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 cornersAll 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 ridgeOn 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 hingesOne 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? — 124 Comments

  1. I’ve been searching for days for one way pets friendly flights from Dubai to Sarajevo! Couldn’t find accurate results. Especially with connections while there is no direct flight between these two destinations! This is my first time travelling with pets!
    Any pieces of advice or recommendations?

  2. Hi Susan, thank you for the post. My companion, English Bull Terrier (approx. 25kg, 4.5year old now), will be flying from Istanbul to Los Angeles with me and we will try our best to make it a direct flight. I would appreciate your invaluable help if you could kindly respond to the following please:
    1. Is he allowed to be a service dog by any means, in any airlines please? (eg. Turkish airlines seems not to accept them as such)
    2. If not, we understand that he would need a crate that is complaint with IATA regulations. Is his crate required to be of aluminum or a specially made wooden box, or are we allowed to get a plastic one?
    3. I calculated his IATA required crate size as length 36inch x width 20inch X height 22inch. If we are required to have an aluminum crate, where I can acquire such crate please? We also noticed that some crates are advertised as IATA complaint, whereas from the reviews we read as they were in fact not complaint with IATA. Hence, which crate brand that is complaint with IATA would you suggest please, or shall we have it manufactured specifically?
    4. What steps do we need to take in order to book the flight place for the little one (eg. should we call up the airline prior to buying the ticket?; if required when and where do we deliver him as a package 🙁 to the authorized personnel- is it right before going into the plane or at the check in desk :(( with the rest of the cargo?) and make ensure his safe arrival to the States please?
    5. For information purposes, he has his vaccinations every year. What exact documentation/proof for vaccination do we need to carry with us so as to make sure that he has no problems traveling to/within and entering the States at the customs.
    6. Shall we choose a pet cargo company and let them handle everything rather than trying to bring him at the same flight as mine. Would it be safer for him- thinking that they more specialized at this, or do they also utilize the cargo sections of airplanes of the main airlines please?
    Thank you very much for your time and kind attention.
    Kind Regards,

  3. Atefeh – first of all, as you are entering the US from a high-rabies country, you will need to import your Pom prior to July 14 as the CDC has banned the import of all dogs from high-rabies countries as of that date. ( You will need to buy a crate for your pet. Also, almost all of the airlines have discontinued serving emotional support animals once the US Dept. of Transportation amended the Airline Carrier Access Act eliminating protections for ESAs. Try to stay on the same airline for the entire trip. Change airline companies will really complicate your trip.

  4. Nick – the airlines will not accept a crate within a crate. You can have a wooden crate made according to IATA specifications or you can see about modifying a premanufactured crate. In this case, you would attach a smaller weave wire mesh to the door.

  5. Hello – we are not familiar withis crate but if Qatar approves your reservation, we would suggest that you drill holes in the corners of the crate and put in metal hardware. It will make the crate safer for your cat. The door of the crate need to be zip tied after inspection. Here is more information on making your crate compliant with airlines:

  6. Hello.
    Thank you for your informationthank you for your information.
    I would like to travel to the U.S (Omaha) by Qatar Airways.
    I will start my flight with Qatar Airlines from Tehran then Doha to Seattle, and I will continue my travel with Alaska Airlines from Seattle to Omaha. I have a Pomeranian. He is 5 kg. and I need some information about my travel with him.
    1- I have to buy a crate for him or the Airlines give it to me?
    2- I understood that just service dogs can come to the cabin. Is just my therapist’s letter enough to prove that he is an emotional supporter for me and I need him by my side?
    3-As my flight changes, do not the rules apply to the next airline?
    Thank you very much

  7. Any chance you have some guidance on flying with pet rats? We’re relocating, and our airline says we can check our 2 rats as baggage, but they must be in an IATA approved crate. We’re familiar with the regulations due to our dog, but can’t find anything on rats. They will fit well together in an extra small sky kennel, but the size of the holes in the door grating has me very worried. Would it be acceptable to buy another “normal” rat cage, with proper wire spacing… And bolt it down inside the IATA approved carrier?

  8. I am travelling in July from russia to sri lanka by qatar airways with my pet cat. She will be flying as a checked baggage. I bought “Moderna roadrunner carriage”.1) I want to know will it be approved by the airline? It doesn’t have hard ware, only plastic clippers. 2) i had to give them dimensions when I made the reservation, but they didn’t confirmed yet my reservation. At this moment if I buy another crate which has different width (4cm more than which I provide when made the reservation), will they refuse my pet? Thank you so much in advance.

