Ever since moving to France in 2012, I’ve been curious about the Channel Islands. As time went on, I learned a little bit about Jersey and Guernsey and told myself I’d get there one day. That day finally came last week. Tom, Dagny, and I headed to Jersey on a ferry from Saint Malo for a weekend away. How was it traveling by ferry from France to Jersey with a pet? Let me tell you all about our experience.
What it’s like traveling by ferry from France to Jersey with a pet
After a hectic summer of work travel, Tom and I wanted to get away for a relaxing weekend. His parents helped us out with Dagny while I was away for work, so we wanted to take her with us on this trip. One of the things I love about living in France is that there are so many places to visit nearby both within France and abroad. Jersey was the perfect option and it’s a destination many people don’t even know about!
I don’t like hot weather and hate the crowds and high prices that come along with peak summer travel, so traveling to the Channel Islands in the off-season by ferry made perfect sense. Condor Ferries serves this route between Saint Malo and the Channel Islands and it’s an easy trip. For us, the best part was that Dagny could come with us on the ferry.
First, here’s some quick background info on Condor Ferries. They started up with a passenger service between France and the Channel Islands in 1964. Then in 1987, they added service between the Channel Islands and the UK. They operate all year long between the UK, Guernsey and Jersey, and Saint Malo. Condor transports over 1 million passengers annually and 200,000 passenger vehicles.
When I started researching about what was needed for a pet to travel on a ferry from France to Jersey and the UK, I found a lot of conflicting information — rabies vaccines, de-wormers right before travel, certificates, blood tests — and not a single personal blog post detailing someone’s experience taking a dog on the ferry from France to Jersey. So that’s what I’m writing about in this post. I’m detailing my personal experience taking a dog with us from France to Jersey aboard Condor Ferries.
Spoiler alert: It was easy, hassle free, and I look forward to doing it again! That said, there are a few things to keep in mind.
A word on Jersey
So first, here’s a little bit about Jersey. Home to about 106,000 people, Jersey is part of the Channel Islands and is 71 kilometers north of Saint Malo in the English Channel. The island is only 118 square km (45 sq miles) in area and the landscapes remind me so much of Brittany with the rugged coasts. You can leisurely drive the circumference of the island in a good hour and a half. It’s one of the three British Isles island territories that are called Crown Dependencies but it’s not part of the European Union. Jersey is a self-governing entity not considered a part of the UK either. Keep in mind that you drive on the left. The currency is the pound sterling.
To get to the Channel Islands from France, a ferry from Saint Malo is the easiest and most stress-free option. It’s a 1 hour 20 minute crossing and you can book your Condor Ferries ticket online in just a few clicks. Choose your dates, route, and if you’ll be on foot, with a vehicle, and with a pet. In our case, we were traveling in our own vehicle and with Dagny.
What’s needed for pet travel on a ferry from France to Jersey
I knew that there were a few extra steps we’d need to take before traveling to make sure Dagny was properly documented and registered. The information on the Condor Ferries site about pet travel to Jersey on a ferry left me with more questions, so I checked the Jersey government’s website about entering with a pet from an EU member state. Then I consulted with our veterinarian.
If you have a dog traveling with you by ferry to Jersey from France, this is what you need to make sure you have ready before heading to the port:
(Always be sure to consult the most up to date regulations and your veterinarian before travel)
- Valid EU pet passport
- Pet must be microchipped (they check it!)
- Up to date with the rabies vaccine. Must be administered after 12 weeks of age and vaccinated AFTER pet was microchipped. This must be done at least 21 days before travel.
- 1-5 days before arrival in Jersey, the dog must be treated for tapeworm in the presence of a veterinarian, so make that appointment!
- We also had our vet write a letter verifying the information above
We reviewed the requirements with our vet and then booked Dagny an appointment 3 days before departure so we could have the vet administer the tapeworm pill and sign off on her health. The vet will do a regular wellness exam to make sure the dog is in good health, doesn’t have a fever, etc. She also gave us a paper certifying that all of the requirements had been met and Dagny was fit for travel. The required tapeworm pill was her regular de-wormer so there were no side effects or anything out of the ordinary. A blood test is no longer required for a pet going to Jersey from the EU.
As long as you see your vet and make sure the above requirements are taken care of, it’s super simple to bring your dog to Jersey on a ferry. There’s nothing difficult or invasive about it. While ferry staff and customs do check the pet’s passport and microchip, as long as you have everything in order, it’s a breeze. The only slight inconvenience is getting into your vet’s office no more than 5 days before travel for the tapeworm medication. Don’t forget to make that appointment right before travel.
Because we had an early ferry on Saturday morning, we stayed at a Saint Malo hotel the night before. (I did a live walk showing you around town on my YouTube channel if you’d like to take a look.)
If you’re traveling with your car, you’re required to check in an hour before departure time, so for us check-in time was 6:30 a.m. You could probably get away with 45 minutes in advance, but no later than that. There are a bunch of cars that need to get loaded and you don’t want to cut it close and risk missing the boat.
