All pets arriving at London Heathrow Airport from outside the United Kingdom (Scotland, England, Wales & Northern Ireland) will proceed to the pet reception centre. The Heathrow Animal Reception Centre carries out DEFRA checks on pets and their paperwork, upon arrival in the UK. Pets travelling on inbound and outbound journeys, as well as those in transit for an onward departure will visit the Heathrow pet facility. Your pet will be provided with water, and dogs will be exercised to allow them to stretch their legs. In order to expediate the pet clearance process, a new, larger facility opened in the last quarter of 2021. For Service & Assistance Dogs, or dogs flying out of the UK in the cabin, there’s no pet relief area inside Heathrow Airport. You can leave a review to let other pet travellers know what you think if your pet has visited the London Heathrow Airport Pet Reception Centre.
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Standards & Service at the London Heathrow Airport Pet Reception Centre
Your pet will be collected by a member of the Heathrow Animal Reception Centre (HARC) staff upon arrival at London Heathrow Airport. You must attach to your pet’s kennel all of the original paperwork required for your pet to travel. Be sure to have the documentation needed to take you cat, dog or ferret to England.
The HARC has been in operation for more than 30 years, and is operated by London City Council It handles thousands of dogs, cats an other animal every year. You might even see a Llama or a Sloth when you go to collect your family pet!
At the London Heathrow Airport Pet Reception Centre, your pet will be in a temperature controlled, safe and highly secure environment. Facilities include:
- spacious dog kennels
- fresh bedding for dogs and cats
- isolation rooms for birds and reptiles
- toilet areas
- pet kitchens.
Furthermore, the accommodation comprises individual, quiet, and temperature controlled housing pens which fully provide for the needs of all visiting animals. Trained Animal Welfare Officers will also ensure your pet has access to drinking water, and dogs will be exercised.
Clearing your pet to enter the UK
The prompt clearance of your pet at the London Heathrow Airport Pet Reception Centre is reliant on you sending them copies of all the required paperwork in advance. This includes photocopies of the:
Collecting your pet from HARC
Check with HARC staff to find out when they think your pet will be ready for collection. They aim to have all animal checks completed within 6-8 hours of their arrival at the reception centre. At the agreed time, you should make your way to the Heathrow Airport Animal Centre (HARC) to collect your cat, dog or other animal. The address is:
Assistance & Service Dogs arriving at Heathrow Airport
Only professionally trained and registered Assistance & Service Dogs can enter the UK in the cabin of a commercial flight. As Emotional Support Animals are not professionally trained, they must travel to the UK in the hold. Psychiatric Service Dogs that have been trained and certified, and that hold the necessary paperwork, can fly in the cabin with you.
If you’re flying to London Heathrow Airport with an Assistance or Service Dog in the cabin, the HARC team must receive all of the necessary paperwork in advance. Once they’re content with your paperwork and have everything required, they’ll send you confirmation.
Prior to departure, and also at check in, your airline will want to see the confirmation from London Gatwick Airport to allow your Assistance or Service Dog to fly in the cabin with you.
Upon arrival in London, a member of the HARC team will be waiting to greet you when the aircraft doors open. They’ll then scan your dog’s microchip and verify your original paperwork. Once the checks are complete, you’ll be given written verification to provide to immigration as you pass through Heathrow Airport. You’ll only be able to pass through immigration with your Assistance or Service Dog if you have written confirmation from the Heathrow Animal Reception Centre.
Pet Relief Area at Heathrow
Like most airports in the UK, Heathrow doesn’t have a designated pet relief area for dogs to have a toilet break inside the terminal building. If you’re arriving at Heathrow with a Service or Assistance Dog, your dog will be able to have a bathroom break once you leave the building. Although don’t panic if they can’t hold it, just make sure you have some poop bags and cleaning wipes!
Remember to always protect your pet against vector-borne diseases when travelling to a foreign destination, and leave a review if your pet has stayed at the London Heathrow Airport Pet Reception Centre!