In order to meet the pet import rules of the United Kingdom, all pets entering or re-entering the country must pass through one place: the Heathrow Animal Reception Center (HARC). It can be hard to know what to expect from facilities like this, but luckily there is quite a bit of information out there if you know where to look.
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. Hope this helps!
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 usually takes about 2-3 hours. 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), but note that at busy travel times (around the winter holidays, for example), it can take longer to clear customs.
Here are a few fun facts about the HARC:
- Around 13,000 dogs and cats pass through the Centre ever year.
- About 2,500 birds (mostly pets) also visit.
- 40 dogs can be held here at once.
- The HARC employs about 30 full-time employees.
- The Centre can also hold large animals (like horses) and exotic species (think lions and large reptiles).
- 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):
Want to know more? Take a look at a couple of videos touring the HARC: