FAQs | Travelling with pets | Heathrow
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Travelling with pets

Regulations regarding the carriage of animals are complex and vary from country to country and airline to airline. You are advised to contact the authorities in the destination country, as well as seek advice from your airline or a specialist pet travel agency before planning your journey.

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Airlines will only carry animals if advanced arrangements have been made, as space is often limited. Pets arriving into the UK may only do so as manifested cargo on an approved airline. View airline list. (24KB PDF).

There are two options and your airline will be able to tell you which services they are able to offer:

  • Accompanied baggage – most airlines will accept animals as accompanied baggage providing they are in a suitable container. They will travel in the baggage compartment where a suitable environment can be maintained (note – animals arriving in the UK may only do so as manifested air cargo).
  • Air cargo – owners can arrange for their animals to travel as air cargo without making the journey themselves.


These vary depending on the length of the journey, the weight of the animal and the size of the container. Your airline should be able to give you an estimate of the costs.

Journey planning

It is advisable to avoid arriving at some airports at weekends when inspection staff may not be on duty. Unlike Heathrow Airports, very few airports have reception centres where animals can be released and cared for until inspection is possible.

Taking pets out of the UK

You must comply with the requirements of the destination country. Some will only require an export health certificate, some will need proof of vaccination, whilst others will require you to obtain an import permit. The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) operates an export helpline on +44 (0)20 7904 6347 or Fax +44 (0)20 7904 6395.

Arrival into the UK

Pets arriving into Heathrow are collected from Heathrow Animal Reception Centre (HARC). They aim to have EU pet arrivals ready within two hours of arrival, and four hours for those arriving from outside the EU.

Pet Travel Scheme (PETS)

The Pet Travel Scheme is the system that allows:

  • Pet dogs, cats and ferrets to enter the UK without quarantine as long as they meet the rules.
  • People in the UK to take their dogs, cats and ferrets to other countries and territories, and return with them to the UK without the need for quarantine.

More information on this scheme can be found at defra.gov.uk.


It is important that, in addition to the health and documentation requirements, your animal travels in a container that meets International Air Transport Association (IATA) requirements. Airlines and IPATA pet agents should be able to advise you on obtaining such a container. Watch the video now.

Assistance animals

All assistance animals arriving and transiting through Heathrow must be pre-approved by Heathrow Animal Reception Centre (HARC) and compliant with The Pet Travel Scheme. Please notify HARC at least 72 hours before you’re due to fly. A pre-approval letter will be issued by HARC upon completion which must be forwarded to your carrier and shown to check-in staff at your departing airport. Upon arrival at Heathrow a member of staff from The Animal Reception will meet you at the flight to check your assistance dog's original paperwork. This should take no longer than five minutes.

Please note: additional charges must be paid directly to HARC if your assistance dog has not received training from an organisation accredited by Assistance Dogs International (ADI)