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

pet crate

Pet Travel is all about keeping your dog, cat or other pet safe. Although commercial airlines have stringent rules in place regarding live animals, pet owners should do all they can to provide a crate that withstand handling and offer every protection available for their pet. The first step is to get an airline cargo pet crate that is both airline and IATA compliant to keep their pet safe during their journey.

If you already have a crate for your pet, here are the requirements that your airline will be looking for when you check in your pet. If you do not have a crate, consider a Petmate Sky Kennel as this crate conforms to IATA Live Animal Regulations and is one of the best premanufactured kennels available today.

What is IATA and why are their regulations important?

Over 95% of commercial airlines operating today adhere to the Live Animal Regulations (LAR) of the International Air Transport Association (IATA). If your dog or cat will be flying in the cabin or cargo hold of a commercial airplane, then the pet crate it will travel in will be subject to these regulations for the movement of live animals. Your pet will also be subject to Animal Welfare regulations which vary depending on the country in which your airline is based.

For this article, we focus on crate requirements for cargo travel in an aircraft and premanufactured plastic crates as they are the most available to pet owners.

What are the IATA requirements for airline cargo pet crates?

Your pet’s 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.

Measure your pet

The first step to consider when getting a pet crate is to measure your pet. If you have a crate from a previous trip, make sure that your pet still fits in the crate and has not grown out of it. This is one of the first things that airline representatives will check for, and they will deny boarding if your pet’s crate is not appropriate for its size.

Note: If your pet is a snub-nosed breed, it will need one crate larger than normally required that will offer additional ventilation.

Your cat or dog must be able to stand up and turn around comfortably in the crate. Their ears (if erect) or the top of their head must not touch the top of the crate when they stand on their pet crate’s pad. The length of the crate must accommodate their body length when standing.

RELATED:  More details on measuring your pet for its crate.

Crate Structure is essential

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 corners

All hardware required to secure both halves of the crate must be present and installed. Most crates come with sturdy plastic hardware. Most 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 door of the crate must also be zip-tied closed after the interior of your crate is inspected by airline representatives.

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 or shredded newspaper must be provided. Pet owners should be aware of restrictions imposed on their destination country – straw, litter or wood chips should be avoided. Wheels must be disabled or removed prior to check-in.

Crate ventilation is crucial

The sides of your pet’s crate 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 (back) side if your dog or cat is traveling internationally.

pet crate forklift riser ridge

On larger crates where the total weight exceeds 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 on the top of the crate should be avoided as they can compromise the strength of the roof.

Crate doors should be impossible for even the sneakiest of pets to open

Doors are the greatest vulnerability of any pet crate. Not only are they an external part of the crate, their mechanisms will be the most likely to fail should the crate be mishandled. For these reasons, IATA is very specific about crate door requirements.

pet crate door hinges

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.

NOTE: If your pet is flying with British Airways, mesh must be secured to the door of the crate and attached over the ventilation holes to provide additional “paw and nose” protection. Your agent should be aware of this and can assist you in complying with this additional requirement.

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 and work best on rigid, plastic pet crates.

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

RELATED: Acclimating your pet to its crate

See more information on CR 82 crates for dangerous dog breeds.

Take a moment to consider how important your pet’s airline cargo crate is to the safety of your pet. This is not a part of your budget where you want to cut corners. When you are sitting in the cabin thinking about your pet flying in the cargo hold, you want to know that you have done everything you can to keep your pet safe. The airlines will do the rest.

All crates and accessories mentioned here can be found at


Airline Cargo Pet Crates: Is Your Dog or Cat Crate IATA Compliant? — 138 Comments

  1. Marie – the answer to your question depends on the aircraft serving your specific route and the cargo bay door opening of that aircraft. As every aircraft is designed differently, you will need to contact Air Canada for this information with details about your date of travel and the route your dog will be taking. Susan

  2. Hello Chaela – according to new IATA regulations, ventilation holes must be less than 1″ for dogs and 3/4″ for cats. If the ventilation holes in your crate are larger, then you must cover them with sturdy metal mesh. The mesh is available at stores like Home Depot. We use zip ties to secure the mesh. Check the door as well as the new regulations also apply to the door of the crate. Susan

  3. I just got a crate for my dog that meets all requirements except for the ventilation holes on the sides I don’t think are small enough. I saw people attaching chicken wire to the outsides of their crates to make the holes small enough, is this allowed? We’ll be flying internationally.

