UK Pet Travel Spotlight: Understanding the UK Arrival Process

UK Spotlight Part Two

Welcome to Part Two of our Top Pet Travel Destinations: UK Spotlight series! Previously we shared a few frequently asked UK pet travel questions and today we're taking a look at the UK arrival process for pets.

Why focus on the arrival process? The entry process for the UK is a little different than what you'll find when traveling with pets to other countries, and we want you to be properly prepared to avoid wasting time and effort. Courtesy of our team of pet travel experts, here are the key things to know about what to do when your pet arrives in the UK.


By this point you've completed the UK's specific entry requirements, and upon arrival (no matter where you're coming from) all pets must pass through an official government animal reception center. If everything is in order pets won't be subject to quarantine, but no matter what pets must receive official approval before they can head home.

Heathrow Animal Reception Centre


The Heathrow Animal Reception Centre (HARC) is where most pets entering the country pass through customs. This facility sees thousands of pets each year, is staffed by over two dozen employees, and is equipped with a waiting room for pet owners. While here, your pet will be released from the kennel (in a safe and secure area) and will undergo a health and paperwork inspection.


The HARC is located on the perimeter of Heathrow airport and can be reached within a few minutes' drive. Here's a look at the map to find out exactly where it is and how to get there.

How Long

If you're coming from another EU country it may take two or three hours for a pet to pass through the inspection process at the HARC, but if you're coming from the United States or an unlisted country it may take up to four or more hours. We advise planning accordingly and, if possible, leaving the pick-up to your pet travel agent (that way you'll have more time at home to get everything ready for your happy pet to arrive).

Pugs at the Heathrow Animal Reception Centre

What Else?

It's often easier for pet owners to fly separately from their pets, but remember that there is a "five day rule" in place stating that pet owners or guardians must fly within five days of each pet. Please contact your pet travel specialist if you have questions about this rule.

Want to know even more about HARC? Here's a closer look (including a video) that will help you further visualize what to expect of the pet arrival process to the UK. 

This is Part Two of PetRelocation's five part UK Pet Travel Series. Check back soon for more updates and be sure to contact us if you have questions about safely moving your pet to the UK. 

Photo credits: Heathrow Animal Reception Centre Facebook


PetRelocation Team




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