This information was reliable as at May 30, 2019 – Many thanks to Bear for going through the process so willingly, and Ciara Turner for documenting the process in such a systematic and easy to read way.
The 8 Main Steps
Step 1: Get an ISO EU approved microchip inserted into the animal. EU approved chips USUALLY (but not always) begin with 900 for private use microchips and China ISO ones usually start with 156. Either 156 start OR 900 is fine.
NB: It is useful to have your own microchip scanner (can be bought on Taobao for about 150 RMB) in the event that any microchip reader at any point of your journey doesn’t work.
Step 2: First rabies injection/rabies booster. It’s REALLY important that you do this AFTER getting the microchip. The dates for the paperwork need to say microchip was inserted first so that the authorities can 100% be sure that the microchip number matches the microchip number on the rabies certificate. E.g. so you cannot fake the dog/animals rabies vaccination in order to dodge the waiting time restrictions etc.
NB: Step 1 & 2 must be done at a government approved vet – check for the plaque. Dr. Jimmy at ChongFuXin in Wangjing in Beijing is Govt. approved, as is ICVS, Beck & Stone etc.
Step 3: Wait 30 days for the rabies injection/jab to work.
Step 4: Complete the Anti-body rabies Titre Test. This is a blood test. See more info generally about the Titre test here:
Essentially, your animal must prove that it can fight rabies IF it were to come into contact with the disease, by having enough anti-bodies to fight it. Expensive test, usually ranges 2000-2500 RMB. This is because the blood has to be sent to a lab in Germany to be tested, then sent BACK to China. Your vet can draw the blood and then arrange to have it sent to Germany via KuaiDi. People have transported the blood serum manually themselves via airplane to labs but I have 0 experience with this myself.
Step 5: Wait 90 days. This is self-governed quarantine. In this time, you should receive the Titre test results back and hopefully your animal passes. If your animal fails (it happens – try not to freak out) you have to go back to Step 2 and start from there again. With this in mind, since the titre test results never never expire as long as your animals vaccination remains up to date, you should do it as early in the process as possible, so that just in case the dog does fail the first time, you have time to do it again.
Step 6: After you have waited 90 days, you can leave the country. You can book your flight for any time AFTER these 90 days. More on flight booking below. Titre test is valid for life AS LONG AS you keep up ANNUAL rabies vaccinations within the prescribed validity of the rabies injection (keep proof of this in certificates and red vaccination book).
NB: In China, this is considered 365 days, therefore be back at the vet after about 350 days to get the booster done each year.
Step 7: Your flight is booked. Your next step is to go to your city/province’s CIQ (Customs, Inspection & Quarantine) to have a final health examination. You must ONLY go 7-10 days before you plan to leave the country. China basically wants to ensure the animal is as healthy as possible as close to the leaving date as possible. Beijing recommends 10 days because their CIQ gets especially busy. I think (but don’t 100% know) that 7 days is fine for other CIQs within mainland China. NB: I have heard (but not personally done) that you can pay RMB 100 to have the papers completed overnight from Beijing GuanShang if you are in a rush.
Step 8: Pick up your health certificate about one week AFTER you take your animal for the CIQ health check. Once you pick up your certificate, you have 7 days to leave the country before the certificate expires.
Info about CIQ (Beijing) visit:
- For EU, allow 2 hours for the initial visit. Get there at opening (9.00am) if possible. Staff go for lunch from 11.30am-1.30pm.
- You must only (at the time of writing) physically take your animal there once, the first time for the initial health examination
- If you are travelling to UK via Paris, say that UK is your final destination
- If you are travelling to UK via Paris, you CAN get an additional part of the paperwork to say its fine to travel through member states of the EU. Note that Beijing refused to give this to me, and said that I didn’t need it. Shanghai are known to provide it more easily.
CIQ Beijing (Guan Shang clinic) is very much a procedural clinic. It is hectic, slightly chaotic and noisy. But it’s clean and gets the job done. The contact with the animal is very minimal, I would say 5-10 minutes of examination and a tiny blood draw. Most of your time there is spent completing paperwork with the Government Vets.
The health examination costs just over 1000 RMB (June 2019)
- DOG ONLY: For entry into UK you must provide evidence that your dog has been de-wormed no more than 120 hours (about 5 days) BEFORE entering the country. GuanShang will give you the de-worming medicine and instruct you to give it to the dog at the appropriate time. There is a space on the health certificate form for it and they will sign and fill that out when you return to pick up the certificate. This costs about 200 RMB. E.g. I left on the Wednesday, so I gave the de-worming on Monday. I didn’t give it on Wednesday because I didn’t want the dog to potentially have diarrhea upon arrival.
- When you return to CIQ to pick up the health certificate, you must pay 200 RMB to the customs people on the 2nd floor to pick up your health certificate/exit permit (THESE ARE THE SAME THING). You do not need to bring the animal this time. It’s mostly a quick visit the second time.
- I think you can use cash OR WeChat, but bring cash with you just to be on the safe side.
Info about booking a flight:
- Air France or KLM is best option. You can take up to 3 animals in crates in the hold as excess baggage, and 1 with you in the cabin if it’s small enough.
- For MOST airlines, you must book your human ticket first. Then, you phone and ADD the animal booking to your original booking.
