Traveling with an animal can be a massive feat of organization, even on domestic and direct flights. If you’re bringing a pet into the U.S. or bringing a pet into the U.K., there’s a very good chance you need to know the London Heathrow Airport pet policy and animal care services.

You probably have a long list of things to plan and manage long before your departure date. There might be some additional paperwork needed when traveling to the United Kingdom via Heathrow Airport. All animals traveling into the UK will need to abide by the Travel Scheme, make a trip to the Animal Reception Centre, and then be transported to the final destination or to a connecting flight.

London Heathrow has taken the time to consider what animal owners might need to know before traveling into the country with a pet and have published a straightforward account of Heathrow Airport pet policies. Many airlines, including British Airways, offer the choice to fly an animal in the cabin or as checked baggage. However, even if the airliner you are traveling has the service of allowing animals to fly in the cabin or as checked baggage, when flying into the UK, your pet must fly as cargo.


Assistance Animals and Pet Relief Areas at Heathrow Airport

If you have an assistance dog, it is not bound by the same rules as are pets and can travel in the cabin of the aircraft and walk through the terminals. Your service animal must still comply with other aspects of the travel scheme and not unduly disrupt other passengers. If you have a service animal, the airport policies are a little bit different for animal relief areas.


Heathrow Animal Reception Centre

It is probably no surprise to you that your animal will have to go through a border inspection checkpoint, but Heathrow has a unique way of handling security. Each year, hundreds of thousands of animals travel through the airport, and they all make a stop at Heathrow Animal Reception Centre. The HARC is responsible for checking your animal’s paperwork for compliance with regulations and then providing a place for animals to temporarily rest during layovers.

The HARC is not in the airport, but off campus near the airport. After a quick checkup with the vet, your pet will be able to play with other dogs, or rest and relax after the flight. From here, your pet will either wait for the next leg of the journey if you’re at Heathrow on a layover, or he will wait for you to come and pick him up.


Animal Customs and Pet Policies at London Heathrow Airport

Before you make your travel arrangements, it is a good idea to be sure of how you will get your pet through customs. When you travel through Heathrow, you will have to book your pet’s travel through one of the authorized pet carrier companies that operate through Heathrow. The airport recommends different services, and individual airlines might have a list of recommendations as well. It would be a good idea to do some research on this so that you get the best service for you. Some carriers will bring your pet through security, and others will bring him right to your door.

If you have any questions about the travel guidelines and pet policy for Heathrow Airport, you can contact the Pet Travel Scheme Hotline at [email protected], or call 0370 241 1710 Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm.