Airline Cargo Pet Crates: Is Your Dog or Cat Crate IATA Compliant?

pet crateIf your dog or cat will be flying in the cargo hold of an airplane, then the pet crate it will travel in will be subject to International Air Transport Association (IATA) regulations for the transport of live animals.

If you have a crate for your pet, here are the requirements that your airline will be looking for when you check in your pet.

Your crate must be a closed container made of fiberglass, metal, rigid plastic, solid wood or plywood. This article will address rigid, plastic pet crates only. The specs for wooden crates depend on the animal being transported.

You should select your crate according to your pet’s measurements. Your cat or dog must be able to stand up and turn around in the crate. More details on measuring your pet for its crate.

Your pet crate must be well constructed and able to withstand freight activities. Your dog or cat is most at risk during travel if your crate is damaged allowing your pet to escape.

pet crate cornersAll hardware required to secure both halves of the crate must be present and installed. Most crates come with sturdy plastic hardware. Many airlines will require that your pet’s crate be secured with metal hardware. Openings should be present on each corner of the crate allowing the door to be zip-tied closed.
The interior of your dog or cat crate must have no sharp edges or protrusions that could cause injury to your pet. Do not put any toys, chews or other items in the crate with your pet.

The floor of the crate must be clean, leak-proof and solid. Absorbent bedding such as a pet pad must be provided. Pet owners should be aware of restrictions imposed on their destination country – straw, litter or wood chips are not advisable. Wheels must be disabled or removed prior to check-in.

The sides must be solid with adequate openings over the upper two thirds of the crate measuring a minimum of 1″ (2.5 cm) for ventilation. Openings must be 4″ (10 cm) apart (center to center). There must also be ventilation holes on the fourth side if your dog or cat is traveling internationally.

pet crate risersOn larger crates where the total weight exceeding 132 pounds (60 kg), then 2″ thick (5cm) forklift spacers running down the sides of the crate are required. Smaller crates should be equipped with handles or means for handlers to move the crate safely.

The roof of your pet crate must also be strong. Ventilation holes are permitted but not if they compromise the strength of the roof.

crate door hinge must be seated in the carrier

One end of the crate must be fully open for a door which can be sliding or hinged. Thick, welded metal mesh must have openings that are nose and paw proof. This will mean openings in the mesh of no more than 3/4″ (19mm) for cats and 1″ (25mm) for dogs. The door can also be made of plastic if the hinges and locking pins are metal and there is no way your dog or cat can compromise the strength of the crate door. The door hinge and locking pins must be seated in the container a minimum of 5/8″ (1.6 cm) above and below the door opening.

Water/food bowls must be present and accessible to handlers to refill. Bowls that attach to the door of the crate are ideal for this purpose.

Crates must be labeled with Live Animal Stickers as well as a Shipper’s Declaration sticker with feeding and watering instructions.

All crates and accessories mentioned here can be found at


Airline Cargo Pet Crates: Is Your Dog or Cat Crate IATA Compliant? — 20 Comments

  1. Wanda – there is no such thing as an electronic crate. We suspect that you may be involved in a pet scam. Do you know your breeder? Did you buy the puppy over the internet and wire money or purchase a cash card for it?

  2. i gota dog from sterling VIRGINIA HOW Can i get it shipped from there to tulsa okla does it really need a electronic crate

  3. Hello,
    I called my airlines and they said that they will verify if the crate is IATA compliant by checking a sticker/mark that shown that the crates are IATA compliant.
    Can you help me with this? thank you

  4. Kylie – many airlines including United will require that an agent book the transport to Australia due to the complexity of their regulations. The preferred airline would be the one that flies your specific route most efficiently and with the least amount of layovers. We fly our pets out of LAX after a night of rest. :o)

  5. We have not shipped a bird in a temperature controlled crate. Amphibians need assistance with the temperatures. Have you purchased this bird or is it your bird and you are traveling with it?

  6. Hi Brenda – the Philippines do not require that dogs and cats enter the country in the cargo hold; however, there are not as many Asia-based airlines that will allow it. Korean Air and Asiana will. Not sure if they serve your route. There is a cost for pets traveling in the cabin as well as checked baggage (in the hold), but the fee is much less than if traveling as air cargo.

  7. im traveling with my persian cat from Thailand to Philippines….is she allow in the cabin….and does it cost extra than in cargo? first time traveller here.please help….

  8. Wendy – it should have a sturdy (stiff) bottom and you should have several pet pads in it. The measurements should be such that it can fit under the seat in front of you. If you are in doubt, contact your airline and ask them how much room there is on the aircraft that is serving your route. Window seats are best.

  9. I have a small soft sided pet carrier for my dog. She fits in it and can turn around no problem. Would it be accepted as i don’t think it has a water proof bottom in the cabin?

  10. I have 4 months labrador and i would like to buy her a crate. Is it allowed to buy an adult size crate? so i can use it later when she get big.

  11. M K – this is a good question for your airline. Some will accept 2 small kittens in one carrier as long as there is enough room for them. Some will not.

  12. Can I use one crate for two kittens? Or do they each need their own carrier. They are still very small.

  13. Andres – Ontario province will not accept your dog’s breed. Toronto city also has banned it. Montreal has dangerous dog legislation that is currently been delayed. We are not aware of other laws in Canada. Many airlines will not accept your dog or require that it travel in a metal crate. Before booking your flight, you should discuss your pet’s breed with the airlines.

  14. Hi I would like to travel to canada with my dog he is a blue nose pitbull but I figure out that the breed would be a problem in there, I would appreciate any advice about how to fly with it.. with out troubles.

    Thank you very much…

  15. To whom it may concern, I want to take my dog from USA to Macedonia. Can you please tell me do I need any form and if so what is called. Greatly appreciated, Please get back to me ASAP. Thank you in advance.

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