If you are flying out of or into England, there is every chance you will be arriving or departing from London Gatwick (LGW), the second-largest airport in the UK.
Every year millions of people and thousands of animals pass through the two terminals the airport has to offer jetting off to destinations all over the globe or arriving from a far-flung corner of the planet. With Emirates pet flights, British Airways long and short haul flights and now the recently added Lufthansa pet travel, the airport operates with some of the largest airlines in the world.
Rules for pet travel can vary depending on whether you are entering or exiting the country and each airport may have specific protocols to be followed. However, one rule that remains the same regardless of whether you are entering or departing the UK at Gatwick is that you must organise pet travel in advance either directly with the airline or with a pet travel specialist like PBS Pet Travel. If you turn up assuming you will be able to board a flight with a pet, you will likely find yourself turned away at the gate.
Each airport may have specific rules about handling pets throughout the premises, so read on to find out everything about pet travel to or from Gatwick Airport.
Pets arriving at Gatwick Airport
If you are flying into Gatwick, you will be expected to have your pet meet the requirements specific to the UK. Documentation such as an animal health certificate or EU Pet Passport will be necessary. Our handy destination guides show what will be expected depending on the country you have arrived from. For example, if you have travelled from France or are arriving from an African country, you will find slightly different rules around entry.
Pets that are shipped with an air waybill and transported as cargo are received, checked, and cleared by Animal Aircare Ltd at the Gatwick Animal Reception Centre.
Here, pets are looked after and checked over to make sure they meet the requirements of entering the UK and are fit and healthy to continue with their onward journey.
Upon landing at Gatwick, the pet will:
- Be transported in its pet travel crate by the airline handling agent to the Animal Reception Centre. This normally happens approximately an hour after landing.
- be let out into a secure kennel furnished with a pet bed, water and a toilet area.
- Have its microchip read.
- Have its UK pet entry documents checked to ensure they match all entry requirements for the UK.
- Have its custom declaration completed by the shipper or customer-appointed agent.
- Released from the centre upon completion of customs declarations.
The location of the centre means the qualified team there can transport the animal directly to your vehicle, all the while they remain secure in their IATA-approved pet travel crate.
Pets will not be fed whilst at the Gatwick Animal Reception Centre unless they are scheduled to stay longer than four hours.
No matter your arrival time at Gatwick, your pet will be able to pass through the Animal Reception Centre. It is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with an animal welfare officer always on site. You can contact them here.
Pets departing Gatwick Airport
Should you be flying out of Gatwick with your pets either on the same flight as you or on a special pet flight, you should consult a pet travel service such as PBS Pet Travel to ensure that all the correct documentation is prepared and ready for your pet to board a flight. Rules for entry to each country may vary and you must make sure you comply with those before your pet can board a flight at Gatwick. Pet travel to South Africa for example covers a few different rules compared to pet travel to New Zealand. Contact our team in advance of travel and we can help facilitate everything so that the flight out of Gatwick is stress-free for you and your pet.
PBS Pet Travel can cover all aspects of having your pet cared for and booked onto their flight from Gatwick, but should you opt to do it yourself, you can use the same Animal Reception Centre and have your pet checked in pre-flight, giving them ample opportunity to rest and feel comfortable in their airport boarding kennels before they take off!
Of course, in some instances, you will be taking your pet into the cabin on the flight. Some airlines allow this, although, be aware, many don’t. It should also be noted, should you be planning a return journey, that when flying back into the UK, pets will not be allowed to travel into the cabin with you.
Where pets are allowed in the cabin, you may have them with you in the terminal ready for you to board. Guide dogs or assistance dogs are always allowed in the airport terminals.
Where pets are classed as cargo or excess baggage, they must be checked in with the Animal Centre in advance.
Rules for pets at Gatwick Airport
Only guide dogs or assistance dogs are permitted within the terminals of Gatwick Airport unless the animal is travelling with you.
In addition, any pets travelling into Gatwick or departing the airport must be transported in IATA-approved dog travel crates. PBS Pet Travel can help with this as we hold stock of them ready for dogs, cats and ferrets of all sizes. Having them delivered to you before you arrive at Gatwick gives your pet plenty of time to get used to the crate and results in a much more relaxed pet come the day you travel.
All pets must have their correct documentation with them to be allowed to travel from Gatwick or arrive at the airport. This includes but is not limited to, the animal health certificate or dog passport as some call it. medication information and any export or import certificates.
Should your onward journey use the Gatwick Express, your dog must be kept on a short lead or within a suitable pet travel container and kept on the floor rather than a seat.
If you have pets that will be flying into or departing from Gatwick, speak to PBS Pet Travel, our expert team of pet lovers can help organise every step of your pet journey and even help with mapping out the processes you need to follow to ensure all the correct paperwork is completed for your pet to safely arrive or depart the airport.