With Heathrow Airport seeing over 60 million passengers each year pass through its doors, many will no doubt be arriving or departing with pets in tow.
Flights span the whole globe across the five terminals at the airport, and before boarding, whether flying into or out of Heathrow you will need to be fully aware of the relevant laws for your destination.
Importing pets into the UK has quite different rules to pet travel to Australia for example, so it is worth checking with a pet travel specialist like PBS Pet Travel before you arrive at Heathrow to find out what you are required to do.
No matter whether you are arriving at or departing Heathrow, one thing you will need to sort out in advance if travelling with pets, is their own travel. Pet travel can be full of paperwork and vet visits so without it organised in advance, you could find yourself turned away at the gate.
Luckily, our partnerships with airlines make the whole process easy so your time at Heathrow Airport is as stress-free as possible. Lufthansa pet travel, United pet travel, and Emirates pet travel are among the common options people look to take.
Pets arriving at Heathrow Airport
If you are flying into Heathrow, your pet will be subject to the current rules set out for the UK. At present, UK regulations mean that if specific rules are followed, your pet will not require any form of quarantine after it has landed at Heathrow.
It will require an animal health certificate, EU Pet passport, or similar documents depending on where you have flown into the country from. Some countries have slightly different rules to the UK so it is worth checking in advance what is required to enter the UK from the country you have flown in from. If you are in breach of any pet travel requirements, you could see your pet quarantined for four months!
Once your pet flight has touched down at Heathrow, your animal will be taken to the Animal Reception Centre. This may be by aircraft staff or by the team from the animal centre.
This is where all the documentation is checked to ensure that your pet is compliant with all the requirements to be able to enter the UK. A microchip scan will also take place.
At the centre, the pets will be allowed out of their IATA approved travel crate and let into a pen, especially for them. Water is provided, as is a bed, but food is limited. Many pets may have a long onward journey after their checks and food may not be kept down if travelling.
Depending on your pet will determine how long they will need to stay at the centre, in most cases, you will be reunited with your pet within 1-2 hours but should your pet have flown into Heathrow from outside the EU or a specific country, you could be waiting for anything up to 6 hours.
Heathrow Airport also has a nominated vet that is on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Once your animal has been checked and deemed safe to enter the UK, you can collect it from the animal reception centre. Or if you have booked a pet travel agent to collect it and bring it to your home, they can collect it on your behalf as long as they have the documentation to do so.
Current rules state that in the UK, pet owners must arrive in the country within five days of the pet’s journey. You must also ensure that no more than 5 pets are being brought into Heathrow.
Pets departing from Heathrow
If you are arriving at Heathrow Airport with a pet in tow, you will need to follow much the same rules as if arriving in the UK. The documentation is, on the whole, the same. Animal Health Certificates, A Great Britain Health Certificate or an EU Pet Passport are what would normally be required, simply talk to your pet travel agent to find out what you may need for safe and compliant pet travel to your chosen destination.
Ultimately it all comes down to whether the country you are heading to is a part one or part two listed country. In its simplest terms, a part one country is in the EU, a part two country is outside of the UK.
You will need to ensure that your pet is at least 15 weeks old before bringing it to Heathrow and if it’s a dog, ensure that it has been treated for tapeworm.
Whilst at the airport, you will not be able to bring your animals into the terminals, unless they are assistance dogs. Instead, they will check in through the Animal Reception Centre where they will be checked over and allowed to rest before the next part of their journey begins.
Where is the Heathrow Animal Reception Centre?
Should you be dropping an animal off or collecting one, you will need to take them to the HARC before you depart. This is located near terminal four and is open seven days a week, 24 hours a day.
It can get busy so always allow good time or speak to your pet travel agent about the processes. Annually the centre handles approximately 16,000 dogs and cats, 400 horses, 2000 birds and an incredible 28 million fish!
More or less any animal is taken in at the HARC and should reptile pet travel be what you are looking to book, they also have facilities to keep your geckos, chameleons and more warm and housed safely.
Whether departing Heathrow or arriving at Heathrow, speak to PBS Pet Travel to ensure the safest and most compliant way for your pet to be transported. With years of experience, we can ensure your pet travel needs are met without a hitch!