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Introduction to Live Animals Transportation by Air
IATA Live Animals Regulations
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Since the beginning of recorded time, mankind has shared this world with animals. They have been a source of food, clothing, shelter and companionship and are an essential part of our environment.

Animals have been transported by air since the early 1930's. In today's modern world, it is an established fact that carriage of live animals by air is the most humane and expedient method of transportation over long distances.

Whether it be a pet, an animal transported for zoological or agricultural purposes or for any other reason, the objective of the IATA Live Animals Regulations is to ensure ALL animals are transported safely and humanely by air."

IATA Member airlines, in conjunction with organizations concerned with the health and welfare of animals, recognize the importance of treating animals humanely and safely in transportation. To ensure shippers, acceptance and handling staff and anyone involved in the transportation of animals are familiar with international standards for the acceptance and handling of animals in transit, the IATA Live Animals Regulations were established.

These Regulations contain specific packaging and welfare requirements which are designed to ensure that the animals arrive at their destination healthy and in good condition. With the increasing number of animals traveling by air, it is essential that the IATA Live Animals Regulations are complied with in all cases. We hope that this web site will provide you with basic information and guidelines which will assist you in shipping animals in a safe and humane manner.

FMD & European Union : Nearly all restrictions now lifted
BSE & European Union : Commission toughens measures against Transmissible Encepalophaties
USDA/APHIS: FMD traveling with your pet (to the USA)
   -All information on transporting live animals
     -Preparation for Air Transport
     -Tips for shipping your pet
     -Where are you going?
     -When are you going?
     -When do you want to send your pet?
     -When two or more pets travel together
     -When pets travelling unaccompanied
    -Shipping your pet as cargo?
    -Don’t forget the health requirements
    -The animal transport container
    -Tranquillisation can harm your pet
    -A few important guidelines for traveling with your pet internationally

The IATA Live Animals Regulations are the ultimate worldwide standards for transporting live animals by commercial airlines. Countries such as the member states of the European Union also enforce the IATA Regulations for the transportation of live animals to, from and within the communities. Government agencies, such as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife, and the management authorities of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) also enforce the IATA Regulations for the packaging of endangered species for international transport.

The Live Animals Regulations are published annually, effective October 1st. It contains information on over 1,900 species and sub-species of mammals, birds, fish, reptiles and insects that are listed alphabetically by their common and scientific names and the appropriate packaging and provides handling requirements for each species during air transport.

IATA container requirements for animals are based on species needs and animal size. The IATA Live Animals Regulations describe minimum standards for container construction for all animal types ranging from insects to elephants. It is imperative for the safe and humane shipment of an animal that the proper container is used.

Before animals commence their journey, it is important that advance arrangements be made and confirmed. The most suitable routing always needs to be selected, as many airports do not have adequate facilities at destination or possible transit stops. Consideration should be given to the day on which the consignment (or consignments) is dispatched and its date of arrival, because some customs authorities and other government agencies do not work during weekends or public holidays. Advance arrangements shall include confirmation that the consignee is aware of the shipping details and has made arrangements to take delivery of the consignment on arrival.

Before the consignment is delivered to the airline, the shipper or his agent must ensure that all import and export licenses, health certificates and permits have been obtained. When these documents are required to go forward with the consignment, they must be securely attached to the air waybill. The shipper is also required to provide the airline with two correctly completed copies of the Shipper's Certification for Live Animals. It is important to note that the Shipper's Certificate also contains a declaration in relation to endangered species. An air waybill must be completed on behalf of the shipper and must clearly show the number and species of animals in the consignment. Pets accompanied by their owners do not require an air waybill and the Shipper’s Certificate.

Particular care and attention should be paid when selecting the type of aircraft used in the air transportation of animals, because aircraft specifications for holds and compartments vary considerably, and because some aircraft are not suitable for the carriage of animals. Care should be taken to ensure that animals are not stowed in the vicinity of other animals that may be natural enemies, or other commodities which may cause them harm.

To facilitate the movement of large bulk shipments of domestic farm animals, the airline industry has developed special aircraft pen systems which include additional ventilation. When a bulk-loaded system is used, specially designed walk-on ramps are required.

The ventilation requirements for full aircraft loads of animals must be considered during loading, off-loading or at a transit stop. People loading animals should be aware of the requirements and the action to take when problems arise. The Captain must always be notified of the quantity, species and location of animals onboard the aircraft.

In the best interest of animal welfare, it is essential that all aspects of the IATA Live Animals Regulations be complied with. Since many countries have incorporated the IATA Regulations into their national legislation, non-compliance may result in possible destruction or confiscation of the animals or in legal action by the authorities.

The following is a list of frequently asked questions from the pet owners. We hope the information is helpful and will assist you in asking more specific questions when you make reservations and transportation arrangements with the airlines.

Pets, in this instance, will mean dogs and cats. There are other requirements for exotic pets and birds.

Many airlines require a health certificate for any animal they are transporting whether in the cabin or as an unaccompanied shipment.

