

LIVING IN FRANCE

How and when to send Christmas presents from France

If you want to send Christmas presents to friends and family overseas you need to know the deadline dates and how to avoid being hit with extra charges - here's what you need to know.

How and when to send Christmas presents from France

Deadlines

First things first, you need to make sure your parcel arrives in time for Christmas, which means sending it before the deadline.

The French postal service La Poste has the following deadlines;

In Europe

If you’re sending a parcel within France, the deadline to have it delivered by Christmas is December 23rd. 

If you’re sending to the UK or Bulgaria, Cyprus, Spanish islands (eg Tenerife), Croatia, Finland, Greece, Ireland, Iceland, Malta, Norway, Portuguese islands (eg Madeira) or Romania you have until December 16th.

If you’re sending to Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden or Switzerland you have until December 17th.

If you’re sending to Germany, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands or Portugal you have until December 19th.

Outside Europe

If you’re sending to the USA, Canada, Australia, South Africa, New Zealand or Hong Kong you have until December 10th. Likewise if you’re sending to most French overseas territories, the deadline is December 10th.

For most other countries the deadline is December 3rd, but you can find the full list here

Private couriers like Fed-Ex and DPD have their own deadlines, although they are broadly in line with La Poste, and if you’re buying online each company has its own deadline on when it can guarantee a Christmas delivery.

Fees and customs declarations

If you’re sending parcels to another EU country then it’s pretty straightforward – just pay the delivery cost (you can check how much it will be to send via La Poste here) and make sure you send it before the deadline.

If, however, you are sending to a country outside the EU (which of course now includes the UK) then you will need to fill out a customs declaration form explaining what is in your parcel and whether it is a gift or not.

In addition to standard postal charges, you may also need to pay customs duties, depending on the value or your parcel and whether it is a gift or not. 

Find full details on customs duty rules HERE.

Banned items

And there are some items that are banned from the post – if you’re sending parcels to the US be aware that you cannot send alcohol through the mail as a private individual, so don’t try a ship some nice French wine or a bottle of your local liqueur. 

Most countries ban firearms and fireworks, not unreasonably, although be aware that this includes items like sparklers.

Sending food and plants is also often restricted with countries including Canada and Australia having strict rules and most other countries imposing restrictions on what you can send.

This also applies the other way and France bans any foodstuffs containing animal products (eg chocolate) sent from outside the EU. 

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