PTS FAQs and tips
Here are a selection of FAQs that we've had over the years as the Pet Travel Scheme has progressed. We have plenty of experience of how to travel with a pet and we're up-to-date with the latest requirements, but if you're questions aren't answered below, please drop us a line or call- we're happy to help.
"What happens when my pet arrives in the UK?"
When the flight lands, the pets are collected from the flight as the passengers get off. Pets are then delivered to the Animal Reception Centre at Heathrow where they are looked after by trained animal handlers and each animal is released from their flight kennel into their own run. They are offered food (normally dry food) and water while they wait to be given the all clear by the vet. If the pet is particularly dirty they will be cleaned.
Animal Health, the authority here in the UK, check the pet’s microchip and compare it against the paperwork for the animal. Once they give the thumbs up, the paperwork is cleared through customs and then is free to be collected. The process from arrival to clearance can take up to 4-5 hours for pets arriving from outside the EU. Please note: Pets arriving from within the EU are not released from their flight kennels in order to keep your costs down, since they are normally ready for collection around 2 hours after the flight lands
"What does JCS do?"
We are the customs clearance agents for a number of airline arrivals at Heathrow, such as British Airways, Qantas, Air Canada, Emirates and Northwest (to name but a few!). We are responsible for the collection of pet paperwork from the airline, delivery of the documents to Animal Health and presentation of the paperwork to HMR & Customs.
This process involves driving the paperwork around the airport and the use of our direct access to the customs computer database, which is the primary reason why clients are unable to arrange the customs clearance themselves. We have excellent relations with the staff at the Heathrow Animal Reception Centre (ARC) and Animal Health; and we are in the unique position of having an office located inside the Animal Reception Centre so that we can provide the best service.
Once you get to the Animal Reception Centre our staff members are in green shirts whilst the Animal Reception Centre staff wear blue- they're responsible for your pet's welfare during their brief stay at the ARC.
We can also arrange delivery of your pet to your home once they have cleared through customs and stretched their legs at the Animal Reception Centre. Please contact our staff for a delivery quote.
"How much does it cost?"
Some airlines will quote a "JCS fee" or a "clearance charge" as part of their fees, which they will take when you pay for your pet's trip. Other airlines require us to take these charges when you collect your pet from the ARC. The fees include all arrival charges at Heathrow, including the paperwork check fee, airline fees, ARC charges and our clearance charge, so the money doesn't all go to us- we get billed by everyone involved and pay them on your behalf.
"If I arrange a delivery can I travel with my pet?"
Unfortunately we are only licenced to carry animals, so you will need to arrange your own transport.
"How do I get to the Animal Reception Centre?"
The Animal Reception Centre (also known as the ARC or the “Q” station) is located on Beacon Road on the South side of the airport. The postcode is TW6 3JF, and on the right of this page you can download a map. Terminals 1,2 and 3 are located in the central part of the airport, and the new Terminal 5 is on the west side- as a result they are quite a way away from the ARC. It’s around a 25 min drive from the Terminals 1, 2 and 3, and unfortunately there is no public transport, so you will need a car or a taxi. It is a 10 min drive from T5. Terminal 4 is about 5 minutes away from the ARC. It is possible to walk- if you walk out of the exit at Arrivals and go right, following the taxi ranks, you will see the ramp to the Departures area above. Underneath the bottom of the ramp to the left of the cab rank is a public footpath, leading to a pavement by a fence. If you follow this path you will eventually come to a roundabout where you will be able to see the ARC- it is a yellow brick building with a big yellow “Q” on top of it. You can cross the road (careful- airport drivers are unpredictable) to get to the ARC.
Nearby public transport:
The closest mainline train stations are Feltham and Staines, or the Heathrow Express to Terminal 4. The closest tube station is Terminal 4. If T4 is not open, then Hatton Cross is the next best- they are both on the Piccadilly Line. There are a number of bus services that will take you to T4 or to Heathrow Central, depending on where you're coming from, you can then follow the directions above from Terminal 4
If you arrive by taxi, we recommend that you check to see how long it will be before your pet is ready for collection before you make the driver wait. Both the JCS livestock staff and the staff at the ARC have phone numbers for pet friendly cabs, so we can help you on your journey home if need be.
If you are driving to the ARC from outside of London, then you’ll need to get to Junction 14 of the M25, then follow signs to “Terminal 4 and Cargo”. You will need to go straight over 2 roundabouts, through 3 sets of traffic lights (please remember to stop at the red lights!!) and then you will come to a roundabout where you should turn right. You’ll come to another roundabout, and take the 4th exit on this one (almost all the way back on yourself)- you’ll end up outside the ARC!