The questions you must answer before making travel arrangements are:

1- Is your pet going to travel domestically, within your own country, or will it be traveling internationally?
2- When do you want your pet to travel?
3- What is the size and weight of your pet?
4- How many animals will be traveling?
5- Is your pet to be accompanied?
6- Do you intend to break the journey, or stopover at an intermediate station?
7- What is the pet’s final destination?
8- Do you have a suitable container for your pet?

Here are some answers to help you. Planning within a country is usually less involved than planning for international travels.

Find the airlines that fly to your proposed destination, select one and contact them to check that they will accept your pet(s) on the day and flight that you prefer.

You must contact the airline at least 48 hours before departure, preferably longer, to be sure that there is space. Only small dogs and cats can go in the cabin, even so some airlines will not allow them to do so and they will be sent 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. Some airlines restrict the number of animals that they will carry on any one flight so the more advance notice you can give the better it is.

Find out how soon before the flight that you have to check in. Pets become stressed with all the crowds and bustle at an airport, so you want to keep this to a minimum. If you are allowed to have your pet in the cabin with you, check in as late as possible, so long as the airline knows that you are coming. If your pet 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 pets for a journey reduce the quantity of food the day before but leave water available; take your dog(s) for a walk before leaving for the airport and again before checking in, allowing the animal to urinate and defecate. A light meal 2 hours before tendering the animal to the carrier will help to calm some animals and is a legal requirement in the United States. However, do not give a heavy bulky meal, as vomiting may occur or animals may soil their bedding.

If shipping 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.

Make sure that there is no problem with proposed weekend or holiday shipment. Weekdays are preferable as all staff are working and liaison is easy all along the route. Transport of snub nose dogs, such as boxers, bulldogs and Pekinese, in hot season is not recommended. Dogs with snub noses have difficulty in maintaining a normal body temperature in hot weather. Check with the airlines for any special arrangements.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal Welfare Act (AWA) states that "no more than two live puppies or kittens, 8 weeks to 6 months of age, that are of comparable size and weighing 20 lb. (9 kg) or less each, may be transported in the same primary enclosure via air carrier." This is a good practice to follow for all animal shipments, no matter what country they are traveling in.

Remember, animals may become stressed and aggressive when traveling by air and should not be placed in the same container unless they are young puppies or kittens. Animals which share the same household may become stressed and aggressive towards each other when traveling by air.

Some airlines restrict the maximum number of animals allowed in the cabin, check with your intended airline regarding their requirements if you are planning to carry your pet onboard.

Minimum container requirements, as describe in the Live Animals Regulations, are mandatory for transportation of animals by air. Food and water containers (troughs) accessible from outside the container are required. The carrier, or government agency, may require that additional food be provided in a pouch attached to the container with feeding instructions.

You can either find an animal shipper who can make all the necessary reservations and take full charge from collecting your pet, boarding it if need be, taking it to the airport and have it met at the other end and delivered to destination. In some countries, this may be the easiest and surest method and some airlines will not accept animals handled by anyone other than a shipper. The airlines can usually give you a list of shippers with whom they work. But it is possible that you can do all this yourself. Check with the airline for any special requirements for shipping your pet.

The name and address of the owner, a 24 hour contact phone number and the consignee's name and address must also be clearly fixed to the top of the container.

Dried food must be supplied and attached to the container in case there is a delay and instructions for feeding and watering must be given in writing and also fixed to the container. Any medication that has/is being given must also be recorded with the name of the drug, the time and route of administration. Tranquilization is NOT recommended for air transport of animals.

Do not leave the airport until you know that the flight has been confirmed to leave. This helps everyone when there are unexpected problems and delays.

Make sure that there in someone to meet the shipment at the cargo department at the airport of destination, and who can contact when the flight leaves in order to give the expected time of arrival at destination.

Check that all vaccinations are up to date and that you have the vaccination and other required health certificates with you. Stressed animals (don’t forget travel causes stress and dehydration to both humans and animals) are more prone to infections and if they are virus carriers their healthy status can break down causing sickness.

NOTE: IATA does not certify, approve nor license any particular manufacturer, brand, make or model of container.

The container you are going to use can be a soft ‘carry bag' for short trips when in cabin flight in permitted. But for traveling in the hold, a rigid container that conforms to the IATA Live Animals Regulations must be used. The container must be big enough for the animal to stand normally, turn round and lie down. Air kennels with the correct amount of ventilation openings for good air circulation are required. The airline will be able to assist you in deciding how to select the right container size as they can check the IATA Live Animals Regulations when you make your reservation and advise you accordingly.

Buy the container ahead of time so that your pet can become accustomed to it. By placing a favorite bit of bedding and toys, and feeding animal inside the container for a few days, the container can be ‘personalized’ to make the pet more comfortable to it when traveling.

The IATA Live Animals & Perishables Board has decided that, effective 1st October 2000, new plastic pet kennels that are designed and produced for air transportation should comply with the following enhanced requirements:

a) The door must be constructed of welded or cast metal of sufficient gauge or thickness so as to preclude the animal from bending or distorting the door.
b) The door hinge and locking pins must engage the kennel by at least 1.5 cm (5/8 inch) beyond the horizontal extrusions above and below the door opening where the pins are fitted.

