The website maintained by the French embassy in DC has a section on regulations regarding bringing privately-owned pets into France. It seems simple enough. Dogs, cats, and ferrets as well as hamsters, mice and other domestic pet rodents are welcome with the proper paperwork. Birds must undergo quarantine either pre- or post-entry. Here are the rules ripped from the website and slightly modified for clarity for dogs, cats and ferrets coming to France from the US:
- Every animal must be identified by a standard ISO 11784 or annex A ISO standard 11785 microchip or a tatoo clearly readable and applied before July, 2011. If the microchip standard is different from standard ISO 11784 or annex A ISO standard 11785, you must bring your own scanner in order to read the microchip.
- Every animal must have a valid rabies vaccination, even if less than 3 months old. If it is the first rabies vaccination for the pet, you must wait 21 days between the last shot of the vaccination protocol and departure.
- An OFFICIAL health certificate.
I've capitalized OFFICIAL for a reason. There's a form. It is not enough to have our vet sign off on the health of Mimi and Chloe - our Siamese stepsisters. The official USDA vet in our home state must sign off on the health of our cats no more than 10 days from our date of departure. This creates two problems:
1. Our vet since our cats acquired us retired just seven or eight months before we're scheduled to leave. We're going to run this craziness through a vet who has never before seen us or our cats.
2. The office of the official USDA vet for Pennsylvania is in Harrisburg, the state capitol 80 miles away.
So I called the number that I had for the new vet, Dr. Leck. After explaining the situation, I was given a number to call in Harrisburg. I called the number. I was given another number to call. I called the second number and left a message. I got a callback in a surprisingly reasonable period of time. I had called the wrong number. I would be transferred to the right number. And I was. At least I think that I was. The guy who answered seemed to know what he was talking about, asked me the name of our vet and, when I told him, said that he had the name of our vet on his list and would fax him information.
I asked for and received a callback number.
A week later we took Mimi and Chloe to Dr. Leck to be examined and chipped. Painless for us all. The chip is inserted by a syringe and the cats hardly seemed to notice. They're both in good health, from teeth to tail.
But no fax had been received.
That's why we started this process five months before we depart. There will be glitches. From what I can tell, the form that must accompany the health certificate appears to be somewhat ambiguous in the way that documents created in foreign languages can be when translated to English. But there's time.
Updates as they become available.