- AF: Dog/cat in hold is $200, dog/cat in cabin is $80
- The airlines usually ask: breed of animal, weight of animal and crate separately and combined, dimensions of crate
- Check ahead to see if there are any breeds that the airline doesn’t fly (e.g. snub nosed animals can be difficult)
- Check ahead to see if your airline of choice has any heat embargos. Some don’t fly animals in the winter if its below 7 degrees, some don’t fly animals in the summer if its above 29.5 degrees. This is due to potential delays and the potential risk of your animal sitting on the tarmac. In the hold, the temperature is regulated.
- Some airlines require netting for the crate that you must provide yourself – phone and check this first
- You can’t generally fly animals in the cabin if you’re in business class or premium Econ.
- If you are flying your personal pet/animal, PLEASE be a flight volunteer too. It’s literally 0 hassle and it saves lives.
- Push the airlines to email you confirmation that the animal is booked onto the flight. Sometimes they will say they can’t do this but THEY CAN – see below:
What to do at the airport:
- Get to the airport 4 hours before departure
- If appropriate, take your dog out of the crate to pee/poop one last time before being checked in
- Go to check in, check yourself in and explain that you have animals. Some airlines will let you use the business queue if it’s not too busy
- Make sure your crate has water bottle filled with water (NOT IN THE BOWL BECAUSE IT WILL SPILL), the ‘live animals’ sticker, a zip-lock bag of food taped to it (not 100% necessary but very handy if you’re delayed or when you arrive in Paris) and a copy of the important documents taped to it.
You pay for your animal’s ticket at the place where you’d pay for an extra bag. Air France is $200 in the hold, $80 in the cabin.
- Once you’ve paid, got the receipt and checked in, you go to the place where some people get their luggage ‘wrapped’. The airport staff (universal to all airlines, I believe) will wrap your animals crate with hard plastic tape/bands (see image below). This is why it’s extremely useful to have a pair of scissors packed in an easy-access part of your check in luggage, so you can cut these off upon arrival in Paris.
- Once the crates are wrapped with the plastic ties, you take the crates to where they check in the ‘excess/oversized’ baggage. They put them through the scanner (they told me X-ray wasn’t on but I don’t often believe them) and then that is the last time you will see them! Most of the time they go to get loaded straight onto the plane, occasionally (depending on how early you’re at the airport) they might bring the crates out and put them on the floor in the oversized baggage area but you aren’t allowed to see/touch them after they go through.
- You go through to security and check out as normal.
Read this paragraph if you’re taking in the cabin:
Go through to security as normal, keeping your dog or cat in the bag. If it’s a dog, go to the disabled toilet cubicles and allow your dog out to pee etc. if it needs to. If it’s a cat, I’d advise not taking it out of the bag until you reach your final destination. (but dependent on each cat/circumstance). On the plane, your experience depends on the airline staff. MOST are VERY strict and don’t allow you to take the animal out of the bag. You can take the bag to the airplane toilet and let the dog out to pee and change it’s pee-pad etc if you want to/is necessary.
What to do at Charles de Gaul
After all your China stress, you are probably expecting the same level of madness when you arrive in France. Well, don’t. It is SO relaxed there compared with China. Multiple times when I’ve had animals at CDG I’ve had to hunt down Customs to force them check/stamp my paperwork because they kept just trying to tell me to leave and that no one needed to check the paperwork. You go to excess/oversized baggage area (where you pick up your suitcases as normal) and wait for the dogs there. This is where it’s handy to have packed scissors near the top of your suitcase so you can cut the ties off the crate now.
If you are transiting Paris to go to England, you need (to some degree) a stamp to say you can move with EU member states. They can give you this at CDG but they are sometimes reluctant too. I will highlight it in my documents below.
NB: If you’re coming from Shanghai apparently they give you this space on your health certificate. If you’re coming from Beijing, Beijing customs refused to give it to me but I got them to stamp it in CDG.
Info for getting from Paris to UK:
There are multiple ways to get from an EU country to England. I have ONLY used the first option, but some others have used the alternatives.
- Drive from Paris CDG airport to Calais, take the Eurotunnel into UK and drive onto your final destination there.
Pros: Relatively simple/easy. Many people do it and Calais are very used to animals transitting through. Can be quite cheap if can arrange the transport yourself.
Cons: Can be expensive if you have to use a taxi service.
- Take the train from CDG to Calais then get a car from Calais to UK.
- Fly into Amsterdam and take the ferry from the Hook of Holland into the UK.
If you CAN’T arrange transport into UK from Paris yourself, there is a service called Folkestone Taxis. I have used them but they are VERY expensive and to be honest the service is not good.
DogBus are a registered Charity that can help you make the trip (for a donation or cost). Find them on Instagram @aniaid or Facebook https://www.facebook.com/aniaid999/
What to do at Calais:
- The turn off for Pet Customs is on the right just before you hit the Eurotunnel.
- Park up, take your animals in (they must be on leashes or in crates)
- Show the paperwork, get the animals’ microchips scanned and get a car sticker (once everything is approved) and you are good to go!
- They have a dog walking fenced in area where you can exercise your dog before boarding the Eurotunnel
Leaving documents checklist:
- Titre test
- Rabies vaccination certificate
- Final health certificate from CIQ
- Vaccination book with microchip number in
- Multiple copies of all of the above