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International pet transport to London during the Coronavirus pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted travel plans of people and pets across the world. The pandemic has affected air travel as most countries closed international borders to stop the spread of the virus. With the worst of the pandemic behind us, the world is limping back to normal with several countries opening their borders to pets and people. Many international airlines have resumed their routes, albeit at significantly reduced capacities and international pet transport has become possible again. 

If you are planning to travel with your pet to the United Kingdom during the COVID-19 crisis, here’s all you need to know.

Pet travel from Australia to the United Kingdom

Pre-COVID, the most popular airlines from Australia to the United Kingdom were British Airways and Qantas due to the frequency of routing. These airlines, however, are not transporting pets to London yet. Pets flying to the United Kingdom must now travel on Emirates or Qatar Airways.

Both Emirates and Qatar airways are pet-friendly and have many years of experience in transporting pets. The airlines have several pet-friendly regulations to make your pet’s journey comfortable and safe.

Flying on Emirates and Qatar Airways, however, increases pet travel time from Australia to the United Kingdom. Pets have to make a comfort stop at Dubai or Doha before resuming their journey to the United Kingdom. According to IATA guidelines, the comfort stop has to be a minimum of six hours but is usually around 24 hours because of flight schedules.

Pet travel regulations for pets leaving Australia

All pet dogs and cats flying to London must follow the application process; you will have to apply for the flight at least 40 days before the date of journey. There are no changes to the pet import regulations for pets travelling from Australia to the United Kingdom due to COVID-19.

Emirates has an exhaustive list of breeds that are banned on the flight, including snub-nosed cat and dog breeds and aggressive and dangerous breeds. If you are planning to fly your pet on Emirates, it is a good idea to check if your pet is on the list before making travel plans.

Petraveller staff will follow all prescribed social distancing measures during pick up of your pet and wait outside your house while collecting your pet.

Pet arrival in the United Kingdom

Pets can fly into two destinations in the United Kingdom – London and Manchester. Pet travel to the United Kingdom is considered non-commercial only if the pet parent travels within five days of the pet’s flight. If you cannot fly within five days, it will be regarded as non-commercial pet transport, and the regulations for import will change.

If your pet is flying to London, they can travel as either commercial or non-commercial transport. However, if your pet is flying to Manchester, they can only go as non-commercial transport. Meaning, the pet parent will have to fly within five days of the pet travel. Manchester does not accept commercial pet travellers because the animal reception centre in Manchester does not have a Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) vet to examine and clear your pet. All commercial pet imports have to be cleared by an official Defra vet.

If you are travelling to the United Kingdom with your pet, your travel plans can influence your pet’s destinations. Petraveller offers door-to-door service and can deliver your pet to any destination in the United Kingdom.

Collecting your pet at Heathrow Animal Reception Centre, London

The collection process at the Animal Reception Centre at Heathrow is quite straightforward. The customs clearance can take up to six to eight hours to finish, and the pet parent is not required to be present during this process. During this time, your pet will be taken out of the crate and given fresh food and water.

Once the clearance formalities have been completed, the pet parent will be notified to come in to pick up their pets. The centre is open from Monday to Friday, and no pets are accepted from Friday night (10 pm) to Monday morning (6 am).

The Animal Reception Centre has COVID-19 restrictions in place; you will not be allowed to wait for your pet at the centre unless your UK agent has received communication that your pet is ready for pick up. If you arrive too early, you will be asked to leave because there are no waiting facilities on the site.

International travellers to the United Kingdom have to follow mandatory 14-day quarantine and minimise their contact with people. If you are collecting your pet at the Animal Reception Centre, you will have to follow the pickup guidelines set by the centre.

  • Make sure your pet is ready for pickup before going to the Collection Centre
  • The Animal Reception Centre recommends you use an agent or a courier to collect your pet on your behalf, if possible
  • Your UK Clearing Agent is your primary contact during the collection process; direct all your queries to them.
  • Proceed to the Collection Centre only after you have been advised that your pet is ready. If you arrive early, you will be asked to leave. If the pet parent does not leave, the pet will not be released to them. They will have to arrange for the pet to be delivered to their isolation address or assign an agent to pick up the pet on their behalf.
  • You will need the following documents during pickup: Photo ID, flight number, airway bill, contact number and vehicle registration number if you have travelled by car.
  • When your pet is ready to leave, you will be contacted over the telephone. Your pet will be waiting for you outside the vehicle bay in their travelling crate. You must pick up your pet and vacate the area as soon as possible with minimum contact with other people and head to your isolation address.

International pet transport to the United Kingdom? Call the pet travel specialists

International pet travel during the COVID-19 pandemic can be stressful because of all the uncertainties. Every step in the process is fraught with unpredictability – right from vet visits to flight availability. During these uncertain times, an accredited pet travel agency can help by making sure your pet receives the very best care and comfort during the pet travel. A pet travel agent can help you make sense of the numerous rules and regulations that can change without notice due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

If you are travelling to the United Kingdom with your pet during the coronavirus pandemic, reach out to Petraveller for more information on pet import regulations in the UK and a detailed pet travel plan.