Exploring The Heathrow Animal Reception Centre

heathrow animal reception centreThe Heathrow Animal Reception Centre (HARC) is more than just a hub for pet travel - it's a world-class facility dedicated to ensuring the safety and well-being of your pets during their journey. As one of the largest and most advanced pet reception centers globally, HARC plays a crucial role in the pet relocation process.

What is the Heathrow Animal Reception Centre?

The HARC is the world's leading animal reception facility in the heart of London's Heathrow Airport. Handling thousands of animals annually, it's designed to make your pets' travel experience as comfortable as possible. With a team of dedicated veterinarians and pet care experts, HARC goes above and beyond to ensure your pet's travel experience is safe and stress-free.

Why HARC is an Essential Part of Pet Travel:

When your pet arrives at Heathrow, they're taken directly to the HARC. The professional veterinary staff gives them time to rest, eat, and assess them. This process ensures that potential health issues are detected early and handled promptly, providing peace of mind during your pet's journey.

Understanding the Services at HARC:

From routine check-ups to emergency veterinary care, HARC provides many services to meet your pet's needs. The facility has comfortable kennels, feeding stations, and even a pet exercise area where your pet can stretch their legs after a long flight. All these amenities are designed to keep your pet comfortable and stress-free throughout their stay.

To save you some time, we've compiled several details about the HARC so that families transporting pets to the United Kingdom will know what to expect. 

First, here's the process: upon arrival at Heathrow, pets are transferred to the HARC for their vet check and customs clearance — a process that can take 6–8 hours to complete (times can increase during peak times). After the check is finished, pets are released into the care of the designated pet owner or agent, who shows a photo ID.

The Centre is open every day (even holidays), and pets can stay for up to 24 hours at no additional charge. Pets can stay longer at a rate of £52 per additional day.

Here are a few facts about the HARC:

  • All pets imported under the Pet Travel Scheme through the Centre get a vet check, microchip scan, bathroom break, and individual kennel to rest in a while waiting on pickup.
  • About 16,000 dogs and cats passed through the Centre last year.
  • About 2,000 birds, 200,000 reptiles, and 400 horses also visited.
  • 40 dogs can be held here at once.
  • The HARC employs about 30 full-time employees.
  • A waiting room with sofas, TVs, and vending machines is available for families waiting for their pets.


Here is where the HARC is located in relation to the airport (click on the map for a better look):

heathrow map


Want to know more? Take a look at a couple of videos touring the HARC:




For additional information, here's a list of frequently asked questions and tips relating to the HARC, and if you like cute pet reunion pictures (who doesn't?), follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

Please contact us if you have more questions about moving pets to the United Kingdom (or anywhere else), and happy traveling!


PetRelocation Team


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