Standard Requirments


You will find below information to assist you in making transportation arrangements for dogs and cats with the airlines. There are other requirements for exotic pets and birds. 

Prior to purchasing your animal container

It is important you purchase the right sized container for your animal. Airlines use the following indications to ensure the animal has enough space to turn about normally while standing, to stand and sit erect, and to lie in a natural position.


Note: IATA does not certify, approve, endorse, or sell any particular pet container manufacturer, brand , make, or model. Equally so, IATA does not offer, solicit, endorse, or approve any particular pet or puppy transport or relocation services, regardless of whether these be offered via email or the internet. Readers should pay attention to fraudulent offerings that claim the opposite.

Questions to answer before you start making reservations

  • Is your pet going to travel within your own country, or will it be traveling internationally?
  • When do you want your pet to travel?
  • What is your pet's size and weight?
  • How many animals will be traveling?
  • Is your pet to be accompanied?
  • Do you intend to break the journey, or stopover at an intermediate station?
  • What is the pet's final destination?
  • Do you have a suitable container for your pet?

EU Regulations

The European Union makes a distinction between commercial and non-commercial pet imports. It furthermore distinguishes between movements within European countries or coming in from other countries (Third countries). The following links provide more information about non-commercial pet imports from Third countries and from within the EU.

Dealing with the airline and preparing for the journey

  • It is important to train your animal to its new surroundings. Let it become familiar with the crate or kennel a few weeks or months before your planned departure. Animals behave perfectly fine when accustomed to the kennel or crate they are transported in.  
  • Should you decide to build your own wooden crate, verify with the airline if they accept custom build containers. For certain dogs, airlines may mandate the use of containers of a different more sturdy design than those of Container Requirement 1 (CR1). It is equally important to ensure that all locking mechanisms function properly and that the animal can not distort, gnaw at or push in/out the wire mesh or the pieces holding the mesh of the door. So, the mesh must be firmly attached to the door, not stapled.  
  • Most airlines require a health certificate for any animal they are transporting, whether in the cabin or as an unaccompanied shipment.
  • Only small dogs and cats can go in the cabin. Some airlines may not even allow them in, and will transport them as special baggage in a heated and ventilated hold. Do not worry, cats and dogs actually travel better this way because it is quieter and they will rest in a darkened environment.
  • Contact the airline you have selected to confirm that they accept your pet on the day and flight that you prefer. Some airlines restrict the number of animals on a flight so the more advance notice you give them the better it is.
  • Reconfirm at least 48 hours before departure.
  • Find out how soon before the flight you have to check in. Pets become stressed with all the bustle at an airport, so keep it to a minimum. If your pet is allowed in the cabin, check in as late as possible. If it is going in the hold, check in early so that it can go to the baggage area and be put somewhere quiet and dimly lit in order to relax.
  • To prepare your pet, reduce the quantity of food the day before but give it enough water; take your dog for a walk before leaving for the airport and again before check-in. A light meal 2 hours before tendering the animal to the carrier will help to calm it and is a legal requirement in the United States. 
  • If you ship your pet as air freight, check with the airline to ensure the air freight facility is open so your pet may be claimed by the consignee.
  • Note that it is preferable to ship your pet on week days as all staff are working and liaison is easier all along the route.
  • Transport of snub nose dogs, such as boxers, pugs, bulldogs and Pekinese, in hot season is not recommended. These animals have difficulty in maintaining a normal body temperature in hot weather.

Sedation & use of tranquilizers on pets

It has been a long standing practice of IATA and its constituent carriers to discourage the use of sedatives and tranquilizers in animals to be transported either as cargo or as cabin baggage due to the potential for adverse effects during transport.  Read more

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