As long as you have your pet documents squared away, check-in and passport control take just a few minutes. You pull up to the check-in station to first see a representative who will take your passports (Dagny’s too) and scan your Condor Ferries confirmation either from your phone or a printed out paper. After getting us checked in, the gentleman had a look at Dagny’s passport and handed us the microchip wand reader. We had to wave it over her neck so they could verify that the dog in the car was indeed the dog noted on the passport. Once she was checked in, they gave us a special paper and sticker for the dashboard that noted we had a pet with us.
Next, we approached a customs/passport control area where I got a stamp on my passport since I’m not from the EU. There were no questions and no invasive body or vehicle searches.
Then we queued up to drive onto the ferry. An employee will direct you to the proper lane in which to wait. About 30 minutes before departure, so 7 a.m. for us, the lanes started moving and an employee will guide you onto the boat. They are great about guiding you into your spot. The cars pack in pretty close to each other, so be ready for that. Once our car was situated below deck, all passengers were required to leave their cars and go upstairs to the passenger area. Pets are required to stay in the car. You cannot stay with your pet in the car or take your pet out of the car.
So about that. One thing that I didn’t realize before booking our ferry trip was that all pets need to stay in the vehicle for the duration of the journey. I knew all people passengers were required to exit their vehicles because we took a ferry in Scotland last year and that rule was the same. But unlike Scotland where pets on a leash accompanied their owners to a pet area above deck, that’s not the case on Condor Ferries between France and the UK/Channel Islands. It made me nervous leading up the trip only because we’d never done it before, but in retrospect, leaving her in the car was totally fine.
Anyway, we crated Dagny because it was the safest option (and she likes her crate), but pets are not required to be crated in the car. The pup next to us just stayed on the backseat on his blanket, so that’s up to you. As long as the animal stays in the car with the windows cracked, they’re good.
Although the trip on the ferry from France to Jersey is only about 1 hour 20 minutes long, it made me a little nervous to know Dagny would be below deck alone. We had no choice, though. Dagny isn’t a nervous or anxious dog at all. She’ll just flop over and go to sleep and snore. I was the nervous one. As it turned out, she was fine. My worrying was all for nothing, as it usually is.
The good part is that you can visit your pet. Knowing this was possible put me at ease and I love that Condor Ferries facilitates this for passengers. A staff member can take you down to check on your dog, administer medication, and do whatever else you need to do. They’re really good about this. For a short crossing from Saint Malo to the Channel Islands, I actually don’t recommend visiting your pet unless absolutely necessary — and most people did not check on their pets. Tom went down halfway through on the way there and the movement of him walking up to the car caught Dagny’s eye, so she sat up and got excited. She was fine resting so there was no need to check on her and risk waking her up.
On board the ferry
The ferry, the Rapide, is well equipped and quite comfortable. Once you head upstairs, there’s a duty-free shop that opens once you leave the dock. You can get perfume and beauty products, alcohol, cigarettes, and other items you commonly find in duty-free shops. There’s also a restaurant and cafe area where you can grab something to eat and drink.
We were upgraded to Club Class which is an option that gives you private seating and complimentary drinks and snacks. If you’d like to order food, the Club Class steward will take your order and bring it to your seat so you don’t have to wait in line at the cafe out in the public area. Club Class was a welcome respite at that hour of the morning. Our steward was a friendly French guy who made the crossing that much more pleasant.
Even the deckhands and other employees I ran into — both British and French — were happy to chat and answer any questions I had about their routes, how rough it normally is, if we could check on our dog, etc. I know it’s only normal to help passengers, but I felt the employees were particularly friendly and helpful.
The regular seating area is more than adequate — nice seats, window views, enough space — but it’s crowded and can be hectic with kids playing and people moving all around. Club Class, on the other hand, had maybe 10 other passengers, max, on our sailing and was quiet and comfortable, although I’m sure it’s much busier during peak season.
Each table had a power outlet so you could charge your devices (UK power so bring your adapter) and the seats reclined a little if you wanted to snooze. It’s a nice area that I’d probably opt for if traveling during the summer, or for longer sailings or business travel when you want comfort and calm to be a priority.
Then, it was time to dock. About 5 minutes before arrival, we were allowed to head back below deck to access our cars. Dagny was happy to see us and had slept the entire time. We maneuvered out of our spot and queued up in a short line to have our passports checked one last time before leaving the port and heading out onto the streets of Saint Helier. They had a quick look at our passports and then security on the way out asked to see Dagny’s passport. The had a quick look at her documents and wished us a good day. Then we were off.
What about seasickness on the ferry?
If you’re super sensitive to motion, you may want to take some preventive measures like Dramamine or wear the seasickness bracelets. You can tell you’re on a boat, but it wasn’t very rough on the ferry from France to Jersey. On the return trip when we crossed the Channel on the ferry from Jersey to France, it was a bit choppy and ferry staff handed out motion sickness bags like you find on airplanes. You could definitely feel the movement although we did OK and didn’t see anyone actually using the bags. I think most people do well on short ferry crossings between France and the Channel Islands but again, it’s better to be safe than sorry if you’re particularly prone to seasickness.
Taking a pet from France to Jersey with Condor Ferries was super easy and a stress-free experience. We’re looking forward to sailing with them again.
Have you ever traveled with a pet on a ferry between France and the UK? Is it something you’d consider? Tell me about it in the comments!
You can look into all Condor Ferries timetables and routes here.
Thank you to Condor Ferries for providing us with complimentary ferry tickets.