  9. Elias – your Great Dane puppies must be vaccinated for rabies no sooner than 3 months of age and wait for 28 days before importing to the United States. They will need detailed rabies certificates proving their vaccination (manufacturer, batch#, administration date, expiration date, etc.) The answer to your second question depends on your airline. IATA regulations state that the airlines may fly (at their discretion) 2 puppies or kittens under a certain weight in the same crate under animal welfare regulations. Best to check with your airline about this as it differs according to airline pet policies.

  10. Hi , I want to bring my 3 grate Dane mix puppies 3 months old from Ethiopia to the USA , do I only need vaccination certificate only ? Or what other documents do I need , And can I bring them all together with one big crate or 3 small ones
    Thank you

  11. Ingrid – if the structure of the crate has been comprimised, then the airlines will not accept the crate. If you can restore the strength of the crate through hardware and/or zip ties, then it may be accepted. Also depends on the size and breed of your dog. Best to contact your airline and ask.

  12. Karima – the airlines will generally accept a crate that is one size too large for the pet; however, more than that could be questionable. You mentioned that you are changing airline companies along the way. What country are you originating in and laying over in?

  13. i received my pets crate with a 3 inch chip on one of the corners. will airlines still accept the crate?

  14. Hello I will be moving to canada on soon and I am taking my cat with me she is almost 4 kg i bought a gulliver 4 iata crate but I feel like it?s a bit too big the thing I am worried about that the airlines will be telling me that the crate is too big since they aren?t mentioning the crate mesures on their per policy can you help me please with any info? Note: I am traveling with royal air maroc then air canada and she will be going in luggage department

  15. Alicia – this is a requirement of most airlines that will fly Pit Bull breeds. Their jaws are so strong that they can knaw their way out of plastic crates. It is for the safety of your dog that metal or wood crates are required.

  16. Hi I am looking to transport my American Pit Bull Terrier from America to Ireland. I was initially looking at using a pet cargo company, and had ordered a crate, but the company told me that due to his breed my dog would need an aluminium crate (which is coming in at nearly 5 times the price). Just wondering if this is correct or if a plastic crate would be okay? Looking now at trying to book direct with airlines

  17. Let – unfortunately, you are involved in a pet scam. All pet crates must be ventilated according to IATA regulations and they do not cost anywhere near $990. Air Canada is not flying pets currently as air cargo. Canadair was a manufacturer of military aircraft. We would highly recommend that you do not send these people any more money. They will threaten you but they are the robbers. You can turn their information in at

  18. Hi, I purchased a puppy who is 10 weeks old from Wisconsin and am having them ship it to me via Canadair. They keep charging me for things they should have known prior to departure. The puppy is now in Phoenix and they want to charge me $990 for a ventilated crate. If I don’t pay it the puppy will go into quarantine, is that correct?

  19. Hi, I have brand new different sizes IATA certificated containers for carrying pets. My Location is Azerbaijan, Baku. If someone is interested, can contact me via WhatsApp +994502300399.

  20. Who need to fill in UK live Cargo Annex 5 Form i am traveling from Malaysia to edinburgh in april 2021. thanks

  21. David – it is not necessary to stop in Heathrow as Edinburgh is an approved border inspection post. Your pet will need to enter any UK border inspection post as air cargo, however, and you will need the assistance of an agent to book transport. If you are flying from the US, we can assist you with booking. If you are flying out of another country, then you can search for an agent at

  22. we hope to transport our oldish frightened house cat by plane from malaga to Edinburgh. Does Iberia do the trip without a stop or is it mandatory to stop first in Heathrow? We will not be travelling until March 2021

  23. Bob – the answer to your question depends on your airline’s pet policies. Most airlines will allow two pets of the same species and known to eachother in the same crate (there are weight requirements). We would suggest that you contact your airline and request that your cats can fly together. Although they do not publish as such, sometimes exceptions are granted.

  24. I’m traveling from the US to Kenya with 3 cats; they are siblings and have been together since birth. Will I be able to put them all into the same large crate (as I do normally) or will I need 3 crates? If one crate, what size will it have to be? They range between 16-19in nose tip to tail base.

  25. Joe – not sure where you are currently located. If you do not have pet stores, then check online. We have them in our store, however, shipping to Australia (if that is where you are) would be very expensive. Also, if your pup is flat-nosed, Emirates may not fly it in the cargo hold as they will not fly flat-nosed breeds. You should discuss this with Emirates. If accepted, your pup may travel with you as checked baggage. Some countries will require that it enter as air cargo.

  26. Where can we get a crate for our dog to travel with us with the Emirates Airline its a maltese shi tzu and weigh around 5 kg.

    Does the airline provide that crate with a cost of course and how much !!

    if not where can we get a crate ?