It’s a big yellow brick building with a large yellow letter “Q” on the top of it. There’s free parking available. If you are coming from London or the local area then you should aim to get to Terminal 4 from the A30 Great South West Road, head toward “Cargo” and then you will find yourself at the roundabout near the ARC- you’ll be able to see it and you’ll be able to find your way.
At any point if you need help with directions please give us a ring and we’ll “talk you in”. There is free parking and there are comfy sofas in the ARC reception area, so if you have to wait at all you will be comfortable.
"What do I need to bring with me?"
We always suggest bringing ID with you but you don't normally need it. Just bring a lead with you for your dog and consider the amount of space needed for your pet's flight crate in your car. If you are sending a lead with your dog it should be attached to the outside of the crate, but this doesn't necessarily mean that it will reach Heathrow.
"Can I see my pet while the customs clearance is done?"
Unfortunately your pet must be kept in isolation until clearing both the vet check and customs procedures, so you will be unable to see your pet until procedures are completed.
**IF YOUR PET HAS ANY MEDICAL ISSUES OR DIETARY REQUIREMENTS PLEASE LET US KNOW WHAT THEY ARE AND HOW URGENT THEY ARE. WE CAN ARRANGE VETERINARY ASSISTANCE OR SPECIAL FOOD IF REQUIRED. VETERINARY ASSISTANCE CAN BE EXPENSIVE, SO PLEASE CALL US TO DISCUSS YOUR PET'S NEEDS AND WE CAN GIVE YOU ADVICE**
"When should I come and collect my pet?"
Customs clearance can take up to 5 hours but can vary considerably depending on the number of pets coming into the airport on the day, so please bear with us. We would recommend calling ahead if you can and certainly waiting for at least two hours after your flight lands (pets coming from outside the EU). Please make sure that we have a contact number in case there are any problems- if in doubt, please contact us.
Pets coming from within the EU are normally ready to collect about 2 hours after flight arrival and they must be collected within 4 hours of arrival to avoid any further charges.
"Do I need to pay VAT?"
You will need to pay VAT if you have not owned the pet for more than 6 months and if you have not lived in the country of origin for at least 12 months. Basically this applies to pets being shipped for breeding or showing and also to those being rescued. The VAT will be based on the value of the animal and the cost of shipping to the UK. We can provide you with a quote for the VAT but we will need to know the value of the animal and the cost of the shipping in order to do so. The value of the animal must be realistic or the dreaded taxman might declare their own value.
"How does the process work for assistance dogs?"
Assitance dogs are dealt with directly by the authorities, who should meet you at the flight to inspect your pet and your paperwork. Assistance animals must meet the Pet Travel Scheme requirements. Emotional support animals fall under a slightly different category but must also compy with the regulations. Each of these categories have specific airlines that they can travel on- we're unable to give advice on this I'm afraid, so please contact the airline or DEFRA directly.
NOTES FOR COMPLETING HM CUSTOMS C5 FORM
The owner or their immediate family members must complete the C5 form. A completed C5 must be attached to the import entry that we submit to HMR & Customs.
Please complete the ‘Personal details’ and leave the ‘Request to clear’ blank. If you do know the airwaybill number or date of arrival, please fill them in. We will complete the rest of this page.
Please answer Question 1 or Question 2. If neither apply tick NO to both, with a brief explanation of how you became the owner of the pet.
Details of Pet
This section can be used for up to 5 pets. You do not need a separate form for each animal unless they are on different flights.
Please state the breed of your pet/s, or if this is not known then state colour, sex and what species your pet/s is/are.
‘Country where and date obtained’
Please state the country that your pet/s originated from and the date / year when you obtained them.
‘Price paid or present value’
This can be left blank unless the pet is coming in as a breeding/showing animal, has been purchased or is a rescue dog.
‘UK Import Licence Number’
Please leave blank. Import licence numbers are only issued for pet/s coming under United Kingdom Quarantine Regulations.
Please make sure you sign and date this section and complete with your full address in the United Kingdom or Ireland in CAPITAL LETTERS (We need to be able to read this to make the customs declaration).
Please complete the header page with your completed C5 form so we can match your details with the correct file.
