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? — 54 Comments

  1. Rohina – your African Grey parrots are covered by CITES regulations so you will need permits issued by the government agency that handles wildlife imports and exports in Pakistan. As we do not have information on requirements for importing birds to Azerbaijan, we would suggest that you contact their Ministry of Agriculture for that information: Phone: 493-08-84; 493-37-45 or E-mail: Their website is

  2. hi Admin!
    i am Rohina from Pakistan and i am moving with my family to Azerbaijan(Baku) a pair of African grey parrots are a part of family.Is here anyway to to keep them with us ? i tried so hard to know the rules and regulations but no one knows exactly about African grey travelling department in Pakistan . they are vaccinated last week for traveling,health certificate and DNA certificate are all done.
    thank you !

  3. Werner – due to the regulations of commercial airlines, all live animals arriving in South Africa by air must do so as air cargo, so you will need to contact the cargo department of an airline that flies the entire route for cost and check-in details. Your dog must be checked in at your airline’s cargo facility.

    Some other things to consider: before leaving Spain, you need to have your GS/Lab microchipped, then vaccinated for rabies, wait for at least 30 days and have a rabies titer test (FAVN) done. The results must be entered in your dog’s EU Pet Passport. You will need the test to re-enter Spain. If your dog does not have it, then it must get it in SA and wait for 3 calendar months before returning to the EU.

    You can find requirements to import your dog to South Africa here and there are links to further instructions and forms if you need them: There are blood tests that must be done within 30 days of travel. It is important to have these done correctly in order to avoid quarantine.

    As for your dog’s crate, you can find a chart for measuring your dog for a standard crate here: If your dog does not fit in a standard crate, you will need to have one made. You can get more information about that from the cargo department of your airline.

  4. Hi Susan,

    I just adopted ‘my new son’ and would like to visit my family in South Africa over December. It would be unfair having him stay in Barcelona with a nanny or Dog Hotel. He is not Cabin Size, he is maybe size of German Shepard/Labrador and weighs about 35kg according to the Vet. I sometimes fly with Lufthansa (transit in Germany) and sometimes Emirates (but this layover is very long). Do you perhaps know the regulations (or where can find) or any recommendations for flying him with me from Barcelona to South Africa. I will also need the BIG Crate for him. Any advice will be greatly appreciated.

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