Exploring The Heathrow Animal Reception Centre

heathrow animal reception centreOne of the busiest entry ports into the UK, the Heathrow Animal Reception Centre (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. 

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 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


Air Travel, Airlines, Airports, Ask the Experts, News, Incredible Experiences, Quarantine


Cats, Dogs


Back to top