  27. Cristina – you can find requirements to import your pet to Spain here; Note that Brexit will likely change these requirements if you are traveling after October 31, 2019 unless Brexit is again extended. If an extension is granted by the UK and EU, then your pet dog, cat or ferret will need a UK Pet Passport reflecting current rabies vaccination administered after a microchip is implanted and not sooner than 21 days before travel. If the UK leaves the EU with a deal classifying it as a “listed Third Country,” then an EU health certificate will be required. If the UK leaves the EU with no deal, then a rabies titer test administered 3 months prior to entering the EU will be required.

  28. Good evening, I need to travel with my pet from the UK to Spain and I have inquiries about the necessary requirements for my pet can fly.
    thank you

  29. Michelle – you can contact the airline but likely they will not be able to service your cat with a 2 hour layover. Several things: it is wise to taper down your cat’s food intact in advance of travel. The less food that your cat has in its system, the better it will travel. Do not limit access to water. Secondly, get a good, thick pet pad that will wick moisture away from your cat. Yes, it may eliminate in its crate, but better that it arrives safely. Know that cats are most at risk when taken out of their crate.

  30. Hi, I will be bringing my cat back to Singapore from Toronto (15 hours) then transit (2 hours) in Taiwan before flying back to Singapore (4 hours). I am worried about the pee, poop, food and water issue during the flight times as the cat will be in the cargo area and I will have no access to it even during the 2 hours transit time. What should I do? Please help?

  31. I?m transporting my cat tomorrow as checked baggage for a 2 hour + 13 hour flight. The airline website states I can put an absorbent material at the bottom such as a blanket, pee pad or newspaper but not straw. I have a pee pad and a towel he likes sleeping on but the person who sold the crate said I should absolutely not put a towel ? if the cat panics and becomes frantic, he could get caught up in it and strangle. She said just place a pee pad down, no tape which she said is also a hazard. The problem is, having flown with the cat in cabin before, he just tears the pee pad apart. it?s a long flight so something soft would make him more comfortable. So confused as to what to do. Just the pee pad, not taped down? Tape it down? A small towel?

  32. Mercedes – having a door on the side of the crate will render it non-compliant with IATA Live Animal Regulations. As 95% of the world’s airlines abide by IATA regulations, we would anticipate it would not be accepted. If you are flying a non-US-based airline, you can contact their cargo department to confirm.

  33. Hello, I have a GIANT sized shipping crate, that meets all requirements, however it has two metal doors. One in the front, and one on the long side of the crate. Is this within regulations? I do not see anything deeming this unacceptable. Thank you!

  34. Gorden – no, the airlines will not accept this type of crate, even if there is one. Unfortunately, this is a common thing that pet scammers mention. We believe that you are involved in a pet scam. We would need additional details to confirm.

  35. I was told that shippng a dog from Texas requiers an airconditioned crate . Is this right?

  36. Rob – if your crate has the wide clips that connect the top and bottom of the crate, then you may want to consider drilling holes in the corners and inserting metal hardware, at a minimum. More and more airlines are requiring metal hardware of some sort, especially for medium to large pets. The door should be cable-tied in each corner once your check-agent has inspected the crate. All of this is to help prevent the crate being comprimised should (heaven forbid) it is dropped. The last thing you need is to have your pet escape the crate.

  37. Hi Administrators,
    I was wondering if all pet crates are required to have those locking pins, and if any other alternate locking mechanisms are allowed. Do the requirements of a pet crate have to include the locking pins, or can any other locking mechanism be allowed, as long as the door of the crate is not compromised in any other way? Thank you for your time.

  38. Johanna – the answer to your question depends on the airways policies and the type of aircraft that serve your route. British Airways will not transport a Series 100 crate on any of their aircraft; however, we have not seen across-the-board bans on them from other airlines. Best to find an airline that serves your route entirely and as directly as possible and contact them to discuss crate requirements on the aircraft serving your route.

  39. Hello, I am moving from the US to Kuwait in August. I am taking a small cat (7 lbs.). I?ve heard there?s a minimum cage requirement I need on certain airlines. I want to get a 21x16x15 100 series, but some websites say this is too small for certain airlines, even for a cat. It seems pretty big, as even an xs would probably fit her. What size should I get? Thank you.

  40. I will be transporting my dogs internationally and one of them has separation anxiety and we need an indestructible crate. We would like an Impact Dog Crate and the website says they are IATA compliant. The issue I am having is when I measure my medium sized dog, the IATA regulations say I need a crate 111cm in length but Impact dog crates only have that length for their extra large dogs which would be three sizes too big of a crate for my pup. The size they say my dog needs is 103cm in length. I am not sure what to do. is less than 10cms going to be an issue?

  41. 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

  42. 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 !

  43. 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.

  44. 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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