  4. Hello Samantha – bedding is allowed in crates for pets flying domestically and internationally (except for some countries like Mexico). Your mouse will need to travel in a crate that complies with regulations of the International Airline Transport Association (IATA) Container Requirement 84. It can be wooden or a premanufactured plastic crate like this one: ( however, metal mesh must cover the openings and the door so your pet will not be able escape. Delta is not flying pets currently as checked baggage, so your pet will need to fly as air cargo. Check with their cargo department for additional details about booking and check in. If you need the assistance of an agent in Hawaii, you can search for one at Susan

  5. Hi. I’m looking for any and all advice on flying a pet mouse from Hawaii to Atlanta. We will have a 2 day stopover in Seattle. The vet has recommended lots of bedding for him to keep warm, but I’m wondering if that’s allowed and what else I can do for him while he’s in cargo as no one will let him board the plane. We are flying Delta and I would also like to know if you have any recommendations on crates for him as his environment in our home is rather large.

  6. Hello Shirley – your pup will need an EU Pet Passport that has been updated with your pet’s microchip and rabies vaccination information. Your pup should have a health check shortly prior to travel. If your dog is not microchipped or vaccinated for rabies, you can find requirements to import it to Sweden here: Susan

  7. I’m travelling with my 10k dog in the cargo hold for the first time from malàga spain to Sweden! What are all the requirements? Flying with Norwegian air

  8. Hello Veronica – your Yorkie can fly Iberia in an airline-compliant pet carrier in the cabin if this airline flies your route. Be sure and contact them to make a reservation for your pup. You can remove him from the carrier and carry him through the scanner. If you are flying back to Alicante from another EU Member State, your pup will need an EU Pet Passport, else he may need an EU Health Certificate and maybe a titer test depending on your origination country. Susan

  9. I have a toy Yorkshire terrier, he’s blind but in perfect health, what do I have to do to get him on a return flight to Alicante?

  10. Hello Param – the weight limit for pets flying with Qatar Airways is 75 kg including the crate. If the weight of your dog and its crate is larger than that, your Rottie must fly as air cargo. Contact the Qatar cargo facility at the departure airport and ask them whether an agent will be required to book the transport. If not, then you will be checking your dog in at this facility, not the terminal. If an agent is required, you can search for an agent in the Philippines at Susan

  11. Hi, I want to transport my pet dog from the Philippines to the US. She is a Rottweiler breed and weighs about 48 kg. We are using Qatar Airlines. My question is, do I need to fly with my dog as a check-in luggage or she can be transported alone? What are the check-in instructions? Where do I drop of my dog as a Cargo transport? Thanks

  12. Mohammad – you can find requirements to import your cats to Mauritius here: If you are not accompanying your cats, you will need the assistance of an agent in Australia to book the transport. You can search for an agent at If you are traveling with your cats, they can fly as accompanied checked baggage at a lesser cost. There will also be a cost for veterinarian services (immunizations and issuance of the health certificate) and the rabies titer test. You can get those costs from your veterinarian. Susan

  13. Just wondering if it is possible to fly my two cats from Perth to Mauritius and approximately how much will it round up for all the expenses needed
    Thank you

  14. Lamentablemente, actualmente las temperaturas son demasiado altas para sacar animales vivos de Texas en la bodega de carga. Avianca acaba de prohibir las razas de nariz chata, pero es posible que su Bull Terrier inglés vuele más adelante en el otoño.

  15. Puede viajar mi perro raza bull terrier inglés en el area de cargo de Dallas Tex a Durango mx?

  16. Maureen – some airlines will allow you to add your pet’s reservation online and others require that you contact them via telephone and provide payment for your pet’s transport. We will be adding the capability to book your pet’s transport on the website shortly. We will update this post when this capability is possible.

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