Pet Travel Scheme paperwork tips
We like to try and help as much as possible with pet paperwork, so we've assembled a list of common issues and their resolutions, so please read this list when preparing your pet's paperwork. There are two important things to note- 1st is that we cannot give official advice can can accept no responsibility for unforeseen errors. The second thing to note is that legislation states that it is the owner's responsibility to make sure that the paperwork is correct, so please read these notes carefully, along with the DEFRA website.
We've got a separate page for Pet Passports, so here's some information on pets coming in with 3rd country health certificates:
"Is a 3rd Country Health Certificate Necessary?"
Yes. All pets entering the UK from outside the EU must have a completed 3rd Country Health Certificate. The only exception is if your pet has a valid Pet Passport that complies with the Pet Travel Scheme.If a pet entering the UK does not have a Pet Passport or endorsed 3rd Country Health Certificate then a passport will need to be issued. This can result in delays (and extra costs) as a vet will need to be called out and proofs of the date of microchipping, appropriate valid rabies vaccination and blood test result will need to be supplied.
"Can I still use the old-style 3rd country health certificate?"
No, the old-style certificate is no longer valid.
"Can my vet complete all of the 3rd Country Health Certificate"
No. At some stage an official vet will need to endorse the Health Certificate. This means that a practice stamp from the vet is not sufficient- there must be a second stamp- this is the endorsement by the "competent authority". There are examples of these stamps on the right hand side of this page. If a 3rd Country Health Certificate has not been endorsed then a Pet Passport will need to be issued. This can result in delays (and extra costs) as a vet will need to be called out and proofs of the date of microchipping, appropriate valid rabies vaccination and blood test result will need to be supplied.
"Is all of the Health Certificate completed at the same time?"
Not necessarily. Depending on the location of the place of endorsement, this can be done at different times. For instance, your vet can complete the majority of the certificate (all except the tick and tapeworm treatments) in one location, the certificate can then be endorsed, and a separate vet could complete the tick and tapeworm treatments (at the appropriate time) **Please note that this must now all be done in the same country USA/Canada overlap is no longer applicable**. Please note- the procedure may differ between countries- for instance, some endorsements are done at the airport at check in. You should check with your vet/authorities. The main points are that the certificate MUST be endorsed and there MUST be a certificate reference number on each page. The reference number comes from the endorsing vet and the format varies per country.
"Where do I get my blood test done?"
"What do the results mean?"
A satisfactory blood test result must show the rabies antibody titre was equal to or greater than 0.5 IU/ml. If the test result is satisfactory, the date the blood sample was taken will be recorded by the vet in the official third country veterinary health certificate and the vet will sign the certificate to show that the pet passed the blood test.
“My cat has a microchip but it never leaves the house. Does it still need to have the rabies vaccination and blood test?”
Yes, if your cat is coming from an unlisted country, there must be a rabies vaccination, a 30 day wait and then a blood test. 3 months must pass after the blood test before the pet can enter the UK.
Coming to the UK from a listed country, the cat will just need a rabies vaccination then must wait 21 days before coming to the UK.
“I treat my dog regularly for tapeworms- must I treat my pet again prior to the flight to the UK?”
“What happens if my dog misses the flight for which it was treated for tapeworm due to technical problems with the flight?”
If this happens outside of the 24-120 hours prior to arrival in the UK then your dog will need to stay in isolation at the airport, with no contact with any other animals. The airline or the shipping company responsible for this isolated boarding will need to write a letter to the effect, so that essentially the treatment will remain valid. If there are no facilities at the airport or you would rather your pet not stay at the airport then it will need re-treating for tapeworms. This should not be harmful to your pet.
For further information on the Pet Travel Scheme, please visit the "Pet Travel Scheme Overview" page, along with our update page. Or see the links on the right for the Animal Health (DEFRA) free handout on the Pet Travel Scheme.
"Why do I need supporting paperwork?"
This is to double check that the information in the 3rd country health certificate is correct. The rabies vaccination certificate must have the pet's microchip number on in order to identify the animal, as well as the product name, batch number and batch expriry date. Without this information further proof may be required, which may result in delays and costs.
If you do not have a microchip certificate then a set of patient notes with the date of microchipping (along with the chip number) will suffice. If you have neither then we reccomend that you get the vet that vaccinated your pet to write a note on headed paper stating all the pet's details and that the chip was checked when the vaccination was given.
Supporting paperwork can be copies, but the 3rd Country Health Certificate must be original (and endorsed!).
"When can I vaccinate the pet?"
As per the DEFRA site, the vaccination must be given as per the manufacturer's guidelines.