The above requirements do not affect plastic pet kennels that have been in existence prior to 1st October 2000.

DO NOT tranquilize your pet. It can be dangerous to their health. Drugs act differently at the pressure of 8000 ft above sea level, which is the approximate pressure in the cabin and cargo area during flight.

Traveling internationally with your pet is sometimes more complicated than domestic travel. While the basic requirements for containers, health certificates, and age remain the same, international travel usually requires additional documents as it does with passengers.

The first step in planning an international trip with a pet should be to contact the consulate of the destination country for their pet importation requirements. Some countries require a lengthy quarantine, others have more rigid standards than IATA’s for container construction, while still others will only accept pets at certain airports. Once you determine which airport you will be flying into, check on national and local holidays during which customs may be closed.

A shipping agent, who specializes in animal shipments, can assist you in planning and arranging transportation for your pet. While you can make all of the arrangements yourself, nothing is worse than having your pet impounded or lost because of an oversight or lack of knowledge. Your airline or veterinarian should be able to provide information on shipping agents. They may also be found in the Yellow Pages of local telephone directories.

Prior to shipping an animal internationally, you should have the answers to the following questions either from the consulate of the destination country, a shipping agent or the air carrier. Be specific as to the species of your pet, requirements may be different for dogs, cats, birds or other animals.

1- What documents are required to import a pet? Some countries require a health certificate signed by a veterinarian within a specific number of days prior to the shipment. Some countries require the veterinarian to be a government official while other countries will accept a health certificate signed by a registered veterinarian.
2- Are there any age restrictions (minimum and maximum) regarding importing a pet?
3- Are any special vaccinations or tests required for the pet?
4- Are there specific country restrictions regarding transportation of animals? (The U.S. has strict temperature restrictions which limit animal travel, especially in the summer and winter).
5- Some countries will only accept animals shipped as manifested freight, others will allow pets to travel as accompanied baggage.
6- Are there any country/local holidays during or around the time of your planned trip?
7- Is there any indication there may be a strike imminent, which may affect the timely transport of your pet?
8- Which airports have customs and health services available to clear your pet?
9- Are there any special quarantine requirements for a pet being exported or imported?
10- Are there any special container requirements, in excess of IATA standards, for transporting an animal into or within the desired country?
11- Are quarantine facilities available on the planned arrival date and station? Are quarantine facility reservations necessary?
12- Pregnant animals may not travel in late gestation.

In addition you should check with your desired air carrier and obtain the following information:

1- What are the carrier restrictions regarding the carriage of animals (quantity, container size - larger containers do not fit on all aircraft)?
2- Is a change of aircraft necessary to reach my final destination? Will the container fit on all aircraft types in the routing?
3- How long before departure and where should I drop off my pet?
4- Verify document requirements and other handling/shipping requirements with the airline. Some carriers are more restrictive than the country requirements. (For example some U.S. carriers have restrictions for pug nosed breeds of dogs and cats which are more stringent than the USDA rules. These restrictions vary from carrier to carrier).
5- What hours/days are customs and health facilities normally open to clear the animal?
6- Where and when can my pet be picked up?
7- Can pets be transported as baggage or must they travel as manifested freight?
8- Are there restrictions for unaccompanied pets (traveling as manifested freight) that are different than for pets traveling as baggage?
9- Are pets allowed in the passenger cabin? If so what are the limitations regarding size and quantity?

Sometime prior to your trip it would be most beneficial to acclimate your pet to it’s shipping container. This can be done by placing a favorite toy or bedding in the container and allowing the pet to have free access to the container. The pet should also be acclimated to being confined in the container by closing and latching the door for periods of time.

The container must be of sufficient size to allow the animal to stand in a natural position, turn around, and lie down comfortably. In addition, separate food and water containers, refillable from the outside, must be secured in the container. Feeding and water instructions, as well as enough food for one meal, must be attached to the outside of the container. A duplicate copy of the feeding and watering instructions should be attached to the shipping documents. The food should be packaged in a strong plastic or cloth bag. Water or ice cubes should be provided to the animal to prevent dehydration.

Tranquilizing animals prior to or during air transport is not recommended. The conditions in an aircraft cargo hold in flight are quite different than conditions on the ground. Some medications which are very effective on the ground may prove to be unsafe or even fatal aboard an aircraft.

By following these guidelines you can be assured your pet will have a safe flight.

LAPB meeting will be held in Montreal from 20-21 February, 2002.

The latest edition of the Live Animals Regulations ( eff. October 1st 2001) is available in print and CD ROM version for ordering details contact
These regulations are accepted by the convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and Office International des Epizooties (OIE) as guidelines in respect of transportation of animals by air .

IATA offers general and special training courses to all parties involved in the air transport of live animals. These courses provide the participants with the required knowledge for shipping live animals, applying the IATA Live Animals Regulations and handling emergency situations.

The special training program is designed in accordance with the individual airlines' requirements and is held at specific date and location.

IATA Learning Centre, email address:

Details about the IATA training courses can be obtained from:

For more information on live animals transportation, please contact


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